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Added by the giraffe on 23 Nov 2015 12:49
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DVDecember 2015

Sort by: Showing 28 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
The breakdown: 27 movies and one short film watched, of those 4 were via Netflix, 17 on DVD, and 7 in the theatre. Of those 10 were first views, 18 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 1970s, 80s, 90s, 00s & 2010s.

Well, this month was more productive than November which was nice. Best of all I made it to Drafthouse on five separate occasions, catching as many new films (plus a short) and one older one. And only one of those wasn't worth the trip, but given that it was on the day I caught two films in a row that's not so bad.

I mainly stuck to my focus on DVDs from my collection, as the handful of films that left Netflix mostly didn't seem essential to catch in time. This meant that I had a higher quality month overall than usual, but it also left me looking forward to getting back to experiencing some new movies in January. Of course, the trips to the theatre helped keep me going too.

Overall I'd say 2015 was a good year for movie-watching. Let's look at the numbers overall...

Total films watched: 337
Total films abandoned: 2
Total short films watched: 26
Total movies watched in the theatre: 49 (plus 2 shorts)
Best new-to-me movie of 2015: The Hateful Eight (Spring is a close second)
Worst film I watched in 2015: Either War of the Worlds or Kung Fury, both of which rated 4/10. The abandoned films probably would've rated even lower than those but I had enough sense to save myself from finishing those.
Most movies watched in a month: Well, that depends. If you count short films in the total that'd be March with 31 movies + 20 shorts for a total of 51. If we only count actual movies, that'd be October with 42.
Least movies watched in a month: 19 and 3 shorts (November)
Combined movies & shorts watched total: 364

Best new-to-me film for December: The Hateful Eight
Best hidden gem: 20,000 Days on Earth
Worst film: European Vacation / The Good Dinosaur (tie)
People who added this item 2277 Average listal rating (1476 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 1st

Much of the dialogue from Clerks has been bouncing around in my head for a while now, so I was eager to kick the month off by revisiting it. To shake things up though I watched the first cut, which is part of the 10th anniversary copy I own. I hadn't seen that before, so this also kinda counts as a first viewing. Obviously the entire film is contained in the first cut, as the only differences are that some scenes were removed & the soundtrack was upgraded. It was very cool to see how the film was originally put together though, and I thought the original ending was more powerful than the theatrical cut we all know.

Either way, I love all the insights on life expressed throughout the film, the characters are great, the dialogue is clever & memorable, and it still makes me laugh hard at times even though I know everything that happens. If that's not the mark of a great film, I don't know what is.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2755 Average listal rating (1859 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
Big (1988)
Re-watch - Dec. 4th

Wasn't initially planning to watch this film this month, but that changed when Robert Loggia died. He was such a great character actor throughout his career, and I probably could have watched any film of his...but the scene above is what I'll forever remember him most for. Watching Loggia & Hanks play the giant FAO Schwartz piano has always been a movie moment that brings me joy on a level that's difficult to truly articulate, and this rings true every time I watch it. So for that especially I thank Mr. Loggia, and I'm looking forward to the day I can share this film with the kiddo (I don't think she's ready for it yet).

Aside from that the film is still a wonderful story & a personal favorite. The whole cast is perfect, which only helps deliver the tale with warmth, humor, and genuineness. All of which adds up to a film I'm always happy to revisit.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 927 Average listal rating (612 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
Re-watch - Dec. 5th

I'm glad John Candy left behind the movies he did, because it makes it easier to accept the fact he's gone. He does a great job here, which isn't surprising, playing Buck with warmth, humor, and a wonderful dark side. He's almost outshined though by Macauley Culkin who damn near steals every scene he's in. The fact that he nails the character & the dialogue so well proves why he was picked to head up Home Alone the following year. Aside from them, the rest of the cast is just OK, and the ending feels rushed. Fortunately overall the film is entertaining enough that I'll watch it at least once more.
the giraffe's rating:
Re-watch - Dec. 6th

Nothing new to add to this one. I curled up on the couch with the kiddo & we enjoyed it together.
the giraffe's rating:
Re-watch - Dec. 6th

So despite the fact this has sat on my shelf for several years now, I believe this was the first time I actually watched my copy & only the 2nd time ever watching the film (first was in the theatre). It's such a silly & hilarious movie, and sadly the last one that represents the Bill Murray I once loved as after this he hooked up with Wes Anderson & completely changed. The rest of the cast is solid, and it's just a joy to watch.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2822 Average listal rating (1895 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 7
Phone Booth (2003)
Re-watch - Dec. 7th

Now this one I know I haven't seen since its original theatrical run. Fortunately it's mostly held up well over time even despite the ever-shrinking quantity of working pay-phones in the U.S. One day they'll be gone for good & that'll really date this movie. Farrell gives a stellar performance that somehow led to him doing a bunch of mediocre crap for the next several years (which may help explain my reluctance to revisit this sooner). The tension is well-handled, and the supporting players fulfill their roles more than sufficiently.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1942 Average listal rating (1316 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Office Space (1999)
Re-watch - Dec. 8th

Still brilliant and hilarious, and I'll admit my love of it is enhanced by it being filmed in places I'm all too familiar with (the opening traffic shots? I've been in that traffic) & having worked in jobs that require being stuck in cubicles & dealing with obnoxious co-workers. I still laugh hysterically at parts of this no matter how many times I've seen it, and it's a great way to release those inner demons when work grinds me down.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 588 Average listal rating (373 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Dec. 9th

Man...it had been so long since I last watched this I kinda forgot it takes place at Christmas, but that made it timely. I still love everything about Go even if it does have obvious influence from Pulp Fiction (though to be fair there are far worse influences to have). The cast is excellent, I love the way the tales intersect, and it's just a lot of fun all around. I no longer think it's cinematic perfection, but it still counts as a great movie in my book.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 83 Average listal rating (56 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Dec. 13th

While at Drafthouse for back-to-back screenings today I found myself with some time to kill, so I browsed their DVD offerings. The Drafthouse Films site has had all their DVDs on sale for $10 since Thanksgiving, so I figured I'd ask if that sale extended to what they had & it turns out it did. So I bought 3 films I'd already seen & this one which I hadn't yet.

And not surprisingly I loved this & felt it was worth the buy. It's a brilliant hybrid of fact & fiction, a documentary with an unreliable narrator. More to the point it's a document of a day in the life of Nick Cave as he might tell it rather than how he would actually live it. That opens the film up to all sorts of possibilities & with Cave in control of the story you know you're going to get something engaging & worthwhile. The film never disappoints, and yet it fell just short of perfection for me. But I'm glad I have it to revisit, and I'm looking forward to exploring the extras in the near future.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1668 Average listal rating (1071 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Dec. 16th

This fantasy/noir hybrid is still pretty good all around. I forget sometimes that the Strangers are dressed like Cenobytes/Uncle Fester/Billy Corgan. The set design is wonderful though, and I dig the story overall. It's certainly a different film (which I admire & respect), but not one that quite crosses my personal line of greatness.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 505 Average listal rating (334 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
U-Turn (1997)
Re-watch - Dec. 18th

Man, I forgot how much fun this film is. I hadn't seen it since its initial theatrical run, though I've kept the soundtrack in frequent rotation in my music-listening habits over the years. The actual songs are really good, but Morricone's score just kills it all over the place. The cast does an excellent job all around, creating curious characters that stick with you long after the film ends. Probably the best of the bunch is Billy Bob Thornton's Darrel, the mechanic that Thornton disappears into. The story is entertaining, especially if you're not a big Sean Penn fan as he gets put through hell here. Maybe I won't wait so long to watch this one again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2026 Average listal rating (1338 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 7
Elf (2003)
Re-watch - Dec. 19th

The kiddo and I wound up spending a day at home after other plans fell through, so we watched Elf together. Since it appears here every year I figure I need not comment further.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2126 Average listal rating (1453 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Dec. 19th

So it turns out that what I own is the Director's Cut, which I hadn't watched before. Honestly though I haven't watched Lethal Weapon enough times over the years to be intimately familiar with it (I've seen it a few times), but I did notice a couple scenes I'm positive weren't there before. Overall though the entire story is still here & it remains the '80s action-comedy classic it always has been. If I had more time this month I'd run through at least one of the sequels, but alas that won't be happening. Maybe next year...
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 737 Average listal rating (524 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
Vacation (1983)
Re-watch - Dec. 29th

It's safe to say I've seen parts of this film (mainly the ending) more times than I've actually sat through all of it. This was driven home as the film rolled along & hit moments I did not remember at all. Overall the film is solidly entertaining, with some very funny and strongly memorable scenes along the way. I no longer think it's quite great as the soundtrack is mostly annoying and some of the comedy falls flat for me, but it's definitely worthy of classic status and a film I'll watch again down the road.

Fun fact: The company I work for has the truckster parked in the lobby of one of our buildings.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 498 Average listal rating (361 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Dec. 29th

My copy of Vacation includes this sequel which I only had vague memories of having ever seen. Now that I've watched it I'm unsure if I actually saw it before or just caught some part of it on TV & assumed I saw it all. Almost none of it was familiar, so I'm thinking this was a first viewing.

Anyway, the film itself is pretty weak. There are more than a few musical sequences that seem tailored for the MTV generation & are just dated now. The actors playing the Griswold kids in this one are mediocre, the daughter being the worst casting choice in my opinion. Speaking of the daughter, it's really disturbing when Sean Astin makes out with her during the opening of the film given the vast age difference between them. It's supposed to come off as funny, but fails miserably. And really the same could be said for much of the humor in the film. Chase and D'Angelo still have great chemistry though, which helps save the film somewhat, and the film moves along quickly enough it never gets boring, but overall it's a flawed film that's not worth the time of sitting through more than once.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 8082 Average listal rating (5892 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 8.2
Re-watch - Dec. 31st

Rather than end the year with films leaving Netflix, I decided to go with the two films I'd wanted to watch this month but hadn't got to yet. This one has actually been tempting me all year, but after seeing Jurassic World I pushed it aside since that film basically rehashes this one. I'm glad I did sit down with it again, however, because it reminded me every moment of why that film failed but this one remains beloved by its fans.

It's amazing to me how well everything works in Jurassic Park...the characters are well-established, have good chemistry where needed, and perform their respective roles wonderfully. The music is used appropriately (unlike in World where they just insert the themes from this film randomly at times), the effects are stellar thanks to being a mix of practical creations and CGI, and the story is heartfelt and wonderfully paced throughout. It comes as close as possible to capturing the spirit of the book too, which is no doubt partly due to Crichton co-authoring the script. Honestly I'm at a loss to address anything that doesn't work in the film, and as such have bumped up the rating a level. It doesn't leave me with that perfect 10 feeling, but it's definitely a great blockbuster and I won't go so long without watching it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1428 Average listal rating (957 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - Dec. 31st

It being winter now I've wanted it revisit 30 Days of Night, and as fate would have it I ended the year with it. I still love everything about this movie, from the characters to the tone to the music to the unique look of the vampires and the use of effects that almost all look believable. The little girl vampire is probably my favorite choice within the film, as it shows just how affected and threatened the entire town is by the vampires that have descended upon them. By far though my favorite performance here is by Ben Foster who is exceptionally creepy.

So yeah, this was a great, strong note to end the year on. Good bye, 2015. Hello, 2016.
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 251 Average listal rating (186 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Dec. 10th

Forget whatever I usually would do here...here's what you need to know:

1. When Krampus ended I seriously considered watching it again instead of going home.
2. Driving home from the theatre I didn't turn on my music. Instead I geeked out over how much I enjoyed the film (especially the ending) the entire time.
3. I'll be adding it to my collection so it can become part of my personal Xmas traditions going forward.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 748 Average listal rating (529 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1
Spotlight (2015)
First viewing - Dec. 13th

I decided to spend the first part of this Sunday catching up on new releases, and kicked the day off with Spotlight. One look at the cast and you should know it's worth checking out. Best of all the cast delivers just as well as you'd expect them to. The story is hard to take at times, but given that it really happened it's a story we're better off if we don't forget it. It didn't quite cross my personal bar of greatness, but it came close enough that I can see it doing so for others and I might even watch it again down the road.

Of course it's possible that my appreciation for it was somewhat diminished by the couple seated next to me who wouldn't stop talking to each other. Drafthouse addressed the problem & they finally stopped but by then the film was more than half over. Now because I had time to kill before my next film, I noticed the couple arguing with a manager that they shouldn't have been bothered & weren't doing anything wrong. I spoke with the manager after they left & he said they were trying to get free tickets & after he shut them down they said they wouldn't come back to the theatre. Which means everyone wins, and good riddance.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 58 Average listal rating (48 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Dec. 13th

This was the short that ran before The Good Dinosaur. It got huge respect for me because of the subject matter...I've never seen an animated film for Hindu gods and Indian characters, so it was very refreshing. I like how it told its story without words and clearly delivered its message. And as fate would have it it was the best part of seeing the latest Pixar movie.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 537 Average listal rating (417 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Dec. 13th

First off, I feel like this film just quietly crept into theatres. I remember seeing the first teaser trailer, but haven't seen another since then (though to be fair I haven't gone out of my way to find one either). So I walked into the film not knowing what to expect of it, unlike Inside Out whose trailers were impossible to miss.

Well, aside from some stellar animation (some of which I questioned whether it was animated or not) & a decent message about overcoming your fears there wasn't much to get excited about. There's nothing here that hooked me like most of Pixar's films, no charismatic characters, no whimsical & fantastic world building...so I mostly sat there waiting for it to get good. It eventually does have a few good moments but by then it was hard for me to truly care about them which also prevented the ending from making me tear up like some of the people around me. It pains me to say I could've skipped this & watched something else instead, but that's the truth. At least I didn't drag the kiddo along, so maybe there's hope I can avoid sitting through it again.

Just a thought: This makes two dinosaur films this year that disappointed me, which my inner child finds very very upsetting.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2634 Average listal rating (1730 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.1
Life of Brian (1979)
Re-watch - Dec. 14th

When I found out Drafthouse was having a free screening of Life of Brian on my birthday, I couldn't resist the call. It's long been among my favorite comedies, and maintains the same level of hilarity no matter how many times I view it. And it was a pleasure to be in an audience where I was NOT the only one laughing in anticipation of what was coming up.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1625 Average listal rating (1155 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Dec. 22nd

Ok...so first off I went into this in a state of Star Wars burn-out. It's been so over-marketed this year that any enthusiasm I might have had for it was drowned out by its omnipresence. Of course it didn't help that the trailers never managed to win me over or convince me of anything but that this would be a Star Wars film. But my daughter asked me a few times in recent months when I was taking her to see it, so naturally I couldn't let her down. Fortunately, Drafthouse came to my rescue a little bit with their pre-show entertainment & their SW-themed intros that replaced the standard ones (my favorite being their "recording of an angry customer we kicked out" which was basically Vader bitching about not being able to use his light-saber in the theatre...priceless). Which meant that when the film started I was more open to it than I might have been otherwise.

As for the film itself, I'm glad to say it was worth watching. In fact, I was entertained enough that I'm willing to watch it again. It certainly helps that all of the new characters are interesting & engaging so that I'm actually looking forward to following them through the next few films (which wasn't really the case with any of the prequels). Any time the new cast are on screen the film comes alive which filled me with hope for the series going forward (also unlike the prequels).

Then there's the old cast, which has been drawn back in for supporting roles that feel more like playing it safe & catering to nostalgia than necessary inclusions. Thankfully their presence is kept to a minimum, but I felt like the film would be even better if we'd just stuck to the new characters & created a whole new story. And speaking of the story, the whole thing is basically recycled plots with slight variations, which is what kept the film from being truly great. That's not to say it doesn't work, but again it gives you the feeling of playing it safe instead of trying new things. When we watched the original trilogy, each new character or world felt like a new discovery, something we hadn't seen before. This time around, not so much. Oh look, a cantina. Oh look, an alternate Death Star. Oh look, a desert planet. Yawn. I do want to give them big big credit for using actual physical locations for settings this time around though. Of all the decisions going into this film I appreciated this most of all. If all the sets were obvious CGI crap again I think I would've walked out.

As for the kiddo, she liked it too. She thought some parts were scary, but didn't ask me if we could leave or anything. So I'll keep taking her to see the new ones.

Just a thought: Nice to see Harrison Ford finally got his wish.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Dec. 26th

First off, let me say that if you live in a city that's screening this in 70mm you have to go. Especially if you're a film buff, which if you're reading this on here you probably are. The screening included a souvenir program, and the way the film is played is something that hasn't been done in over 50 years. It's a different experience, and one I enjoyed so much I'm tempted to go back again before Drafthouse lets it go. Doesn't look like the show-times will allow that, but maybe I can skip some sleep one night in the next couple of weeks.

As for the film itself, well, once again Tarantino has created a masterpiece. And I'm thankful he did, because Django wound up being somewhat disappointing (and seems even more so by comparison). Obviously the cast is stellar, and the music is as perfectly chosen as one would expect. The story unfolds slowly, drawing us into the characters as we get to know them bit by bit, and the tension is ratcheted up until things explode. Tarantino never shows his hand so that you know exactly where he's taking you, but once you reach the end you realize that every moment was essential.

I wasn't sure if any film this year would dethrone Spring as my favorite, but I'm glad that it was The Hateful Eight that finally did.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I watched before Netflix removed them from my queue
People who added this item 3920 Average listal rating (2555 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8.1
First viewing - Dec. 25th

Well, it looks like I've got a handful of films about to jump out of my queue so I figured I'd better start tackling at least the ones I most wanted to see. Thus I started with this one since it's got possibly the best reputation of the bunch. And it's definitely a well-made film, there's no arguing that. The cast is excellent all around, the drama has enough humor to keep it from being too overwhelmingly depressing overall, and the technical side is wonderful. It's not an easy film to enjoy though, because of the way the story plays out. Plus, while I can't say the scenes after the big fight aren't necessary, they did make the film feel like it was dragging along to the ending. So in the end this was totally worth seeing once, but not something I'd go out of my way to sit through again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 292 Average listal rating (188 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.6
Explorers (1985)
Re-watch - Dec. 25th/26th

After Million Dollar Baby I needed something more light to bring me back up, so I decided to finally revisit Explorers. I originally saw this in theatres during its initial run, but I never watched it again. So going into it I vaguely recalled enjoying it as a kid and a handful of the visuals, but nothing else.

And yet, as it turns out, the rating I'd given it remains accurate. Basically it's just a kids adventure film without any real message or point to it, and as such it's definitely not great. It's entertaining thanks largely to our trio of leads, who create believable outsider kids with genuine chemistry between themselves. And for those who grew up in love with space travel & sci-fi, the film understands those kids and delivers an experience that's probably familiar. The effects are a mixed bag, as they range from obviously fake & cheesy to fairly believable. But ultimately the film never has anything to say, which according to my research post-viewing is due to the production being stopped before it was completed. In light of that news, it's no surprise that the film fails to be truly satisfying...but it doesn't change the fact that it is either.

Just a thought: Big bonus points for the kids attending Charles M. Jones Junior High School.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 590 Average listal rating (381 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Dec. 27th

Eh, this was OK. The acting is mostly good, and the story is kinda interesting except that it winds up being nothing really special. And it didn't help that I failed to connect with a single character as none of them did anything to endear themselves to me. Honestly there were times when I questioned why I was watching it instead of something else, but then something exciting would happen & I'd hang on longer. But ultimately I was left with a feeling of "yep, I've watched that," and not much more.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 382 Average listal rating (268 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Dec. 30th

Honestly I didn't intend to watch this before it left my queue, but on this night it was late before I was ready to watch a movie & it was the shortest one. The good news is that it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated. It's actually got some really funny moments along the way which helped me hang with it, plus the lovely Linda Cardinelli. Most of the acting is average though, and there are some really stupid moments along the way too which kept it from being anything truly great. Still, I've spent my time with far worse comedies & the fact that I actually laughed at times with this one saved it somewhat from its flaws.
the giraffe's rating:

As usual I'm wrapping up the year by focusing heavily on what's in my collection first. Theatrical releases will come second, and Netflix will bring up the rear. Numbers-wise this month will certainly surpass November, though holiday celebrations will invade my free time to some degree. Regardless I should wind up ending the year on a strong note.

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