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Added by the giraffe on 1 Mar 2014 11:07
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2014: March

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The breakdown: 20 movies watched - 10 via Netflix instant, and 10 on DVD; of those 11 were first views, 9 were re-watches, and they came from the following decades: 50s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, and 2010s.

Well, as you can see I wound up splitting my time evenly between movies that are in my collection & movies on Netflix Instant, and overall I had a pretty good month. I managed to catch all the movies that mattered to me before they left my IQ at the end of the month, and I can't remember the last time that happened if ever. Usually I catch what I most want to see & let the rest slip away. I also had a far more productive month than I'd anticipated, thanks largely to having enough free time here & there to watch more than one movie in a single day. I doubt that's a trend that will continue going forward, but we shall see. I will say that my general approach this month of "hmm...what do I want to watch today?" paid off well. I've already got plans for April's selections, but I dare not say much more than that lest things go awry & I fail to deliver on any grand promises/hopes/what have you.

My only disappointment this month is that I didn't make it to the theatre at all. Hopefully I'll have better luck in April with that.

Best new-to-me film for March: The Intouchables / North by Northwest (tie)
Best hidden gem: Maniac
Worst film: The Rules of Attraction
Re-watch - March 1st

Started off March with a weekend all to myself, so I decided I'd watch a couple movies. I woke up this day with the performance of "Love Stinks" from this film playing in my head, so I decided I'd watch it. Then the more I thought about it, I decided to make a mini-marathon of some of my favorite films that deal with love, romance, etc. And so that's pretty much how I spent my Saturday. And it was a day well spent.

This was just what I needed to kick the month off, something that's not serious in any way so I could just sit back & enjoy it. Admittedly my rating for it is a bit higher than it should be, but bite me. I love this stupid little movie, the characters, the humor, and even the soundtrack despite it being full of songs I generally dislike...and yet they all fit the film & their respective scenes perfectly.

Just a thought: It's pretty sad that I used to never want to miss any of Sandler's films, and now I can't be bothered to watch any of them no matter who he's in one with. It'd take some serious talent surrounding him to get me to watch him in a new movie.
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People who added this item 1987 Average listal rating (1258 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - March 1st

Brilliant film & the book is even better. I've been Rob Gordon to various degrees, so I can't help but love High Fidelity. Here we have another film where the music is perfectly used throughout (as it should be given the fact the story focuses on music so much), and I dig the honesty that's expressed throughout too. By far though my favorite part is Rob imagining what he'd do to Ian when he comes into the record store...it never fails to make me laugh heartily.
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Re-watch - March 1st

I've also been Joel Barish to various degrees too, which is part of what endears this film to me so much. But even more I love the creativity on display throughout the entire run-time of Eternal Sunshine. It's all so original & memorable, and I still get that magical feeling when it ends. I remember when I saw this one in the theatre, and it ended, and I turned to my friends and said something along the lines of, "don't you hate it when you have to reorganize your top ten films?" This one still sits in my top ten, and it's hard to imagine it would ever leave.

Just a thought: Hey, this film is now 10 years old. Crazy.
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Re-watch - March 8th

March 8th was an incessantly rainy day, so the kiddo & I spent the majority of it inside. After I got some house chores done, I asked her if she'd like to watch a movie with me. We actually started E.T. first, but it scared her too much & we turned it off...guess I'll wait another year or two & try that one again. So I put it back on the shelf & she spotted this one & asked if we could watch it. I said OK, since I hadn't seen it since it was in theatres.

She enjoyed it, wasn't scared by any of it, and at dinner time she kept singing "Spider-Pig." I don't think I'll let her re-watch it too often, as I'd forgotten there's some language in here I'm not ready for her to adopt just yet (fortunately it's minimal, but still). I thought it was as good as I'd remembered & I still enjoy it, but I've adjusted my rating since it doesn't really cross the line into greatness for me. It does capture the essence of the show very well, but really if you've seen the show at all you know what to expect here more or less. It's a lot of fun though, and I love the little jokes that pop up about it being a movie people paid to see & whatnot. Plus they kill off Green Day in the opening moments, which earns deep love from me.
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Re-watch - March 8th

We took a break after The Simpsons Movie, and then I asked her if she'd like to watch this one. As I said last month, she loves the book & she enjoyed Burton's adaptation, so I figured she should check out the first film adaptation too. And for the most part she enjoyed it as well. She asked a few times about some of the creative liberties the film takes that result in variations from the book & Burton's film ("Why isn't the boat like a seahorse?" "The Oompa Loompas are supposed to be playing a drum (on the boat)." "They're not supposed to do that, they're supposed to take the glass elevator. Where's the glass elevator?"), but in the end she said she liked it better than Burton's version but she likes both. Surprisingly she wasn't scared by the boat scene, and the only time she reacted to it in a negative way was early on when she asked if we could go take a nap (I guess because the first half hour has dragging moments). Haha.

Now I don't think I've watched this version since the '90s or very early '00s, mainly because it was never a big part of my growing up. The first time I saw it I was in high school, and I thought it was OK. I saw it again some time after that & liked it a little better, and so this was my third time to watch it. And it's good, but I don't think it's great. Gene Wilder is by far the best part of the entire film, a fact reinforced by the fact the scenes prior to his entrance tend to drag a bit at times. My main gripe against this version is & always has been the fact it's a musical, which I've never been a big fan of in general despite my deep love for music. Watching it again now, there are a couple songs that go on far too long & thus wind up seeming more like filler to stretch out the run time than anything necessary (I do love "Pure Imagination" though). Some of the creative liberties taken here annoy me too, and while official credit for the screenplay is given to Roald Dahl, Wikipedia & IMDb state that someone else did rewrites on his material which leaves me wondering how much of it actually came from what he'd written. I could pick it all apart, but I'll refrain. Suffice it to say I much prefer the way Burton fleshed out the character details and kept the best parts of the book intact over the way this film glosses over the details in favor of filling the time with musical numbers. It's still an entertaining film, and no doubt more entertaining if you're ignorant of the source material, but it could be so much better than what it is.
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Re-watch - March 15th

OK, so like a lot of people this movie is a huge part of who I am thanks to its importance to my childhood. I've watched this film the most times over the rest of the series (mostly because it's the only one we had on VHS), and had it been left untouched it'd just barely fall behind Empire for me. Unfortunately, some idiot decided it'd be improved if he added in CGI effects after the technology ramped up to "enhance" the film many years after its release. And you know what? It almost ruins it for me. I can easily tell the difference between the creatures they created for the film originally and the ones he added in later, and NONE of them improve the film by any measure. What Lucas forgot was that the LACK of technological advances in effects made him & the crew he worked with be more creative to bring his vision to life. A lack of resources is thus almost always a GOOD thing when we're talking art & creativity. Having to use make-up and models to create characters results in creatures that fit in with their environment and look realistic; CGI results in creatures that look obviously fake, and when you put the two types together it only serves to emphasize the difference. The worst instance though is the decision to add in Jabba to the old footage, footage that was never a part of the original cut because at the time Lucas couldn't make it work. He shot the scene, obviously, but the film played just fine without it. Going back later to add in a CGI Jabba results in a creature that barely looks the same, a problem that stems from the fact that most people's first sight of Jabba is in Return of the Jedi & he's HUGE. The CGI Jabba is shorter than Han Solo which is odd, and he just looks unrealistic in a scene where he's surrounded by characters and scenery you could reach out & touch.

I really wish Lucas would have left these films alone, or at least released both versions so we could choose which we'd prefer to watch. The people who don't care can watch his modified films, and the rest of us could watch the original cuts, and everyone would be happy. Maybe after he's dead & gone one of his kids will make things right, but at this point it seems like too much to hope for. Ah well. So, for the record, the original cut is what's earned the 9/10 rating for me. The "special" edition gets a 7.5/10.

Just a thought: As I added Star Wars to this list, I realized that I haven't watched a single movie this month that I haven't seen before. Clearly this needs to be rectified soon. Also, remember when this was ONLY referred to as Star Wars? And NONE of the original trilogy films had "Episode Whatever" in their titles? I sure do.
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Re-watch - March 16th

Yep, still my favorite film of the entire series. And it seems like Lucas actually realized it didn't need to be messed with, because as far as I can tell if he added anything to it it's not immediately obvious or insanely noticeable like the changes in its predecessor. So I'm thankful for that.

Just a thought: I forget sometimes that these films have a great sense of humor that runs through them.
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Re-watch - March 17th

It'd been so long since I'd last watched this one I couldn't remember whether the DVD I own had prequel crap added to the ending or not. Turns out it does. I did, however, accurately remember that while this is my least favorite of the original trilogy it's still far better than said prequels (though is that really saying much?). I've also never found the uptick in creatures used throughout the film to be a negative thing, so I'm still confused as to why some people hate on this one for having Ewoks. I mean, yeah, they're kind of childish, but they're primitive creatures so what do you expect? They've never ruined the film for me at all & compared to, say, Gungans they're pretty awesome actually...far more tolerable, at least.

I love the whole opening part where they're at Jabba's palace (though the later-added CGI characters are unnecessary, which is no surprise), and really the only part that kind of drags for me is when they're jumping between the fight scenes on Endor & in space, and then back to Luke standing there watching it all...matter of fact those Emperor/Vader/Skywalker scenes are basically the same one with slightly different dialogue, the only difference coming when Luke finally goes for his lightsaber. But still, aside from the "special" edition changes this is a solid film that I still mostly enjoy. I've dropped it down to a more accurate 8/10 instead of 9/10, and like Star Wars that applies to the original cut more than the special edition which I'd probably give a 7/10 just because it pisses me off seeing Hayden Christensen edited into the final scene (which makes no damn sense because Luke wouldn't recognize his father at that age), and seeing the celebrations on worlds that previously didn't exist annoys me too.
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People who added this item 399 Average listal rating (273 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
Turbo (2013)
First viewing - March 22nd


Review by PvtCaboose91

Hey, I finally watched something I haven't seen before! I wouldn't have paid money to watch this one in the theatre, but since it was streaming on Netflix I figured my daughter & I could watch it together. And overall we were both entertained. If you can get over the ridiculous premise it's pretty all right. Sure the story has been done before about a million times, but there's a bit of heart to it & the performances mostly make it worthwhile. I was also pleasantly surprised by the ethnic diversity of the characters/cast. The humor mostly fell flat with me, but some of it worked well and I was surprised when it ended that I didn't regret sitting through it. I'd never need to watch it again, but if my daughter insists I watch it with her I won't regret doing so.

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People who added this item 1425 Average listal rating (955 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.5
First viewing - March 30th/31st

First off, I need to say THANK YOU to my fellow Listalites for all the recommendations to check this film out. Sorry I didn't get to it sooner, but now I have and that's all that matters. I loved the story, the friendship, these two wonderful lead characters, and the music is excellent too for the most part. I don't know what else to say at the moment, other than it was a great way to end my weekend.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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Netflix exorcisms - March

Films I caught before they left Netflix Instant
First viewing - March 22nd

Every so often I come across someone with good taste who absolutely loves this movie, which is why it's been on my radar for a long time now. It's never been a priority (obviously), but since it was leaving Netflix Instant & sounded interesting enough on this particular night I figured I'd finally check it out.

And it was OK. Honestly I think my time would've been better spent re-watching American Psycho if I wanted to watch a Bret Easton Ellis adaptation. That's not to say this film doesn't have its moments along the way, but the artistic style on display felt overindulgent & got on my nerves at times. The characters (caricatures?) are pretty much what you normally get from Ellis, which is to say interesting but soulless and fueled by illicit substances. Supposedly this is considered a comedy despite having precious few moments that are funny, so that was odd to me. I don't know...I guess I was somewhat entertained by the whole thing, but I was never much impressed by any of it aside from Fred Savage's performance (which alone could be a reason to recommend this, but is far too brief to warrant it). It had potential, but got lost somewhere in the execution I think. Maybe I should have just read the book instead.
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People who added this item 990 Average listal rating (663 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - March 23rd

I actually caught part of this years ago when my dad was watching it, and had I walked in at the beginning I would've watched it all back then. I really enjoyed the characters & the dialogue throughout this film. The humor injected into the dramatic proceedings was greatly appreciated, and thus the film is consistently entertaining. It never quite crossed the line into greatness for me though, perhaps because it's somewhat obvious what the outcome will be (especially if you know much about the history of Alcatraz). But it's definitely a good movie & one I'd be glad to revisit some time just to spend a couple hours with these characters again.
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People who added this item 2551 Average listal rating (1480 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - March 23rd

I followed up the film above with this one, and if I had it all to do over again I would've reversed that order. While there's no denying 21 Grams is a well-made film, it's so depressing I could hardly stand it. As a parent this was a very rough watch, and I wonder if I would've appreciated it more had I watched it 10 or so years ago (or any time before I found out I was going to be a father). The narrative style is interesting, but at the same time I thought it removed some of the story's power because parts are revealed early on and then you're just left to wonder when they happened instead of wondering what will happen. Overall this is a thought-provoking film that's also great on technical levels, and I was mostly impressed by the performances. I just never want to watch it again, and for that it gets relegated to the 7/10 rating for me.

Just a thought: This was so brutally depressing I had to watch two episodes of Archer immediately after to fully recover.
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People who added this item 868 Average listal rating (570 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.5
Re-watch - March 24th

After ending the previous night on a depressing note movie-wise, I figured I'd watch something humorous & since this was on the chopping block I decided to catch it again. I still enjoy Bandits and have no doubt I'll watch it again in about 10 more years. It's definitely not a Great film by any means, but it's fun & entertaining despite or perhaps because of how cheesy it gets at times. I'd forgotten though how awful the soundtrack is overall (bonus points, however, for having a Mindless Self Indulgence song in it, which is the most oddball choice of the bunch), but most of those songs are clearly picked to match their respective scenes so it's more a complaint based on personal taste I guess.
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People who added this item 1195 Average listal rating (760 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - March 27th

Pretty sure I haven't watched this film since the '90s, so I felt I was overdue to revisit it. As a teenager I loved the book & the film, and plenty of the visuals have stuck with me over the years. What didn't stick with me, however, is how mediocre the cast is here (sad when I'm most impressed by the toddler's acting abilities). And what was once a pretty cool story now seems pretty stupid if I'm honest. But hey, it's a horror movie, right? If people don't do everything they're told not to do then we have nothing to watch. I couldn't help thinking this time around though that with a better cast & director the film might have been as great as I thought I'd remembered it being. The suspense only really fires along in the last half hour or so (picking up the most when Gage comes back), while the events that precede it are often more unintentionally funny than actually scary. The make-up & effects are pretty good across the board though. So it's dropped from a 9/10 to an 8/10, and the main reasons it doesn't drop below an 8 is because I'd watch it again sometime & the ending parts leave me with a better feeling than everything before them.

Just a thought: I think it's awesome that they actually got a parent to agree to their toddler playing such a dark role in this. But it also makes me think of the child casting scene from Brüno.
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Re-watch - March 29th

Aside from glimpses of it on TV over the years, I hadn't watched this one since my dad took me to see it in the theatre. I vaguely remember that I enjoyed it and that Connery and Baldwin were in it...and not much else. So on this particular afternoon I shrugged & decided to watch it again.

And overall it's entertaining enough. The story is decent, there's a good sense of humor that runs through it, and the acting is solid. I do find it disappointing that the film starts out with the Russians speaking Russian (accompanied by subtitles with a pretty cool-looking font), but then switches them to English for most of the rest of the film. It's especially disappointing because Sean Connery, Sam Neill, Tim Curry, and others are clearly NOT Russian & they make no attempt to sound like they're Russian either. Unless I'm wrong and Russians actually sound like they're British. So the language decision (likely made because most Americans won't watch a movie that's heavy with subtitles, which is a shame) doesn't really work, and would have been better handled had they had actual Russians on screen or at least found actors that could adopt the proper accents. Anyway, it was worth watching again, especially because I'm pretty sure the first time around I didn't fully grasp what was happening here, and now I know for sure I don't need to watch it again.
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Horror remake double feature

People who added this item 300 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.1
Maniac (2012)
First viewing - March 29th

I really had no urge to see this when I heard it was coming out. As some around here are well aware, I LOVE the original film so I didn't see the point in anyone remaking it. But VierasTalo kept insisting I should watch it, so when it popped up on Netflix Instant I decided to add it to my queue & give it a look.

And now that I have, I've got to admit it's worth watching. I love the decision to shoot the majority of the film from Frank's eyes, which keeps us locked inside his head. The film hits the main beats of the original and (thankfully) retains its powerful ending. There are also a couple of references to the original film, so I'd recommend anyone interested to watch it before this one so you catch them. Elijah Wood does a really good job as Frank, but I don't feel like he quite reached the heights Joe Spinell did. He does have the benefit though of being more attractive than Spinell was, which helps better sell his ability to attract women. My main issue is that the gore & effects, while done pretty well, are mostly CGI & thus fall far short of Savini's work in the original. The CGI does allow them to pull off some effects that wouldn't be possible otherwise, but some of it doesn't look believable.

You know what though? I'd watch it again at some point.

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First viewing - March 30th

Here's another remake I never had any urge to see, especially given that the original is possibly my favorite horror movie of all time. However, in horror fan circles it's got a decent reputation so I decided to give it a fair chance.

And yeah, it's good. The story plays out a bit differently than the original, but still delivers a message about humanity while retaining the spirit of the original. The cast is decent enough, and it helps that Romero wrote the screenplay. The odd thing here, however, is that Savini directs the film but doesn't handle the special effects. The team that does handle the effects does an OK job, but few of the zombies are memorable and a couple effects are laughably bad (the worst being Johnny falling & hitting his head on a headstone, as you can tell it's a dummy). Had Savini handled the effects, however, I'm sure they would have been improved all around.

One thing I did especially enjoy here though is that the character of Barbara turns out to be much stronger this time around instead of mostly lying around in mute shock. It's more realistic and gives her character more depth. I like too the slightly different message the film delivers, though I'm not crazy about the fact it's actually spoken aloud instead of left to the viewer to determine on his/her own.

So overall, this was worth checking out once. I doubt I'd watch it again, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared it would be.

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Hitchcock double feature

First viewing - March 30th

In February I got rid of some DVDs I didn't want to hang onto anymore, and the only way to get a good return for most of them was to trade them in for other DVDs (which kind of defeats the purpose, but whatever). So I looked around & grabbed this film and the one below (as well as an import copy of Battle Royale). Well, today I decided I should watch them together since they're both Hitchcock films AND they both have Cary Grant in the lead role.

I started with To Catch a Thief, mainly because it's less renowned critically than North by Northwest. And for the most part I enjoyed it. Grant is excellent, Grace Kelly is beautiful, the whole thing is solidly entertaining, and in the end I was pretty satisfied by it. I loved the opening of it with the little joke of the cat on the rooftops especially. I did figure out who the "Cat" really was about halfway through it, though the film works very hard to not be at all obvious about it. I never felt it quite crossed the line into greatness, but I did enjoy it enough that I'm glad it's part of my collection so I can revisit it.
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First viewing - March 30th

I knew going into this one that it's generally considered a masterpiece, and I'd say that reputation is well-earned. I thought I'd seen it before, but it turns out I've just seen the crop duster scene so many times in my life I assumed I'd seen the rest too at some point.

Here we have a brilliant story that I was never entirely sure where it was going, an excellent cast all around, an impressive score courtesy of Bernard Herrmann, and an overall memorable film to boot. Really the only thing missing here was that magical feeling I get from a 10/10 film, though I have no trouble seeing why it'd rate that from others.

Just a thought: I forget sometimes (though I don't know HOW) what a great sense of humor runs through Hitchcock's best work, whether it be in the dialogue or visual gags.
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Originally this list was going to cover March & April, but then I managed to get a fair number of films watched for March, & April looks to be at least as productive as it nears. So here's my list for March of 2014.

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