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Added by the giraffe on 3 Nov 2015 02:37
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2015: November

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The breakdown: 19 movies and 3 short films for a total of 22 watched, of those 12 were via Netflix, 7 on DVD, 1 on streamed download, and 2 in the theatre. Of those 15 were first views, 6 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 1940s, 60s, 80s, 90s, 00s & 2010s.

Well, November wound up being about half as productive as October, but not too far off the norm for me this year. As I'd anticipated there were other non-movie-related real world events that kept me from watching movies more often, coupled with a general Netflix-offerings fatigue. Most of the time I pulled up my queue this month I lacked any motivation to watch what's there, which resulted in me shrugging and watching something I thought I might be into or going back to my collection to revisit something else. Any other month I might have just doubled up on Instant Project recommendations, but time and my mood prevented my doing so. No big deal, I'll pick them up down the road. On the upside, next month I'll mainly focus on my collection so hopefully that break will renew my enthusiasm for next year.

I've also completed my goal & have watched the full run of Bond movies, which is pretty satisfying. And I managed to make one more trip to the theatre which was decent as well. I feel though like there was more out I wanted to see, and yet when I look at my options I'm not seeing much to be excited about. That changes next month.

Best new-to-me film for November: Time Lapse
Best hidden gem: King of Beggars
Worst film: Kung Fury
People who added this item 110 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
Time Lapse (2014)
First viewing - Nov. 1st

My co-worker friend who hooks me up with movies put this on my radar, so when it popped up on Netflix I added it to my queue to check out. It's an interesting, thought-provoking sci-fi thriller, and overall I really dug it. The cast does a very good job, the effects are solid, the idea is especially entertaining, and there were enough twists & turns I was never entirely certain of where it'd end up. So I had to thank my friend after I watched it, and decided it was so worthwhile I added it as one of my picks for this month for the Netflix project.

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People who added this item 844 Average listal rating (514 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Nov. 3rd

So it turns out this was pretty decent. Young Tom Cruise shows a bit of range as well as sure signs he can carry a movie and would become a star. The story is entertaining if a bit unbelievable and predictable at times. The rest of the cast is pretty solid, and it was cool to see a couple of familiar faces I didn't expect. The soundtrack is decent enough, though I'm sure 80s pop fans appreciate it far more than me. And in the end it never really crosses any lines of greatness, but wound up being worth watching once.

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People who added this item 2875 Average listal rating (1708 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.4
Re-watch - Nov. 4th

It's been over 10 years now since I last watched Princess Mononoke, so I figured I was overdue to revisit it. Drafthouse actually screened it last month but I couldn't go. Fortunately one of my co-workers hooked me up with her copy.

I'd forgotten parts of it, but the visuals had mostly stuck with me. The pacing is perfect, the story enthralling, and the kodama and Deer God are wonderfully created. There's also some social commentary which remains relevant as time marches along. I think it's safe to say this is my favorite of the Ghibli films, and I wish I enjoyed more of their films as much as this one.
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Re-watch - Nov. 5th

PvtCaboose91 recommended I revisit this before checking out his new film, so I sat down with it again first. My thoughts from the first viewing still stand. The Sin City influence is strong here and it's a fun short film from start to finish.
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First viewing - Nov. 5th

The first thing I noticed here is the upgrades on the technical side of the production. The whole thing looks great, the effects have improved, and the sound mix is much better than previous efforts. The Dame still retains the same style, the violence, and the sprinkling of humor, while also referencing Hard Retribution several times (really glad I watched it first). Mr. Knox carries the film well, though Kieron McDonald steals the show. I can well imagine McDonald following in the steps of Nick Frost if he plans to pursue acting full time.

Beyond that, the rest of the acting is solid overall. Not exceptional, but then the entire cast is clearly in the early stages so I'm not holding that against any of them. A couple of scene transitions are a little awkward, and the villains introduced late in the film could have been better fleshed out. These minor flaws keep the film from being truly great, but given the fact that this is the longest film made by this crew so far I'd be shocked if it was perfect.

Mostly I just think it's super cool that I know someone making films though, and ones worth watching at that. I can well imagine that with more experience and increased budgets, our fellow Listalite will bring us some truly excellent films down the road. Then I'll be able to say I knew him when, and be proud to know I've supported his efforts along the way.

Those interested can head over to Vimeo to stream or download it.
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People who added this item 218 Average listal rating (175 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 8.1
Kung Fury (2015)
First viewing - Nov. 5th

This started out okay with over-the-top ridiculousness that had me laughing more due to the randomness of it than anything else. Then the titular character takes over with narration & everything & I just couldn't hang with it. That's not to say I didn't sit through the whole thing, because I did...at 30 minutes it didn't make much sense to bail & honestly I was transfixed in that trainwreck way. But I'd like to have that 30 minutes of my life back as I could've done anything else & it would've been time better spent. I get what they were going for here, but in my book it's nothing special or even very good.

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People who added this item 440 Average listal rating (311 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Re-watch - Nov. 5th

After the horrors of Kung Fury I wanted something actually funny & silly, so I watched this again. I still love it.
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People who added this item 6735 Average listal rating (4426 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 8
Re-watch - Nov. 15th

The kiddo wanted to snuggle with me on the couch and watch a movie, and we agreed on this one. It still impresses me all the time & thought that went into this film, and the ways it pokes fun & pays homage to the superhero/comic book history. It's smart, entertaining, heartfelt, and just an all around great experience every time I watch it. Naturally the kiddo doesn't get as many of the jokes as I do, but she likes the film & Violet is her favorite character.

Afterwards, we watched "Jack-Jack Attack", "Bounding", and the short cartoon thing for Mr. Incredible, Frozone, and the bunny rabbit. Normally I'd throw them in here as separate entries, but I really don't have enough to say on any of them to justify doing so. The first one is greatness, the second amusing, and the third just awful though that seems to be the point (especially when watched with commentary).
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People who added this item 1843 Average listal rating (1170 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - Nov. 26th

The 26th was Thanksgiving in the U.S., and I found myself recalling Wednesday's contributions to the reenactment in this film of the first Thanksgiving. That part is still wonderfully done, and the rest of the film is just fun from start to finish. It's never great, though the cast is perfectly put together all around. In fact I sincerely hope that nobody attempts another Addams Family film until the entire cast is long gone. They're such a joy to watch that it's hard to imagine any current ensemble portraying the roles as well or better than this one. Anyway, I thought it was a worthy festive choice to mark the holiday, and I have no doubts I'll watch it again down the road.

Also currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 187 Average listal rating (122 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
American Mary (2012)
First viewing - Nov. 27th

This one kept catching my eye whilst browsing Netflix options, so I figured I'd finally give it a look. And I'm not entirely sure that was a good decision. Overall this is an intriguing film with a different story and some very interesting characters. For a low-budget indie horror movie the technical quality is pretty good, and the cast does a solid job for the most part. It's just a tough film to embrace due to the subject matter, and had I not been so curious as to where this was going I might not have hung with it as there was one point at which I was strongly tempted to abandon it. I can't say I was thrilled with the ending either...it makes sense within the plot but at the same time it's not very satisfyingly played out.

So yeah...I'm reluctant to recommend this one to others, and I definitely wouldn't watch it again.

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People who added this item 769 Average listal rating (470 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - Nov. 29th

I know this is hailed as a classic, and after reading up on it I fully understand why. Evidently this was really cutting edge & revolutionary at the time of its release thanks to the way it's shot & the ultraviolence that plays out on screen. Compared to today's films it's pretty much in line with modern cinema, so it's easy to see the influence it had.

Appreciation of technical aspects aside, I struggled to get fully invested in this film. The central characters are interesting, but not really endearing to me. There's enough action to keep me watching, but I just wasn't that impressed by the story. Looking around it appears it's just a matter of personal taste though, which is fine. I'm glad I've finally checked it out to see what all the fuss is about, but I wouldn't sit through it again.

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Re-watch - Nov. 29th

After two violent & mostly serious films in a row I needed something hilarious, so I turned to my movie collection & went with Naked Gun. It's still a fun film from start to finish and I love the humor. Best of all I picked up on a few small details I hadn't noticed before, which only added to my enjoyment. So yeah, it did the trick.

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People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Nov. 30th

I decided to end the month with a Stephen Chow movie I hadn't seen, and wound up ending on a fun note. King of Beggars is light-hearted with several moments that had me laughing. The cast is solid with some memorable characters along the way too. It's not great by any means as it follows a common storyline, but it's entertaining enough I can forgive that. I don't need to watch it again probably, but I'd be willing to do so because I enjoyed it overall.

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Year-long focus: James Bond series


We're about down to the end of my run now, with only one film left I haven't seen as the month begins. Just to keep in the spirit of the thing, I'm going ahead and revisiting Casino Royale first though. This will be the last time this section appears in one of my lists for 2015, as I have no urge to revisit Quantum of Solace and still remember Skyfall well enough I can wait a few more years before I watch it again.
People who added this item 3977 Average listal rating (2660 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
Casino Royale (2006)
Re-watch - Nov. 4th

Now this is how you make a Bond film. From the stylish black-and-white opening to the twisty end, Casino Royale fires on all cylinders without falling too much into an obvious routine. Craig performs wonderfully as Bond and has an excellent cast surrounding him. The action scenes are still mind-blowing, and hey, wait a second, that opening credits sequence actually makes itself memorable by tying directly in to the film instead of just being a montage of bullets flying and naked ladies. Awesome.

I'd been questioning whether this was really great or not, and after sitting through all the films that preceded it I can say with complete certainty that it is. In fact it comes pretty close to being perfect, and it's not often you can say that about a Bond film.
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People who added this item 661 Average listal rating (425 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
Spectre (2015)
First viewing - Nov. 9th

OK, first off this is obviously a theatre viewing but since it's part of my year-long focus I'm not putting it in the usual section. After a three-day weekend spent at a music festival I didn't feel like doing anything that involved walking, so after I watched Laura (see below) I took off to Drafthouse to catch this at a matinee screening.

And overall I thought it was really good, at least on par with Skyfall. They actually shook things up this time around, which worked in the film's favor, and the ending is one of the most satisfying ones in the series as far as I'm concerned. As a matter of fact, the ending could serve as either an end to the series or an opportunity to take the franchise new places. Kinda cool.

As usual the cast is solid to excellent (nice to see David Bautista follow in the footsteps of Jaws or Oddjob), and the technical side of things works well. It doesn't quite cross the line of greatness, but it's well worth seeing & I'd watch it again.

Just a thought: The opening credits scene made me think of Spring.
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in the theatre
People who added this item 236 Average listal rating (151 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
Legend (2015)
First viewing - Nov. 29th

I kicked off the last Sunday of the month with a trip to Drafthouse to check out Legend. Not surprisingly, Tom Hardy's performance makes it worth watching as he plays the twin Kray brothers. Once again he shows his talent for disappearing into his roles here, to the point that there's never any question which brother you're looking at...they look different, speak different, and best of all walk & carry themselves differently. More actors should display this ability, but then I guess I wouldn't respect & admire Hardy as much if they could.

The rest of the cast does a solid job as well, and many scenes are wonderfully put together. The soundtrack is excellent too. The only problem is that the story never really comes together in a truly satisfying way, and thus never crosses the line to greatness. I was left wanting more from it...a stronger feeling or something to think about on my way out of the theatre. Instead it comes off more like a document of events with no real message. Which is a shame really. As I said though, it's worth watching once just for Hardy's performance(s) so it's definitely not a waste of time. And honestly I'd watch it again once more, partly to see him do it again & partly so I could pick up the rest of the dialogue via subtitles (some thick accents on display throughout).

See also: The A.V. Club's review which perfectly nails it.
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Netflix Instant Project for 2015


Netflix Instant Project for 2015


The ongoing Netflix Instant Project involves recommendations from my fellow Listalites of lesser-known/lesser-seen films that are currently streaming on Netflix. If you use Netflix Instant Watch & want to participate, please check out the list above & the thread in the Movies Forum.
People who added this item 487 Average listal rating (312 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1
Laura (1944)
First viewing - Nov. 9th

Recommended by VierasTalo


This was a good noir flick. I figured out the who in this whodunit early on, but the film played out a bit differently than I expected (thankfully). It was cool to see Vincent Price in a non-horror movie, even if his southern accent gets lost at times, and the rest of the cast does a solid job. I doubt I'd need to watch it a second time, but I wouldn't mind sitting through it again.
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People who added this item 83 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
Stretch (2014)
First viewing - Nov. 21st

Recommended by moviewatcher122


This was entertaining, thanks largely to an over-the-top performance by Chris Pine which is a riot & keeps the whole thing watchable. He clearly had a blast as Karos, and that energy carries on to the audience well. The story itself is different and fairly interesting overall, though it has a romantic subplot that's stupidly obvious & thus ultimately worthless. And personally I found Ed Helms's role to be annoying rather than amusing, to the point I wished his character had been cut out after the opening.

So yeah...this was worth watching once.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I watched before Netflix removed them from my queue
People who added this item 146 Average listal rating (93 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Life in a Day (2011)
First viewing - Nov. 5th

This was a neat little experiment & documentary. I dig how it gives glimpses into all these lives around the world, and like real life it's a mixture of people who are interesting and people who aren't. Some I hoped would have more time given to them, others showed up and it seemed a little pointless...but again, that's how life is. We're not all interesting 24 hours a day, and we all go through many of the same minor routines. It didn't change my life in any way, but it's cool to have a reminder how connected we all are and for that I'd be willing to watch this again down the road if I get the opportunity.
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First viewing - Nov. 19th

Watching Ice-T discuss where rap/hip-hop comes from with some of the best in the genre is just captivating. They focus on the craft, and there are some great insights here into the process that various MCs go through when creating songs and on how they got started. The fact that he got so many greats to sit down with him makes this endeavor worthwhile, and for anyone who's a fan of hip-hop to any degree this should be right up your alley. I could complain about some of those whose voices are missing, but that seems nitpicky. Overall I dug it & I'd be willing to watch it again if for no other reason than to share it with others.
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People who added this item 415 Average listal rating (250 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.6
Machete Kills (2013)
First viewing - Nov. 20th

As it turns out, Rodriguez can only capture the Grindhouse lightning in a bottle once. Planet Terror fired on all cylinders and was such a blast that I had high hopes when he started down the path with Machete. Now that I've sat through two of the three films in this series, I'm convinced it should have been left as a faux trailer instead. The only improvement here over the first one is that this time around it takes itself less seriously. Occasionally there's some actual fun to be had here, which did make me laugh heartily. Unfortunately in between those moments the film basically drags along with a predictable story & annoying characters. Now I will give credit to Rodriguez for doing what few other filmmakers do these days, and that's casting women in action-heavy roles. Sure they're also partly here to be eye candy (this IS an exploitation film after all) but it's refreshing to see women kicking ass right alongside the men. And yet on the whole I barely tolerated the film, and as it proceeded I kept wondering how much more of it there was to sit through. It wasn't so bad I felt a strong desire to turn it off, but it could have been better I think & I definitely could have skipped it.

Lesson learned though. I won't bother with the next one.
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People who added this item 806 Average listal rating (544 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.5
First viewing - Nov. 25th

Hey, another series that I'm now finally caught up on. This installment is solidly entertaining but otherwise merely average. It's not great, but not awful either. There are some really fun and funny moments, and a few dumb moments too. The whole film is predictable, and yet the characters along with the brisk pace help keep it worthwhile for a single viewing. So all in all, not bad but it could definitely be improved on. I think that my low expectations worked in its favor though.

Just a thought: Here's a good rule of thumb...if Eddie Murphy is playing a cop, then the movie will be entertaining.
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Amazingly as the month begins I'm actually not burned out on movies or horror, so I'll have no issues hitting the ground running as it were. I do have some other things planned for this month that don't involve camping in front of the TV, so I don't anticipate that I'll hit the same high number of films I did last month. Then again, there are a few films either in theatres or soon to be that may lure me out to Drafthouse so maybe I'll surprise myself. Time will tell...

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Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Nov 10 18:32
Neat that you saw Laura on the big screen. It's a pretty film. So, regarding Bond, I haven't seen too much, but I recently listened to the A View to a Kill -episode of the How Did This Get Made? -podcast and I have to see that now. It sounds like such an amazing piece of trash.
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Nov 10 23:42
@VierasTalo - I didn't see Laura on the big screen, I watched it on Netflix. The only theatre trip so far this month was for SPECTRE.

A View to a Kill was a lot of fun to watch honestly. I mean, Roger Moore going up against Christopher Walken & Grace Jones is just going to be worth seeing. Which reminds me, I have a Bond list I need to complete & post....
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Nov 20 1:29
SPECTRE is definitely worth seeing more than once. I have already seen it twice.

RE: Casino Royale,
"Now this is how you make a Bond film." I agree 100%.

RE: Machete Kills. It's really good. It is one of those that is intentionally so shitty that it's brilliant. Hope you enjoy it.
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Nov 21 20:53
I haven't seen the Art of Rap yet, but I hope to catch it soon. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!

So, which of the interviews in the doc opened your eyes on something new, or just didn't care about?
Posted: 1 year, 11 months ago at Nov 25 3:46
@Mr. Walker - I don't actively dig through the history of every artist I like, so most of it opened my eyes on something new. I can't think of any that I didn't care about at all, but seeing rappers I'm unfamiliar with (WC, Bun B, Joe Budden, Royce da 5'9") felt mildly like filler rather than essential. Mostly since they filmed in NYC, Detroit, and L.A. I'm surprised Beastie Boys are nowhere to be found (though they do get mentioned once).

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