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Added by the giraffe on 8 Dec 2019 08:06
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DVDecember 2019

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 36 films watched
14 first views, 22 re-watches
2 via streaming, 23 via DVD/BR, and 11 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1960s-2010s

December wound up being super productive thanks to having a focus as well as plenty of new movies I was itching to see. I made 7 trips to the theatres to catch the 11 films I saw there, and for the most part they were worth the trip. I got most of the films I wanted to watch from my collection watched as well, with only a couple leftover. Perhaps I'll get to them next December.

And now, the numbers for 2019:
Movies watched: 319
Short films watched: 0
Movies abandoned: 0
Most movies watched in a month: 37 in October
Least movies watched in a month: 17 in September
Favorite new movie of 2019: Parasite or Uncut Gems
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
Uncut Gems (2019)
First viewing - Dec. 26th

Uncut Gems is one of the most visceral movie experiences I've ever had, and I'm seriously considering taking the ride again before it leaves theatres. Adam Sandler delivers arguably his best performance ever and it took me some time to unwind from the experience after it ended. I can't recommend it highly enough.
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People who added this item 366 Average listal rating (233 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - Dec. 4th

I've wanted to watch Police Story for a long time now, but it wasn't easily tracked down. Browsing at Barnes & Noble last month during their 50% off Criterion sale led me to find their release of Police Story and Police Story 2, which I picked up on Blu-ray with the confidence it'd be worth the purchase despite having not seen either film. And so far I've been well rewarded.

Police Story is a blast, with Jackie Chan showing off his chops (no pun intended) as an actor, stuntman, and director. He keeps the film grounded overall, and delivers some of the best action set-pieces from this time period. The film has some hilarious moments along the way, and the story is well-told. Unfortunately as seems to be the case with a lot of martial arts films the ending just happens and it's done. It feels abrupt and not so satisfying, which is the only issue I had with it. Otherwise I'm glad I finally watched Police Story and I look forward to revisiting it as well as exploring the supplemental materials in the Criterion release.
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People who added this item 163 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.1
Knives Out (2019)
First viewing - Dec. 2nd

Knives Out was the only film I saw while I was out of town, and I went with my dad and my daughter. All three of us highly enjoyed it and agreed we'd watch it again. It's smart, it's funny, and the cast is a delight. I especially appreciated the social commentary side of the film. I don't know that I'd go as far as to call it great, but I'm glad it exists and look forward to revisiting it.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - Dec. 7th

I mostly loved Queen & Slim thanks to its central couple and the way the story unfolds. Daniel Kaluuya continues to impress me and Jodie Turner-Smith holds her own. Overall the story had me thinking at times of The Hate U Give, though I slightly prefer that film to this one. I'd probably watch this again, though not often enough that I'd need to own a copy. But it's absolutely worth seeing if you get the chance.
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Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Dec. 4th

Mirren and McKellen make The Good Liar worth watching, but the story didn't impress me much. I was consistently entertained, but it felt like something was missing to tie it all together better. It's not a great film, but I got the feeling it wanted to be one. I'm glad I caught it while I could at the theatre before I returned to work from my vacation, but I wouldn't go out of my way to watch it again.
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People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - Dec. 7th

Honey Boy is clearly a deeply personal film for Shia LeBeouf, and the story is pretty fascinating. It's also mostly a downer. But the performances from him, Lucas Hedges, and Noah Jupe are outstanding and make the film worth a look. It never achieves greatness, and as I left the theatre it took some time to process just how I felt about it. I'm not sure I'd watch it again.
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Dec. 14th

I had no interest in another Jumanji film, but the kiddo was excited for it. Thus I agreed to take her to see it so long as we could see the Mr. Rogers movie after. It wasn't as bad as I'd feared, in fact it's almost as good as its predecessor. The higher frequency of body swapping in this film keeps things amusing thanks to a game cast, and the story moves at a fast enough clip that it held my attention. I wouldn't bother with sitting through it again, but I also don't regret wasting the time on it. Course it helped that the kiddo had a blast with it.
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First viewing - Dec. 14th

After lunch we returned for this, which wound up being far better than I'd expected. If you want something great and near perfect regarding Mr. Rogers, then just watch the doc Won't You Be My Neighbor?. This is a slight step down from that doc, but if you know going into it that the main character is the journalist, not Mr. Rogers, then I think it works very well. There are a couple occasions where it's clearly trying to recreate some of the best moments in the doc, but those moments work well enough that I didn't mind at all. And while Tom Hanks doesn't disappear into his character he does capture the spirit and exude the overall impression wonderfully. Additionally I absolutely loved the use of models for scene transitions. If nothing else this is the kind of movie we all need to see right now, and for that I deeply appreciated it.

Just a thought: One thing that kept amusing me was any time the characters were in "New York City" and I'd recognize it as a Pittsburgh location.
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People who added this item 22 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - Dec. 21st

Given the cast and director I felt I should give Richard Jewell a look. It's based on the events at the Olympics in Atlanta, and while I was alive back then I can't say any of this was familiar to me. The story was quite compelling, and the cast is very strong. The handling of Olivia Wilde's journalist character is somewhat problematic and winds up being the only thing I had issues with. Overall though it's absolutely worth seeing, and I wouldn't mind watching it again in several years.
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First viewing - Dec. 21st

Maybe it's because my expectations weren't very high for this in the first place, but I had a blast with it. I liked the characters (bonus points for casting actresses who don't look like models) and enjoyed the updated feminist approach to the story. Best of all it goes all-in for a bonkers finale that left me very very happy. It's far from perfect though as the deaths quickly become repetitive, and since it's PG-13 most of the violence takes place off-screen which left me wishing it was R rated. But I liked it well enough for what it was and I'd gladly watch it again.
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People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
Bombshell (2019)
First viewing - Dec. 21st

So here we have a story that's important and a wonderful cast to help realize it. And yet the characters are never explored deeply enough for it to matter much, which is a shame. It reminded me in some ways of The Big Short, and as such I was entertained for the most part. But it never crossed the line of greatness, and I can't imagine many people even talking about it after the next year or so.
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First viewing - Dec. 28th

I had low expectations for Rise of Skywalker going into it anyway, and the film didn't even rise above them. I'll concede that on the technical aspects level the film fires on all cylinders as we've come to expect of the franchise. But on a character and story level it fails. Everything that occurs is only in service of the scene instead of a larger narrative. It's all empty spectacle, frustrating to experience and never entertaining beyond the surface level and fleeting little moments. It wants to undo the best aspects of The Last Jedi and tries so hard to please its audience, but without a story that matters to any degree I'd be surprised if many people are pleased at all. And even those who are entertained by it will eventually come to realize that under closer scrutiny it falls apart. Even my 9-year-old daughter saw that a lot of it didn't make sense or was just pointless. Of course this is what we get when a franchise is rushed through and none of its creative voices are allowed the time to come to a consensus on what the overall trilogy is actually going to be about. Had there been any framework set up from the beginning to adhere to, we might have had something great. Instead we're left with three films that have the same characters in them but can't agree on what to do with any of them beyond responding to or recycling ideas from the original trilogy. At least The Last Jedi tried to deliver something different, though it sticks out like a sore thumb next to the two films from Abrams. What a shame.
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People who added this item 2136 Average listal rating (1363 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.1
Easy A (2010)
Re-watch - Dec. 3rd

I hadn't seen Easy A since its release, so clearly it was time to revisit it. I still really appreciate the smart script, and the performances are excellent across the board. Watching it again though I no longer felt it earned my previous rating of 9/10 so I've adjusted my rating. Everything is resolved a little too easily, which somehow didn't bother me the first time around. But it's still a fun movie that I'll revisit every so often.

Just a thought: If I could have picked my parents from fictional options, I would have gone with Olive's parents. They're possibly my favorite ever. Granted that'd require some time travel or a change in when I was born probably, but still.
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People who added this item 1085 Average listal rating (696 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.1
Re-watch - Dec. 6th

As I think is known around here I love the original Wayne's World movie. I was also a fan of them on SNL prior to the film's release. So of course this is in my collection as I bought it in a pack with the first film. However while I can't even count how many times I've watched the first film, I think this was my 3rd time watching the second. And it quickly became apparent why I don't watch it often.

The story never comes together organically, which is one problem. At the end Wayne asks why he had to put on a concert, and Jim Morrison tells him it was so he'd know Cassandra will love him no matter what. But aside from Jim saying this there's no direct connection between the two things. She never doubts his ability to put on the concert (in fact she's willing to perform there), and he breaks up with her over his own insecurities about their relationship. And then he wins her back just by showing up and taking her to the concert, after which she's basically ignored. If there's any reconciliation between them, we never see it.

Gaps like that had me feeling like chunks of the film were left on a cutting-room floor in favor of maintaining a run-time close to 90 minutes. Which is odd, because you could just as easily jettison some of the weaker parts that remain and replace them with the missing pieces and have a more rewarding and better crafted film. It's like they had too many ideas and couldn't decide which to cut, so they kept whatever they felt would be funniest. That might be a worthwhile approach, however the humor only hits about 1/3 of the time. Granted when it DOES hit it delivers some wonderful moments (Del's speech about Ozzy, the exchange with the guy at the permit office, the extended riff on The Graduate), but the rest of the time I was just shaking my head at the failed attempts which isn't great for a comedy. It winds up being quite a mixed bag. If I didn't already like the characters I'd probably rate this one even lower than I have.
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Re-watch - Dec. 7th

This was my second time watching I Love You, Man and it's safe to say I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time around. Paul Rudd plays his role very well, but Jason Segel is easily the film's MVP. Watching them play off each other remains a joy, even when the jokes aren't quite there. Probably the joke that fails to land for me at all is the whole slapping the bass thing which gets run into the ground. Some people love it though so maybe I don't know what I'm talking about. Anyway, it's a super fun film that's heartfelt and I'm glad I own it so I can watch it again.
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Re-watch - Dec. 8th

Birdman still leaves me in awe of its technical prowess, but I wouldn't love it if I didn't enjoy the characters, the story, and the meanings behind it all. I still say it's one of the few times the Academy got the film of the year correct.
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People who added this item 3479 Average listal rating (2286 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 11th

I hadn't seen (500) Days of Summer since the theatre, but I appreciated it just as much the second time around. I dig the way the story is told, revisiting moments so we can see them from a new perspective and in ways that deepen our understanding of the characters without derailing the film's momentum. The ending is kinda cheesy, but at least it's well-earned. I look forward to revisiting it again, perhaps in another 10 years.
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People who added this item 3459 Average listal rating (2262 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - Dec. 12th

There's nothing new I can say about Children of Men as it's all been said. The only new observation I had is that the treatment of immigrants in the film is now far more believable now that ICE exists and kids are kept in cages in the States. That's something I never wanted to see in my lifetime and had hoped would remain relegated to the past and fiction.
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People who added this item 6729 Average listal rating (4434 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - Dec. 13th

Watched with the kiddo and we had a lot of fun as per usual. Still can't help but be a little sad though any time I come across John Candy and am reminded he's gone.
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Re-watch - Dec. 14th

Amazingly I picked this up brand-new for $7 on Blu (same goes for Christmas Vacation below) and couldn't wait to finally watch it with my daughter. I was worried that most of my appreciation for it would be for nostalgia reasons, but thankfully that proved to not be the case. Even if I don't fully agree with all the ideas in it, for the most part it's worthy of its status as a holiday classic.
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People who added this item 3801 Average listal rating (2538 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 20th

Watching The Hangover now it doesn't quite reach the same highs as it did in the theatre with an audience. It's possible that it's just better watched with others versus alone, but some of the jokes in it don't work for me anymore. Overall it's entertaining of course, but I'm not sure why I thought it was great instead of just a solid comedy.
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People who added this item 4153 Average listal rating (2785 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.9
Re-watch - Dec. 20th

I'd originally considered watching Liar Liar with the kiddo, and I'm glad I ultimately decided against it. I don't think she'd enjoy it as much now as she will when she's a teenager. I still highly enjoy it, and I think waiting as long as I did to watch it again (I can't even recall the last time I watched it) definitely benefits its impact.
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Re-watch - Dec. 22nd

I hadn't seen Walk Hard since it was at the discount theatre near the end of its run, but since I could watch it for free via Starz I figured I'd give it another look. As someone who was less than impressed by Walk the Line I get a lot of joy out of the ways it pokes fun at that film and the music biopic template. The laughs aren't consistent, but when they hit it's worth the effort of those that don't. And probably the best aspect, aside from John C. Reilly's performance, is the music throughout. The songwriting is impressive and the lyrics deliver their fair share of laughs. The film is nothing great, and while I still wouldn't buy a copy to own I also wouldn't mind watching it again.
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Re-watch - Dec. 22nd

Scent of a Woman is another film I probably don't need to say anything about. Pacino is at the top of his game here and delivers one of his best performances. I'd own it just for his character alone, but the story is so entertaining and heartfelt that I'm always happy to revisit it. I should do so more often.

Just a thought: The tango scene remains sublime.
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People who added this item 662 Average listal rating (446 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Dec. 23rd

For some reason I was thinking I liked this more than I do. Watching it again it's really uneven. Most of the fighting is really good, but the story never comes together in a satisfying way. The didactic nature of the film is a bit too overt as well, which made me hear Keenan Ivory Wayans's voice in my head yelling "message" at times. I struggled to care much about Jet Li's character, and his journey is never fully earned. Perhaps there was some connective tissue that was excised in favor of a leaner run-time, and if that's the case then the end result is weaker for it. I think of the Ip Man series and how it's benefited from focusing each film on part of his life instead of trying to fit everything into one film, and this character should have been given similar treatment (there's easily two films worth of material here). Thankfully back when I picked it up it was on the cheap, but I don't intend to continue hanging onto it.
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People who added this item 212 Average listal rating (138 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Dec. 23rd

Police Story 2 is a solid sequel. The story comes together a little more smoothly than the previous film, but it felt like there weren't as many big stunts this time around. That's not necessarily a bad thing, however. I enjoyed both films enough that I'm glad to own them and be able to revisit them. Perhaps the second time around I'll have more to say about each.

Just a thought: It wasn't remotely planned this way, but this ends a four-film run for me this month where one character has a disability of some sort. Dewey Cox is "smell-blind", Pacino's Slade and Yueci in Fearless are both blind, and this film has a deaf-mute.
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People who added this item 580 Average listal rating (352 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Frenzy (1972) (1972)
Re-watch - Dec. 24th

Some Nightmares Before Xmas


I wound up at home without any plans on Xmas Eve, so I decided that after lunch I'd have a mini marathon of horror films (hence the title above). Frenzy is still an expertly crafted outing for Hitch, with a story that fits right in among the other '70s horror and thriller output. It's dark with a sense of humor, and the cast is excellent. The only thing missing from it is that magical feeling I get from the ones I award a 10/10 to.
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People who added this item 379 Average listal rating (212 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7
Re-watch - Dec. 24th

Some Nightmares Before Xmas


Fun fact: as much as I enjoy this film at some point during its run-time I usually fall asleep. Normally it happens during Miike's "Box", but this time it happened during "Cut" which is my favorite tale of the three. I'm not sure whether it's due to the film itself or just the way my brain is wired. I even watched this prior to dinner in hopes of avoiding falling asleep at all, but no dice.

Back when this came out I loved it, largely because I was just starting to explore modern Asian horror and it was so fresh and new to me. Over time, however, I've come to regard the overall film as just fine. Watching this version of "Dumplings" reminded me that it works very well for the condensed format, delivering the story in a way that works sufficiently despite lacking the depth of the full-length version. The other two tales are well-told and deliver some surprises, and despite my tendency to fall asleep they're entertaining enough. Neither counts among the best of either Miike's or Chan-wook Park's filmography, but each is a welcome entry that showcases their respective talents.
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People who added this item 1247 Average listal rating (830 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9
It
Re-watch - Dec. 24th

Some Nightmares Before Xmas


With the new versions of It put behind us, I wanted to finally revisit the original made-for-TV version. I was often surprised at how many details and lines of dialogue I remembered given it's been over a decade since I last watched It. Back in 1990 I had recorded it off of TV without the commercials, and I watched it a handful of times throughout that decade but maybe once since the '90s ended. And yet it's stuck with me. Sure some aspects are now a little dated, but most of the effects have held up and the cast is solid. I feel like the cast from the recent adaptations is even stronger than this one, but if we're going to compare them then let's not forget the storytelling is far better overall here. Of course it helps that this version had the same writers whereas the two halves released to theatres had a different writing team for each. Anyway, this version remains entertaining to me and I'm glad to have it.
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Re-watch - Dec. 25th

I just watched this not too long ago so I don't have anything new to add. The only reason I watched it is because I scored a Tim Burton set on Blu that includes it, and it's an Xmas movie the kiddo hadn't seen yet. Not surprisingly she enjoyed it.
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People who added this item 207 Average listal rating (152 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.1
Re-watch - Dec. 25th

My annual tradition continues. For whatever reason I deeply appreciated this film even more so this year.
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Re-watch - Dec. 25th

Nothing new to say here either. I'd hoped to watch this with the kiddo but she'd already seen it with her mom this month. Hence my chasing Krampus with it instead of the other way around.
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First viewing - Dec. 28th

So the kiddo and I were trying to find a movie to watch together, and she was tickled by the title of this one. We tried in vain to find something else we could agree upon, at which point I made the executive decision that we'd just watch this. And it's...fine I guess. The kiddo wanted me to turn it off about 45 minutes into it because she was bored, but by then I felt we had invested enough time to see it through. The premise is silly, and despite it being a comedy it's not very funny. But hey, Kurt Russell is in it and that was enough to keep me watching. I wouldn't bother again, but I've sat through worse films.

Just a thought: As far as I noticed Kurt Russell's character never wears tennis shoes at all in this film, so unless I missed them the title is inaccurate.
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People who added this item 601 Average listal rating (390 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - Dec. 29th

I originally tried to watch Bullitt on the 18th, but my DVD that I've only watched once back when I first bought it brand new quit working about 35 minutes into it (which is why it looks like I didn't watch anything between Charlie Brown and The Hangover). When I did my Xmas shopping I picked up a used copy on Blu for $7.99 and was able to watch the entire film without issues.

I shouldn't need to tell anyone about how great or important Bullitt is, so if you want to read something worthwhile about it head over here. Then feel free to check out the rest of that series of articles if you haven't already as it's excellent.
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Re-watch - Dec. 30th

I'm pretty sure this was my 2nd or 3rd time watching Suicide Kings, and positive it's the first time since the '90s ended. Which is odd because it's been on my shelf for years, thanks to the fact you can pick it up in pretty much any format for less than $10. Turns out the story still holds up well and I found myself unsure of how it ended after all this time apart. Some of the visual touches and song choices haven't aged well, but otherwise I don't have much to complain about here. It's nothing great, but it's a solid little mystery movie that's worth checking out if you never have.
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People who added this item 2705 Average listal rating (1790 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
Re-watch - Dec. 31st

I last watched Big 4 years ago, and my thoughts on it haven't changed. The one thing that has changed, however, is that I figured the kiddo is finally old enough to appreciate it and wound up being correct. While it's not a New Year's movie, I thought it was a good choice to end the year with...there are wishes, fantasy, and a fancy party with a limo ride, not to mention heartfelt joy.
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AKA Films the giraffe watched in December 2019, and as per my annual tradition for this month I'm primarily focusing on my collection rather than sifting through streaming options, so that the films I've bought don't go untouched for too long.

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