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Added by the giraffe on 28 Jan 2018 04:53
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2018: February

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 30 films watched
21 first views, 9 re-watches
7 via streaming, 20 via DVD, and 3 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1930s, 70s, 80s, 2000s, & 2010s

Well, overall I'd say February was mostly a success. I managed to watch more movies than there were days in the month, and most of them ranked at least 7/10. The kiddo and I also managed to wrap up our Marvel run ahead of seeing Black Panther, and I've loved revisiting the series with her & seeing what parts she enjoyed along the way. I didn't do as much streaming this month, relying more heavily on the library to get caught up on films I've wanted to see. I'm thankful to have them as a source for movies, especially as I've become less enamored with the streaming options available to me. I can't justify completely turning my back on streaming options, however, as Netflix and Amazon keep putting out worthwhile content often without any theatrical release (though Netflix tends to fare even better with TV series). I didn't make it to the theatre much, but there wasn't much out I wanted to see & the few films I cared about that did get released I managed to catch. Next month looks to be even heavier on worthwhile options though, so I'm sure I'll make up for this month's lack.
First viewing - Feb. 18th

I don't normally buy my tickets in advance since I've moved here unless it's a special event, but in this case I made an exception so as not to risk having the film sell out from under me. And I'm glad I did, as the theatre had the longest lines I've ever seen for Black Panther, and the kiddo and I wound up pretty far back by the time we got there after eating lunch. Thankfully we still got decent seats.

As for the film itself, it might be my favorite out of all the films in the MCU continuity. It works as a comic book movie while also delivering social commentary via the duality and history between T'Challa and Killmonger. If you only paid attention to what was going on on the surface of the film, you need to go back & see it again. The visuals were often jaw-dropping, the perspectives and cultures on display were refreshing, and the fact that both genders were equally strong made me super happy. Everyone knocks it out of the park, and Killmonger is easily the best villain in the MCU at this point. I could go on & on about what I loved about it, and I look forward to revisiting it a bunch of times down the road.

For those who have seen it I recommend the following articles, one on its themes related to America and one on the Afrofuturism that shapes the film's look, and yet another that favorably compares it to Do the Right Thing.

Just a thought: It astounds me how many people still walk out the moment the credits start for Marvel movies. At least 1/3 of the audience left and thus missed the first credits scene (which was one of the best parts of the film IMO), and another 1/3 or more left after that one. It's even more confusing when the theatre I went to put up a message about how everyone knows to sit through all the credits for Marvel movies...clearly this audience mostly didn't care and/or they didn't bother to read it.
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People who added this item 1989 Average listal rating (1203 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Feb. 8th

I know, I know, I should've seen this one already. But hey, better late than never right? It's every bit as good as its reputation suggests...smart, funny, original, and it left me in awe of the storytelling. It didn't quite earn a perfect score from me, but it came close. I regret sleeping on it and will undoubtedly be revisiting it to make up for that error.

Just a thought: Here's another film I can point to when I encounter someone who insists Nicolas Cage can't act.
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First viewing - Feb. 19th

I'd wanted to see Wonder during its theatrical run, but every weekend I had a chance to catch it either other films took precedence or the timing didn't work out in its favor. I knew, however, that the film would wreck me emotionally because the trailers plucked my heartstrings whenever I encountered them. And yeah, it did. But I totally loved it anyway. I haven't read the book it's based off of (though perhaps now I will), so I can't compare it to the source material, but I appreciated the ways the story was presented and the main characters managed to endear themselves to me. The ending could be seen as a bit over-the-top in hindsight, but as it happened it completely worked for me and thus didn't feel that way. It's absolutely worth seeing, and I'll gladly revisit it.
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People who added this item 1842 Average listal rating (1196 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Source Code (2011)
First viewing - Feb. 15th

It occurs to me that despite my undying love for Moon I have failed to watch any of Duncan Jones's other movies. And with his latest film Mute arriving soon (which I will see), I felt like correcting that. I slept on Source Code when it came out, dismissing it as a Memento-esque film which the trailers more or less sold it as. And now I feel like an idiot for doing so. Sure, the story structure owes a debt to Memento and Groundhog Day, but I wasn't prepared to get so into the story itself and the cast that helps it along. Jake Gyllenhaal delivers an outstanding performance and the rest of the cast rises to the occasion to try to match him and they mostly succeed. And while some aspects are easily enough anticipated, the film has enough going on elsewhere to keep things interesting to the point it's not a negative. I really loved the hell out of it, and will need to add it to my collection in the near future.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.7
First viewing - Feb. 1st

I didn't expect much out of this one, but since it's from Eli Craig who also did Tucker & Dale I figured I'd give it a shot. It's nothing great, and the horror and comedy balance skews more toward the latter, but at least it moves along swiftly enough that I wasn't bored with it. There are some moments that made it worthwhile, but it also has plenty of flaws. There's a lesbian character that eventually grew on me but started off so ridiculous that it seemed like a failed comedic bid at first. Thankfully she stops going over the top with trying to be funny after the first scene, but that introduction is grating. Anyway, this wasn't a bad film to sit through once, but I can't imagine a situation where I'd do so again.
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People who added this item 508 Average listal rating (284 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Feb. 2nd

I knew nothing about Get Carter beyond that it's a Michael Caine film & was remade with Stallone later on. I've never had any interest in the remake, and after watching this I won't need to bother with it. Not that this movie is bad really, but I had issues with it. The misogyny of it really bugged me at times, and I was so into the film that I fell asleep for part of it & didn't bother to back it up when I woke up again. Caine does a good job in his role, and evidently the main reason this film gets remembered is for its more realistic portrayal of modern-day (at the time) gangsters. I'll concede it gets that part right, as the characters and the violence throughout are pretty believable. But while its craft is admirable at times I just never really enjoyed it.
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People who added this item 502 Average listal rating (336 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.8
Haywire (2011)
First viewing - Feb. 6th

When I dropped off the Marvel movies to the library I figured I'd see what else they had and wound up walking out with another stack of 5 movies to get me through the weekend. I haven't kept up with Soderbergh over the course of his career, but had seen some positive things about Haywire and thought I'd give it a chance. Now that I've done so I think I might dig through more of his films that I've passed up the chance to see in recent years.

Gina Carano rocks the hell out of this movie. She's believable in her role and the fact that she was able to do all her own stunts really sells the character. I was very impressed by her performance, and only realized after it ended that I've seen her in other films. The rest of the cast does a wonderful job also, but given the names that's to be expected. The story isn't anything super original, but the action sequences more than make up for it and I really had a blast with the movie.
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People who added this item 218 Average listal rating (132 ratings) 4.8 IMDB Rating 5.2
First viewing - Feb. 9th

I had a pretty shitty week work-wise, so I caught the train to one of my favorite Mexican restaurants for dinner & had a pair of margaritas with my meal which helped improve my mood. So when I got home I wanted something fun & mindless, and figured why not this? It definitely ticked both boxes. It's not great, and if I'd switched my brain on for it I probably could've figured out exactly where it was going as in hindsight I recognize this story has been done plenty of times (just with different details of course). But it's entertaining, especially any scene with Donnie Yen who elevates things. Credit is also due to the diverse casting choices, which I found refreshing. Though points also get lost for having Tony Jaa do almost nothing...it's depressing how he started out as a really promising action star and has failed to consistently deliver on that promise. Anyway, if you want some stupid fun this isn't the worst way to spend your time.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Feb. 9th

Since it was still early I figured I had time to watch one more movie before bed and opted to check out The Ritual. Again I didn't have high expectations for this film, and thus I found it rewarding to watch. If you have Netflix I say check it out.

If you've seen it, feel free to unveil the rest of my thoughts on it: I loved the first hour or so of the film most of all. The fact that it leaves it up to your imagination to piece together what's going on was deeply appreciated. I wasn't as thrilled with the last 30 minutes where it revealed the creature and so on (though the creature was an impressive creation), but I also don't think it would've worked as well without the final confrontation which made up for some of what led to it. It doesn't ruin the movie, but I did feel like it prevented it from being anything great. Still, I'd gladly sit through this again at some point as overall it's a solid horror movie dealing with grief and loss.
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First viewing - Feb. 10th

I've seen a lot of praise for Personal Shopper which led me to check it out. I'm generally not a fan of Kristen Stewart, so I tend to ignore the films she makes, and thus my expectations weren't very high going into the film. And while I can confirm it's a well-made film, it's also nothing that really blew me away. She delivers a better performance than I've seen from her in the past, and as an exploration of how we interact with the visible and invisible world around us it's pretty interesting. But I never connected with it in any significant way, so it failed to engage me as deeply as it has its ardent supporters. I can't imagine sitting through it again, but I'm glad I can now stop wondering what it's like.
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First viewing - Feb. 10th

Here's another film I checked out based on the praise I've seen for it. I could've seen it in the theatre (and perhaps I should have), but the trailers for it failed to pique my interest and spur me toward spending money to see it. Checking it out from the library made it more worth my giving it a chance. And what do you know, it's actually pretty good.

Evidently its central character influenced the Indiana Jones film series, and that comes across while watching the film (I even thought of some of the natives as "Hovitos" at one point). The fact that most of this really happened makes it even more fascinating, and I thought between the acting and the technical aspects it was very well made. I didn't love it, but it was far more worth my time than Personal Shopper was. I'm on the fence as to whether I'd need to watch it again, so when you see the 7/10 rating below please note that it's a higher 7, perhaps borderline 8 even.
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People who added this item 354 Average listal rating (206 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - Feb. 11th

Of the five films I picked up from the library, this was the one I was most excited for. In recent years I've seen this one pop up from time to time, usually on others' best-of/favorites lists. I've never seen any of Garbo's movies, so most of what I know of her comes from other pop culture references to her, scenes carried over into more modern movies from her work. Now that I've finally watched one of her films I'll have to do a better job of catching up with her other acclaimed films.

Ninotchka absolutely earns its classic status, and I lost myself in the story and the dialogue, especially the banter between the titular character and Leon. It's not an original film, yet it still feels fresh after all this time and I quite adored it. It made me laugh quite a bit, and when it ended I had no complaints. I'd gladly watch it again.
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (25 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Feb. 13th

Prior to this I was not really familiar with the National Lampoon history beyond the movies the name has been attached to, so I found the film really interesting. It's also often hilarious, which should be the case given the subject, the cast, and the creative forces behind it. It's nothing groundbreaking really, as it's your basic biopic, but there's a narrative approach that makes it feel fresh and I was solidly entertained with it. So while it wasn't great I'd probably watch it again at some point.

Just a thought: I found it kinda fitting that Joel McHale played Chevy Chase given their history together on Community. Also, I'm in agreement that Caddyshack was not a good film at all.
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First viewing - Feb. 16th

I was hesitant to give Victor Crowley a chance given my disappointment with Hatchet's other sequels, but I figured if it was terrible I could just switch it off and watch something else. As it turned out I enjoyed it more than its predecessors, but still not quite as much as the original film. It's still basically big dumb horror fun in the spirit of the series, but I was completely in the mood for it and had a good time with it. The acting is the same mixed bag as usual, but thankfully it doesn't rely too heavily on the past films to be enjoyed. In fact I didn't even recognize anyone from a previous film except for Victor, which says a lot for how much these films stick with me after they end. I don't think I'd need to see it again, but I don't regret watching it.
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First viewing - Feb. 22nd

I'm beginning to worry that Cronenberg's post-horror run just isn't for me. Eastern Promises has some interesting aspects, yet feels like a film with a story I've seen done before and better. It's got enough going on all around that I was able to hang with it, but none of it ever resonated with me in any meaningful way. Yes, the cast does a good job, but it's all so underwhelming. It's not poorly made, just empty, and I'm surprised it's so well-liked.
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People who added this item 600 Average listal rating (373 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Feb. 23rd

For some reason I was under the impression I should check this out, and now I'm wishing I would have gone on ignoring the existence of Under the Skin. I'll concede that from an artistic standpoint there's a lot here to admire. The visuals are outstanding at times, and I dug the hidden camera approach to capturing most of the scenes. Unfortunately once you get beyond the style of the film there's not much substance elsewhere. The dialogue is minimal, and what little dialogue there is comes off as perfunctory and is thus forgettable. Also causing problems is the fact that trying to take a realistic approach renders most of the characters as somewhat real but cinematically dull. Credit is due to Scarlett Johansson for doing her best to keep the audience engaged, and she plays her role very well for what it is. But I kept waiting for the film to pay off in some way, and it never really did. So it's very likely that I'll quickly forget I even sat through this, though I won't make the mistake of sitting through it again.
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People who added this item 1588 Average listal rating (1073 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - Feb. 24th

I needed something fun to watch, and I'd picked up Drag Me To Hell from the library with a few other films so I chose it. A recent write-up for the film had me itching to revisit it, and it was even more fun than I'd remembered. It's very much in the same spirit as Evil Dead 2, with all the hallmarks and style that made that film a classic. Sure, Alison Lohman is no Bruce Campbell, but she deserves credit for letting Raimi torment her on screen here and delivers a strong performance. And it's very amusing to see so much of the horror take place in sunny California instead of another backdrop of the woods or limited to nightfall. It's not a film I'd need to watch a bunch of times, but I wouldn't hesitate to revisit it a few more.
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People who added this item 8279 Average listal rating (5337 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
Spider-Man (2002)
Re-watch - Feb. 25th

I had to stop by the ex's house to pick up something, and upon entering I found my daughter was watching Spider-Man. I walked in on the wrestling scene, and wound up staying through until the end...so while I didn't see all of it I figure I saw enough to count it. Course, as my daughter pointed out the first part could be skipped anyway because we all know his origin at this point.

Anyway, the film is fine I guess for the time it came out, but watching it now showed how painfully primitive the CG in it was compared to what can be done now. And while I shouldn't hold that against the movie, at times it's distracting which isn't good. Tobey does an acceptable job of playing Peter & Spidey, but watching this really reinforced how much I prefer Tom Holland and his portrayal. The rest of the cast ranges from great (Willem Dafoe is of course the best) to fine to meh. But I hadn't realized before that Octavia Spencer (who also cameos in Drag Me To Hell by the way) and Elizabeth Banks were in this, that's how long it's been since I last watched it (and per the credits I learned that Joe Mangianello played Flash Thompson, which kinda makes me want to see his scene or scenes I'd missed). And while I appreciate some of the Raimi touches they also remind me that I'm watching one of his films which distracts from any attempt at a consistent mood. So yeah, I still think it's problematic and far from a favorite film of mine. But I'm sure it could have also been worse.
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People who added this item 1011 Average listal rating (624 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - Feb. 25th

It took me a little while to get into the rhythm of Michael Clayton, but once it started clicking along for me I dug it. The ending is especially excellent. I could applaud the cast, but one look at who's in this and it goes without saying they're solid all around. Mostly though I appreciated how the film made me work to figure out how I felt about the characters instead of setting them up as clear heroes and villains. And bonus points are awarded for it being a thriller without guns. I don't know that I'd need to watch this one again, but it's definitely worth checking out.
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Re-watch - Feb. 27th

I stayed home with the kiddo on this day as she battled a cold, which gave us the opportunity to watch a couple of movies. The Dark Crystal had popped up in theatres here recently, but I couldn't justify paying over $20 for both of us to see it when we have it at home. She was reluctant to watch it but trusted me, and overall she enjoyed it despite some of the characters creeping her out. And sure, they're creepy, I'm not arguing that, but that appeals to me rather than being a downside. I can't remember the last time I watched The Dark Crystal, but I still really love it. The production details are astounding all around, and it makes me lament Henson's premature exit from the world as I'm sure he would have given us more captivating creations like this if he'd lived longer. I'm glad I revisited it with her, and I hope that over time she'll grow to appreciate it more.
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First viewing - Feb. 27th

The kiddo wanted to check out Fantastic Beasts on a previous trip to the library, but we wouldn't have had time to watch it so I made her wait. So I surprised her by picking this up when I stopped in without her, and of course she wanted to watch it as soon as possible. Her love for all things Harry Potter continues to grow, and she loved everything about the movie. Afterward she was talking about wanting a Niffler of her own, and we talked about the various creatures that appear in the film. I didn't love it like she did, but I thought it was worthwhile. The titular beasts are quite impressive, and I thought the story was pretty strong. I wasn't quite sure what to expect since the source material has no story in it, so I dug how J.K. Rowling spun it out. I did enjoy spending time with the characters too, and thus I'd be willing to sit through it again. The kiddo will of course want to see its sequel, so I guess when that comes out we'll catch it in the theatre while we can.
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People who added this item 1289 Average listal rating (804 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
Contagion (2011)
First viewing - Feb. 28th

I wasn't kidding when I said I'll be checking out more Soderbergh. Contagion is definitely captivating, its story quite frightening to think about. I can see how some people might watch this and overthink it to the point of becoming hermits. Sometimes it irks me when a film bounces between a bunch of different characters, but I felt like that choice worked well for this story. The cast is stellar, yet I couldn't help feeling a little like the film would have hit harder without so many recognizable faces. What if the cast had been mostly lesser-known actors? Wouldn't that sell it better, make it more like a frightening documentary than having constant reminders that none of it is real?

My bigger problem is when it ended there wasn't much to take away from it. I mean, okay, I can see something like this happening and it's neat to think about in a purely fictional sense, but in the end I'm not sure there's a clear point to it all beyond being an intellectual exercise in exploring what could happen in this or a similar situation. I'll concede that they nailed it as far as how the various communities would react to a global outbreak, but after that there's not much else going on here, no deep emotional connection (a sense of dread being the main nerve it strikes) and thus its effects don't last long beyond its runtime. That's not to say it's not worth experiencing, but it fell short of being anything really great I thought.
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MCU run - Father/daughter short-term project

People who added this item 1915 Average listal rating (1215 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Re-watch - Feb. 3rd

Credit is due to Shane Black for making this one so worthwhile. For his first superhero outing he sticks the landing, making a film that can appeal to a wide audience as well as reward his own fanbase. It's set around Xmas of course, and the humor throughout the film works very well and is balanced with the more serious and action-heavy moments. With this film we have an even stronger connection to the ongoing storyline that links the MCU, as it picks up with Tony experiencing PTSD in the aftermath of The Avengers. If there's a weakness it's that it doesn't offer anything really new or different, but it's so solidly put together that I'm not disappointed by that.

The kiddo really enjoyed it as well, especially the post-credits scene and the moments with Stark and Harley.
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Re-watch - Feb. 3rd

Of the Marvel films we watched over the weekend I already knew this was my favorite of them, and yet it managed to impress me all over again. All the elements are so well-handled throughout, and I could easily watch the film every few years and still love it. Matter of fact, my rating bumped up a little. It succeeds on all levels, and so it comes as no surprise that the Russo brothers have been given so much creative control with the franchise since then. They earned it. The kiddo was really into the film overall too, and got really excited when it was revealed that Nick Fury hadn't died which she'd figured out on her own.

Just a thought: That elevator fight scene is one of my favorite fight scenes ever. Still jaw-dropping.
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People who added this item 1414 Average listal rating (956 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.4
Re-watch - Feb. 4th

I pretty much stand by my thoughts from last time, but I think having the kiddo watching it with me elevated my excitement for the film overall. Anytime something happened she found funny or got excited about it dragged me along with her. I'm glad we're watching these together & it makes me look forward to watching the trio of MCU films being released this year even more.
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People who added this item 1004 Average listal rating (743 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Ant-Man (2015)
Re-watch - Feb. 4th

It hasn't been too long since I last watched Ant-Man (Doctor Strange is on that list too), but I knew the kiddo would enjoy it. She was thrilled by the film's best sequence which involves an ant and a train, and we had a good time watching it together. Her only complaint was that there was too much profanity in it. I didn't notice it being any more excessive than other films in this franchise, but either it was to her or its use was more noticeable.
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People who added this item 930 Average listal rating (736 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Feb. 17th

With Black Panther arriving this weekend, I at least wanted my daughter to be caught up through Civil War. Last year I let her watch the scenes with Spidey just in case they were referenced in Homecoming, but I felt like without the other films the context surrounding the main story here would be lost on her. Civil War very heavily relies on the events of both Avengers movies, the Iron Man films, and the previous Captain America films, which means if you haven't seen any of them you can't fully appreciate it. The parts with Spidey could easily stand alone, which makes me recall some of the comics I read growing up where they'd introduce a character as a smaller part of one issue and flesh them out further in later issues. That can be a gamble, especially in a movie, but here those aspects all work so well that Marvel was right to take that chance. And really everything works so well in this film that it easily sits toward the top of the MCU if I were to rank the films. The kiddo geeked out big time during the airport scene, which was adorable. Having all those superheroes on the screen at the same time blew her mind (and clearly meant more now that she's seen most of the films), and she was still talking about it after it ended. It really made all the time we've spent together these past couple months mean even more to me.
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People who added this item 740 Average listal rating (588 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - Feb. 17th

After Civil War she wanted to dive right into Doctor Strange, which she also mostly enjoyed. The visuals definitely impressed her of course, and her only complaint was the profanity throughout. She kept excitedly talking about the ending for the rest of the weekend too. Her enjoyment helped elevate mine a little, and while I'd be willing to sit through it with her again otherwise I don't feel like I need to revisit it.
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (143 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Feb. 24th

While most people were likely watching or re-watching Black Panther, I opted to spend my Saturday with the two new releases I wanted to see. If you've ever wondered what Fincher's The Game might be like if it was an ensemble comedy film instead, here's your answer. I had a lot of fun with it, and being in an audience who also appreciated it made it even better. It won't change your life or leave any lasting mark on cinema as a whole, but it's solidly entertaining and worth spending the time with. I'd even watch it again a couple more times, but I don't know that I'd go so far as to own it.
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (230 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Feb. 24th

After a quick lunch break I settled back in for Annihilation, the latest film from Alex Garland (Ex Machina). And as I type this I'm still working on how exactly I felt about it. I know I wasn't in love with it, and I think that's at least partly due to the narrative approach which occasionally brings the film to a stand-still. But I did think it was worth seeing, especially on the big screen so you get the full effect of the visuals. Every scene within The Shimmer is impressive visually, and the creatures are certainly memorable (including the deer-like creatures I've dubbed as plantalope). And I can easily get behind a big budget sci-fi flick that has a fairly diverse set of actresses at its center. But at this point I'm doubtful whether I enjoyed it enough to ever revisit it despite my appreciation for the pieces of it that worked the best.

Just a thought: I spent a lot of this film thinking of The Arrival also, which seems like a clear influence.
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Posted: 6 months, 3 weeks ago at Mar 5 13:24
I'll be eager to check out Victor Crowley. I really dug Hatchet. And Personal Shopper sounds like something for me (even if you didn't love it), as I'm slightly weak for Kristen Stewart.
Looks like an overall solid month. Source Code is great, though you'll be better off skipping Duncan Jones latest film.

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