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Added by the giraffe on 4 Jul 2018 03:09
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2018: July

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 26 films watched
20 first views, 6 re-watches
11 via streaming, 8 via DVD/BR, and 7 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1970s - 2010s

This month began what's sure to be a long-running trend of my making more trips to the theatre than I used to. That's all thanks to the AMC subscription, and while I'd much rather support indie theatres the lack of them around here at the moment makes taking advantage of AMC worthwhile. And it turns out it's definitely saving me money. You can look at it one of two ways...either the $40 I spent between the subscription and three tickets for my daughter averages out to $4 a ticket, or I spent money for the two of us to watch 3 movies together and saw the other 4 for free. And considering one of those movies was Ant-Man & the Wasp in IMAX, that's even more impressive I think. As I've stated elsewhere in this list, being able to see up to 3 movies a week will encourage me to see some films I might otherwise hold off on seeing though I also realize I'm limited to what the local AMC theatres are showing. Thankfully the biggest venue in town gets some of the wider-released indie films, so hopefully I won't miss out on much. And if something pops up that they're not showing and I feel a need to see it'll give me an excuse to catch a film elsewhere.

I didn't do so well on catching older films this month as the oldest film I watched is about the same age as I am, so I'll probably make up for that in August. Some of the more recent releases I did see this month wound up being pretty worthless, so clearly trying to keep up with whatever's new isn't always the best approach. Overall though this was a strong month, so I won't complain.
People who added this item 37 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 5.9
First viewing - July 21st

Sorry to Bother You is 100% my kinda jam. Smart, original, funny, and multilayered, with a stellar cast and a hell of a strong creative vision, the film proves Boots Riley is a cinematic force to be reckoned with. If he keeps making movies in a similar vein going forward, we'll all benefit from them. Favorite movie of 2018 so far? Yep.
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People who added this item 871 Average listal rating (550 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - July 29th

Ok, so first off I quickly realized that I've only seen part of Legend before this viewing but had assumed due to the passing of time that I'd watched the whole thing. Oops. Thankfully though this meant my first experience with the film was via the director's cut, which is excellent. I spent most of the film impressed by the set design and got caught up in the story. If I'd actually seen it when I was younger I probably would've watched it a ton and sang its praises in the years since. Or maybe not, given the poor reputation of the theatrical release and the fact that the director's cut didn't surface stateside until more recently. But I'd like to think there's enough to appreciate here that I would've dug it when I was a boy. Regardless, I'm glad I finally caught up with it and now I'm looking forward to watching it with the kiddo in a couple years when I'm ready to revisit it again.
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People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
Blue Jay (2016)
First viewing - July 3rd

I hope Mark Duplass writes & performs in films forever. He's so great at creating characters and crafting real dialogue and believable situations, and it's always a joy to watch his films. Sometimes I need something simple & real, with moments of joy and sadness, and he never fails to deliver. I love the way the film establishes that we'll be taking a trip down memory lane in its opening shots, and the way the story unfolds had me smiling often and occasionally surprised me too. This was just the film I needed, and I'll probably return to it when I need it again.
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People who added this item 1 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 0
Terminal (2017)
First viewing - July 2nd

I kicked off July with Terminal which boasts a very intriguing cast. I've seen it mentioned here & there, but hadn't seen a trailer for it which is not a problem. Margot Robbie, Simon Pegg, and a rare performance by Mike Myers were enough to justify my giving it a chance. And I don't regret the choice. The acting is solid across the board, and Myers is especially good here. Robbie also clearly had a blast with her role, which makes it not surprising that she also had a hand in shaping the film as well as produced it. The set design & visuals also make the whole thing worthwhile. I especially appreciated the ways the film used Alice in Wonderland as a point of reference throughout. The only trouble here is there's too much focus on having the characters sit through excessive amounts of dialogue without much payoff. I was able to hang with it most of the time, but I can imagine most people giving up on it or finding it really frustrating especially since the dialogue isn't that great. Add to that a lack of emotional investment and it winds up being just something I watched & might eventually forget about entirely. Not a strong way to begin the month, but there you are.
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People who added this item 109 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - July 6th

I thought I'd seen this before, but evidently I was thinking of its sequel Oh God You Devil which I used to come across via cable all the time when I was younger. Watching Oh, God! now I can't imagine I would've willingly sat through it all when I was younger as it's not a story that would've appealed to me much. And for a comedy it's not very funny very often. Overall I'd say it's pretty average...nothing exceptional, but nothing so dreadful that you'd regret sitting through it. I found it interesting that God's complaints about the world as expressed in the film are still relevant 40 years later. You could keep most of the film the same & remake it today and it'd still work, which is also kinda depressing as you'd hope the messages would've resonated with people. But then I have no idea how much of a success this film was at the time...course the fact that it's now somewhat forgotten is an indication it didn't have any major lasting effects, but it did spawn a pair of sequels so it must have been a hit on some level. Were someone to remake it now, however, I'd hope they'd figure out ways to improve the whole thing so that it could leave a stronger impression.
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Re-watch - July 7th

Pretty sure I hadn't seen The Good, the Bad, the Weird since before I joined Listal, so I was due to revisit it. I still really dig it, and I felt like I got a little more out of it now that I've finally managed to see The Good, the Bad and the Ugly which is a major influence on it. I really dig the characters and enjoy the story overall, so it's a film I'll likely revisit again probably once a decade.
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People who added this item 120 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - July 8th

So first off I just want to say I find it somewhat irritating that the DVD I picked up touts the names of the English voice cast on its cover for the English translation. The Disney releases of the Studio Ghibli films do this as well, making it seem like people should just watch it in English instead of the original language. Fortunately I knew this was originally shot in French, so I just adjusted the settings so I could experience it the right way. But still, it denies the original cast getting proper credit and that never sits right with me.

As for the film itself, I thought it was pretty good. Thematically this would pair well with Mary & Max, as both are stop-motion animated films dealing with more adult subject matter. With My Life as a Zucchini it looks at how some children deal with being orphans, focusing more on their perspective rather than the grown-ups around them. It was refreshing to see a take on this where the caregivers genuinely care about the children, as so often in these films the caregivers tend to be monsters. The more tragic elements then fall under what the children went through with their parents & how it's informed their personalities, and I really appreciated this approach. It made the characters more believable and real, and I'd gladly take time to sit in with them again down the road.
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People who added this item 397 Average listal rating (236 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - July 8th

I'm still blown away by how great this film is and the way it's put together. The attention to detail is wonderful, and I found myself noticing even more this time how the pieces fit together. I don't want to say too much about it because if you haven't seen it already it's best to go into it blind. After watching it I had to look up Nacho Vigalondo's other films, and it appears that he wasn't successful between Timecrimes and last year's Colossal. Guess that's why I haven't seen the films between them, though I'm curious whether I'd enjoy them given how much i like the two films I've seen (as well as the shorts he's put out in anthologies). I might have to find out.

The DVD also includes one of his short films, "7:35a.m." which was pretty amusing. Again I hate to go into detail on it, but it's silly in a good way & deals with a guy trying to get the attention of a woman he finds attractive & interesting. It's not deep, but I was entertained by it.
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People who added this item 466 Average listal rating (310 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Midnight Run (1988)
First viewing - July 8th

I keep coming across mentions of Midnight Run as an influence on other films, so I decided to finally check it out. It was more or less what I expected it would be, but there's joy to be found in De Niro and Grodin interacting with each other. I knew where it was headed, but the journey to get there is consistently entertaining & I was into it. I find it curious that Danny Elfman did the music, and yet none of it fits in with the style we've come to know him for. It's closer at times to his work in Oingo Boingo, and very much emblematic of the '80s. That's not to say it's bad really, but it's dated for sure. I don't know that I would watch this a bunch of times, but I also wouldn't mind watching it again if someone else wanted to watch it with me.
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People who added this item 732 Average listal rating (494 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Mama (2013)
First viewing - July 9th

With It: Chapter Two starting up production, I felt it was time to check out Andy Muschetti's Mama. I knew nothing about it beyond that he directed it & Jessica Chastain is in it, and that probably worked in its favor. If I ever saw a trailer for it I've long since forgotten about it. I thought it worked well for a modern horror movie. It's not so much scary as it is creepy, and again he gets outstanding performances out of the children. The tone is clearly effective, because it took me a while to unwind after it ended. I can also see how some elements here informed Muschetti's approach to the first chapter of It. It's far from perfect, however, as there's a subplot that's basically useless and the pacing could be more even at times. But I appreciated it for what it is, and I might even sit through it again some time.
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Re-watch - July 14th

Watched with the kiddo & this time around most of my enjoyment came from seeing her engage the film and have fun with it.
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First viewing - July 14th

We finished up the 6th book on July 1st, and the kiddo was really itching to watch it's film adaptation. Unsure how glad she was that we watched it, but I know for my part it only reinforced my previous decision to avoid the rest of the franchise after my disappointment with the 5th film. I have no idea why there are scenes in this film that never happen in the books, especially the one where Fenrir & Bellatrix attack the Weasley home. The attack scene serves zero purpose, has no effect on anything else that happens, and ends with the dumbest moment of a wizarding family watching their home burn when they know spells to put the fire out. Even if you hadn't read the book, it still makes no sense. My daughter & I spent some time picking apart all the changes and how they didn't improve anything, so I know she was somewhat disappointed in the film as well. At least the acting and effects are solid across the board, but the storytelling weaknesses sink the film. I suspect I'll wind up finally watching the last two films in the series with her, and I'm not looking forward to it at all.
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People who added this item 22 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.2
Gemini (2017)
First viewing - July 16th

Gemini is an interesting film that kinda falls apart in its final moments. Kirke & Kravitz both give strong performances that helped keep me invested, there are some truly gorgeous shots, and I like the fact that everything isn't over-explained. Some of the supporting cast is amusing as well, and overall it paints an unusual story of L.A. celebrity. The only trouble is that the finale has no satisfying payoff either story-wise or emotionally, which left me cold. I'll be surprised if it sticks with me for very long.
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First viewing - July 19th

Well, this was certainly different. I was pretty well entertained by the film, thanks to a streak of humor weaving throughout all the violence and darkness of it. I don't want to give away more than the title & poster images do as I felt like not seeing a trailer or anything helped me meet the film on its own terms. Alice Lowe is a filmmaker to watch for sure. I don't think it's great, but it's certainly worth watching at least once.
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First viewing - July 20th

British anthology horror? Yes please. Ghost Stories wisely puts as much emphasis on the overall connecting story as it does on the three tales it ties together, and this helps the film avoid falling into the usual trap of these things where the individual stories aren't working on the same level of quality or tone or what have you. It also helps that the entire thing has one crew behind it, which ensures that it maintains a tone throughout. The acting is good, and each story has some truly creepy and powerful moments. There's a touch of humor at times as well, used just enough and at the right times. My only disappointment was with its ending, but at the same time I thought the chosen ending was handled as well as could be expected. I wouldn't go so far as to call the film great, but it's pretty good & I wouldn't mind watching it again perhaps.
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 3.3 IMDB Rating 5.5
First viewing - July 22nd

My die-hard love for Jim Carrey caused me to watch Dark Crimes which I went into completely blind and still regretted. I can confirm that there are dark things afoot here, but really there's only one crime which the film spends at least an hour too long unraveling. Carrey plays his role in such a reserved fashion he's almost non-existent, and the few cast members who bother to emote are not enough to save the film. It's all extremely tedious, and by the time the film gains something like momentum you won't care. I ignored pieces of it and still got what was going on. Then there's the ending which is kinda neat but also lacks any power because you probably barely woke up from your nap or a stupor to see it.

Don't get me wrong, I've seen far worse films. But definitely avoid this one.
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People who added this item 4267 Average listal rating (2895 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
I, Robot (2004)
First viewing - July 23rd

In order to recover from the lack of action in Dark Crimes I opted to finally watch I, Robot knowing that there was no way it could be as boring. That was accurate. Unfortunately the whole thing is pretty average. I dug some of the effects and visuals, but never fully connected with Smith's character which kept me from being more invested in what was going on. There's nothing here that's really bad, but nothing that elevates any of it to greatness either. I did find it interesting that the film depicts an African American who profiles white robots and eventually comes to see one of them as being almost equal to him, but never felt like there was much depth to it. Perhaps there should've been.
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People who added this item 3718 Average listal rating (2499 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
Re-watch - July 28th

I asked the kiddo to pick something to watch, and she chose Hook. I still really enjoy it for the most part. The emotional throughline is so strong (no surprise, given Spielberg directed) that its flaws are forgivable. And my only complaints are basically nitpicky things like how the Lost Boys shouldn't have skateboards (though I have no issue with Rufio's glider thing he first shows up on). Out of curiosity I looked up some critical reviews to see what complaints were lodged against it as I know most critics hated it. Most lamented the long running time, which neither my daughter nor I had any issues with. They also felt Hoffman sucked as Captain Hook, which I don't get at all but whatever. He may not do much that's new with Hook, but I never felt like he was expected to either. I also saw some complaints about Julia Roberts as Tink, and, well, fine I'll allow that. Course I'm no fan of hers, so most actresses would be preferable to me...but I don't think she ruins anything either. The kiddo only complained that her hair color was wrong as she should've been blonde. Otherwise she loved it and was very happy that we watched it.
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People who added this item 2446 Average listal rating (1564 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - July 29th

I wanted to watch another movie with the kiddo, and she let me choose so I picked Stardust. She initially complained that she thought it would be boring, but it didn't take too long before she was really into it and by the end she was glad we'd watched it. I love everything about Stardust, and watching it again reinforced my preference of the film over the book it was adapted from. The tone of the book just doesn't work for me and it comes off really dry, whereas the film is much lighter which works better overall with the story.
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People who added this item 2037 Average listal rating (1307 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - July 31st

Review by lotr23

I've been thinking about Moon a lot lately, and since I hadn't seen it since its theatrical run I figured I was due to revisit it. As it worked out it also wound up being the film I ended July with, and while I usually try to end the month with something I haven't seen (especially when it's the third film I'm re-watching in a row) it guaranteed I'd end it on a high note. To my surprise I'd forgotten some of the details of the ending, but most of the film had stuck with me. I still don't understand how Sam Rockwell didn't earn an Oscar for his performance here, though in my book they tend to get it wrong more often than right. I still dig everything about this movie, and I kind of wish they'd make a sequel just to explore the aftermath with some social commentary. I'm also perfectly fine if there's never a sequel though.
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People who added this item 62 Average listal rating (43 ratings) 4.4 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - July 7th

I know, I know...just last month I said I'd probably skip this. However, the initial buzz for it that I saw was positive which encouraged me to give it a chance. Plus I signed up for the new AMC subscription service which allows me to see up to 3 movies a week for about $20 per month, so I intend to make sure I'm getting my money's worth. This will undoubtedly lead me to take chances on some films I might skip otherwise, because the ticket cost is already covered.

Surprisingly this wound up being my favorite film in the entire franchise. Having a person of color direct was an improvement as he really knows where to put the focus and how to bring the various story aspects to life and help the social commentary hit the mark better than ever before. There are some blaxploitation elements which work in the film's favor, and I found myself on edge for a lot of the film, genuinely caring whether the characters lived. There's even a stretch of the film that feels very Die Hard but it's executed well enough that I'm not complaining. I don't think The First Purge is Great, which is in keeping with the rest of the series, but it's easily my favorite and the one I'm most likely to revisit.

Just a thought: Rotimi Paul's performance as "Skeletor" will absolutely stick with me for a while.
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People who added this item 251 Average listal rating (161 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - July 14th

Once again an Ant-Man movie works for me largely because of the father/daughter pieces which inform its emotional throughline. I love the dynamic between Scott & Cassie, and I'm really appreciating the fact that this series treats their family as a positive instead of as something broken and flawed. The rest of the film is a lot of fun, which serves as a nice pick-me-up in the wake of Infinity War. It's yet to be determined whether we'll get another Ant-Man movie, but if Marvel decides to give us another entry I'll gladly catch it on the big screen.
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First viewing - July 15th

I have zero investment in this franchise. My daughter watched the first film with her cousins, and one year at Halloween we started watching it at a friend's house but had to leave about halfway into it. I've never gone back to finish it. She's watched the first film a few times now, and she enjoyed the second one so of course she wanted to see the third entry. I agreed to take her, and surprisingly I had a good time with the movie. There's a sequence on a plane that had me in stitches, and the humor throughout the film worked for me more often than it fell flat (it does fall flat at times though). There are aspects of its ending that I hated, but otherwise it was worth sitting through. The kiddo loved it all, of course.
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People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - July 21st

After running my weekend errands, I headed off Saturday morning to spend the day at the theatre. Originally I only planned to watch one movie this weekend, but then I saw they had the next film in this list as well as this one. Since all three screenings could be caught under my subscription I decided to take full advantage. While the critics certainly love Leave No Trace, I can't say I fell in love with it. The acting is certainly excellent across the board (Ben Foster is expectedly great, and Thomasin McKenzie will undoubtedly be a star in the near future), and the story is an interesting one. The only trouble is the film doesn't go into much depth with any of it, and while I don't think it needed to explain away everything it would've been nice if a few more details would've come to light which might have enhanced the story. Afterwards I read some of the reviews & kept seeing talk about how emotional the film is. I didn't really pick up on that as much. Sure, there are emotions there, but I felt like there was nothing here that left a strong lasting impression beyond the acting. Which I guess makes the title apt. Personally I found it overlong with little payoff, so while I don't completely regret watching it I feel like I could've skipped it entirely & been fine.
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First viewing - July 21st

Despite the events of this film happening in the early 80s, I don't recall ever hearing about it until this documentary came out. The story is compelling and occasionally mind-blowing, and there's far more to it than I'd initially suspected. I don't want to say to much as the less you know about this subject the better. It's absolutely worth seeing.

My only real complaint was with an older couple in the audience who wouldn't shut up. Thankfully I wasn't seated close to them, but everyone in the theatre could hear them at times and the attempts of those closer to them to silence the couple failed. Most annoyingly they left before the film ended, but not before they'd distracted everyone during the most emotionally heavy part of the doc.
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First viewing - July 29th

The kiddo and I are both fans of Teen Titans Go! so of course we were going to catch this opening weekend. Evidently a lot of people slept on it, which is a shame because it's totally worth seeing. It works as a fun riff on superhero movies, full of jokes that will appeal to fans of DC and Marvel alike. The animation is varied, which is in line with the show, and there are some songs incorporated into the story so it's almost a musical cartoon. We both had a blast with it, and we'll watch it again.
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