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Added by the giraffe on 2 Nov 2014 04:38
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2014: November

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The breakdown: 25 movies watched - 16 via Netflix instant, 5 in the theatre, and 4 on DVD; of those 21 were first views, 4 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 2010s.

Overall November was a decent month I think. Quality-wise the majority of what I saw was good & worthwhile, and I'm proud of myself for making it to the theatre 4 times. My plans did get a bit derailed though, as I'd intended to watch 2 more films from the Netflix project and lost 3 films to the ether. That's partly because I spent a week watching season 2 of Orange Is the New Black instead of movies, which I don't regret at all. My monthly focus could also have yielded a few more movies than it did, but I got the 6 I had in my queue watched so I won't complain. Now onto December where my DVD and Netflix numbers wind up switching places.

Best new-to-me film for November: Birdman
Best hidden gem: Why Don't You Play in Hell?
Worst film: A Most Wanted Man
People who added this item 2466 Average listal rating (1466 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
Re-watch - Nov. 2nd

When I returned my horror rentals from last month, I made sure to let the one store know that Nosferatu the Vampyre wouldn't play for me & so I got a free rental as an apology. Since my daughter was with me I let her pick something & she wanted to watch Sleeping Beauty. She dug it & thought Maleficent was pretty scary.

Now I haven't seen it since childhood, and since it was never one of my favorites this may well have been my 2nd viewing ever. And it's good despite the fact it's predictable and the villain is vanquished far too easily. Yeah, the prince gets a magical sword & shield, but his battle against Maleficent is far too short to be satisfying. Still there are some memorable moments along the way, and it's entertaining enough I wasn't bored at all. I just thought it could have been better.

Interesting how things are connected: The next morning on my way to work the classical station in my town played Tchaikovsky's composition for what most of us know as "Once Upon a Dream".
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People who added this item 831 Average listal rating (561 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Snowpiercer (2013)
First viewing - Nov. 3rd

For all my excitement over this one, I've got to say I was underwhelmed. Snowpiercer is a good movie, solidly entertaining, wonderfully acted, and full of memorable visuals. But it lacks an emotional core that's essential to drive home the film's events, or at least that's how I felt about it. Possibly a re-watch will improve my opinion of it, but on a first viewing I shouldn't be left feeling like it failed to fully connect me to its events and characters. I shouldn't have to go back & watch it again in hopes of finding it either; that connection should be there from the start. And so it's doubtful I'd watch it a second time. This is especially disappointing given my love for Joon-Ho Bong's other films I've seen, which have displayed a growing mastery of film that's not fully realized here. I was really hoping that his first foray into a mostly English-language-driven film would impress me more than this.

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Re-watch - Nov. 4th

Watched this one with my daughter, and like the previous two entries I'm not going to waste my time or yours recapping my thoughts on it. My daughter thought the first part was scary (too many creepy creatures) but dug most of the rest of it. Several times along the way she repeated dialogue which was amusing, and she geeked out over Vader's lightsaber being red (her favorite color). I've got to mention how proud of her I am for asking me who that one guy is with Obi-wan & Yoda (young Anakin) and saying that's not Vader & doesn't make any sense. And she's four years old, so fuck you George for your awful stupid decision to include young Vader instead of leaving it alone. And afterward she asked me, "If Luke cut off Vader's hand, how does he pick up the Emperor?" To which I simply replied, "Vader is very powerful."
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People who added this item 653 Average listal rating (441 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
The Burbs (1989)
First viewing - Nov. 6th

Home vacation double feature


Yeah yeah yeah I haven't seen The Burbs before now. It's one of those films that didn't catch my interest when it was in theatres, so I mostly ignored it & forgot about it. But then somewhere along the way I was curious to check it out, so when it hit Instant I figured it was finally time. And I'm glad I did.

First off it's worth noting that because I'd ignored it I really had no idea what happens in this movie. So imagine my pleasant surprise when it starts out with our main character insisting he's staying home for his vacation, which is exactly what I'm doing right now too. I won't be spying on my neighbors, but I will be hanging around my place, hanging out with friends, and catching up on movies at Drafthouse. But back to this movie, which is a lot of fun from start to finish. I miss this period of Tom Hanks' career, back before he got all serious instead of having fun. And he kills it all over the place. The Burbs never crosses the line into greatness for me, but it's definitely worth watching & I'm sure I'll revisit it.

Just a thought: I was amused to see Nicky Katt in a small supporting role here.

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People who added this item 4552 Average listal rating (3039 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
Beetlejuice (1988)
Re-watch - Nov. 6th

Home vacation double feature


While watching The Burbs my thoughts drifted to Beetlejuice a couple of times, and when I recalled that this movie also starts off with people on vacation at home I decided pairing them up was too good to pass on. I've always loved Beetlejuice...the set design is still impressive, I love the mix of animation and effects used throughout, it's smart, it's funny, it's entertaining, it's quotable, the cast is great, the music kicks ass. I still have no complaints, and still enjoy revisiting the world and characters created here.
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First viewing - Nov. 7th

I saw this pop up on Instant & quickly added it to my queue to watch. Since I wasn't in the mood for a movie on this night I watched it, and like the rest of Birbiglia's work I enjoyed it. It's not quite as good as his more recent stand-up specials I've seen, but it's pretty consistently funny and at times side-splitting. So yeah, it's worth a look.

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People who added this item 257 Average listal rating (163 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Nov. 9th

So I was at my parents' house & my dad suggested we watch this together, and I said OK thinking it'd be worthwhile given the cast. A more apt title would be A Most Boring Movie because almost nothing happens the entire time. Which can be fine if the script is full of great dialogue and/or tension, but that's not really the case here. The tension is minimal because the few times something exciting happens are so spread out with tedious dragging sequences between them that they wind up surprising you simply by comparison. And why they needed to cast PSH, Rachel McAdams, and Willem Dafoe as native Germans I have no clue. McAdams can't even maintain the right accent for a full scene, and while Dafoe & PSH fare better and otherwise act with the usual degree of excellence we expect of them I never believed that either of them were German. So yeah, this was a total disappointment & waste of my time. The only reason I'm not rating it any lower is because I've sat through far worse films.

Just a thought: Christoph Waltz must have been busy, which is a shame as he would've made sense to cast in either PSH or Dafoe's role.
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People who added this item 1692 Average listal rating (1036 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Nov. 14th

I thought this was about as good as the first one. It wasn't as predictable as the first (though a few moments were), which was a plus, and everything else was solid. I was definitely entertained throughout, and when the next one hits Netflix I'll check it out too.

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People who added this item 1420 Average listal rating (881 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
Re-watch - Nov. 16th

Sunday morning the kiddo asked me if we could watch a movie together, to which of course I replied yes. So we opened up Netflix & she picked this which she wound up loving. She dug it so much she insisted on watching more TMNT after it ended, and wound up watching a few episodes of the late 90s live-action show. (I didn't even know said show existed, and after about 10 minutes I found other things to do around the house. Clearly I wasn't missing anything.) So yeah, it was pretty cool that she loved it so much. She even turned to me on several occasions to repeat dialogue to me, which was very amusing.

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Monthly focus: Woody Allen movies

Last month Netflix added some Woody Allen movies to Instant, so I figure I'll catch them while I can by making it a goal to watch them all this month.
People who added this item 523 Average listal rating (343 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
Bananas (1971)
First viewing - Nov. 2nd

I've actually seen parts of Bananas before, just never the whole film in its entirety. And while I wouldn't go so far as to call the film great, it's the most consistently funny film I've seen from Woody Allen. I laughed really hard at most of the gags in this one, and I'd definitely watch it again. It's just too bad more of his films aren't this much fun.

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People who added this item 758 Average listal rating (446 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Nov. 4th

Review by JxSxPx

Really the review above says it all, but I'll throw in my own two cents. I walked into this one with the wrong expectations, but was able to quickly adjust and embrace the film on its own terms. I've long had a love of films that break the fourth wall, and those who have seen this one will know that here that's done in a completely different way. And there's so much going on intellectually beneath the surface that I couldn't help loving this one the more I thought about it afterward.

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First viewing - Nov. 8th

I'm surprised this followed Bananas because it's so uneven and only mildly amusing for the most part. It's got some memorable moments along the way, and I did laugh heartily a few times, but by the end I felt like I could've skipped this one.

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People who added this item 293 Average listal rating (172 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Nov. 8th

Fortunately this was better than the film I paired it with. It's not great, but it's more thoughtful and has a decent story to it. I doubt I'd watch it again, but it's definitely worth seeing once.

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People who added this item 263 Average listal rating (145 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Nov. 15th

On this one I got the most enjoyment spotting recognizable faces in the cast. Other than that, it was ok...entertaining but kinda forgettable. Maybe I should've watched this another time, as I barely managed to stay awake through it.

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People who added this item 635 Average listal rating (386 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Zelig (1983)
First viewing - Nov. 26th/27th

I really don't have too much to say on this one. It has some very funny moments, but isn't consistently funny. I thought the concept behind it and the storytelling approach was interesting enough, but not exceptional. Worth watching once.

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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in a theatre
First viewing - Nov. 7th

Easily the best new film I've seen in all of the 2010s so far. I'm so satisfied I don't even want to watch another movie tonight.
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People who added this item 100 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Nov. 8th

Alamo Drafthouse has been a big supporter of this film & their enthusiasm for it encouraged me to check it out. Now I see why they dig it so much. I don't know that it crossed the line into great territory for me because the first half drags at times, but the final third to half of the film more than makes up for any shortcomings early on. It's not for everyone of course, but fans of Asian genre films will find plenty to appreciate.

Just a thought: Nice to see the main actor from Versus here.
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People who added this item 1725 Average listal rating (1162 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.6
Interstellar (2014)
First viewing - Nov. 11th (IMAX)

A friend of mine was in town & we decided to go see Interstellar in IMAX on the biggest IMAX screen in Texas. And aside from a trio of jerks who sat directly behind us kicking our chairs and talking until I finally told them to shut up (dirty looks weren't getting the point across), it was a worthwhile trip. The IMAX screen really helps express the vastness of space and the scope of the worlds explored here. Much like last year's Gravity this is one of those films that is best experienced on the big screen, and I can't imagine it'll be worth revisiting at home...not as worth it anyway.

The cast does a great job and there's an emotional core which in my view was lacking from Inception. On the other hand, I felt some parts were too ridiculous to suspend my disbelief fully which is my main complaint against the film, and the supposed logic behind those moments was lacking. But overall it's decent entertainment and I'd watch it again someday at Drafthouse, I'm just not willing to go so far as to call it great.

Just a thought: The moment the scientist who represents "the best of us" turned out to be Matt Damon, I knew they were in trouble.
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People who added this item 72 Average listal rating (61 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Feast (2014)
First viewing - Nov. 18th

This was the short that played before Big Hero 6, and I've got to say I highly enjoyed it. It's simple yet effective, and the kind of film most (all?) of us can relate to.
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People who added this item 1084 Average listal rating (779 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.8
Big Hero 6 (2014)
First viewing - Nov. 18th

I took the kiddo to see Big Hero 6 today, which was somewhat spur of the moment. She actually saw it before on its opening weekend, but I wasn't with her at the time & when I asked her about it today she got excited about watching it again. And so, for the first time, she was telling me on a few occasions to "watch this" and even spoiled who the villain really is (the latter made me regret slightly that she'd seen it first, heh). And at two key moments she insisted on going to the bathroom, but I don't think I missed anything I didn't expect to happen. As such though I feel like I should watch it again some time, and honestly as much as I enjoyed the film overall I'd be happy to do so. It's fun with some awe-inspiring visuals at times and heart as well. Definitely worth checking out.
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Netflix Instant Project 2014


Netflix Instant Project 2014


Last year I ran the NIP, but this year I've been too busy to manage it. So portlander stepped in & took it over for 2014 (until he left the site at the end of September, at which point I took it over), and the forum thread is here if you'd like to join us.
People who added this item 73 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6
Phase IV (1974)
First viewing - Nov. 12th/13th

Recommended by VierasTalo


I've been hearing about this film lately, so I figured I'd check it out. It's Saul Bass's sole directorial effort, which means there are some excellent moments visually & a great use of music. It's just too bad the cast and characters are mediocre and thus difficult to connect with. Still, it's worth checking out once.

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Netflix exorcisms

Films I caught before Netflix removed them from my queue
People who added this item 610 Average listal rating (393 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.7
End of Watch (2012)
First viewing - Nov. 10th

What I most enjoyed about this movie is the friendship at its center. It comes across so genuinely that I forgot that anyone was acting, and as a result Taylor and Zavala easily endeared themselves to me. I also thought the storytelling approach worked well, by giving us glimpses of two guys doing their job over a short period of time. And while I was occasionally annoyed by the camerawork I thought it helped add immediacy and intensity to some scenes, as well as serving as a way to get behind the scenes of their job rather than relying on an impersonal point of view. It's a little ridiculous that Taylor is able to get away with having his handheld at work so often, but it mostly works well anyway. My main concern going into it was that this would be more serious than it turned out to be, so the humor that runs throughout was much appreciated. And yeah, I'd be willing to watch it again some time.
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People who added this item 115 Average listal rating (61 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.3
First viewing - Nov. 17th

For a brief moment I considered letting this one slip away unwatched, but on this particular night I figured I'd give it a chance and was pleasantly surprised. Now probably the amount of enjoyment you'd get out of this will depend on how much you like/liked Pearl Jam. I loved their first three albums, but after that got bored with them & mostly ignored them over the years. So the fact that at least half of the film covers the time prior to their formation through that third album definitely made me happy & kept me watching. Then the rest of the documentary was so interesting I easily stuck with it, watching as a band I once loved kept doing what they do without worrying about the outside world, changing musical trends, or anything else that didn't directly affect them. And it gave me a deeper respect & appreciation for them, while also encouraging me to break out those old albums to listen to again. If that's not the signs of a good music documentary, I don't know what is.
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People who added this item 1067 Average listal rating (572 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Nov. 27th

From the synopsis I'd anticipated this being a mixed bag, and so it was. Aside from the titular connection there are a few strands of conversation which unite the whole thing, which was ok. Some of the scenarios were really entertaining while others had me itching to get on to the next one. I could've watched Iggy Pop & Tom Waits awkwardly attempt conversation for even longer than they're given to do so, but maybe that's just me. Anyway, it was entertaining enough I don't regret the time spent watching it but I wouldn't watch it again. And due to the unevenness of it all I can't go higher than a 6.
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People who added this item 83 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
Kidnapped (2010)
First viewing - Nov. 28th

I've got mixed feelings on this one. On the one hand it's pretty well done as far as being consistently engaging and intense. On the other the dialogue is overdone with repetition to the point I got annoyed with it, though perhaps if Netflix had had it in the original Spanish with subtitles instead of dubbed English it would've worked better? And while it's not easy to predict how the ending will play out (and I'm still undecided whether I liked the ending, though it's effective), it's also not impressive enough that I'd watch it again. I do think it's worth a look though, especially if you dig dark movies.

Just a thought: I'm glad I'm not affluent & thus less likely to be a target for people to break into my house.
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Usually the Horrorfest run leaves me burned out & my movie-watching takes a dive in November. We'll see if that's the case, but I definitely don't anticipate watching as many movies as I did last month. I'm still not sure how I hit 41.

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Comments

Posted: 3 years, 1 month ago at Nov 9 18:13
Great stuff in that queue! I loved End of Watch, Phase IV and The Hunt. Birdman is at the top of my want to watch -list, and I know nothing about it. I'm so happy about that. Annoyed by now knowing when it comes out here though.

I feel almost inclined to join you in your Allen-a-thon. I have a huge UK box set of his films (it has like 20 or something) that I've only watched Annie Hall from.
Posted: 3 years ago at Nov 19 12:02
Oh, you'll finally check out Kidnapped. That's cool. You should totally show your kids the sequels to TMNT, the second one I still like. It has Kevin Nash Shredder in the end! And Vanilla Ice.

The TV-show is trash though. The lady turtle is really weird and creepy.
Posted: 3 years ago at Dec 2 3:12
Love your daughter's comments regarding Return of the Jedi. Pure gold.
Posted: 3 years ago at Dec 2 3:54
Glad to see that you enjoyed End of Watch and Bananas. I really liked how End of Watch portrayed cops in a different light than most cop movies do and I agree that Bananas was a very consistently funny movie. The Purple Rose of Cairo is pretty good too and I agree with your thoughts on Zelig even though I enjoyed it even less than you did. Also good to see that you liked Big Hero 6 as I was worried that it would just be as overhyped as Frozen was.
Posted: 2 years, 10 months ago at Jan 18 17:59
Good bunch of movies. Shame that your copy of Nosferatu the Vampyre didn't work. That's one of my absolute favorites.

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