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Added by the giraffe on 30 Mar 2012 05:24
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Movies the giraffe watched: April 2012

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The breakdown: 21 films watched, 17 first views and 4 re-watches. Of those 13 watched via Netflix, 2 on the big screen, and 6 on DVD.

And here we have the first month this year where nothing earned less than a 7/10 from me, which means everything listed I would say is worth watching. It also means that my monthly focus on Clint Eastwood's films was very rewarding, and I now feel like I have a better appreciation for him as an actor. I'll be sure to look into more of his films in the future, and thanks is due to phillydude and jaytoast for giving me the opportunity to watch some of his best films.

Also of note is that I made it out to the theatre twice this month, which hasn't happened often in the past year & a half. Looking ahead it appears that I'll make it out even more, which is good because there's a lot coming out I want to see. Should be nice to not fall so far behind.

Best film for April: Harold and Maude
Best hidden gems: Cyrano de Bergerac, The Puffy Chair, and To Be Or Not to Be
People who added this item 422 Average listal rating (258 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
The Chaser (2008)
First viewing - April 2nd

This one was a long time coming...I've intended to watch this several times since it was first recommended to me last year by a handful of Listalites (most enthusiastically by Kris). And yet a variety of things kept getting in my way, whether it was my mood at the time or simply Netflix's interference by removing a slew of films from my IQ that took precedence.

Anyway, for the most part it was worth the wait. The Chaser is an entertaining cat-and-mouse tale that largely benefits by the strong performances of its cast members. There wasn't a single weak link among the actors to be found, and the protagonist is very likable despite his ultraviolent tendencies. Additionally the technical side of things is equally strong...the film looks & sounds great which helps it stick with you longer than some others.

The only shortcoming lies in the resolution, which isn't the easiest thing for me to comment on without spoiling the film. I can say that as the ending played out I felt very underwhelmed, and was left wondering what the point of the film was besides to showcase a lot of violent imagery. The film was on its way to being a 9 or 10 prior to its final moments, so to be left feeling indifferent at the end left me very disappointed.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 1934 Average listal rating (1191 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Rango (2011)
First viewing - April 3rd


First of all: It's a metaphor. Secondly, it's not what it appears to be -- a kid's movie. It's also the funniest, kookiest, most inventive thing I've seen since...well I can't remember, but an awful long time. Johnny Depp voices the title character, a pet terrarium lizard who is suddenly bounced into a strange and savage desert world. He then embarks on a classic hero's quest, equal parts Dali, Castaneda, and Hunter S. Thompson -- surreal, hallucinatory, philosophical, full of darkness and absurdity. Full of wink-wink sidetracks and references (oblique and not so much) to other films. The soundtrack is fabulous too, a combined effort between Los Lobos and Hans Zimmer. Highly recommended if you like any or all of the ingredients I've mentioned.
Review by kymberg

Well said. Two major clues that this isn't a movie for children come courtesy of a pair of cameos, one of which ensured that Rango fit in perfectly alongside my monthly focus. On a first watch there's something just holding me back from rating it as pure perfection, but I loved it & can't figure out why I've seen such middle-of-the-road ratings for it. I'm guessing they're either due to individual tastes or the film defying the expectations one had going into it. Or perhaps it's just that nobody looked past Rango's surface to consider whether something else was going on here, and I'm certain there is. Ah well....

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 72 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - April 5th

I feel pretty much the same about this one as I did Cyrus...the script is good, the actors believable (Katie Aselton giving the best performance of all), and I was mostly satisfied with the way the film ended. However, the technical side of things was lacking (I realize that's partly due to a low budget & DIY style) & worse I had no real emotional connection with what went on. Oh there were times that I laughed, & a few moments where I strongly hoped the film would go a certain way, but that was about it. As the ending played out I felt like I should have had some personal response to it (tears perhaps?) but it just wasn't there.

But the more I thought about it & talked about the film with someone else who has seen it afterward, I realized that there's one thing that elevates this above Cyrus & may make it worth revisiting again some time. The actors excel at conveying their characters' thoughts & emotions through facial expressions & tone of voice, rather than just blurting out how they feel all the time. That's an especially rare thing to find in cinema these days, and thus earns my respect.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 5900 Average listal rating (3781 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
Re-watch - April 17th

I finally replaced my old TV with a 52" LED Smart TV (which in its first week proved defective & was traded in for a better quality 46" LED Smart TV), and I needed something visually awesome for the first movie I watched on it. As luck would have it, this was available in HD on Netflix instant and thus was the best choice immediately available (waiting for my HDMI cable to arrive, or else I might have watched my DVD copy).

A Clockwork Orange made a huge impact on my movie tastes when I first saw it back in high school. Everything about it is flawless, unless you've read the book & know that the final chapter is missing from the film version. But then Kubrick had the American version of the novel when he made it, and the American version lacked the final chapter for many years even after Kubrick's film came out. So he's forgiven on ending it a little early, and really the way it stands falls more in line with the rest of his films than if it had had the more cathartic ending. I still love it & was pleased to realize so much of it has stuck with me even though it's been several years since I last watched it. Also pleased to see so many little details that I previously hadn't been able to hehe.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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Big screen attractions

For those rare occasions I make it to a theatre to see a movie
People who added this item 2818 Average listal rating (1848 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - April 14th


Review by lotr23

Films like this one are always more difficult for me to fairly rate. I know going into it that it's the first in a series, which means I can well assume the protagonist will survive & win. That just leaves the details of how that plays out to focus on, which I can do but it's hard to ever worry about a character you KNOW won't be in any real life-threatening danger (which will go for all but perhaps the final installment of the series as well).

I'm sure my NOT having read the books helped me appreciate the movie as much as I did though. Strong performances & some excellent social commentary (as noted in the above review) help elevate this above your usual action film so that it's not all just fights & explosions. The emotional side of things even managed to get to me once or twice, so something could be said for that too.

The only other complaint I had about the film had to do with the cinematography, which seems to suffer from the color correction technique that's popular among films lately (see Good Movies With Terrible Legacies by PvtCaboose91 for more on that). Lots of strong blues & orange/yellows with most other colors washed out, which didn't suit the film IMO. Plus there's one scene where a shaky-cam effect didn't improve anything.

Overall though, you could do a lot worse. (And really my rating is a 7.5)
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People who added this item 353 Average listal rating (213 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - April 29th

While I wouldn't classify this as a Great animated film, it's solidly entertaining throughout. The stop-motion animation is excellent, there are plenty of laughs to be had (especially if you pay attention to various signs and posters in the backgrounds), & it's a fun adventure movie. I can't say it delivered anything new or hit me on an emotional level, but aside from that there's nothing I can say against it. If you're looking for a good time & brief escape via a movie, give it a try.
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Monthly focus: Clint Eastwood films

My dad was always a fan of Eastwood, yet for whatever reason he never attempted to pass along his appreciation of the man to me. Since I currently have 3 of Eastwood's films in my possession thanks to phillydude, I figured I'd throw in some others as well. Thus, rather than separate out the Listal Group Project films I'll just slip them in here with the rest & be sure to highlight them as such.

See also: jaytoast's April Diary, phillydude's April Movie Log, and Xanadon't's April Journal.
People who added this item 1408 Average listal rating (966 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - April 1st

Early on I realized I was watching the Western version of Yojimbo, so much of this was been there, done that for me. I wound up liking it slightly better though, perhaps because at no point while watching it did I fall asleep or get bored (both were problems for me with Yojimbo). The finale in particular impressed me, and so despite the fact that I knew I'd seen this film before (more or less) I walked away from it feeling satisfied.

(Thanks to jaytoast for loaning me his DVD.)
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People who added this item 1464 Average listal rating (913 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Dirty Harry (1971)
First viewing - April 10th

For some reason I expected this one to be overrated. Boy was I wrong. A smart script, strong cast & well above average technical aspects help make for a highly entertaining film. Despite the fact I've seen many of the films Dirty Harry inspired, it still seemed fresh 40 years later & I can now say for certain that its legacy as a classic is well-deserved.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 1369 Average listal rating (926 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.3
First viewing - April 11th

Even better than A Fistful of Dollars. This time around there's plenty of time to get to know the major characters, and I love the ways their individual motivations play out. Also impressive to me is the varying uses of sound...some characters have themes, there's a music source visible in some scenes, plus there's the frequent use of mood music (a nice mix of diegetic & non-diegetic music in other words). Add to all of the above a mostly excellent script & some very memorable scenes & you get one hell of a film. Admittedly there was a moment or two where I thought it was starting to drag, and a loose thread or two that I noticed (or if tied up I blinked & missed it/them). But overall there's a vast improvement over the first film in the series.

I'm now anxiously awaiting watching The Good, the Bad, & the Ugly next week.

(Thanks again to jaytoast for the loaner.)
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People who added this item 3023 Average listal rating (1900 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 8.9
First viewing - April 18th-19th



Movie Exchange Program

I suppose I'll catch some hell for this, but I find this movie a bit overrated. The film starts out great & ends up the same way, but the long road between the two points wound up taxing my patience to the point I eventually begged the film to end already & even started to fall asleep at one point. The run-time is supposedly 2 hours & 57 minutes, but it felt like about 6 hours to me. So unlike the previous films I can't say I was consistently entertained by this one, nor that I'd be too quick to revisit it (though that's not to say I never will). Perhaps my expectations were too high?

Oh yeah, the soundtrack is killer.
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People who added this item 660 Average listal rating (457 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - April 24th



Movie Exchange Program

Two powerful lead performances and a smart script peppered with clever touches make this one well worth watching. I enjoyed it so much I'm willing to forgive its few flaws somewhat. There's a romantic subplot that didn't fully work for me (though it did present one of the film's most entertaining moments), and some cliche elements (as noted in PvtCaboose91's review). Still, it's definitely one of Eastwood's better films, and one I wouldn't have checked out were it not thanks to our film exchange.
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People who added this item 1967 Average listal rating (1264 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.2
Unforgiven (1992)
First viewing - April 30th



Movie Exchange Program

A stellar western with a lot on its mind. Clearly Eastwood is looking deeply at his career and the films that made him a star, which results in a very personal movie but not one that's impossible to enjoy. The cast is amazing, the characters well developed, and I was captivated by the story from start to finish. It fell just short of earning a perfect score from me, but I could see it earning one from others.
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Year-long series focus: The Marx Bros.

I've decided this year I want to re-watch all of the Marx Bros. movies in order. Since there's 12 of them total, that gives me one per month.
People who added this item 170 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - April 4th

And here we have the Marx Bros. coming into their own finally. More so than their previous films, this one sees them take whatever's going on & carry it into complete anarchy & absurdity. There's the first on-screen instance of someone actually cutting a deck of cards, a classroom scene that sees 3 of the brothers overthrow the professor, a running gag in one scene where a delivery of a block of ice keeps getting rejected to increasingly funnier results, and a football game which proceeds with minimal attention to the rules. It seems like the director & writers gave them free reign here to do whatever they wanted & it works out with hilarious results. (I also give the film points for naming the rival colleges Huxley and Darwin.)

So what holds me back from giving it a full 10? The supporting cast isn't as memorable as that of some of their other films, for one. But worse than that the obvious lack of footage shown by a few jumpy scenes & the shorter run-time has always left me aware that I'm missing something & wondering about it. Apparently a full cut doesn't exist, which is a shame because otherwise this one might be a masterpiece.
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Netflix exorcisms

Because the month just isn't complete without Netflix jettisoning content from my IQ.
People who added this item 936 Average listal rating (567 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - April 20th

I'd mostly forgotten this film, it had been so long since I last watched it. Nice to see Johnny Depp actively working to be impressive rather than coasting like he has been in his more recent films, and the other performances are solid. It's a decent romantic movie and I enjoyed it, but I can't say it's a personal favorite.

Currently streaming on Netflix; leaves May 2nd
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People who added this item 363 Average listal rating (232 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.6
Creep (2004)
First viewing - April 21st


Review by pamela voorhees

Thanks to Xanadon't and jaytoast for recommending this one to me. Definitely one of the better, lesser-known horror films of the 00s, but I had some issues with the plausibility of the premise. I know, silly thing to complain about in a horror film, but still. Anything else I could say about it is covered in the above review.
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People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (26 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - April 24th

I admit it, I can't resist an adaptation of Edmund Rostand's brilliant play. The only complaint I can conjure is that many of the night-time scenes suffer from poor lighting that tends to render them too murky to clearly witness. But since the film perfectly captures the spirit of the play it comes from, and José Ferrer's performance as the titular character is pitch perfect, I can easily enough forgive such minor flaws.

Now I want even more to re-watch the 1990 adaptation.
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People who added this item 539 Average listal rating (346 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
Fallen (1998)
First viewing - April 25th

I've never been a big fan of Denzel Washington. He's not a bad actor, but at the same time I can't say I've ever been really impressed by any of his performances. As a result I've often ignored his films over the years regardless of any positive feedback I've heard on them, including Fallen. Watching it I felt bad for dismissing it, as I found it far better than I expected. The performances are solid (and it's always a pleasure to see John Goodman on screen), the script went a few places I didn't anticipate, and the technical side is mostly strong. The film reminded me of Wes Craven's Shocker a little, but I found it to be done better all around than that film. Definitely worth a look.
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People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - April 26th


My favourite French movies list by johanlefourbe

The above list led me to watch this movie, which I'd never heard of before johanlefourbe linked me to it. This was one of the few films on his list that was available to me on Netflix instant, so I added it to my queue to check out.

I was captivated by the story and pleased with the performances, but in the end I can't say I loved it. I appreciated the minimal story-telling style, but at the same time I felt at moments like I was watching a soap opera. There's really nothing particularly impressive about the technical side of things, but it's a good exploration of just how deeply our relationships with others can affect us. So while it's not a personal favorite, I recommend it as others may appreciate it more than I did.
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People who added this item 1025 Average listal rating (598 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - April 27th

Easily one of the best films I've ever seen. If you haven't seen it yet, do so NOW.
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People who added this item 1978 Average listal rating (1309 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Misery (1990)
Re-watch - April 29th

I think Richard Farnsworth's character Buster is my new favorite now (and the chemistry between Buster & his wife is excellent), yet I'm still blown away by Kathy Bates's performance in this film. Been a long time since I last watched Misery, but it was every bit as good as I had remembered.
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People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (69 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - April 29th/30th


50 of my favorite under rated movies list by phillydude

I wasn't really aware of this film until phillydude started singing its praises around here, and since I missed the original film it's a remake of (thanks to Netflix for removing that one too) I can't compare the two films like he has. That said, he's right to recommend it & I thank him for doing so. A stellar cast and excellent comedic timing make this film worth watching. I was thoroughly entertained, though I wouldn't say I fell in love with it quite like he has. Definitely glad I finally watched it.
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Continuing my efforts to keep track of my thoughts on the movies I watch, one month at a time.
See also:
the giraffe's lists for 2012

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Comments

Posted: 5 years, 7 months ago at Apr 12 1:24
Two giant thumbs up for Clint Eastwood monthly focus! One of my absolutely favorite actors, and directors! And I see you have started with some of his finest! I suggest you keep watching his westerns, and put Unforgiven as your top priority!

Here is a little guide to Eastwood :) :

http://www.listal.com/list/clint-eastwood-best-worst

http://www.listal.com/list/clint-eastwood-best-worst-bml93
Posted: 5 years, 7 months ago at Apr 12 2:27
Glad to see you enjoyed Rango and Dirty Harry.
Posted: 5 years, 7 months ago at Apr 13 6:14
I never heard of The Chaser, it sounds like a must see.
Posted: 5 years, 7 months ago at Apr 15 10:15
Happy to see that you liked The Hunger Games! A surprisingly good blockbuster. :)

And I'm also pleased too see that you are so far enjoying "The Man with No Name"-films. The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is easily the best of them (and possibly one of the finest films in general), so you got yourself a treat waiting!
Posted: 5 years, 7 months ago at Apr 21 9:18
Rango and Eastwood = awesome
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at Apr 28 14:01
Ahhhhhh!!! Harold and Maude is one of my all-time favorite movies! Awesome. :)
Posted: 5 years, 6 months ago at Apr 30 7:32
Glad to see you enjoyed Rango quite a bit. I only saw Harold and Maude for the first time last year in a film class and fell in love with it, I was glad to hear it's being released on Blu and DVD a month or so from now from Criterion.

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