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Added by the giraffe on 2 Dec 2018 12:39
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DVDecember 2018

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 41 films watched
10 first views, 31 re-watches
34 via DVD/BR, and 7 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1930s, 40s, 50s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & 2010s

This list is far too long to spend much time rambling about here as well, and because I was so productive you'll find very brief notes on some of the films below. That's either because I've talked about them on here elsewhere or I just didn't have much to say about them. I will say, however, that having a goal in mind of mainly focusing on the films I haven't seen in the past 10 years helped me stay on target. I'm glad I had several new films I wanted to see in the theatre though, even if they weren't all great. Next month I doubt I'll re-watch anything, unless it's something my daughter picks out.

And now, the numbers for 2018:
Movies watched: 354
Short films watched: 1
Movies abandoned: 1
Most movies watched in a month: 42 in October
Least movies watched in a month: 24 in April
Favorite new movie of 2018: Sorry to Bother You
First viewing - Dec. 15th

I knew this would be good, but I'm blown away by how good it actually is. This is probably the closest any film has come yet to bringing a comic book to life, visually and story-wise. It's excellent from start to finish, and I have no doubt I'll watch it several more times. In fact, I'm tempted to catch it again while it's still in theatres. Seeing it in IMAX was a treat, and it wound up being my daughter's favorite film of 2018 (to the surprise of no one).
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in a theatre
First viewing - Dec. 1st

Let's be honest, we didn't even need a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph. So the fact that this isn't a failure is pretty impressive. There are some excellent jokes and memorable moments wrung out of the material, and both my daughter and I were entertained overall. But it's not as heartfelt as the original film, nor as good. I'm not sure I need to watch it again, but I may end up doing so down the road regardless.
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People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (37 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Dec. 14th

Mortal Engines is basically this year's Valerian. Excellent visuals that make it worth catching on the big screen (in my case, IMAX, and it was totally worth it), a story that moves at a fast enough clip to avoid being bogged down too much by its flaws, and a total box-office bomb. Ah well. I can't compare it to the source material as I've not read the books, but while the story was decent it's nothing we haven't seen and even steals a bit from other movies. There's a rather obvious Star Wars influence on display, for example. And the characters are fine, though you have to question why the most memorable character is a CG creation that's a supporting role. Still, I have no regrets about seeing it and if I thought I'd have the chance in another 10 or so years to see it on a big screen again I'd take the opportunity.
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People who added this item 229 Average listal rating (163 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Dec. 17th

Much ado has been made among critics about Roma, so when I found out the local indie theatre was screening it I figured I should catch it while I could. I wasn't sure if it'd last for another weekend, so I made a point to leave home on a weeknight just so I wouldn't miss it (and then the next day found out it WAS held over). And when it ended, my main thought was "that was it?" Now that doesn't mean I found nothing to appreciate here...on technical levels it's an outstanding film. The acting is so natural I felt like the camera was dropped into the lives of actual people, which is a high compliment. And yet we're kept at a distance from our central character, which prevented me from deeply caring about the things she went through. I recognize that there's emotion in some of the moments, but I felt nothing at all. The only emotional response I had was laughing at some of the more humorous moments in the film. But the dramatic elements left me dry and the characters failed to endear themselves to me in any meaningful way, which is why I'm struggling to understand what all the fuss is about. Technical elements don't mean much if there's insufficient storytelling elements. So I felt like I'd wasted my money and regretted making the special trip.
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People who added this item 208 Average listal rating (143 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Dec. 22nd

The Favourite is wonderfully acted and full of amusing moments. It's refreshing to see a film where a trio of multifaceted and complex women are at the center, and to have the men be solely supporting roles is a welcome change. There's a lot going on here, and I'm not entirely sure I shouldn't sit through it again to completely make up my mind how I feel about it all. On first viewing I found it a bit overlong and the ending fell flat for me, but overall it's absolutely worth seeing. I'm giving it a 7/10 for now, but that's subject to change.
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Dec. 22nd

I found The Mule to be worthwhile, yet problematic. Eastwood does a solid job, both acting and in the director's seat, and the film relies on the goodwill he's built up over the years to make his character likable. There's more to his character, however, and while he's amusing enough he's also not a good guy as we quickly find out. And yet the film tends to brush over his negative characteristics because he goes out of his way to please others, which doesn't always work for me. And it's a little odd that his character works so hard to please strangers yet has spent most of his life refusing to please his own family. I suspect that's supposed to be a sign he's learning from his mistakes though, or trying to at least, so I can let this slide. There's also a mild racist streak which is looked at as the humorous ways of an out-of-touch old man and I struggled at times with this. Worst of all are the sexist elements, from extreme male gaze to having this octogenarian attracting and bedding a bunch of gorgeous young women. The latter is rather unbelievable, and the former really grated on my nerves. It's way too much objectification. Aside from these issues, however, the storytelling is fairly strong, the cast is solid, and I wound up being entertained. I don't know that I'd sit through it again, but it was worth seeing once.
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People who added this item 276 Average listal rating (164 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - Dec. 27th

I took this day off from work so I could watch over my daughter, and we kicked off our morning with Aquaman. It's an entertaining movie provided you can shut your brain off, which is more or less what I'd expected. The action sequences are often fun, though at times they undermine any dramatic elements the film touches on. There are three times where conversations are interrupted by explosions, which is at least two times too many. It's like every time things get serious the film quickly switches gears back to being an action movie. This may help the film maintain the audience's attention, but it also fails it on a story level. I give it points for embracing the silliness of Aquaman and his world, and for including some highly amusing moments like an octopus playing bongos or sharks with frickin lasers on their heads. But it's kind of a mess too, and pales in comparison to most of the other superhero films we got this year. As far as the current wave of DC films goes, Wonder Woman retains the crown (and here's hoping they don't ruin her sequel).
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Home viewings

Re-watch - Dec. 1st

The kiddo wanted to watch a Christmas movie, so I pulled out all the available options and let her pick one. I've written about this film before so I won't go into detail again, but it's growing on me more and more.
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Re-watch - Dec. 2nd

Another pick from the kiddo. I still find this film to be very amusing and far better than its reputation. Granted it's not as good as the original cartoon, but I'd rather watch it over & over than waste my time on the new Illumination version.
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Re-watch - Dec. 2nd

My daughter wanted to watch another movie after The Grinch, so I insisted we watch something non-Christmas-y and she chose this after I told her it's from the same people as Time Bandits. She wound up loving it, especially Eric Idle's character who made her laugh almost every time he spoke. I still dig the hell out of it as well.
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People who added this item 2198 Average listal rating (1395 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Dec. 3rd

I've been wanting to revisit Thank You for Smoking for a while now, so I figured this month it was time. It's smart, funny, and solidly entertaining. It never quite crosses the line of greatness but thanks to a strong ensemble cast and clever writing it rises above mediocrity.
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People who added this item 5989 Average listal rating (4123 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
Re-watch - Dec. 4th

Seeing Jim Carrey in Jim & Andy last month made me realize it's been far too long since I last saw The Truman Show. It's still pure perfection, still stirs my emotions, and I can't think of a single thing to complain about.
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Re-watch - Dec. 5th

I figured thematically this was a nice way to follow up on the last few films. Blurring the lines between reality & fiction often entertains me, and I love the ways this story is told and structured. It had been long enough since I last saw it that I'd forgotten a lot of the details and thus was able to get into the story better than if I'd watched it a bunch of times. I much prefer this side of Will Ferrell over his stupid comedy side.
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People who added this item 1609 Average listal rating (1064 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Dec. 7th

I needed something fun for a Friday night, and this totally did the trick. I've seen it a ton of times so most of it sticks with me, but I hadn't seen it since the '90s ended which meant it wasn't all fresh in my mind. It's a really good sequel, and watching Glover and Gibson play off each other is endlessly entertaining. It's no wonder we got 4 of these films, though of course the quality of them isn't so consistent. But the two of them make each one worth sitting through, even at their worst.
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People who added this item 1153 Average listal rating (692 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Dec. 8th

December 8, 2018, would have been Jim's 75th birthday so I figured I would revisit The Doors in his honor. Kilmer really disappears into character as Morrison and comes as close as possible to resurrecting Jim. It's great. The movie does a great job of capturing the energy of The Doors and the fact they were often kind of a circus, not to mention a trainwreck whenever Jim went off the rails. Morrison could be an asshole, but also charming, and that's all present.

My problem with the film as I watch it now is that almost every scene has music. Dramatic moments are either drowned out by a Doors song or one is playing in the background distracting you from the moment, even when it's just Jim and Pam at home. As much as I love their music, I wished it was less present. It's like Oliver Stone was afraid we'd forget we're watching a movie about The Doors if we go more than 3 minutes without hearing their songs, and it's maddening. I still really enjoy the film, but it would be vastly improved if Stone had allowed there to be moments of silence.
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People who added this item 884 Average listal rating (601 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Dec. 8th

I was talking to my best friend about my thoughts on The Doors and he brought up how good Kilmer is as Doc Holliday, which led to me watching Tombstone. And there's not a damn thing wrong with this movie, and I'll not hear a word against it.
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Re-watch - Dec. 10th

I remember The Great Outdoors being on cable TV all the time growing up, and so my sister and I watched it a ton of times as kids. I hadn't seen it since the early or mid '90s, however, so I was curious to see if it still held up. And you know what? It does. Oh, it's not great, but it's a solid comedy that delivers thanks largely to the joy of seeing John Candy and Dan Aykroyd playing off each other. Now that I'm older I see the flaws more, the biggest one being that it's unclear just how big this town is supposed to be. The romance between the two teenagers places them in locations that had me questioning whether they could actually make it from one to the next in the supposed time within the film. And speaking of the teenagers, I didn't even realize the older son is played by the same actor that's Tom in PCU. Anyway, I'm glad I finally watched it again, and even more so that I have a copy so I can see it again in a few more years. I suspect the kiddo will appreciate it in the near future.
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People who added this item 1478 Average listal rating (932 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 11th

I've come to realize the thing I most appreciate about Rushmore is how toned down Wes Anderson's style is. With each new film his style gets more grating to me, but here he lacked the budget to go all out and while his style is present it never goes overboard. The story and characters all work well too, and it makes me sad that I don't enjoy his other films this much.
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People who added this item 636 Average listal rating (372 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.4
Re-watch - Dec. 12th

I'd completely forgotten this is set in Pittsburgh. What can I say about Wonder Boys? I love the cast, the characters, and the story and it's such a good film I'm surprised I've only seen it twice now.
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People who added this item 572 Average listal rating (290 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.9
Mirrormask (2005)
Re-watch - Dec. 16th

The kiddo chose Mirrormask and so I got to watch it for the second time. I love the style of the film, it's so unique. The visuals, the creatures, and just the entire world created here is endlessly fascinating to me. The story is consistently entertaining, and I love the dry humor. Mostly though I was just glad she enjoyed it and it evidently didn't give her nightmares despite being creepy at times.
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Re-watch - Dec. 18th

So a while back I managed to pick up Bloodlust at Half Price Books for a measly $5.99 on DVD, and at the time I couldn't believe my good fortune. Well, turns out I wasn't so fortunate because the copy I picked up has no Japanese language option for reasons I can't even begin to understand. I sat through it anyway because I really wanted to see it, but I couldn't appreciate the dubbed version as much. Course it doesn't help that D is voiced by the same actor who voiced Brain on Animaniacs, and I occasionally heard that character popping up when he spoke. I still like the film, and the visuals are outstanding, but holy crap I can't handle it being dubbed. I wound up trading in my copy for credit towards other films a few days later.

Just a thought: Now I want a version of this film where the hand parasite is voiced by the actor who played Pinky.
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People who added this item 2949 Average listal rating (1986 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Dec. 19th

With Glass on the horizon I wanted to watch Unbreakable again. I still love everything about this film, and it's easy now to see how much it influenced a lot of the superhero films that followed in its wake. But mostly I appreciate the more real-world take on superheroes that's portrayed here, and that finale is an all-timer. I'm very curious to see what happens in Glass, and I'm so excited for it that I've been avoiding its trailers because I don't want to know anything that will happen in it before it hits theatres.
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Re-watch - Dec. 20th

The kiddo was sick on this Thursday night, so I curled up with her on the couch and we watched Nightmare for the umpteenth time. I have nothing new to say about it, other than I'm happy to report it's still in her top 5 films.
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Re-watch - Dec. 21st

I figured The Dream Team and The Scout would make a good double feature (or should I say double header?) since both films deal with psychosis and baseball and New York City. This is easily the better of the two films thanks mainly to Keaton, Lloyd, and Boyle. The first stretch of the film takes some time to find its groove, but once it gets there it's a lot of fun through the ending. Sure it's a bit ridiculous, but it's a comedy so who cares? It makes me laugh, and that's what really counts.
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People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.3
The Scout (1994)
Re-watch - Dec. 21st

The Scout is by no means a great film, but it gets by on its charms. The scenes where Albert Brooks's character attends baseball games in Mexico are the best parts of the film, and both he and Fraser do their best with the material. There's a scene where an unnamed ball player tries to steal bases and collides with a food cart, and it's one of the funniest things I've ever seen so the film earns extra points for that. But there's a lot left unexplored or underdeveloped, which keeps the film from being more successful. I guess they wanted to keep the film light and funny, but more depth would have been appreciated. It's possible that I might watch the film again in the far distant future and wind up liking it even less, but for now I think it's fine despite it's flaws.
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People who added this item 89 Average listal rating (60 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.5
Re-watch - Dec. 23rd

Universal Horror marathon


I recognize that this list is severely lacking movies made prior to my birth, so I made a point on this day to watch a handful of films from my Universal Horror collection to make up for it. I kicked off the day with Werewolf of London which was pretty good. The make-up effects for the werewolf are pretty cool, and it was interesting to see a take where the werewolf retained some of its rational thought instead of becoming a complete beast. I don't know that I totally buy that idea, but it was different. The cast is decent enough, the story is okay, but it's safe to say that it's forgettable because I watched it 5 years ago and didn't realize it until I put it on this list. There was never a moment while watching it where I registered that I'd seen it before, so I suspect I'll forget it again.
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First viewing - Dec. 23rd

Universal Horror marathon


House of Dracula takes an interesting idea and then basically fails to deliver on it. Basically there's this scientist who must be world famous because both Dracula and Larry Talbot show up on his doorstep looking for his help to cure what ails them. We then get a more scientific approach to their respective maladies, which was amusing to see how each is rationalized. But then for no apparent reason they find Frankenstein's monster under the scientist's house. Now you might think this is setting them all up for an epic battle, but as it turns out not so much. The monster is basically forgotten about for most of the film, only to be resurrected at the end in time to die again. Dracula is also vanquished midway through the film, after kind of turning the scientist with unusual results. It's honestly kind of a mess. Oh, and the scientist has a hunchback woman assistant for no damn reason at all other than someone probably thought he should have someone like Igor present. The cast does their best with what they're given, but honestly I went from being interested to bored to annoyed with it.
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First viewing - Dec. 23rd

Universal Horror marathon


Don't let that poster over there fool you...the Creature never terrorizes any city. Oh, sure, he gets to leave the water and spend some time on land in town, but he's put into a prison/zoo situation and never runs amok elsewhere. Some parts of this were sadly predictable, but it gets points for trying to do something different with the Creature. It was more entertaining than the other two films I watched, but not much better I'm afraid. Thus my trip to the past wasn't as successful as I'd hoped, but at least it shook things up a little.
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People who added this item 1612 Average listal rating (1131 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - Dec. 23rd

OK, so I'd originally intended to follow the 3 films above with a Hammer horror movie, but the timing didn't work out right. By the time I was done with dinner I wasn't in the mood to sit through another self-serious horror movie, I wanted something that's fun. Enter Demolition Man. I love the world-building in this film, the oddball future reality is an endless source of amusing moments. Snipes chews scenery like his life depends on it and goes over the top with his performance, while Stallone is, well, Stallone. But it works well enough and the film is consistently entertaining. The only thing that stands out as a glaring failure is the fact that despite both of our main characters using guns all the time, they also miss their shots almost every time. It's like watching G.I. Joe cartoons, they can blow up the entire room and every vehicle in sight but can't shoot each other. It goes beyond my ability to suspend my disbelief. I get it's more dramatic to have them throw their guns down and fight without them, but it's just ridiculous. Still, in the end it's a fun movie that I'm sure I'll watch again a few more times.

Just a thought: God help us if we ever reach a point where the only restaurant option is Taco Bell.
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Re-watch - Dec. 24th

I hadn't seen A.I. since its theatrical run, so I was long overdue to revisit it. I still think it's far better than its reputation suggests, and reading up on it afterwards I was pleasantly surprised to find that some critics had come around on the film after initially hating it. The visuals and effects still hold up, and the cast is strong across the board. The music is outstanding. I find the story quite fascinating, though there are some character actions that don't entirely make sense. Clearly David has to be abandoned to get us to where the story ends, but I'm not sold that his adoptive parents would refuse to allow him to explain the actions that lead them to give him up. I still really enjoy the film, and it still falls just short of being truly great.
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Re-watch - Dec. 24th

I gave my daughter a copy of How to Train Your Dragon 2 for Xmas, and she initially wanted to watch it on this night but decided she wanted to revisit this film first. I still dig pretty much everything about this movie, and it comes very close to crossing my personal line of greatness. I will say that the best thing this series has going for it is that they've taken their time with each film rather than rushing out the sequels to cash in on the success of each entry. It makes me genuinely excited for the third film.
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People who added this item 1023 Average listal rating (628 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Dec. 25th

After breakfast on Xmas morning we watched this together, and much like its predecessor it's a very well-made film, full of heart and humor. I'm still not very impressed with the villain in this one, but otherwise it still pleased me the second time around.
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Re-watch - Dec. 25th

I dropped my daughter off to her mother at lunch time, which meant I had the rest of the day to myself. So after having my lunch I curled up on the couch with Conspiracy Theory. I've adjusted my rating a little as I no longer think the film crosses the line to greatness, but it's a solid thriller nonetheless. Gibson gives a stellar performance, and I dig the story. The ending is a little ridiculous, but I'm fine with it. I'm sure I'll watch it again in another 10 years or so.
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People who added this item 1968 Average listal rating (1246 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.9
Re-watch - Dec. 25th

Nothing new to comment on here.

Just a thought: I've watched a lot of films set in New York City this month.
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People who added this item 201 Average listal rating (147 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.2
Re-watch - Dec. 25th

Still keeping my annual tradition going with Krampus, and it's as much fun as it always has been.
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People who added this item 1965 Average listal rating (1303 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Dec. 27th

I feel like we don't talk enough about how damn good this movie is. The cast slays it across the board, and the heist story is just tight and wonderfully written. There's not a single misstep, and honestly the only thing missing is that perfect 10 feeling.
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People who added this item 320 Average listal rating (192 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Re-watch - Dec. 28th

My daughter wanted to watch a movie with me before bedtime, and this was the shortest film in my stack for her to see. She wound up enjoying it, and I think it's safe to say she liked the soundtrack most of all. I still find it a lot of fun, mostly for nostalgia reasons if I'm honest. Not sure why I thought it was worthy of a 9/10, so I adjusted my rating for it (my inner child is having a hard time with this). It plays very much at times like they'd expected it to run on TV (complete with cuts for commercials, no less) and you're expected to know the characters as most of them never get an introduction (which is fine I guess, but also lazy). Still, I'd rather watch it a dozen more times than waste energy sitting through any of the live-action films.
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People who added this item 4530 Average listal rating (2997 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 7.2
King Kong (2005)
Re-watch - Dec. 29th

Saturday afternoon found me at the mercy of a stomach bug, and I barely left the couch. So it seemed like a good time to watch King Kong, another film on this list I hadn't seen since its theatrical run. And while it doesn't deliver as strongly at home as it does on the big screen, I still dig it. It's infinitely better than the '70s version, and comes as close as possible to remaking the original film. My daughter thought it was too long, which is fair I guess but I personally prefer having some of the bigger action set-pieces present as well as some character moments being allowed to breathe. It was never going to be as good as the original, but Jackson did a very good job here.
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Re-watch - Dec. 30th

I finally got my daughter to watch E.T. with me, and she really enjoyed it. That's all I needed.
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People who added this item 153 Average listal rating (81 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Dec. 31st

I was going to revisit Three Extremes, but when I opened up the case I was reminded that I had the feature-length version of Dumplings and had never watched it. So I went with something new instead. Now, it's been a while since I've seen the shorter version of this story that's included in Three Extremes, but from what I recall that one focused more on the maker of the dumplings and teasing out what she put in them. The extended version doesn't really hide that fact beyond the first 20 minutes, and focuses more on one woman's attempts to reclaim her youth and beauty in hopes of holding on to her husband. It's an interesting exploration of the lengths one might go to to turn back time, and I appreciated that they even managed to rationalize what happens as being a part of Chinese historical traditions. And yet while I can appreciate what they're going for, it also kind of falls apart a bit as it rolls along to its ending. I doubt I'd watch this again, but I don't regret finally giving it a look.

Favorite quote: "Face it, we all have different fates that we can't escape. We can only treasure our time here and live the best we can."
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People who added this item 1955 Average listal rating (1166 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - Dec. 31st

I ended 2018 with Boogie Nights, a film I find fascinating and wonderfully made. Watching these characters go through the highs and lows of working in the porn industry makes for engaging and entertaining cinema. And while I can applaud the talents of the cast and the technical aspects of the film, and I can see it's greatness, it's also a film I don't personally love. Intellectually I see it as a 9/10 film, but on a personal level it's more like a 7.5. This is not a film I'd want to watch over and over, but it is one I'll keep returning to every 10 or so years just to see what I think about it.

Mostly though this time around I kept getting briefly distracted by seeing actors we've lost since its release, and being reminded of their talents. It seemed fitting in a way to end the year by watching this film in the wake of the deaths of Burt Reynolds and Ricky Jay.
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