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Added by the giraffe on 3 Jun 2017 12:48
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2017: June

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Noteworthy: The best and the worst

The breakdown: 27 movies watched
21 first views, 6 re-watches
14 via Netflix, 7 via DVD and 6 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1920s, 40s, 60s, 70s, 90s, 2000s, & 2010s

First off, this list wound up being delayed more than I'd planned & I appreciate your patience while I wrapped it up. I didn't do a very good job of keeping it updated throughout June, and then at the end of the month I started a vacation which has resulted in a lot of my time & energies being focused elsewhere. I'll have to do a better job in July of keeping that month's list updated more regularly.

All in all I'd say this was a mostly good month movie-wise. I've started forcing myself to knock out films in my queue rather than letting them sit there indefinitely, which makes me feel somewhat productive. And of those films I watched via Netflix this month most were worthwhile. I'm also still doing that thing where I watch something they've just added though, but at least I had similar results with those too.

Most importantly I managed to catch everything I wanted to in the theatre this month, and we have the first film of 2017 that I've given full marks to. If it's not still sitting at the top of my list for this year when 2018 begins, I'll be very surprised.
People who added this item 291 Average listal rating (215 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Baby Driver (2017)
First viewing - June 29th

Best new-to-me film for June


I'm in awe of what Edgar Wright & his cast & crew have accomplished with this film. Everyone who loves movies needs to see this on the big screen at least once. I'll see it again next month, because for me one spin with it wasn't enough.
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People who added this item 42 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.2
Tag (2015)
First viewing - June 1st

Best hidden gem


Well, this was a fun way to kick off the new month. I kept seeing this title pop up while browsing Netflix, but when I paused long enough to see Sion Sono directed it I knew I had to check it out. As usual this film is an oddball and original work from him, which hooked me from its epic opening & kept me guessing where it was going through its ending. It's got some flaws, but if you're passionate about unusual films it's totally worth a look.

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People who added this item 30 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 3.7 IMDB Rating 0
Laserblast (1978)
First viewing - June 15th

Worst film for June


I was in the mood for a dose of MST3K,and this was next in line so I gave it a look. I've never heard of this movie, and after watching it that's no surprise as it's terrible. Fortunately Mike & the Bots' riffing made it less painful, though I didn't think this was one of their better ones. The skits between were so boring I skipped one and left to get more water during another. Definitely a weaker episode all around, and thus not one I'd bother with again.

MST3K rating: 6/10

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Home viewings

People who added this item 542 Average listal rating (351 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - June 9th

My friend hooked me up with a handful of movies for the weekend, so I kicked everything off with this film. Had I known Michael Ian Black was involved I might have bumped this up in priority some, but thankfully it’s nothing so earth-shattering that my not getting to it sooner is necessarily a bad thing. I appreciated the story and much of the humor throughout, and Pegg gives a great performance. It was also amusing to see Dylan Moran play his best friend given they were rivals in Shaun of the Dead. The whole thing was solidly entertaining and fairly fresh for an underdog film. It’s not great, but I’d gladly sit through it again at some point.
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People who added this item 599 Average listal rating (404 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.7
Open Water (2003)
First viewing - June 9th

Followed up Run Fatboy Run with Open Water, which I’d initially ignored but heard good feedback (especially among my fellow Listalites) over the years and so I’ve been more curious about it. I thought they did a fine job of taking a realistic approach to the events and keeping the action grounded instead of going overboard with it. The whole thing feels at times like you’re watching a home video, though it’s obvious you’re not as the cameraman is never acknowledged in any way. A found footage approach wouldn’t work here, of course, so thankfully that’s not attempted. And yet beyond their ability to pull off this film on such a low budget I can’t say I was much impressed. The acting is fine, but I was never given any reason to care about the characters beyond the unfortunate situation they’re put in. Neither is very likeable nor charismatic enough to get me truly invested in them. And if you can’t inspire me to engage fully with your characters, then your film will fail to hit its mark. I thought it was worth watching once, but wouldn’t bother with it again.
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People who added this item 2259 Average listal rating (1277 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
Munich (2005)
First viewing - June 10th

This has been on my want-to-watch list for a while now, so I’m glad I’m finally able to cross it off. I’d say the first two-thirds of the film were pretty engaging and interesting, but going into the last third of the film it ran out of steam somewhat. The acting is impressive all around, and I appreciated that the cast was so diverse. It’s especially refreshing to hear some use of the characters’ original language instead of being stuck in one of those everyone speaks English all the time worlds. But as is typically true of these true-to-life films, I appreciated what was done but didn’t fall in love with the film as a whole. That’s partly due to it running too long, but also I’m finding as I get older I’d rather have movies give me a means of escape & something to be excited about rather than a serious commentary on social issues that leaves me feeling like I watched the news for too long. If I’m looking for the latter I can seek out a documentary and get the same thing. So yes, it’s a well-made film & worth seeing, but not my cup of tea & thus not one I’ll watch again.
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People who added this item 3207 Average listal rating (1878 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - June 11th

After dinner I had enough time before bed to finally watch this film. Man Angelina Jolie knocks it out of the park with her performance…I fully support her Oscar win. The rest of the cast does a wonderful job too, but she steals every scene she’s in. I was occasionally reminded of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, which I guess can’t be easily avoided given the setting. The story was interesting and I was engaged throughout, but I felt like something was missing to earn a great status in my book. I could certainly watch it again, but I kinda feel like I don’t need to and once was probably enough.

Just a thought: It was a pleasant surprise seeing Angela Bettis pop up in this.
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People who added this item 737 Average listal rating (515 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - June 8th

I couldn't get excited by watching anything I hadn't seen from Netflix when I browsed it, so instead I went with revisiting Tucker and Dale which is always a good time. I still love everything about it.

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People who added this item 366 Average listal rating (241 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.3
Re-watch - June 13th

The trailers for Rough Night keep making me think of Very Bad Things, so since I have no interest in seeing the former I decided to revisit the latter instead. I still have a blast with every moment of this film. The plot is fairly ridiculous, but the actors sell it wonderfully and maintain the insanity and energy throughout the film. I can't recall how long it's been since I last sat through it, but I'll try not to wait so long next time around.
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People who added this item 2260 Average listal rating (1413 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Re-watch - June 16th

The kiddo & I managed to eat dinner early enough that we had time to watch a short movie before bed. I made her get ready for bed first, then we curled up together and watched this again. She didn't remember all of it, but laughed almost as often as I did and we had a great time together.
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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - June 16th

After the kiddo went to bed I felt like watching something else that was short & took a chance on Southside with You. I know it looked good from the trailers, but I also knew that seeing it on the big screen wouldn't be crucial. Overall I really enjoyed it, it pretty much plays out like Before Sunrise just with the Obamas instead. I felt like it worked well to just present their first outing together rather than trying to push beyond it, and Parker Sawyers plays Barack perfectly. Tika Sumpter goes toe-to-toe with him very well, and the film wonderfully mixes humor and drama together. While I doubt I'd need to I would be willing to sit through it again some time.

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People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
The BFG (2016)
Re-watch - June 17th

The kiddo wanted to watch this Friday night, but I shot down that idea since The BFG runs almost 2 hours. She therefore woke up Saturday asking to watch it, which I agreed to after we got our morning errands taken care of. As I'd suspected she really enjoyed the movie, and expressed surprise that it wasn't a true story. Unsure why she thought it was, maybe because it's live action & they go to see the Queen of England? Whatever the case, I think she was relieved to know there aren't really any giants in the world. I liked it just as much as I did the first time around, so my rating stands.

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People who added this item 437 Average listal rating (249 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
The Beaver (2011)
First viewing - June 17th

Review by PvtCaboose91


After the kiddo went to bed I wanted to watch something & wound up choosing The Beaver. I've seen mostly positive feedback on it and will gladly add my name to that list. Mel Gibson gives one of his best performances here, and the film had some surprises along the way. The above review pretty much nails my thoughts on other things, for those who prefer a more in-depth look.

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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Gantz: O (2016)
First viewing - June 19th

This one was recommended to me by Netflix back before their ratings system went to shit, so I finally decided to give it a look instead of leaving it in my queue indefinitely. The whole film is composed using CGI/mocap animation which has its ups & downs. At times I felt like I was just watching the interstitial scenes of a video game without being given the opportunity to play it, which I can't say I especially appreciated. The monsters they came up with are quite impressive though, and the action scenes were entertaining enough & mostly well-staged. The story is fairly predictable, and I felt like the ending would have been better had they not tacked on a late reveal that felt unnecessary & somewhat negated my appreciation for how it played out. Others may find more to appreciate here than I did, but overall I thought it was just okay.

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People who added this item 41 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 4.8 IMDB Rating 4.6
XX (2017)
First viewing - June 23rd

This played earlier this year at the theatre in my neighborhood, but I wasn't sure I wanted to pay to see it. So when it popped up on Netflix I figured I could safely give it a chance. Here we have a horror-ish anthology with four tales delivered by four female directors, so I'll comment on each one below. The whole thing is loosely tied together by some visually interesting stop animation that doesn't exactly tell a story but more meanders from one event to the next. Or maybe there was a connection and it failed to make it known well enough that I picked up on it. Anyway, on with the segments.

"The Box" starts things off, and while I thought it was conceptually interesting there was no real payoff. The acting is solid throughout, and the make-up works well, but the non ending left me indifferent to the whole thing. 6/10

"The Birthday Party" comes next & was easily my favorite segment of the entire film. It's more comedic, but first-time director Annie Clark knows how to stage the scenes and build to a satisfying ending. I'd gladly check out more films from her should she decide to pursue them (though music fans better know her as St. Vincent, and it's doubtful she'd give up entirely on music). 8/10

"Don't Fall" is the third entry, a stupidly obvious short that thankfully moves quickly to its end. The characters are mostly annoying, and it's a big step down from the previous story. 4/10

"Her Only Living Son" closes out the film, and my expectations were maybe too high given that it was directed by Karen Kusama who gave us last year's excellent The Invitation (which is also on Netflix & far more worth your time if you haven't seen it still). I liked the story idea for this one, but felt like it needed more time to be able to explore the mother & son relationship so that there would be significant emotional weight to the ending. That said I don't think it would sustain for a full-length film, but I did think it could've been better. At least it was better than "Don't Fall". 6/10

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People who added this item 2468 Average listal rating (1612 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Heat (1995)
Re-watch - June 24th

Thanks to the 4K restoration making the rounds this year I've seen a lot of talk about Heat which has had me itching to revisit it. Thankfully I didn't have anything I needed to do on this particular Saturday, so I made time after lunch to watch it again. And man, it's really held up well. I could go on & on about everything that works, but if you don't already know by now then the only way you'll understand is to go watch it already. I fell in love with the film all over again, thanks partly to the fact that this was only my second time to watch it so all the pieces weren't still in mind. I don't think I'll go so long to watch it again, but I'd be fine with watching it once every 10 years just to get the full effect of it.

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People who added this item 105 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Destiny (1921)
First viewing - June 24th

After dinner I realized I haven't watched anything made prior to my birth this month, and this is one of the few films in my queue that fit the bill. Plus it's Fritz Lang, so I knew it'd be worth a look. And the film was definitely interesting, as it visits different countries so we get a look at Carnival, Ramadan, and a Chinese emperor's birthday along the way. The authenticity of these moments is questionable at times, but I can imagine audiences back then being swept away by them regardless. I wound up kind of checking in & out of the film as it ran along because it wasn't engaging me very strongly. Visually it's quite interesting most of the time, but the story I think would have been better had they held off until the talkies came along. Still for what it was it was all right, and those who love silent film will likely appreciate it more than I did.

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People who added this item 797 Average listal rating (486 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - June 24th

My trip to the far past out of the way, I decided to finally watch The Place Beyond the Pines before I went to sleep. First off, the ensemble cast is pretty stellar all around. I personally didn't care for the young actor who plays A.J., but that's also clearly the point so I can't complain too much about it. I thought the story was interesting enough & it held my attention. Overall though I didn't think it was great, but it was definitely worth a look.

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People who added this item 177 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Okja (2017)
First viewing - June 29th

I wasn't feeling well most of this week, hence the lack of movies watched, so after getting a good night's sleep two nights in a row I was determined to get two of my most anticipated films of 2017 watched before bed. So I got home, ate dinner, & sat down with Okja before heading out to see Baby Driver.

First off, the story was really well-told with a good mix of humor and action. The social commentary could have been more subtle, but I guess Bong Joon Ho wanted to make sure we knew what he was getting at. And yet the social commentary isn't really the main focus of the film despite its strong presence throughout. Instead it's a movie about the friendship between a young girl & her pet, and while it strives to live up to the bar set by similar films it doesn't quite fully deliver on the emotional side. Still, with the stellar ensemble cast and wonderful visuals this is very much worth seeing and I enjoyed it enough that I'll gladly watch it again.

Just a thought: I really wish we'd get an opportunity to see this in theatres, as the whole film would benefit from the bigger screen.

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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
First viewing - June 3rd

I’d originally planned to take the kiddo to see Wonder Woman over the weekend, but my friend who saw it Thursday night warned me little kids wouldn’t likely sit through it without complaints. So since the reviews for this were mostly positive & the kiddo has read all the books and is a fan, I took her to see this instead. And I was pleasantly surprised, given that the trailer I’d watched failed to impress me. The humor occasionally falls flat, but when it hits its mark it works wonderfully. My favorite thing about the movie though it its refusal to limit itself to one style of visual presentation. Getting occasional breaks from the 3-D animation yielded great results, both in the humor and storytelling departments. It’s definitely not great, but I’d gladly sit through it again with her, and if the potential sequel (you don’t think they’d call this his “first” adventure for nothing, do you?) lives up to the standard it sets then I’ll take her to see it too.
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People who added this item 572 Average listal rating (354 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Wonder Woman (2017)
First viewing - June 10th

As I mentioned above, my friend talked me out of catching Wonder Woman opening weekend with the kiddo. I still wanted to see it and make up my own mind though, and I thought it was really good. There are some flaws that keep it from being truly Great, but I found it consistently engaging and overall highly enjoyed it. The No Man’s Land scene is great within the film, and it’ll definitely be on my mental list of favorite scenes when I think back on this year. I think that to some degree the kiddo wouldn’t fully appreciate it at her age though, but I’ll definitely insist on watching it with her when she’s a bit older & expect she’ll love it.
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People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (78 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - June 10th

After Wonder Woman I took a break for lunch before returning to the theatre to see It Comes At Night, which has been buzzed about by critics this year. I didn’t love it as much as they did, but as I thought about it more & more after it ended I appreciated the film a little more than I did the moment it ended. The marketing for the film is somewhat misleading, which is unfortunate but it works insofar as encouraging people to go check out the film. The problem is it sets up the wrong expectations as this isn’t a traditional horror film. And while I respect it for doing something different, I can’t say it totally worked for me. And that’s likely due to the expectations I had going into it, which means I may need to watch it again to confirm whether it works better now that my expectations have been reset. I do think it’s worth seeing, but warn others to not believe the marketing and go in with an open mind.
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People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 5.9
First viewing - June 22nd

My neighborhood theatre was playing this and the 22nd was its final night so I caught it while I still could. Here we have a very fresh take on the vampire film, which makes it totally worth seeing. The closest point of reference would probably be Martin, though I enjoyed this film far more than that one. The acting is excellent, the gore is often cringe-worthy, the story was different, and horror/vampire fans will find many references to appreciate throughout. And yet it didn't quite cross the line into greatness, largely because there are scenes that are either too long or unnecessary. While the film certainly needs a methodical pace that matches the amount of time the events are supposed to take place during, there were times when I wanted the Python mob to show up & yell "Get on with it!" instead. I'm sure the director felt he was filling time in an artistic way, but these moments failed to work for me. Possibly he just needs a better editor to work with him for next time, but rest assured I'll be keeping an eye out for more from Michael O'Shea in the future.
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People who added this item 277 Average listal rating (160 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Killers (1946)
First viewing - June 25th

My neighborhood theatre hosted another Noir Night Out, this time with a film I'd never seen, The Killers. Since the weather was warmer they grilled hot dogs instead of serving chili, though there was some chili for those who wanted it on their hot dogs. Anyway, the movie was pretty good. The cast was solid and I liked the non-linear narrative style. Story-wise it's nothing especially groundbreaking, but it was consistently entertaining and I walked out satisfied with having seen it. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but if the occasion should arise to do so I would.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I caught before Netflix removed them from streaming
First viewing - June 2nd

Like most people in the U.S. I didn’t know much about Jet Li before he made the jump to American movies, so I’m not as well-versed in his earlier films. The Legend is definitely one of his better movies, with a solid script and supporting cast. The action sequences are well staged and occasionally humorous in ways that work well with Li’s talents. And while the script keeps the whole film light with humor, it’s never too much to the point that the dramatic elements fail to work. I was very pleased with this one, so much so that the moment it ended I added its sequel to my queue.
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People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Legend 2 (1993)
First viewing - June 6th

And as it turns out I should have ignored this one. I thought since it was the same cast & director, plus made the same year as the first one that it’d be equally worthwhile. Evidently they must have thrown a script together quickly, because the storytelling is a mess. The first film works well because the script is solid and then they craft everything else around it. This time it’s more like they’re trying to recapture every element that worked in the first film except the storytelling. Logic issues abound with characters performing actions that left me scratching my head. The fight scenes are mostly entertaining, but the sound quality took a big drop for some reason, so you get obviously fake noises throughout the fight sequences. Maybe it was the transfer Netflix got stuck with, but it bugged me. The film tries to compensate for the weaker story by letting the comedic elements outshine the dramatic ones, which might work well if this was a Jackie Chan movie. I found the comedic side of the film to be more annoying than amusing, especially when it fell to the villain played by Chun Hua Ji. So in the end this really wasn’t worth my time, though it wasn’t so bad that I wasn’t able to finish it. I definitely wouldn’t watch it again.
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People who added this item 444 Average listal rating (305 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
Re-watch - June 30th

I noticed this was leaving on July 1st, so I figured I'd watch it with the kiddo so she could see the original adaptation of Batman. My thoughts haven't changed from the last time I watched it, but it was good to see her enjoy it. I was especially amused that when she saw the shark hanging from Batman's leg she turned to me & asked if it was a foam shark. Can't get one past her. ;)

R.I.P. Adam West...you were my first Batman & I'm thankful for the joy you brought me through your various other roles.
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Comments

Posted: 2 months, 2 weeks ago at Aug 2 12:43
'I’m finding as I get older I’d rather have movies give me a means of escape & something to be excited about rather than a serious commentary on social issues that leaves me feeling like I watched the news for too long'

I'm sorry, dude, but this commentary is just so depressing... Basically, as we get older, we should ignore serious and realistic movies and watch instead some shallow blockbusters? I don't think so...

For me, it is actually the other way around, the older I become, the more expectations I have regarding the movies I watch. I mean, I don't mind to watch something silly or simply entertaining but, as far as I'm concerned, the great movies would only be the ones that have me thinking about them for at least a couple of days.

It's interesting also that, to me, something profound or serious actually is also some form of escapism for me because it allows me to put my life into perspective. Indeed, thanks to these movies, when I see something really terribly happening to some characters, I come to the conclusion that my life is not so bad after all which is actually rather relaxing.
Edit: 2 months, 2 weeks ago
Posted: 2 months, 2 weeks ago at Aug 5 13:48
@johan Fair points all. And I didn't mean to endorse mindless blockbusters at all (note I don't often watch them). I love it when movies make me think about them for days afterwards & those often become favorites of mine. But I'm far more excited by original fictional tales that have things to say than something like Munich that recreates actual events & keeps everything so grounded in reality that it hardly feels like a movie to me. Such "true events" films are often well-made in a technical sense, but fail to engage me on any personal level & thus hold less meaning or importance for me.

And certainly my expectations of films have changed over time too. Lately I find myself giving out less and less 9s & 10s, and some 9s I drop to 8s upon revisiting over time. I think that's because the more movies we watch, the more familiar we get with how they work & thus it takes something truly new or different to impress us. And for me sometimes the first time I watch something it can make a stronger impression than if I watch it again (& again).

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