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Added by the giraffe on 29 Dec 2012 06:03
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Five by Five Project for 2013

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5 from jaytoast

People who added this item 2264 Average listal rating (1422 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Watched July

Now THIS is my kind of movie. I dug the characters, loved the visual style of it, and especially the way the story is presented. The acting is excellent and the whole film is very thought-provoking. And I thought the opening narration provided a perfect segue from The Seventh Seal. The only thing missing was that magic feeling that a 10/10 film leaves me with, but it came damn close to hitting that mark.

Just a thought: This is the 3rd film I've seen with Moritz Bleibtreu in a major role and the 3rd I've loved, which makes me think I need to watch more of his movies.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 513 Average listal rating (314 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
Watched April

Figured I'd go ahead & watch both films in this section together since they're made by the same writer/director & were both part of the project. And now that I have clearly I need to track down his 3rd film Win Win.

I loved the cast here, and the film only served to reinforce my appreciation of Peter Dinklage as an actor. He conveys so much through facial expressions & body language that his character's preference for silence is never an issue. He's heard all the insults that could possibly be hurled at him, so they don't sting so much anymore but they do have some effect on him especially in large doses. I could tell what was on his mind much of the time without him speaking which really pleased me. And it seems that the rest of the film follows suit by being understated yet having plenty to say beneath the surface.

Wonderful film. I really loved it & would gladly watch it again & again for the chance to hang out with these characters more.

Just a thought: Couldn't help but notice the Scissorhands Salon next to the train shop at the beginning & smile at the thought that Edward finally started his own business.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1014 Average listal rating (663 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.4
Watched January

Review by PvtCaboose91

As the above review also notes, a strong cast & excellent script work well together to make this film memorable despite the cliches on hand. I personally really enjoyed it & would definitely watch it again.

Thanks to jaytoast for the recommendation!

Just a thought: Peter Dinklage is a better actor than he seems to get credit for.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 454 Average listal rating (279 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
Watched November

The Wages of Fear is a very interesting film that kept me engaged throughout its run-time. I dug the social commentary, the characters are interesting, and the events create tension that keeps you wondering what will happen next. Honestly, I can't think of anything I didn't like about this movie, but at the same time I wasn't especially blown away by it. I liked it and I'd watch it again some day, but I guess it's just not the sort of film that I'd consider a favorite. Definitely worth watching, and depending on your tastes you may like it even more than I did (and in such case I can't argue with you).
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 873 Average listal rating (585 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
Angel Heart (1987)
Watched June

Yet another film that proves Mickey Rourke has long been a better actor than he gets credit for. And hey, De Niro is awesome in this too! Remember when he did an excellent job in ALL of his movies? Yeah, I barely do too. Anyway, I dug the story & was solidly entertained, but then it ended. I really didn't care much for the ending (and it's one of those where you realize the movie could have ended in about 15 minutes, heh), and there were a couple times where characters had glowing eyes which were done so badly it broke me out of the experience. So while it was entertaining, I definitely wouldn't watch it a second time. Worth checking out though if you haven't seen it yet.

Just a thought: If I ever see one of those old cage-like elevators somewhere, I think I'll either leave the building or take the stairs.
the giraffe's rating:
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5 from portlander

People who added this item 339 Average listal rating (225 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.8
Watched January

I've seen the so-called remake of this film & now like it even less than I did before. Everything here is top of the line from the cast to the tension to the music to the attention to detail displayed throughout. I loved watching the ways the Jackal worked to keep from getting caught by the authorities, and the methods he used to prepare for his mission seem dead-on. As it ended I didn't have that feeling I get when watching something I'd rate a 10, but it came damn close to achieving it.

Highly recommended, and I thank portlander for recommending it to me.

Just a thought: The film takes place in Europe, and a good portion of it in France specifically. And yet I never heard a single word uttered in French, and if any other language besides English was spoken I missed it. Mildly irksome.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1717 Average listal rating (1072 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
Watched July

I'm sure there's nothing I can say about this film that hasn't already been said. I can see why many consider it a masterpiece, even if it wasn't a new personal favorite. Still, I dug the characters and the ideas in the film, especially the well-rounded exploration of death without letting it get too serious. Perhaps it was merely my mood at the time that prevented me from giving it a higher rating, but I'm sure I'll watch it again at some point to find out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4171 Average listal rating (2713 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.3
Scarface (1983)
Watched December

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.
the giraffe's rating:
Watched May

Of the three films from the project I picked for this month, this one has the unfortunate distinction of being my least favorite. The performances are excellent & the story is so well-told that there's no possibility of knowing where it's going or how it'll end. And yet I never got too deeply drawn into it, and I'm not sure whether it's because of the film itself or the exhilarating experience of watching Rope the night before. Whatever the case, I can say that while I did admire many aspects of this film I simply didn't love it & wouldn't sit down with it again. Once was enough for me. But I do think it's well worth watching & looking at others' ratings it appears that some will find more to enjoy here than I did.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1096 Average listal rating (782 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.5
Watched March

To some it may come as a surprise I hadn't already watched this, but when it came out I was 5 & by the time I reached an age where I could watch it it wasn't really on my radar. Unless of course you count the film's title being dropped in Scream, but even then I wasn't inspired to check it out. Turns out if I had been I might have enjoyed it more.

For a so-called comedy I hardly laughed, which is the first strike against the film. Add to that the fact that several of the gags & the overall plot I've seen done elsewhere which made the whole film feel like I'd already seen it before. Can't say for sure if I've seen these things in films inspired by it or in films that inspired Trading Places but either way I spent most of this film being mildly amused but never really that into it. In its favor I can say that Dan Aykroyd gives a good performance throughout, and the rest of the cast is solid as well despite some of them being saddled with stereotypical, cliche roles. But while I wanted to like this film I just couldn't summon up much enthusiasm for it.
the giraffe's rating:
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5 from lotr23

People who added this item 582 Average listal rating (393 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Killer Joe (2000)
Watched November

Sorry, I'm blown away over here. So I'll defer to PvtCaboose91 since he's already covered everything I might have said given enough time to piece my thoughts together. This is definitely NOT a film for everyone, but I couldn't help but be consistently impressed by it & love it despite all the ugliness on display throughout.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 341 Average listal rating (220 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6
Watched April

Another film with great characters, great performances, understated moments, and a lot to say (though this one says more I think through action & dialogue than it does through body language & such). It's nice to see a film tackle such a difficult subject so honestly without trying to dress it up like a Hollywood movie. And while I certainly enjoyed it, it fell a little short of earning the same amount of love that The Station Agent did from me. I can't say for certain why that is...perhaps it's just a little less my kind of movie? Perhaps a re-watch down the road will sort that out.

I'd meant to see this one back when it was in theatres but never got around to it, and so it had been in my head to check it out at some point. Glad lotr23 finally gave me a reason to sit down with it.

See also: Review by lotr23
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2480 Average listal rating (1407 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1
Watched June

This makes the 4th film from David Lynch that I've watched, and I can easily say it's the most straightforward film I've seen of his. I appreciated that, and really to tell this tale I can't imagine a non-linear narrative style working at all. Anyway, the acting is excellent all around, I really enjoyed the story as well as the message it conveys & questions it asks along the way. There were some creative visuals thrown in here & there that I felt didn't add much to the movie, but that's a minor complaint (and I'm probably in the minority for feeling that way). But still, this is definitely worth a watch & I thank lotr23 for including it among his picks for me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 678 Average listal rating (403 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.8
To Die For (1995)
Watched August

Yet another case where I'm highly impressed by Nicole Kidman's acting abilities. Can't say I was too impressed by much else here though. To Die For is entertaining enough thanks to the story, but the narrative style irritated me at times. The film is presented through a series of interview snippets, which was different but for me it kept the film at a distance. The rest of the acting is solid to OK, and the ideas put forth about celebrity were good albeit nothing revolutionary. I was reminded a little of Natural Born Killers at times, though I never fell into the rhythms of this film like I did that one. Still, it's definitely worth watching once just to see Kidman's performance.

Just a thought: Adding this to the long list of films in which Joaquin Phoenix fails to impress me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 193 Average listal rating (105 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.6
Snowtown (2011)
Watched February

Nope, not for me. This one felt like a bad homework assignment & I really struggled to keep watching it. Were it not part of this project I probably would've turned it off; instead I hung on until the end even though I wound up not caring how it ended. I'll grant that it's an unusual film with mostly solid acting, and I'm sure some will find a deeper appreciation than I had for it. But there was never a character to latch onto, which was my biggest problem. I guess I'm supposed to care about Jamie just because of what he goes through, but we're never allowed to really know much about him other than the way he handles himself in the situations that come his way, none of which was remotely likable. John is a charismatic character and the most interesting one in the film, but his juvenile behavior initially turned me off & his motivations wound up confused as the film went on. Then there's the problem that the cast is far too large to keep track of much less get invested in any of them (at times I forgot who a couple of the characters were). And finally we have the ending, where the film basically stops & throws up some text letting you know what happened to the main characters after that, at which point I realized it was based on true events (if it said so before then I missed it entirely).

So yeah, I had lots of problems with this one. And while I'm sure this is a film some will enjoy & get more out of than I, I can't possibly recommend it due to the dark subject matter. Watch at your own risk.
the giraffe's rating:
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5 from Mackenzi

People who added this item 1194 Average listal rating (799 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Rope (1948)
Watched May

My thoughts can be pretty well summed up by this: I had a beer I was drinking, which I finished early on in the movie; by the time I wanted another one I didn't even want to pause the movie so I could grab it, much less leave the couch for even a second, which means I didn't have that 2nd beer until the movie was over. I especially enjoyed the various ways death remains omnipresent throughout the entire film (including the frequent use of the word "late"), and was pleasantly surprised by the humor that worked without interfering with the tension. And I couldn't help but be reminded by Dial "M" for Murder at times since both films have much in common, which may account for why Rope wound up falling just shy of a 10/10 for me. Like Touch of Evil above that magic feeling was missing at the end of Rope, but it's safe to say I enjoyed Rope even more. So while I'm putting it down as a 9/10, it's more like a 9.5. This is another film I'll have to add to my collection.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 500 Average listal rating (286 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Watched December

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 849 Average listal rating (540 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
Watched July (Director's Cut)

So several years ago I got a pass for a free sneak preview of this film in the mail, but for reasons I can no longer recall I wound up not going. However I always kept it in mind, and so I was glad when Mackenzi included it in this project as it's clearly been a long time now I've wanted to watch it. Finding it in the local video store required assistance, as for some odd reason (even odder to me now) they'd filed it in "Euro Horror". To me this is more of an action/thriller, and a damn good one at that. I guess the opening fell squarely in the horror genre, but that's the closest it ever came really. Anyway, excellent acting, an interesting plot, some fun action sequences, and mostly good effects make this one well worth watching. Plus as the story unfolded I quit caring that it wasn't shaping up to be a true horror movie. Some elements were predictable, a few effects were pretty cheesy, and it was perhaps a bit longer than necessary (this last one no doubt a fault of this being the Director's Cut I watched), but those are fairly minor complaints here. I dug it & I'd gladly watch it again some day.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1143 Average listal rating (713 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Winter's Bone (2010)
Watched January

I heard nothing about this film prior to its Academy Award nominations, and some mixed feedback around here kept me from watching it sooner. Personally I felt it was worth watching for the performances alone, which are excellent across the board. The characters are so realistic they gave the film a documentary feel, and their mannerisms & behaviors had me thinking of The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia at times. I personally felt that the film's pace & atmosphere was perfectly suited to a viewing on a cold winter night, so that may also account for how well it worked for me overall. However, while I thought it was excellent on technical levels this wasn't a film I was ever deeply engaged with which I'm guessing was mostly due to personal taste. The story was OK but left some loose ends & unexplained events along the way. Not that everything in a film needs to be explained of course, but I felt like a few moments would have benefited from more details.

Still, I do think it's worth watching. But I know I won't go out of my way to watch it again.

Thanks to Mackenzi for the recommendation. :)
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 95 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
Watched February

Can't say I was ever deeply engaged by anything here. The people captured on film are somewhat interesting, but never really endeared themselves to me in any way. And by the end I'm not sure what exactly the point of this documentary was other than to document the lives of the homeless people that used to reside in a subway tunnel in NYC. I was entertained enough to stick with it, but I wouldn't watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
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5 from Xanadon't

Watched March

This film starts off with a brilliant visual style that puts you squarely in the main character/narrator's head, and then injects enough humor and tragedy along the way to keep you engaged & entertained throughout. The cast is flawless, the story is beautiful & poetic...really I can't find a single thing here to complain about. The only thing missing that holds me back from giving it a 10/10 is that magic feeling that tens tend to give me. But that could have been due to my daughter waking up twice while I watched this & breaking the spell at the same time. A re-watch will be relished to find out for sure.

Just a thought: Funny to me that my daughter wanted to read Dr. Seuss's Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? tonight not long before I watched this.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 957 Average listal rating (588 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8
Touch of Evil (1958)
Watched May

Now this is a hell of a movie. Every shot is visually interesting, the plot moves in a way where it's impossible to know where exactly the movie is going, the performances are excellent, and really I can't think of a single negative thing to say about it. It's reputation as a classic is more than well-deserved & I'm glad this project finally gave me the opportunity to sit down & watch it for what will no doubt be the first of several times. The only thing missing here is that physical feeling that the perfect 10 films give me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 654 Average listal rating (379 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.3
The Ice Storm (1997)
Watched August

I went ahead & watched my Five by Five movies back-to-back this month, and while I went into both of them not really knowing what they were about they wound up being complementary. Both films have sex & infidelity at their center, though with very different explorations of those (and other) subjects.

The cast here does a stellar job of creating characters that could easily be real people, to the point that were there not so many recognizable actors I might have thought I was watching someone's home videos. The story goes some unexpected places & handles it all admirably too. I'm reluctant to say I really enjoyed the film due to its dark subject matter, but I definitely appreciated what the film had to say & how it said it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 391 Average listal rating (170 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.7
Kontroll (2003)
Watched March

Well this is a neat little film. Not often that you see the occupation of subway security portrayed in this way, so it was interesting & refreshing to watch, not to mention solidly entertaining. The acting is solid too, but not exceptional really, just believable. I never felt deeply invested in the film though on any emotional level, and I'm not sure the ending totally worked for me. But I'm glad I watched it & thank Xanadon't for giving me the opportunity to do so.

Just a thought: Regardless of her costume, Eszter Balla is beautiful.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 868 Average listal rating (485 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Watched November

I really struggled to stick this one out honestly. The visual style is so overdone it eventually grows tiresome & made it really annoying to watch the longer it went on. All the camera tricks kept breaking the spell for me & reminded me I was watching a movie. Add to that an obscure plot with no real payoff, and it left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This is one of those cases where style is given greater importance than substance, and it just didn't work for me. The acting was decent I guess, and the music didn't annoy me, but that's about all I can say for it. Not my taste at all.
the giraffe's rating:

In 2012, I did the Movie Exchange Program with fellow Listalites jaytoast, phillydude, and Xanadon't. In 2013, we 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. It was up to each of us to figure out how to get a hold of the films we had to watch, as well as when we'd watch them. This list collects my thoughts on the films I watched all in one convenient place. The films are listed by how much I liked the films recommended by each Listal member from most to least.

For the full list of recommendations, please see the master Five By Five list.

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