The breakdown: 15 films watched in all: 9 via Netflix instant, 1 via dailymotion.com, and 5 on DVD (2 from my collection, 3 from jaytoast's collection). Of those 11 were first views with 4 re-watches, one of those a short film & I hit the following decades: 30s, 70s, 80s, 2000s, and 2010s.
Real life interfered with my usual viewing habits, or else I might have hit 20 films this month. Without a monthly focus I let Netflix's removal schedule largely dictate what I watched & made sure to get my ongoing projects taken care of outside of that. As usual the good films outweighed the bad & I managed to finish everything I attempted to watch unlike the previous 2 months.
This month saw the end of part 1 of the Movie Exchange Program as I wrapped up the films from jaytoast's collection. He definitely provided me with some worthwhile films that I otherwise wouldn't have seen, one of which I can definitely say is a new favorite. All but one I feel are worth at least one re-watch & would recommend to others, so I'm very pleased with how the project has gone so far. The next 2 months I'll be watching 5 films from phillydude's collection & I've seen none of them before so I'm sure the trend of watching films I wouldn't usually watch will continue. Looking forward to that.
Plus next month looks like a lighter month on Netflix exorcisms right now, so hopefully that will allow me to focus on other films & successfully get them watched.
Best film for March:Das Experiment Best hidden gem:The United Monster Talent Agency and/or Brainstorm Avoid at all costs:Basket Case
I've spent the first few months of 2012 watching the first 3 seasons of The Muppet Show with my daughter, who despite her lack of understanding of much of what's going on in the show (she just turned 19 months old) absolutely adores it. I hadn't watched the show since my childhood, so I've been falling in love with it all over again myself. And having reacquainted myself with the series I love this movie a bit more than I did when I last watched it in the theatre.
Re-watch - March 28th
Still the same film I've always remembered, and I suppose the fact that so much of it remains embedded in my mind is worth my bumping it up from an 8 to a 9. It still falls short of thrilling me as much as it does others, but it's still solidly entertaining albeit rather dated as more time passes.
First viewing - March 20th
A brilliant fictionalized version of the events of the Stanford Prison Experiment, and thus a thought-provoking exploration of how humans will behave under stressful conditions in close quarters. The entire cast gives perfect performances, and the various technical aspects impress as well when you're not completely submerged in the story & events. It's not often I leave my couch & move closer to the TV during a film's final moments in excitement & anticipation of what's to come.
A big thanks is due to jaytoast for including this among the films he sent, because it sure wasn't on my radar.
First viewing - March 21st
Yet another movie that's proof that the government will ruin anything that's potentially fun for the rest of us. Also proof of the dangers of taking scientific explorations too far. It's solidly entertaining though, with a strong cast & some excellent visuals for its time. I especially enjoyed watching the robots wreak havoc in the lab.
Not a new favorite, but definitely worth checking out.
First viewing - March 27th/28th
Rather a mixed bag here. On the one hand I was very impressed by the technical aspects of the film, even if they did try my patience over time. The opening credits should probably come with a warning for those prone to epileptic seizures, and if you're one of those who can't handle first-person video games due to a tendency toward motion sickness this film may not be for you either. Fortunately I fall into neither category, so I was mostly OK with the way the film is shot.
Early on you're told where the film is headed & the film admirably accomplishes an exploration of the after-life as detailed in a book discussed by the characters. There's just enough interesting going on to keep you watching, but eventually it drags on far longer than necessary & devolves into drawn-out attempts to be subversive (or perhaps offensive, depending on your sensibilities). Much of it gets repetitive after a while too, which only helped to reinforce my conclusion that the film could be edited down by an hour & have accomplished the same thing more effectively.
Had the emotional side of the film ever managed to connect with me I might be more willing to rate this one higher, and I'd almost give it another point out of admiration of the technical side of the film. But unfortunately my growing disinterest & pleas for the film to end already speak louder to me & thus it gets a 6 rather than a 7.
Currently streaming on Netflix (in case you want to check it out there...obviously I watched the DVD)
the giraffe's rating:
Double feature: Car Horror night
I hadn't heard of either of these films until I saw Duel on the big screen last year. Prior to that film they showed trailers for both of these, which makes sense considering they're both influenced to some degree by Duel. Don't expect either to be as good though...
First viewing - March 7th
I couldn't help feeling like the creators of The Car wanted to combine Jaws and Duel...unfortunately there's no Spielberg equivalent behind the camera, so it falls far short of both those films in quality. The performances are good, but I was never as concerned for the characters as I should've been perhaps because watching the car kill people was more fun. It gets pretty ridiculous, but wound up being more or less what I'd hoped for.
First viewing - March 8th The Wraith makes The Car look much better by comparison, and had I known then what I know now I would've swapped the order around. Mostly this film suffers by being dated with its '80s soundtrack & styles. I knew I was in trouble here when I saw the lead villain was played by Nick Cassavetes whom I can't stand, though supporting roles by Clint Howard & Randy Quaid helped make up for his presence. And then there's Charlie Sheen in the lead role, not doing much of anything to suggest he'd soon be a star (Platoon came out shortly after this).
The plot is obvious from the start, and I couldn't help thinking I like this story more when it's called The Crow (not that there's car racing in that comic/film as there is in this one, but both have a character named Skank & the premise is very similar). Anyway, if you can forgive its cheesiness it's entertaining, but if you're looking for a good movie you should look elsewhere.
Currently streaming on Netflix; expires April 1st
the giraffe's rating:
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.
Re-watch - March 22nd
This one has always fallen short of being among their best for me, and I think I've figured out why. We start off with the hilarious scenes of the brothers as stowaways on a boat, which for me could've lasted the entire film...though I suppose others would argue it would've got old before it ended had they done it that way. The scenes with Groucho & Thelma Todd are Great, and Zeppo gets a chance to shine a little by having his own romantic subplot (which works well too). It's the gangster vs. rich man part that doesn't always work for me & I think it has mostly to do with Harry Woods, the guy playing Alky Briggs. He never comes off as quite the villain he could be, and doesn't seem like much of an actor. In fact there's one scene where Woods & Todd are exchanging lines, and Groucho steps in to let them know whose turn it is & I couldn't help feeling he was as much poking fun at them as helping them out.
I'd like to add that this is the first film of theirs that truly effectively works the musical interludes in perfectly. I guess when it came to Harpo's harp-playing and Chico's piano-playing, the third time was the charm as far as giving those scenes a proper context that doesn't feel like a complete break from the rest of the film.
First viewing - March 6th
Sure, it's realistic and if the attempt was to capture something true-to-life then it's succeeded for the most part. Following Ivy around for a week is as full of moments that matter as mundane moments which is neat but ultimately unsatisfying. I don't watch movies to endure long stretches of nothing going on as I get that enough in my daily life, and so if they're inserted into a movie there should be a REASON other than "realism."
And on that note, the observer angle the film uses results in a lot of poor sound moments. Is it too much to ask to keep the characters' voices audible despite the distance of the camera? I get that if I was standing where the camera is set I wouldn't be able to hear them as clearly at some times vs. others, but such choices annoy me especially when I'm trying to avoid waking my daughter up in the next room. :P
Anyway, in one sense I knew where the film was going despite its attempts to be subtle about it, and yet I picked up on a running theme that seemingly went nowhere or at least not where I'd anticipated...which I guess awards it a point in its favor, but it also feels like a dropped thread & one that had it run its course might have made the film more meaningful.
As it stands, I feel like I stalked a person briefly with little to show for it.
Re-watch - March 12th
It hasn't been too long ago that I last watched this film, and yet all I could remember of it was seeing Kurt Russell in an eyepatch running around in the dark & Ernest Borgnine as a cabbie. This time around, I got a lot more out of it.
The uneven opening doesn't effectively bring the audience into the film right away and most of the effects-heavy scenes look cheesy now, but otherwise I think this is a solidly entertaining film from one of the most underrated directors of all time. The story is good once you accept the slow pace of the film, and Snake Plissken remains one of the most iconic characters in film even if he could potentially be more fun to watch.
Oh yeah, and every time Lee Van Cleef popped up on screen I wished he had a hat on...dude looks odd to me without one.
First viewing - March 13th
While I can't say I ever lost interest in Le Cercle Rouge, I can't say I loved it either. There are some excellent moments to be found in this heist film, but I never connected with nor felt anything for ANY of the characters. In fact, I felt like I was passively watching all of the events & so in the end I was left unchanged.
First viewing - March 14th
Part one of a B-movie double feature night, this one courtesy of Stuart Gordon's seeming devotion toward adapting as many H.P. Lovecraft tales as possible. The beginning was rather weak & not at all helped by the sub-par acting...though when there's not a recognizable name in the cast to be found it's probably best to lower your expectations in that area. Once it picks up though I was rather entertained by the story & thought it would end in a way that I could forgive its shortcomings. Instead the ending is rather ridiculous & fell flat for me.
Worth a look if you dig B-horror movies, but not essential.
First viewing - March 15th
And thus I ended my B-movie double feature night with a film that fell ever farther short of my expectations. Of all Wes Craven's early works that I've seen this is easily my least favorite. The story is OK as is the acting, but the effects are cheesy to the point of being annoying. It's obvious you've got people running around in creature suits, which does nothing to sell what's going on onscreen. Plus some of the "creative" touches which may or may not have been intended to add a comic-book feel look really stupid now. Oh, and the action sequences are in a similar vein as episodes of G.I. Joe, by which I mean lots of people getting hit or thrown around with no actual harm done to them. That's not to say there are no casualties here, but for the most part the characters continue on unscathed. I could overlook that from another director perhaps, but not this one.
First viewing - March 21st
Upon finishing Das Experiment, I was too hyped up to sleep. So I headed to Netflix to catch this one before it left since it was fairly short. Somehow I watched the entire thing without turning it off early & I'm still not sure why I sat through it all. Perhaps in hopes something worthwhile would come out of it?
Nobody in this film can act, few can deliver a line that doesn't sound forced, and the story has zero depth to it (also I found it predictable to a fault). The stop-motion animation here is abysmal, but the gore effects are mostly good & the creature is well-done when there's a person inside it.
Unless you're in the mood to MST3K your way through it, I highly recommend you avoid this one. No idea how its ratings here & elsewhere are somewhat favorable.
the giraffe's rating:
Continuing my efforts to keep track of my thoughts on the movies I watch, one month at a time. I'll be out of town a lot this month, so odds are there won't be many films watched. Therefore I haven't planned for a monthly focus.