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Added by the giraffe on 27 Nov 2013 06:28
932 Views 9 Comments

DVDecember 2013

Sort by: Showing 19 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
The breakdown: 19 movies watched - 16 via DVD, and 3 in the theatre; of those 7 were first views, 9 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 1940s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 2010s.

Well I guess I lost a lot of content from my Instant Queue since I ignored it, but overall I'd say this was a successful month for me. I managed to stick to DVDs only for home viewing, and made it to the theatre 3 times. Add on the fact that I didn't rate a single film lower than a 7/10 and it's all smooth sailing.

Well, guess that's it for 2014. I'll be very busy for the next couple months, so if I'm not around Listal as much I hope you understand. And be patient, odds are once things settle down for me I'll be back here in full swing again. Happy New Year!

Best new-to-me film for December: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Best re-watch: Back to the Future/Trainspotting (tie)
Best hidden gem: Hoosiers
People who added this item 725 Average listal rating (441 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Sleeper (1973)
First viewing - Dec. 6th

Sleeper is not one of Woody Allen's movies I hear spoken of much, or in fact mentioned at all prior to the day I first looked at my wife's DVD collection & saw it sitting there. So now I've seen it, and it's pretty good. I can't say it's a film I would've bought to watch again, but it's got some very funny moments sprinkled throughout. The problem is that some of the gags are dated and/or just didn't work for me, which resulted in an uneven experience overall. Guess that's the thing with comedy though...what's funny to me isn't necessarily funny to others, so your mileage may vary. It IS worth watching once though, and I liked the ending so well I almost bumped this up to an 8.

Just a thought: Allen's character in this is 35, the same age I was when I watched it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2018 Average listal rating (1332 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 7
Elf (2003)
Re-watch: Dec. 7th

Xmas decorations go up in our house, Elf plays on the TV. That's our tradition. And no, my opinions of this film have not changed at all. Ferrell was born to play Buddy.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4442 Average listal rating (2957 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.7
Re-watch - Dec. 7th/8th

It had been so long since I last watched this one it felt like a first viewing, though a few moments had stuck with me. Not sure what I can say that hasn't been said already. The cast is phenomenal, the story is excellent, blah blah blah. It falls a little short of a 10 for me, but it's still a great film worth watching.

Just a thought: I didn't even recognize Danny DeVito until the movie was almost over. Wow.
the giraffe's rating:
Re-watch - Dec. 12th

My daughter pulled this one off our shelf & insisted on watching it. I've been putting off introducing her to it, thinking she'd be scared by it, but since she was so enthusiastic about watching it I agreed to let her & sat down to watch it with her just in case. Halfway through she turned to me & said, "This is my favorite movie EVER." Heh. Course it probably helps that she's heard the songs from it before & loves "This Is Halloween" and "What's This?", but even so she wasn't scared at all. Awesome.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 7487 Average listal rating (5447 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Re-watch - Dec. 14th

I plan on watching this trilogy throughout the month, and since today was my birthday I figured I'd start with my favorite of the bunch (luckily also the first) as part of my celebration. And wow has it held up well. Now I can't remember the last time I watched it anymore; I know I watched it many times in the '80s, but aside from catching moments from it on cable over the years I don't think I've watched it from start to finish since the '90s (and probably early '90s at that). Fortunately time has done nothing to diminish the hold this film has over me. I still love every moment, and the ending gives me that same magical perfect 10 feeling it always has. I'm SO glad I finally revisited it, and I don't intend to wait so many years to watch it again. Anxious now to revisit the sequels.

Just a thought: I think my favorite line I never noticed before in this film is when Marty asks Doc "Is that a Devo suit?"
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1053 Average listal rating (620 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Dec. 16th

I recall seeing my classmates in high school carrying the novel this came from, and at the time I assumed I'd be assigned it so I never picked it up on my own. Then I never did get assigned it, and eventually forgot about it. And now I'm rather curious to read it just to see how it compares to the film...because I found the film a bit underwhelming. I was reminded at times of Rumble Fish, but the big difference between that film & this one is that I actually connected with a character in Rumble Fish. The fact that I never truly latched onto a single character in The Outsiders prevented me from getting too deeply invested in the goings-on, though I did appreciate the story & its message. So like I said, I'd like to read the book in hopes that maybe I'd appreciate it all more since books typically do a better job of fleshing out characters than films. Your mileage may vary, but I do think it's worth checking out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 8554 Average listal rating (6114 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - Dec. 17th

Believe it or not, collaborations with Depp & Burton used to be far less frequent than they are now. And Burton used to make movies that were based off his own original ideas instead of adapting other people's ideas or remaking his own works. I miss those days, which is why I wanted to revisit this one.

I think this was the 2nd or 3rd time I've watched this all the way through, because a lot of it I'd forgotten about. What most strikes me now is the perception of suburban life on display, with the similar houses of various colors, families where the men go off to work & the women stay home & gossip about everything, and everyone is connected (and they're all white people too, hmm). These days that idea seems rather quaint and outdated (maybe it was supposed to be the 1950s?), as in my experience you can move into a neighborhood & maybe never get to know your neighbors unless there's a good reason to or you want to make the effort. Ah, but the fun part is seeing Edward thrust into the middle of this setting which is as strange and foreign to him as he is to it. And man, Depp really disappears into this character...seems like we don't see that often enough anymore from him.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4996 Average listal rating (3499 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Dec. 22nd

So this one I've seen all the way through a couple times before now, and caught parts of it on cable here & there over the years. As a result I'd forgotten some parts of it (pretty much everything before Marty gets to Biff's casino, the exception being the hoverboard chase scene), yet others stuck with me. It's definitely a step down from the first one, and were it not so consistently entertaining I might drop the rating down from 8 to 7. Now that 2015 isn't too far off, a lot of the futuristic parts are just cheesy (though the '80s Cafe seems completely reasonable, aside from the Max Headroom-inspired waitstaff). Navigating four different times makes for a somewhat uneven experience overall, though it does keep things interesting. My biggest gripe is the pointless casting change of Jennifer from Claudia Wells to Elisabeth Shue. I'm sure when I look it up there's some explanation for it, but it didn't make any real improvement. And I like Miz Shue well enough, but I was completely unimpressed by her performance here. I know the other casting change, that of George McFly since they lost Crispin Glover over money issues, is often a sticking point for some, but he's in the film so little that it hardly matters & is handled well enough thanks to the use of footage from the first film. Sure, it'd maybe be cooler if he were actually here, but it's a very minor issue. Shue gets more screen time than he does, which is why I was irked more by that change.

The biggest issue for me is that the first film is pure cinemagic from start to finish, whereas this time around the magic doesn't really carry over. The first film has moments that still fill me with awe, but there wasn't much of that here which was disappointing. So again, I'm tempted to drop it to a 7. I'll leave it at 8, but if I'm honest it's more like a 7.5/10.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4670 Average listal rating (3109 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Trainspotting (1996)
Re-watch - Dec. 22nd

Damn I still love this movie. And I really need to read the book. Been ages since I last watched this (10 years if I had to guess), but still every bit as powerful as I'd remembered. And man that toilet scene doesn't get any better over time, nor does the creepy baby. Ah, but I will say that I got a LOT more out of it this time around thanks to having the subtitles going. With the dialects present I'm disappointed in myself for not having employed them every time I've watched this (which means, yeah, I never saw this on the big screen...or if I did I forgot about it already).
the giraffe's rating:
Re-watch - Dec. 23rd

Wasn't planning on watching this one, but someone mentioned cricket which made me think of a line from this film: "Cricket? Nobody understands cricket. You gotta know what a crumpet is to understand cricket." I texted that to one of my best friends & we went on a quoting spree from this film. So when Trainspotting was done I was still itching to re-watch TMNT & thus here it is.

It's still a lot of fun & highly quotable. I love every minute of it, yet I'd be lying to you & me if I said this film is perfect the way it is. It's clearly more of a B-movie, but if you're like me & grew up loving all things TMNT then it's a satisfying watch. If not, well, your loss.

Just a thought: Whoa, Sam Rockwell is in this. That means this was my introduction to him as an actor. AWESOME. Also, Judith Hoag is pretty sexy. There, I said it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 6819 Average listal rating (4810 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 24th/25th

I finally got a copy of this for my birthday this year, so the wife & I decided Christmas Eve was the perfect time to watch it (the kiddo was asleep). My thoughts on it haven't changed since last year (so feel free to follow that link to be reminded of them).
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 748 Average listal rating (515 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
Re-watch - Dec. 26th

Were it not for the fact I have a few vague impressions left from the first time I watched this, I'd call this a first viewing as I'd pretty much forgotten all of the movie as it turns out. Fortunately it's as solidly entertaining as I thought I'd remembered, and the plot was reasonable enough. I don't think it's a Great movie by any means, but it's definitely worth watching & I'd watch it again.

Just a thought: I forget sometimes about Ally Sheedy.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4357 Average listal rating (3015 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
Re-watch - Dec. 27th

The first and last time I watched this one was in the theatre during its original release. As a result I'd forgotten most of it, and now that I've seen it again I think back then I also wasn't at an age to truly appreciate it. Watching it again now I fell very much in love with all this film has to offer. It also reinforced my feelings about its predecessor, that the jumping around through time wound up making that film worse instead of better. Here we spend the majority of the run time stuck in 1885, and it pays off big by giving the film a tighter focus, an even tone, and it even finds that cinemagic the first one has but the second lacks. Aside from occasional moments of predictability, I have no complaints about the third installment in this series and it easily becomes my second favorite of the three. Kind of a shame really that the second film had to be made honestly, given the attention paid to the first and third films. I'm so glad I finally re-watched this one, and I guarantee I'll revisit it before 23 more years go by.

Oh yeah, and due to my poor memory of this film I'd previously rated it a 6/10. So that's quite a jump it's made, yeah?
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 269 Average listal rating (185 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Hoosiers (1987)
Re-watch - Dec. 30th/31st

Been meaning to re-watch this one most of the year, so I decided it was best to end the year with it rather than tackle any of the content leaving my IQ. Watching it now I realize I've probably overrated it, but I still love this movie so whatever. Sure, it follows the standard pattern of an underdog story, but it's all so well-handled it hardly matters. Add to that stellar performances from Gene Hackman & Dennis Hopper, plus the fact that it's a sports movie I like well enough to own & watch multiple times, and it's easily at least a 9/10 for me. Sad to see that so few people seem to have watched it around here, because it's really worthwhile. Glad I ended 2013 with it.
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Five by Five

2013 - Five by Five

Last year I did the Movie Exchange Program with fellow Listalites jaytoast, phillydude, and Xanadon't. This year we've modified our project, expanded our group to include lotr23 and Mackenzi, and set out to watch 25 films throughout the year with 5 films recommended by each member to each other member. See the above list for all recommendations, and as soon as I have links to everyone else's lists to share I'll include them here.

See also:
lotr23's November-December 2013 Movie Journal
Portlander's Movie Log - December, 2013
People who added this item 497 Average listal rating (286 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - Dec. 9th

Recommended by Mackenzi

So it turns out this is Studio Ghibli's equivalent to WALL-e, which is cool and all since they did it first. The animation is excellent with some pretty impressive & memorable moments sprinkled throughout, the whole thing is solidly entertaining, and the message is worthwhile. I can't say it crossed the line into Greatness for me, but I'd gladly watch it again down the road, perhaps when my daughter is old enough to appreciate it.

Just a thought: I really need to keep a closer eye on the raccoon that hangs around my neighborhood now.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4143 Average listal rating (2700 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.3
Scarface (1983)
First viewing - Dec. 28th

Recommended by portlander

No, you're not seeing things, I'd really not watched Scarface before. I first became aware of it back in the '90s around the same time I embraced a punk-inspired suspicion of everything that the masses consider to be Great, and it's seeming omnipresence over the years in American pop culture only served to reinforce my intentions to ignore it. Fortunately I've changed over the years, and am now more willing to check out films like this one (not Titanic though and you'll never talk me into that one). My good friend portlander took it upon himself to place this among his picks for me in this project, which meant I could no longer put off watching Scarface. And so...

Above all else, it's Pacino's performance that makes this one worth watching. Probably you already knew that. He does a great job of playing this despicable character and makes the whole thing fascinating to watch. Of course it doesn't hurt that the script is pretty damn good too, delivering a fairly accurate portrait of the rise and fall of a drug kingpin while making sure to point out the dark side of the American dream. Sure there's tons of violence, but it's never glorified. And honestly by the end of it I was surprised that this film is so beloved & championed in certain circles given the way the events play out. That's not to say it's not very well made, because it is & that's a better reason to respect the film, but like I know in hip-hop culture there are those who celebrate this film like it's something to aspire to when that clearly goes against the film's message.

On the downside, the film goes on far too long. Now, I'll concede that most if not all the scenes serve their purpose in the story, but there were times when I felt just how long the whole thing was. And I also found it somewhat annoying that most of the major roles in the film are Latino characters but they're all played by white people. With this good of a script and Pacino in the lead, you'd think they could have cast actual Latinos in the other roles and it would have been better than having to hire dialect coaches (especially when you've got Robert Loggia and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, both of whom were never convincing with their accents or in their appearances). Nitpicking perhaps.

Anyway, overall I enjoyed this more than Citizen Kane, and I'm glad I finally watched it. I doubt, however, that I'd watch it again just because once was enough. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch something that's hopefully more uplifting.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 2837 Average listal rating (1753 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.3
First viewing - Dec. 1st

Alamo Drafthouse is spending December focusing on movies about the news, so it makes total sense they'd kick off the month with the most popular, critically-acclaimed news movie of the bunch. Since I hadn't sat down with Citizen Kane yet due to the fact the mystery of it has long been spoiled from various sources, I figured I'd finally take advantage of this opportunity & see it on the big screen as Welles and many others would probably insist it should be seen.

Well, now I've seen it. And...it's got some good moments. The acting is excellent, the make-up impressed me throughout, and there are many other admirable things going on here. It's definitely ahead of its time and I can see how it's influenced movies that followed in its wake. Yet I struggled to truly connect with the movie, which made its run-time feel longer than it was. If all that mattered to me was craft this would easily cross into greatness territory, no doubt. But if you ignore the clever construction of the story, the story itself isn't especially impressive. Or at least it wasn't to me. That's not to say it's not interesting, but as I said I never managed to fully connect with it. At the end I pretty much shrugged & said, "well, I've finally seen it."

So you'll forgive me if I find it rather overrated, especially given its reputation as "the greatest film of all-time." Personally I can think of many films I'd rather revisit before I'd watch this again.

Just a thought: I had no idea before now that the lyrics to one of my favorite White Stripes songs came from this movie. That's kinda neat. Oh and look, someone put them together.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 689 Average listal rating (427 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Dec. 18th

My first ever press screening. Full review here.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Dec. 28th

Typically I can't stand Ben Stiller, so I was surprised when I saw the trailer for this one & genuinely wanted to see it. Turns out it was well worth watching. Thanks to Walter's imagination the film goes to some unexpected and fun places along the way, and I deeply connected with/related to the character. The ending is mostly predictable, so that (and the fact they showed the picture when keeping it a mystery would've been best) keeps it from being truly Great in my book. But I enjoyed it well enough I'd happily watch it again.

Just a thought: This movie is another reminder I need to travel to more places. Sigh.
the giraffe's rating:

Time again for me to put Netflix on the back burner & focus on all these DVDs I have lying around unwatched. Of course Netflix will no doubt conspire to remove a large chunk of content at the end of the year which will entice me away from my main focus, but I'll do my best to stay the course. Wish me luck. ;)

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