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Added by Xanadon't on 2 Jul 2011 11:33
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Monthly Movie Journal: July 2011

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First time views

Movies watched for the first time, unless otherwise noted.
People who added this item 131 Average listal rating (71 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4


Strong performances from Amy Ryan and especially Philip Seymour Hoffman can't save this film from tedium, nor audiences from the bitter pangs that come with the knowledge that they could be watching something far more worthwhile instead.
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People who added this item 209 Average listal rating (122 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1


Robert Duvall's body of work is filled with "career performances" and he's given us yet another in Get Low, a quiet film that speaks volumes. Ideas about legacy, regret, redemption, solitude, misconceptions, self-delusion, and greed are just some of the topics on the table here. The movie works as a sort of unorthodox character study, in that while we feel we gain tremendous insight into our protagonist, Felix, but for most of the film we actually know with certainty very little about him. A troubling and mysterious event lies at the heart of this story and at the center of Felix's soul. This of course sets the film on course for a dramatic reveal in its final moments, and the anticipation builds nicely as the film unfolds. A fine supporting role from Bill Murray along with confident direction and cinematography also heightened my enjoyment of the movie.

For more analysis as well as some insight on what this movie is actually about read here:

Review by lotr23
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Basically 100 minutes of Ben Affleck wearing punk-rock T-shirts, reciting lines rejected from Good Will Hunting or Kevin Smith scripts, and looking like a total asshole. This movie maybe deserves some praise for at least trying to set itself apart from every other film about recent, aimless and disillusioned college grads by trying to say something prophetic and insightful. Problem is, none of it works and everything here is overly-contrived, blithe, and reeks of bullshit.
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People who added this item 333 Average listal rating (174 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4


Emotionally manipulative with a structural mess of a screenplay, the occasional moments of compelling drama aren't enough to steer this movie back into my good graces. Not a one of the characters are likeable (not least of all the precocious, robot-child hybrid)and at times I felt like I was just waiting for it to all end.
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"Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man."


Been meaning to check out this social-documentary phenomenon for years now. Glad I've finally caught up to it and will certainly continue watching through the rest of the series.

Learn all about it here.
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People who added this item 28 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.2
21 Up (1977)
Things are becoming truly interesting now. Anyone interested in sociology, psychology, or political-economic issues should consider these films. Truly fascinating, and a supremely and uniquely human experience.

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Star Trek Insurrection Teaser

Star Trek takes on the fountain of youth mythology...with mixed results. The over-arching ideas and plot aren't bad, but this is the corniest Star Trek film I've seen, and no real sustained level of excitement or drama is ever achieved.
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People who added this item 385 Average listal rating (227 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.8
Rubber (2010)


Certainly commendable for its originality and sense of self-awareness, Rubber as a feature-length film in practice never lives up to the conceptual heights it sets for itself. This is a film that operates on two levels: the first sets out on a path of "no reason" absurdity; the second goes for a wishy-washy post-structural statement about audience/art, subject/object relationships. Neither mode of operation succeeds in any sustained or especially captivating sense and what I was left with was a fair amount of pretense and regrettably little substance. For all of Rubber's originality, the artistic choices quickly become painfully predictable (target identified, tire close-up, tire shakes, target close-up, tire shakes some more, target close-up, BLAM! repeat). And that right there takes up a sizable chunk of the movie. Much of the rest is dedicated to a MST3K/consumer-cross-section/peanut gallery group of binocular-toting observers that watch the events of the "movie" transpire as we watch the movie and, well... while the film-maker's intentions here quickly become clear, the jokes--and the attitude behind them--remain rather pedestrian. The world of the "characters" and the "observers" eventually collide and so arises a new potential for something interesting to happen. Instead a decidedly unfunny and overly-obvious scene plods its course.



All of this said, the production value and cinematic quality of Rubber is sharp and impressive, and the ideas are clever, if not fully realized. Were this a tightly edited, fast-paced ten minute short, I'd have loved it. But at even 85 minutes, this soup is just too thin for my taste.
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This, the tenth installment of the franchise, mostly just plays out as unremarkable and halfhearted. If you never saw it, don't worry about it and instead join me in looking forward to the next J.J. Abrahms version.
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People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 8.3
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People who added this item 345 Average listal rating (218 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
The Visitor (2007)


Tom McCarthy can continue to make films centered around unconventional family structures for the next 40 years and it would suit me just fine. Having greatly enjoyed his first film, The Station Agent, years ago and feeling an unshakable fondness for his more recent offering, Win, Win it was only natural that I get around to watching this- probably his best- film. Everything here feels authentic, as the story and characters progress in ways that never strike a false note. Highly recommended!

You can read more here:
Review by lotr23



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People who added this item 1856 Average listal rating (1172 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3


Not as good as it's reputation led me to believe, Cube is nonetheless built to hold audiences' attention even if much of the dialogue is laughably stupid and delivered by a group of unimpressive actors. There's a bit of half-baked philosophical posturing going on (not altogether unlike the Saw movies) that is easy enough to ignore as the set-design, the psychological suspense, and of course the booby-trapped nightmare of a Rubik's cube mystery are the real show-stealers here.

Still, it's precisely because some of these aspects are so compelling that it becomes a more tragic shame that there wasn't a lot more talent involved in many of the not-so-small aspects of the production.
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People who added this item 992 Average listal rating (614 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.9


Liam Neeson's strong and capable performance makes this otherwise hum-drum Bourne-inspired mystery-thriller palatable. A number of the action sequences here are exciting and well-executed, though as the film progresses, the whole project seems to undergo an identity crisis in style.

January Jones can't act. There's nothing else to say about it. The sooner you understand that, the better. Don't wait for her performance to get any less awful. It only gets worse. Luckily, Diane Kruger does most of the heavy lifting opposite Neeson, in a solid and convincing effort. Overall I find Unknown to be a passable way to kill time, but not something most need go out of their way for.

For a more favorable and complete review check out:

Review by PvtCaboose91


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People who added this item 31 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 8.3
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People who added this item 56 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Simple Men (1992)
The first 40 minutes or so work very well... then it gets terribly stuck for about 10 minutes and ultimately the final 30 minutes felt like a chore. I'll have forgotten all about this movie in nearly no time.
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An exceptionally well made film but... fucking hell.
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People who added this item 145 Average listal rating (68 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.5


"The Broken details a woman (Headey) who finds herself, and her friends, being stalked by doppelgangers (or something worse) following a horrible car accident. The film does take a few cues from Mirrors and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but builds itself up in a very unique, refreshing way.

Essentially brewing to a slow boil, The Broken offers only a handful of jump scares, gorgeously atmospheric cinematography, and a few moments of fairly disturbing gore. Shots are drawn out and entire sequences are built around one or two very haunting, very effective scares. While the film might not work for fans of today's faster-paced horror/thrillers, The Broken is a creepy little pot boiler that's likely to get under the skin of many horror fans."

--bluray.ign.com/articles/114/1143101p1.html
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Classics Corner

Where I see what all the fuss is about...
People who added this item 701 Average listal rating (439 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8


It's zany, silly, and over-the-top, at an often frenzied pace. Best of all, it's truly laugh-out-loud funny. Or wait, maybe best of all is its delicious and playful dark, subversive edge. Well, anyway, there's really nothing not to like!

Review by PvtCaboose91
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Another film whose reputation slightly outweighs its actually worth, in my opinion. On the other hand, if you watch this expecting a run-of-the-mill 1950's Hollywood Western, it won't be long before you'll realize that this is something quite a bit different, and with more than your typical genre-determined themes on its mind. The story fascinates on its own, Cold War allegory or no, and the real-time aspect in which the suspense builds works nicely.

The performances from the major players here range from solid to rather clunky and ordinary, with no one character truly sending me into fits of cinematic delight. And if the 85-minute feature length strikes you as a bit brief, well much of it owes to a complete lack in development of the villains and an ending that feels altogether too tidy and truncated.



But then again I'm shallow, so what do I know. Truth is I'd have likely never watched this except that High Noon was one of the few Grace Kelly pictures I hadn't yet seen. It could be that part of me is just pissed-- *Only 10 minutes of screen-time for the lovely and magnificent Grace Kelly??! MINUS SIX STARS!*
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People who added this item 640 Average listal rating (356 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.1


"The first rule of Fight Club is..."
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er, wait...



Corny costumes, Satan worshiping, self-mutilation, gorilla suits-- what's not to love?

Well, a few things actually. But aside from a couple agonizingly slow sequences, and a semi-perpetual sense of "what the hell is going on here?" the movie mostly works. And if you do decide to watch it, be on the look out for: A reference to "The Pit and the Pendulum", a comically ineffective looking crossbow, and an interesting (and technically correct) use of the word "forbid" in the past tense. Have fun!

Read more here: review
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People who added this item 463 Average listal rating (276 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7


While modern audiences may have difficulty sustaining excitement about this film (I'll admit that it ran a bit slow at times, and relied a bit too much on long-winded deposition) this film is regarded as one of the most influential and innovative sci-fi films of all time. From the all electronic score to the stunning visuals to the creative and ambitiously futuristic story, this film broke major ground.

And yet there's much that is timeless about the film and that appeals to universal human conditions-- I'm a bit upset that I didn't pick up on the commonalities between the story and themes of this film and Shakespeare's The Tempest until I read about it. The film also delves into major ideas in Freudian and Jungian psychology, notably the concept of the subconscious id and 'the shadow self', respectively.

Though this isn't typically my type of film, I found much to enjoy and I'm glad I gave it a look!
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People who added this item 103 Average listal rating (58 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
Butterfield 8 (1960)


More or less lousy film adaptation of John O'Hara's 1935 novel. But it's got Elizabeth Taylor, so that's something. What a disappointment though.
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Collection of classic Warner Bros. cartoons linked by newer animation in which Daffy Duck discovers a wishing well on a remote island, only to turn the island into a profit-making tourist attraction. I've never been a big fan of Daffy (he's a real loud-mouth asshole, duh) but there was plenty here to send me into fits of laughter and nostalgia.
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Documentary of the Month

Because sometimes a good doc is just the thing.
People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (80 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.8


A superbly informative, creative, insightful, and all together in-tune documentary about the life and work of a man who was not only a great comic talent, but was also a great spokesperson for social consciousness. A man whose legacy reminds us that a greater duty to our country and fellow human being exists somewhere out there beyond our own ego and beyond the corporate media news ticker that scrolls the bottom of our television sets.

It should be said, however, that if you're new to Bill Hicks, or unfamiliar with his comic style, this probably isn't the best place to start. (But start you should-- check out one of his stand-up specials!) In fact, one of the many strengths of this documentary is that it doesn't rely too heavily upon his standup footage in a lazy manner (Though I was very pleased to see several instances of rare/early footage). Instead, the film assumes a certain familiarity and is pretty generous in rewarding fans for their appreciation.



If I have one complaint, it's that the film could've been 15 or 20 minutes longer. It could've conceded the limit of existing still photographs and home-video footage and inserted (preserved?) more video-interview footage/material from friends and family.

But in short, if you're a Bill Hicks fan, this is a MUST-SEE! If you're not a fan, BECOME ONE, and then give this a watch!

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At the Movies

Movies I caught on the big screen!
People who added this item 545 Average listal rating (351 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7

Trailer for Troll Hunter

Despite its inherent level of absolute absurdity, I've never encountered a "found-footage" film as thoroughly believable as this one. Credit this effect to the director's keen eye for detail, convincing performances, and a confident and consistent 'shock and awe' meets 'completely matter-of-fact' attitude that plays very well throughout the film. Yep, this is a fine Norwegian export that I felt mighty fortunate to catch in theaters. It's movie-magic-- the kind that makes you feel like a kid again. It looks great, and it's a helluva lot of fun!

Review by Film Ninja

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People who added this item 1744 Average listal rating (936 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.8
The Tree of Live is a 139 minute film, and by my estimation I watched 110 minutes of it. I did not show up to the theater late, so I'm sure you can use your deductive skills from there.



But wait! I should explain because I don't want you to think that I stormed out of the theater huffing and puffing and then verbally assaulted the ticket clerk with obscene cries about Malick's pretentious bullshit film as I demanded a refund. That's not how it went down. Here's the real story:

1. I really had to pee.
2. I also thought to myself, "I could use a cigarette right now."
3. At one point during the film I pulled my "silent-ed" cellphone out of my pocket in order to conduct some quick "remaining film time vs. bladder capacity" math. In doing so I observed that I missed a call from my brother and there were in fact some things that I needed to talk to him about.
4. I wasn't enjoying myself all that much as this movie kept happening in front of me.
5. I observed that I went to see this movie by myself, and so if I decided to leave the film before its completion I wouldn't be offending any immediate company. "Oh cool", I thought. "I won't be 'putting anybody out'".
6. After silently and privately concluding that there were at least 3 immediate things that I'd rather be doing at the moment, I discreetly left my seat and got on with the rest of my evening, what with all the urinating, cigarette-smoking, and brother-talking that needed to be attended to.

And that's how it happened.



But... even though I didn't watch the entire film, I'm gonna write some stuff about it anyway and more or less act like I saw it all. Because it's my movie journal, that's why. And because I watched an hour and fifty minutes of this movie damn it, and I'd like to get some pleasure out of it.

The Tree of Life is probably the most talked about, written about movie of the year and no doubt it's also among the most polarizing. In that sense, there's precious little I can say about this film that anyone interested probably hasn't read somewhere else already. So perhaps more as a gesture toward my own sanity, here goes. This is not a great movie. At least not in a traditional sense anyway.

Yes, there are some incredible (and I mean brilliant!) photography and computer enhanced special effects work to be seen. But beyond this, if anyone truthfully and honestly enjoyed this film in all, or nearly all, of its aspects, I can only think that it's entirely coincidental. Why? Well because I just don't feel that the director made this film with an audience much in mind. It all seems far too personal and purposefully obtuse (or worse, unintentionally nonsensical and fragmented-- I read somewhere that five editors worked on this thing). In many ways I feel like I understood more or less what Malick was trying to do here, but generally only by trying to imagine his childhood and his theological views. This is an ambitious, if labored, meditation on some big ideas and questions to be sure, and a part of me appreciated the efforts he seems to make to contextualize personal and familial life, memory, experience within a larger cosmic and religious narrative. Er, but without much narrative, of course. So in many ways the movie works as art. It's just that I personally decided I simply didn't have much use for any of it.



But artistic approaches to film aside, there's a number of glaring problems I saw from what I did see of the movie. For one thing, I hate hate hate overuse of whispering. Yes, whispering. Seems to me that only a fraction of potential emotion and meaning can be achieved this way, whereas by tapping into other registers of the human voice, all kinds of great things often happen. Secondly, I don't know about you all, but I'm generally bothered by corny, cryptic, eye-roll inducing dialogue. And oh my gawd, when someone combines the two, the results are horrendous. I start searching for a flask of liquor and then remember that I don't carry one and then start looking for something to strangle. This happened a lot during The Tree of Life.



A third aspect of the film that I tripped over and that which I haven't come across a terribly satisfying answer about is the entire presence of Sean Penn's character. It seemed to me that he really didn't need to be in it. Period. Oh, I understand that we're dealing with his memories and all, but honestly I felt that the "present" time and character didn't contribute much of anything to the film and that it merely slowed down the proceedings. And certainly the last thing the proceedings needed was slowing down. Creation-process/evolution of the world and 1950's family. That would've been enough. I guess I shouldn't say too much about it all since, ha, I didn't actually see the end of the film and how it all ties up (though something tells me that the phrase "ties up" is out of place here), but I only mention it because a pretty bright and reliable guy I know who DID see the entire film mentioned this idea as well. Anyway, anyone whose seen the film and wants to clarify/jump down my throat about this is welcome to.

Before I go, I should mention that the eldest son turns in a remarkable performance. His stood out to me plenty more than Brad Pitt's ever really did.



So yes, all in all I felt that The Tree of Life reeks of self-importance, but can be admired in many ways even if it never truly engages in ways a great and complete film should. But then again, ha, look at me- dedicating more journal space to a film I didn't even finish watching than any other movie on the list. I suppose that in itself is saying something...



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People who added this item 1591 Average listal rating (1100 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9


What works about the film is what’s been working for a lot of recent comedies—the cast. You can see examples of this in both Hangover movies, as well as films like Bridesmaids, which only stay afloat due to the likability of the people on screen. It’s a welcome trend, and I hope that it keeps up. After all, film vehicles for mugging comedic superstars will never quite die (go find the trailer for the Adam-Sandler-in-drag flick Jack and Jill—oozing into theaters this holiday season—if you need a reminder), but any alternative is a welcome one. Jason Bateman is the king of these types of roles, an actor with few chops beyond excellent deadpan comedic timing and an innate likability. But this is all he needs—honestly more than most Hollywood actors have—and the movie helps him out by pairing him with a couple of guys—Charlie Day (who nearly steals the movie) and Jason Sudeikis—who genuinely seem to enjoy working together. It’s this chemistry that keeps Horrible Bosses chugging along, even through the weak opening’s adolescent-minded sex humor.
--Justin Souther, www.mountainx.com/movies/review/horrible_bosses#.TiTmtWGqgSE
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People who added this item 1511 Average listal rating (908 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6


Contains spoilers-- but c'mon it's not like this is
The Sixth Sense.


Considerably better than its similarly themed predecessor, No Strings Attached, this movie delivers as much chemistry, laughter, touching moments, and fun as one can reasonably expect from a contemporary, major-studio, "IT-actor" film of its type. It's difficult not to be charmed by both Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis, and while Friends With Benefits perhaps suffers a bit from a more of less conventional ending that the rest of the movie itself goes out of its way to ridicule, well, it's easily forgivable; rarely do we genuinely want two characters to be together as much as we do here. This doesn't completely invalidate the movie's criticism of Rom-com cliches-- the moments of parody and the ironic sense of self-awareness work very well AND we still get to enjoy a happy fluffy ending.

At the end of the day, this just isn't a movie that sets out to break new ground-- so there's really no harm in allowing Friends with Benefits to have its cake and eat it too. What counts is the scarcity of moments in the movie that are anything less than enjoyable. Richard Jenkins, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, and Patricia Clarkson ALL turn in great work in their supporting roles. It's not terribly often in this genre of film that I'm pleased no matter which character is on screen. While the script and pacing of the film may contain a few missteps, the cast certainly doesn't. Friends with Benefits earns my confident nod of approval.

Read more here:

Review by lotr23


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People who added this item 690 Average listal rating (402 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Beginners (2010)

Trailer for Beginners


As emotionally generous a movie as I've seen all year! This is a film that's not afraid to delve into sadness in a personal and intensely authentic way. It's not afraid of the murky waters of depression, the blurred lines of cause and effect that often come with such feelings, or the vague and lonely sense of helplessness. But the movie is equally authentic in its ability to capture joy and the fragile but real salvation that can be found inside love and vulnerability. At times the film seems able to say more in 10 seconds of silence than most others can accomplish in an hour or two of deposition.



This is truly a personal work that Mike Mills has created with his own unique voice and heart. This is a tale rife with sadness and misfortune but at the same time humor and joy. These emotional shifts helps show the duality of human nature and the contradiction of our actions where what a person wants and thinks might actually be separate from what they say or do. These moments are embraced and are what makes the film feel so honest. While the film has a quirky sense of humor it is used to enhance the material and never gets in the way of the sincerity. Ewan McGregor is fantastic in the film playing a character that is dragged down by his sadness, but never losing the humor and charm lying underneath. Mélanie Laurent and Christopher Plummer also are fantastic giving the same depth and personality in their performances. The editing of Olivier Bugge Coutté also deserves much praise for the way he cross cuts between time in a very organic and fluid way. Mike Mills shows great maturity and earnestness in Beginners and hopefully it will not be another 6 years until we have a chance to see another film from him.

--uncreative name


Beginners is not a film that I would imagine everyone to love, but I exited the theater and felt a subtle sensation stir inside of me. One that suggested the world was little bit lovelier and little bit less frightening than when I saw it last.
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People who added this item 689 Average listal rating (401 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
Submarine (2010)

Trailer for Submarine

Submarine is a film that calls to mind a number of other films-- Rushmore and Harold and Maude are perhaps the most obvious, but images and sensations had me thinking about movies such as The Ice Storm and even The 400 Blows, as unlikely as it may sound, on multiple occasions.


But in the end the movie is wholly itself and has the effect of a fresh and observant coming-of-age novel written by a confident new voice in literature. (Indeed the film is adapted from a novel, so I learned from the end credits, which presumably explains much of the movie's "literary" feel.)



The movie is truly quirky, but in an admirable way in that never does it feel like the movie is straining itself to achieve the effect. Instead it fits the film quite naturally and handsomely, like a well-tailored suit. The dramatic aspects of the film work better for me than the comic ones and there are a number of scenes that vibrate with import and urgency, capturing things like fear and courage, heartache and nervous excitement perfectly. Most astonishing, is that this is a debut effort from director Richard Ayoade. And in many ways it already feels like a classic. Also worth mentioning, the ending is one of my very favorites to come along in quite a while.

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Revisits

Usually old favorites, but now and then an attempt to revisit a film with a different mindset or motive.


Still love it for it's perfectly-pitched mix of funny, raunchy, sweet, ridiculous, and sincere. Yeah, there's a couple of little problems here and there, but I was shocked how well I liked this movie the first time, and surprised at how well it still holds up.
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People who added this item 1950 Average listal rating (1139 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 5.8


I still like it more than I hate it.
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People who added this item 1040 Average listal rating (692 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.9


Even funnier than I remembered.
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People who added this item 2409 Average listal rating (1602 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1


I was too worn out after an insane festival weekend at work to do anything except watch The Thing again.
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Good Intentions

*About as reliable as your average Mapquest results*
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The Month in Review

My Quick Pick Six:

Good:
The "Up" Series // The Visitor

Bad: Glory Daze // Star Trek: Nemesis

Weird: Rubber // Troll Hunter
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People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.3
Biggest and most pleasant surprise goes to Friends With Benefits which exceeded every one of my expectations, and could've been down-right awful, but instead emerges as one of the more purely enjoyable times at the theater.

Biggest disappointment to me personally goes to Butterfield 8. It's far from the worst film on the list, but I had high hopes for this one, seeing as I love Elizabeth Taylor, and very much liked the book. Too bad.
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People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Ohlédnutí (1969)
Bumped my total number of films watched number up from last month by a healthy margin. July also proved to be the busiest "at the movies" month for me in a long while, with 6 trips to the theaters! Also, I'm happy to have caught up on a large number of older titles that I've been meaning to sit down to for years-- most notably the "Up" series, but a good many others thrown in the mix too. July was a great movie month!

*sigh* Even though I still haven't watched and mailed back Stalker. Stop judging me jaytoast, lol!

Here it is by the numbers:

Total films watched: 36

Watched for the first time: 32

Among 32 first watches:

1940s: 1
1950s: 3
1960s: 2
1970s: 2
1980s: 2
1990s: 6
2000s: 7
2010/11: 9

Total Foreign Language Films: 3 :(
Total Documentaries: 5

My Ratings:

1/10: 0
2/10: 0
3/10: 1
4/10: 5
5/10: 4
6/10: 2
7/10: 3
--------
8/10: 9
9/10: 8
10/10:



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Continuing my neurotic efforts to document my responses to the films I see, as well as perhaps lend shape, rhyme, reason to what I watch, why and how.

As always, feedback, suggestions, and polite criticism are encouraged!

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Thanks for viewing!

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Film Journal Archive, 2011 - Xanadon't (13 lists)
list by Xanadon't
Published 6 years, 8 months ago



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