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Movies the giraffe watched in 2016: January

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The breakdown: 29 movies and 1 short film for a total of 30 watched, 20 were via Netflix, 5 on DVD, and 5 in the theatre. Of those 20 were first views, 10 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 1950s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s & 2010s.

Well, January was certainly a productive month. I caught all the films that left Netflix I wanted to see, sat down with a pair of Netflix project recommendations, made 4 trips to Drafthouse, and even got in a couple films with the kiddo. Best of all though, none of the films fell below 6/10 which either means I did a great job of avoiding crappy movies or I'm too agreeable toward whatever I'm watching. Given how many on this list got stuck at the 7 mark I don't think it's the latter, as I'm finding it harder to justify ratings in the 8-10 range. Hmm...

So yeah, I'd say 2016 is off to a good start so far.

Best new-to-me movies for January: Strangers on a Train / Anomalisa (tie)
Best hidden gems: The Overnight / The Best Offer
Worst films: The Revenant / The Devil's Advocate
People who added this item 1044 Average listal rating (632 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - Jan. 3rd

I kicked off my year with this stellar film that I'm ashamed to say I hadn't watched before. I picked it up on the cheap after Christmas anyway, and watched the original British version of the film. If I wasn't already behind on my movie-watching for the month I'd go ahead & watch the "Hollywood version" too for comparison sake, but it'll have to wait.

Anyway, the whole film is just riveting as Hitchcock's best films tend to be, the cast does a great job all around, and I just loved it. It fell slightly short of perfection for me, but it's definitely a classic I'd highly recommend.

Just a thought: Now I have a better appreciation for how Throw Momma from the Train took its inspiration from this film.
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First viewing - Jan. 5th

Ok, so first off this is your basic film retrospective documentary. Tons of clips, tons of interviews with people who were involved, and an examination of Cannon Films's history. Nothing new here. Thankfully Cannon Films had such a rich history that it's consistently entertaining and ultimately worth a look. I remember seeing the Cannon logo pop up before some of the films I watched growing up, but I can't honestly say it stuck with me which films they were responsible for. This doc served to properly guide me through them one after another, as well as inspire me to check out a few I've missed. I'm more curious to see the documentary that the former heads of Cannon films put out just ahead of this one though, especially since they opted to make it instead of agree to be a part of this one.

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People who added this item 107 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7
Tangerine (2015)
First viewing - Jan. 8th

Much like the above film, this was one of the leftovers I had from last year's Netflix Instant Project, and the more its title pops up around me the more interested I was to give it a look. To some degree I enjoyed it thanks to the originality behind it and the fact it never slows down enough for one to be bored with it. The acting is a mixed bag at times, yet for the most part everyone is believable in their respective roles. The subject matter is such that it's rather impressive it even got made...no way you'd see a major studio shell out to finance a film about transgender characters. It never crosses any lines into greatness in my book, but it's definitely worth watching once.

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People who added this item 314 Average listal rating (160 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Jan. 10th

I'd originally intended to start the year off with this film, but as luck would have it I wasn't able to stay awake through it the first night I tried to watch it. So I shelved it for a time when I could watch it & be more alert for it, which wound up being on this particular Sunday afternoon.

Much ado has been made of Lady Snowblood's influence on Kill Bill, and while it's definitely there I feel like Tarantino did plenty to differentiate his film(s) from this one. A few similar shots and the overall theme aside, the films are very different animals. Lady Snowblood opens on an intense note, but then gives way to slowly working through the history that crafts our protagonist (which explains why I wasn't as able to stay awake the first time around). The tale bounces between past and present so often you'd be forgiven for being occasionally confused where you're at, and the fact that our protagonist bears a very strong resemblance to her mother doesn't help matters either. Overall it's definitely entertaining though. Arterial bloodsprays abound, the fight scenes are well-choreographed, the story plays out in ways that aren't always predictable, and the film just looks gorgeous. It didn't quite cross my personal line of greatness, but I'd watch it again down the road.
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People who added this item 346 Average listal rating (233 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Phantasm (1979)
Re-watch - Jan. 10th

After the news of Angus Scrimm's passing I knew I had to revisit the film he'll forever be best known for. He really gives an iconic performance as the Tall Man, cutting a striking figure and delivering a menacing presence. His character is the stuff of nightmares, which is fitting given the fact that that's basically what the film deals with. The rest of the cast is solid, and I love all the ideas on display throughout the film. What really struck me this time around though is how excellent the score is. I'm not sure I'd fully registered it the last time I watched this, but it definitely stuck out to me.

So RIP, Angus Scrimm, and thank you for giving us some great performances while you were here.
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People who added this item 986 Average listal rating (495 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Jan. 11th

David Bowie died today, and that news ruined my Monday if not my entire week. I didn't have a Bowie film I was especially wanting to watch at the end of the day after listening to his music as much as possible throughout the day, so I figured instead I'd finally watch Velvet Goldmine which is clearly an homage to him and the impact of his music. I didn't realize just how much it pays tribute to him though until some very familiar images popped up on the screen as it ran along. The film is a visual feast throughout, which helps it maintain a certain level of engagement. The music is often very good as well, though not so good I'd rush out and buy the soundtrack. And the acting is especially well done for the most part.

Yet I struggled to deeply connect with the characters or the events they go through. I kept hoping for something to really pull me into the film but that moment never came. I'm unsure whether that's because there's no clear lead character, or if they just failed to produce a character I could truly relate to. Fortunately as a fictionalized version of Bowie's glam years it's interesting & worth a look. I just doubt I'd sit through it again.

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People who added this item 436 Average listal rating (294 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Jan. 12th

The way this week started off I really needed some comedy, so I turned to Jackie Chan. And this was pretty amusing, though far from his best work. The plot is a little too ridiculous and thus doesn't make a lot of sense. Clearly a logical plot progression wasn't a requirement here. Then it ends abruptly which isn't satisfying either. So it's flawed, but it was entertaining enough to check it out once.

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People who added this item 436 Average listal rating (309 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Re-watch - Jan. 15th

I've been randomly quoting from this film lately whenever my daughter is around to make her laugh. So I finally figured why not let her see what I keep referring to? She loved the entire thing, laughed several times & when it ended asked if we can watch it again. Glad she appreciated it, and I'm sure as she gets older & picks up more of the jokes in it she'll appreciate it even more.
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People who added this item 1938 Average listal rating (1249 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
Re-watch - Jan. 16th

The kiddo wanted to watch a movie with me, so after I talked her out of watching Kung Pow again we eventually agreed on this one. I still dig the humor in it, the social commentary, and the pro-family message. The kiddo really enjoyed it as well, and Hammy the squirrel was her favorite (especially when he says he loves the cookie).
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
The Overnight (2015)
First viewing - Jan. 16th

This one popped up on Netflix over the weekend, and when I saw it was written & directed by Patrick Brice who did the same for Creep I gave it a shot. Once again he proves he can put together a film with some really awkward moments among characters with wonderful chemistry. The ensemble cast here is so believable in their respective roles that I got caught up in the progression of their friendship. I anticipated where it was heading, but definitely not how it played out so it was a very rewarding watch all around. I'm not sure that it crossed my personal line of greatness, but it came close & I'd definitely watch it again.

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People who added this item 62 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.2
First viewing - Jan. 17th

Kind of reluctant to add this since it's a short film, but eh why not? The animation here is simple but it works really well, thanks largely to the narrative. I'm kind of amazed by the entire thing as it explores the ways we approach death but with a sense of humor. Plus it delivers its message successfully despite only having a short amount of time to do so. I loved it ultimately & will definitely be watching it again.

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People who added this item 224 Average listal rating (156 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
Blue Ruin (2013)
First viewing - Jan. 21st

Since I'm highly anticipating Green Room I figured I should finally watch the director's previous film Blue Ruin. It's a solid effort, a revenge flick that's full of surprises. I was pretty captivated by the entire thing & thought the cast did a decent job all around. It never quite crossed my personal line of greatness, but it's definitely a film that's worth checking out. And while I wouldn't go out of my way to own a copy of it I'd probably be willing to watch it again at some point. So call it a 7.5.

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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Jan. 23rd

The synopsis for this one caught my eye a while back as the idea is pretty novel. Dude wants to kill himself, finds out each time he tries he can't die, then he hires a hit man to see if he can succeed where he's failed. The film has a very deliberate pace, which worked OK for me but if I'd watched it on a night when I was more tired I probably would have fallen asleep in the first half. Fortunately that wasn't the case. The film is really interesting & I dug the ideas and how it approached them. Some of the dialogue could be better in places, but the two leads do an exceptional job of carrying the film regardless. Much like Blue Ruin this one is borderline for me between a 7 & an 8 (albeit for different reasons), so I do think it's worth checking out.

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People who added this item 101 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Turbo Kid (2015)
First viewing - Jan. 29th

This was a different film, and one that I more admired for its design and ideas than its execution. The costumes and overall story recall the Mad Max series to various degrees, and I couldn't help feeling like this was a story within that world at times. It's all entertaining enough, especially with all the violence that results in blood flowing in sprays that go everywhere. But it never crossed the line into greatness for me & I felt at the end like one viewing was enough.

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Re-watch - Jan. 30th

The third film in this series leaves at the end of the month, so since I watched the first Naked Gun not long ago I figured I'd take the opportunity to revisit this film before I tackle the third. One thing about the ZAZ crew is when the jokes hit their mark they really hit it hard. There were several times throughout the film I was laughing really hard, even though I've seen it before. It's never a great film, but it's so amusing that I'd be willing to watch it again.

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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in the theatre
People who added this item 798 Average listal rating (570 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Jan. 9th

I decided to kick off my Saturday morning with two films in a row at Drafthouse, and as it worked out this was the first of them. I'm still in awe of the film, from its wonderful character development to its perfect pacing to its social commentary. Not to mention the powerhouse ensemble casting & stellar soundtrack. The only trouble is it's a tough film to discuss too much without spoiling any of it, but now that it's in wider release hopefully it's only a matter of time before the rest of you catch up with me.

Funny thing though...you know you're too used to watching films shot digitally when you're pleasantly surprised every time a cigarette burn appears in the corner of the screen. 70mm (and actual film in general) is a wonderful thing.
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People who added this item 884 Average listal rating (637 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
The Revenant (2015)
First viewing - Jan. 9th

Hey another 1800s film set in winter. While there are some surface-level similarities between this & The Hateful Eight, this film isn't even in the same league in my opinion. Sure, Tom Hardy gives another wonderful performance that makes the film worth sitting through but at this point that's just to be expected of him. The day he fails to do so I'll be worried & stop checking out damn near everything he's in. Hopefully that day never comes. DiCaprio also does an excellent job with his role, though most would argue that's to be expected of him too. The film itself is composed of some beautiful and memorable shots & moments along the way, which also help make watching this one a worthwhile endeavor.

Only trouble is the pacing is such that the 2 1/2 hour run-time feels like you're there over 3 hours. It doesn't help that you're never given any means of connecting deeply with the characters, a fact which is complicated by the way the film jumps between the groups too often. Remember Babel? Kinda the same thing here. Worst of all the film ultimately feels pointless. If there's a message it's trying to convey beyond the dramatization of one man's journey to hell & back, it failed to deliver it successfully. I kept waiting for some reason for sitting through the whole thing, some final moment that would blow me away, but it never comes. So I walked out feeling cheated, to be honest, like I sat through an overlong film with nothing to show for it other than the time lost to it. Which is a shame, because if the film as a whole was as good as some of the moments it creates along the way it'd easily be considered great.

Just a side note: Throughout the pre-show for this one Drafthouse played the entire "Guy on a Buffalo" series of shorts which are stupid fun and you should check them out for a laugh.
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People who added this item 8062 Average listal rating (5161 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.9
Pulp Fiction (1994)
Re-watch - Jan. 19th

I finally got to attend a quote-along screening of Pulp Fiction, and it was a lot of fun. They gave us cap guns so we could shoot along with the characters, plus candy cigarettes since real ones are a constant presence throughout the film. They also gave a few people spray bottles so the crowd got misted with water during the scene where Maynard wakes up Marcellus & Butch and the scene where Vincent & Jules get hosed down. And of course I got to quote along with one of the most quotable movies I've ever seen in an audience of fellow fans. Good times.
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People who added this item 294 Average listal rating (197 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
Anomalisa (2015)
First viewing - Jan. 21st

I'm going to be thinking about this film for a while. So no comments from me other than a strong recommendation to avoid learning about the film in advance and to just go see it.
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People who added this item 2593 Average listal rating (1705 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
Jackie Brown (1997)
Re-watch - Jan. 26th

Alamo Drafthouse did free screenings of Jackie Brown for Victory members, so I couldn't pass up seeing it on the big screen one more time. I've detailed my thoughts on it before and they haven't changed much since then, though I'm noticing that my appreciation for it continues to grow the older I get. Seeing it in a theatre with an audience was definitely worth the trip.
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Netflix Instant Project for 2016


Netflix Instant Project for 2016


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 & submit your recommendations.
People who added this item 266 Average listal rating (174 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.8
Private Parts (1997)
Re-watch - Jan. 9th

Recommended by moviewatcher122


After the string of revenge films I've been going through, I needed something comedic and nonviolent. So I turned to one of the comedies from the Netflix Instant Project, and a film I haven't seen since it was in theatres. Now I've never been a fan of Stern's, but I remember going to see the film with my friends and enjoying it well enough. And while I hadn't watched it again since, I do also own the soundtrack & still listen to most of the songs off it from time to time.

Anyway, it's still a really funny film and I appreciate the angle Stern took with it. The misunderstood artist who just wants to be loved and understood is a theme all of us misfits can identify with and relate to, and the film sticks to that theme very well as it rolls along. I can also respect the way Stern stays loyal to those he works with, as he keeps his cohorts by his side over the years. And while I don't always appreciate his antics, there are some great comedic bits here which had me laughing heartily at times.

Probably best of all though is Paul Giamatti's performance as "Pig Vomit". This was the first film I ever noticed him in, and he plays that role to perfection creating a character who is caustic and slimy and holds his own against Stern even when he's losing. The final speech from his character during the credits is especially revealing to what kind of person he was (supposed to be?).

So ultimately this wound up being worth watching again, but I think I'll stick by my rating of 7/10 as it's not a film I enjoy enough to watch often.
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People who added this item 321 Average listal rating (222 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Jan. 17th

Recommended by VierasTalo


I like the way this blends a love story with a mystery, exploring various facets of romantic relationships along the way. Geoffrey Rush turns in another in a long line of stellar performances and carries us through the film with his creation of a rich yet flawed character. The supporting cast does an excellent job as well, but Rush shines above them all. The mystery side of it unfolds in a way that delivers some surprises while keeping you mainly focused on the relationship between Virgil and Claire, and winds up being pretty effective. It didn't quite cross my personal line of greatness, but I enjoyed it well enough I'd be willing to watch it again.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I watched before Netflix removed them from my queue
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 5.2
First viewing - Jan. 4th

I've been wanting to check out one of Emily Hagins's films ever since I saw Zombie Girl, and since I watched that doc this is the only film of hers that's been available on Instant. I would have preferred to start with Pathogen, but haven't got around to it yet & then found out this was leaving which made it my initiation to her work by default.

And I've got to say...given that she was 17 when she wrote & directed this it's pretty decent. The way the film is shot is mostly well-handled, with some interesting perspectives & memorable visuals. The dialogue isn't great, but at least it comes off as somewhat genuine due to the mostly teenage cast. The plot is decent and definitely entertaining in the ways it plays out. The acting is a mixed bag due to the heavy use of inexperienced actors, but they do their best and you can tell they were committed to making the film work. It helps too that there's some charm & heart behind the film, which endeared the whole thing to me more than I'd anticipated. All of which added up to a cute little B movie that was worth watching once. And I'm willing to give Hagins's other films a shot.
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People who added this item 289 Average listal rating (192 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Jan. 7th

The combination of Christian Bale & Woody Harrelson was too good to pass up, which is why this has sat in my queue for over a year now. And as it turns out they both deliver strong performances which help keep the film worth sitting through. Harrelson is just a monster, and his violent nature which is strongly established in the opening scene kept me waiting for him to explode every time he was on screen. Casey Affleck is here too and was a pleasant surprise as he disappears into his character. I believed the relationship between him and Bale's character, and really the entire cast has enough chemistry that you believe the citizens of Braddock we meet have known each other for years.

The downside here though is that the film follows a very obvious plotline from point a to point b. By the 30-minute mark I'd figured out where it was going, minus a few details of course. And thus it wound up being worth watching exactly once.
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People who added this item 270 Average listal rating (185 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Jan. 14th

I've got to say I was pleasantly surprised by this sequel and thought it was as good as the first one. The stunts and action sequences impressed me, the cast does a solid job, and it never stops being entertaining. It didn't cross the line of greatness for me, but I'd definitely watch this again.

Just a thought: Can the guys who shot the scenes in this and the first film come teach Americans how to shoot action scenes right?
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People who added this item 3371 Average listal rating (2185 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Jan. 20th

My general disinterest in Keanu initially led me to avoid this film back when it came out, but when it popped up on Netflix I figured I'd add it to my queue and give it a shot at some point. Well, now it's set to leave so I finally watched it.

For most of the film I was really into it...the story was intriguing and I like the way it unfolded even though I knew more or less what the big secret here was. I also appreciated the exploration of the depths a human can sink to without realizing fully what he's doing. Plus Al Pacino rocks the hell out of his role here, reminding me why I used to love him so much. The supernatural elements mostly work well, and Charlize Theron believably carries us through her mental breakdown & blew me away. But then the ending comes along and undoes all the goodwill the film built up. If it had ended properly this easily could have crossed the line into greatness, but I found the finale to be frustrating and a complete disappointment. I'm tempted to rant about it here, but I'll refrain...suffice it to say it turned the film from one I'd watch again into one I won't revisit.
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People who added this item 322 Average listal rating (185 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Verdict (1982)
First viewing - Jan. 24th

Hey, another film leaving my queue that's a courtroom drama. No supernatural elements this time though, which is fine as they really wouldn't suit the film. Paul Newman is his usual amazing self as the alcoholic underdog lawyer, and he's surrounded by an excellent cast helping deliver a heck of a story. It didn't quite cross my personal line of greatness, but I did like it well enough that I'd be willing to watch it again down the road.
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People who added this item 672 Average listal rating (367 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Jan. 25th

This is one of the few Danny Boyle films I skipped, and thanks to it being probably his least talked about film I didn't know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised that it's as good as it is, though that's mostly thanks to the strong cast. The story is quirky which keeps it entertaining, but ultimately it winds up right where you'd expect it to. As such it's not great, but definitely better than I'd anticipated & thus worth sitting through once.
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People who added this item 308 Average listal rating (218 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.9
Fletch (1985)
Re-watch - Jan. 28th

I thought I'd watched this since I've been keeping lists on here, but evidently not. Anyway, this was better than I'd remembered it being & I found the humor & story worked together well consistently. I dug Chase's costumes throughout & the supporting cast is pretty solid. Some of the score recalled Beverly Hills Cop, which makes sense when you realize both films had the same composer behind them. And so where before I didn't think I'd want to watch this again, now I'm more inclined to watch it a few more times down the road.
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Re-watch - Jan. 31st

As stated above somewhere I wound up ending the month by catching this before it left. And it's more fun than I remembered, which is definitely a good thing. The jokes still hit their mark most of the time, and it's too much fun to hate on. It's not great, but as long as I'm laughing I'm satisfied with it. I do think it's the weakest of the three films though, so it comes out more as a 7.5 as I'd probably watch it again a couple more times down the road.

Just a thought: The jokes in the credits on all three films are great. And I didn't realize before that Weird Al is in all of these.
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I'm kicking off the new year with as little planning as possible in hopes of keeping things interesting. That said, Drafthouse is luring me in with Tarantino screenings I'm very tempted to take advantage of. The crown jewel of the bunch though in my book is the Pulp Fiction Quote-Along so I'll definitely be hitting that one up. Second among them is the opportunity to catch True Romance on the big screen, which I think is one of two Tarantino films I haven't seen in a theatre (I definitely haven't seen Natural Born Killers on the big screen). Of course there are new movies coming out to see as well this month, so I won't just be feasting on Tarantino there.

At home I'm still carrying on with the Netflix Instant Project, and if you're streaming movies through them at home please drop by the list and join us. Doesn't matter what part of the world you're in, nor how often or heavily you participate. If you want to just recommend films, drop by. If you want to watch some recommendations and support them, that's cool too. Just join us whenever it fits into your schedule, even if only for a single month. The more the merrier!

Ok, enough of my rambling. Happy new year to you & thanks for continuing to support my lists.

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Comments

Posted: 1 year, 3 months ago at Jan 29 19:50
Oh my, nice to see you enjoyed Strangers on a Train so thoroughly. It's a good one alright. Happy to see you enjoyed Anomolisa so well. I'm annoyed that I haven't been able to get out and see it yet. The Overnight has been sitting in my queue and I may make an effort to see that one based on your response.

I only recently caught up with Out of the Furnace as well... seems we had very similar responses. I tried Tangerine but got distracted by life stuff... I may try again.

If there's a Neflix streaming movie I'd urge you to see it's definitely People Places Things. I think it will be right down your alley.
Posted: 1 year, 3 months ago at Feb 9 7:16
Even though I loved The Revenant, I don't necessarily disagree with what you've said and I agree with you to an extent as I did think it was too long at times and it really shows at times. Glad you liked Rumble in the Bronx and even though I liked it more than you did, I do agree that the ending felt abrupt as I remember wanting more when it ended. Also it's interesting that you started off the year with Strangers on a Train as I was going to end the month with it, but then I realized that I wasn't in the right mood for it so I decided to watch something else instead.

There are quite a few movies you've watched this month that I've put on my radar now. I'm now even more interested in the sequel to District B13 as I wasn't sure about it at first since I loved the first one and Lady Snowblood definitely sounds interesting. I was also going to see The Hateful Eight in theatres, but it left so soon with very little notice.
Posted: 1 year, 2 months ago at Mar 6 17:07
I didn't know that the palebearer (Angus) of Phantasm had passed away, he's one of the most creepy character i've seen on a big screen during the 70's.
Posted: 1 year, 2 months ago at Mar 7 19:59
@Dark Warrior - He definitely created a creepy character in that series, and it was an iconic role. Kinda odd to me that he didn't do anything else in his career that will be as well-remembered.

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