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Added by the giraffe on 20 Aug 2017 10:06
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2017: September

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Noteworthy: The best and the worst

The breakdown: 27 movies and 1 short film watched
24 first views, 4 re-watches
7 via Amazon Prime, 10 via Showbox, 3 via DVD, and 8 (including the short) in the theatre
Decades touched: 1940s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 2000s, & 2010s

Well, this month was productive and kind of a mixed bag. You'll find a handful of highly-rated films below but also more low-rated films than usual. I almost caught everything I wanted to in theatres for the month, with the only film leftover being American Made which came out the last weekend when I had the kiddo. Knowing what I know now I wish I could've gotten away with sending her to watch Ninjago alone while I watched American Made instead, but she's not old enough to see a movie in a theatre on her own yet. We'll see whether I go ahead & watch American Made next month or decide to skip it in favor of all the horror movies I'm planning to watch. I know there's at least one non-horror movie coming out in October I'll really want to see, so perhaps I can pair them together or something.

Anyway, my first month with Amazon Prime turned out okay, but I know October will be even better given how many horror movies they have on there compared to Netflix. I don't know that there's enough on Prime for me to stick with it very far into next year though, as beyond their horror offerings there's not a whole lot I'm excited about and the ones I am excited about are mostly documentaries at this point. And there was a brief period where I was having some technical issues with Showbox, but at least they didn't last all month long & I picked up some tricks to keep it working as it should. Thankfully I've found enough viewing options that I don't need to rely on only one service anymore. Anyway, check out my thoughts below and get ready for my annual Horrorfest which will emerge sooner than you'd think...
People who added this item 493 Average listal rating (304 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Sept. 23rd

Best new-to-me film for September


Having to wait a week to see mother! was kind of painful, but thankfully worth the wait. I'm not surprised that many people were turned off by this movie, as it's definitely not for everyone. It requires attention and patience, which general audiences tend to lack, especially the ones who have no issues with engaging in distractions from what's on the screen despite having paid money to be there. As a result of a failed opening weekend, it's not surprising either that there were less than 10 of us in the audience when I saw it. Ah, but the upside to that fact is that nobody was able to detract from my experience.

This film is so deep, multi-layered, expertly realized, and features what's perhaps Lawrence's best performance to date. I refuse to say anything more specific, as the less you know going into the film the better off you'll be (and forgetting whatever trailers you saw is beneficial as well). But I will say that I'm looking forward to seeing how many more aspects of the film I'll pick up on through future revisits that I might have missed the first time around.
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People who added this item 222 Average listal rating (167 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Sept. 8th

Best hidden gem


I can't remember now why I didn't manage to see Bone Tomahawk in the theatre, but I'd wanted to. Thankfully it's available on Amazon Prime, so I knew I'd dive into it soon. Turns out it's excellent all around, from the strong cast to the plot to the atmosphere to the visuals. I've seen in places that this was kind of a horror movie, but I wouldn't agree with that. There are some intense moments but it felt more like a modern Western than anything else. I deeply enjoyed it and will gladly revisit it over the coming years.

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First viewing - Sept. 9th

Worst movie (tie)


So it's late at night & I'm browsing through my Amazon options and out of dumb curiosity I chose this film. It's clearly meant to be a comedy, but for all its attempts at humor I only laughed twice...during the same scene...which doesn't happen until almost the end of the movie. Mostly I just sat there numbly watching it all happen, never quite annoyed enough to turn it off but unaffected enough to occasionally wonder why I was still watching it. Thankfully it's only an hour & a half, but I can't help but feel my time & energy could've been better spent elsewhere.

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First viewing - Sept. 30th

Worst movie (tie)


The kiddo & I were entertained by the trailers for Ninjago, and thanks to the other two LEGO movies that have hit theatres we were fully on board for a third. Well, unfortunately it failed to deliver. Oh the kiddo was entertained enough by it that she found it worthwhile, but I spent most of the time bored out of my mind and wishing it would end already. Had I gone alone to see it, I would have walked out early & either requested a refund or tried to exchange my ticket for something better. It's like whoever made this film wasn't even trying...the humor works so well that I can count the number of times my daughter & I laughed on one hand & still have a finger left over (and I was the only one of us who laughed). The characters fail to endear themselves to the audience, which makes everything they go through feel like a pointless chore. They try to invoke some emotion between the father/son dynamic, but that doesn't work either when both characters are flat. Thankfully the film isn't too long and it's watchable for the visuals, but ultimately there's no reason for its existence.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 335 Average listal rating (210 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8.1
First viewing - Sept. 1st

The Handmaiden hit theatres last year around the time I moved, and as far as I know it didn't screen in Pittsburgh (or if it did that happened before I got here). So it's been a constant source of frustration that I haven't been able to watch it, and knowing that it was waiting for me on Amazon Prime if I ever decided to join their service was probably the biggest reason for me to want to switch. Fortunately it was totally worth the wait, though I feel bad for the films that follow first in its wake as it's so well made they'll likely pale in comparison. The cast is stellar, the plot has more twists and surprises than I could anticipate, and the whole thing looks gorgeous. Mr. Park has done an outstanding job once again, delivering a film that burned a spot in my head and won't be leaving for a long time. There's a point where I felt like it lost momentum which kept it from being perfect, but once it gets rolling along again it never lets up. I'm glad I finally got to see it and have no doubt I'll watch it again.

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People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (37 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6
First viewing - Sept. 2nd

In which Ti West tries his hand at a Western and succeeds. This is largely thanks to strong performances from the cast & a script with characters whose motivations are clearly communicated throughout the film. Add to that one of the best canine performances I've seen in a long time and the film becomes something I won't be forgetting about. I'm glad I was finally able to catch up with In a Valley of Violence, and I expect I'll revisit it.

Just a thought: This is what I wished John Wick would have been like. It's far more satisfying of a revenge movie.
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First viewing - Sept. 3rd

I kinda forgot about Sally Field, so it was cool to see her in this film where she gets to display her range and remind us why she matters. The story revolves around her desire for a relationship with a younger man, which is great material to mine for comedic gold which the film uncovers albeit not consistently. Still, I thought it was a fresh idea populated with endearing characters and enough amusing moments to keep me happy. It's nothing great, but it was worth checking out at least once and I was satisfied overall.

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First viewing - Sept. 7th

The Mechanic routinely earns praise from directors I admire, so when I found it on Showbox I settled in to see what it was like. Overall I enjoyed it, but mainly because the back half of the film is so strongly composed that it makes you somewhat forgive the flaws of the first half. I had to fight a little to stay awake during the first hour of the film in places as not much happens and the initial interactions between Bronson & Vincent fall flat at times. I couldn't help but feel that Steve McKenna could have been better cast with someone who had a stronger presence, but perhaps there was a fear that too strong a presence would outshine Bronson who doesn't seem to try too hard here. I mean, Bronson is Bronson, but he seems to be coasting on his skills for most of the film. Still, the overall story is interesting and when Bishop takes McKenna under his wing it picks up and doesn't let up much. And that ending is pretty excellent. So yeah, this was definitely worth seeing just not anything I'd go out of my way to revisit.
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People who added this item 311 Average listal rating (184 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Sept. 9th

My friend loaned me this movie because it was his belief I needed to see it. To be fair, if he hadn't loaned it to me it still wouldn't be on my radar, and since I found it worth watching overall it's a good thing he did. The Red Violin is not really in my wheelhouse, but it's certainly an interesting story and well realized. There's a mystery that runs through the film, and while the journey to get to its reveal is often entertaining I figured it out early on which diminished the surprise. However there's another aspect I didn't entirely anticipate that plays out far better, which made up for it. Given that we span a wide range of years, it's not too surprising that some characters are more interesting than others. I guess that was fairly realistic but it also resulted in the film being uneven at times. Still, in the end I felt it was worth checking out once.
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People who added this item 380 Average listal rating (253 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Sept. 10th

Captain Fantastic left me with quite a few conflicting feelings. On one hand I appreciated a lot of the ideas it espoused, as well as the fact it presented a very non-conventional family that wasn't full of obnoxious quirks (they're quirky, sure, but not to the overt point of a Wes Anderson joint). It's certainly interesting and entertaining throughout, which is more than I could say for the film directly above it on this list. However at the same time it bugs me the way things turn out for this family along the way. Consequences are often dangled in front of them, but nothing ever really comes out of any of these potential dangers. That's not to say the entire ensemble makes it out of the film unscathed, but the events that do occur as a result of their actions tend to be too easily resolved or breezed past. And there's a point where, without going into spoiler territory, a bunch of things happen and yet nobody shows up to stop any of it despite having every reason to do so. It's like the film conveniently forgot about all the adversity it had built up in favor of delivering a more crowd-pleasing resolution, and it rang false. So what could have potentially been a great movie crashed under its efforts to win the audience over, where a better film would have delivered a more appropriate denouement, audience be damned.

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People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Sept. 11th

Gimme Danger is a fascinating look at one of the most important yet under-celebrated bands ever, The Stooges. Having Jim Jarmusch in charge helps it avoid being a run-of-the-mill documentary visually, and the band's history is full of enough ups & downs to be worth digging into. Plus their music was always great during their initial run, which led to me listening to their albums again for the entire next day after I watched this. And the whole thing was put together after the band was officially done with their reunification, so you get the whole story in one sitting. I totally enjoyed it & would sit through it again.

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People who added this item 4523 Average listal rating (2776 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8
Re-watch - Sept. 14th

Knowing I'd have the kiddo all weekend meant I wouldn't get to catch mother!, so I chose to revisit Black Swan for the first time since it left theatres. Turns out that taking 7 years between watches allowed it to hit me as strongly as it did the first time around. It's still a brilliant film that I enjoy every second of, and that ending is as powerful as I'd recalled. Matter of fact, I think the last line of the film sums up the entire experience and I'm sure I'll feel the same when I watch it again.
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People who added this item 1269 Average listal rating (810 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.8
First viewing - Sept. 15th

I'd really wanted to see The Green Hornet when it was in theatres mainly due to my devotion to Michel Gondry, and that's what fueled my interest to finally watch it on this particular night. Fortunately it's been so long since I saw or read anything about it, so I walked into it with no real expectations beyond what I know of previous Green Hornet adaptations and the handful of names I knew were involved in this one. And evidently I'm in the minority for enjoying this movie. It's more of a buddy comedy than a straight superhero movie, & I suspect that most people who hated it expected the latter. Knowing Seth & Evan wrote the screenplay should tell you exactly what you're in for here, though thankfully the PG-13 rating prevents it from bombarding us non-stop with unnecessary expletives. It also helps that they clearly knew the source material and treated it with respect while updating it to meet their sensibilities. And Gondry holds it all together, turning in a more straightforward directing job. I'd bet the rest of the people who hated this were his fans who thought it'd be full of quirky visuals like most of his films, and yet those are almost entirely absent. There are some moments and choices that don't work out as well, but overall I found it solidly entertaining and had a good time with it. I might even watch it again, though I doubt I'll need to.
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People who added this item 2690 Average listal rating (1612 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.2
Re-watch - Sept. 16th

The kiddo & I stopped into the library Saturday morning and I picked this up since she's been wanting to watch it thanks to the other Ghibli films we've picked up. Watching it with her was a far better experience than seeing it in the theatre the first time I saw it, as I found myself appreciating it more this time around. I still find it vastly overrated, but I'll admit it's got some entertaining moments and the cat bus is a very cool creation. She enjoyed it more than I did, but then it's clearly a movie more aimed at a younger audience.
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First viewing - Sept. 18th

I had intended to watch more movies over the weekend, but due to technical issues with Showbox and other commitments that popped up that didn't work out. So after dinner Monday night I settled in with this film which I've heard spoken of favorably over the years. First off, the cast is outstanding especially Sidney Poitier. The story is well-told all around, mixing racial tensions with a murder mystery which kept me guessing almost up to the very end. Overall it's a hell of a film and I'm glad I finally caught it as it's a gap in my cinematic knowledge that I'm better off having.
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First viewing - Sept. 19th

De Palma turned 70 this month, so I wanted to watch something of his I hadn't seen yet. As luck would have it this is one of the few films of his that's on Showbox, so I took a chance with it. Body Double clearly owes a huge debt to Rear Window as it's basically an updated version of that film as filtered through De Palma's cinematic sensibilities. It's consistently entertaining, and I love the ways it messed with my expectations along the way. The only thing I was kind of disappointed with is the fact I caught on to the mystery very early on, but at least the road the film travels to its ending made it mostly worthwhile. I don't know that I'd need to watch Body Double again, but I'm glad I watched it.
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People who added this item 819 Average listal rating (574 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
Re-watch - Sept. 20th

It's safe to say it's been over 17 years since I last watched The Last Boy Scout, and thus it wasn't too surprising how much of it I'd forgotten since this was my second time ever watching it. The opening & ending were still in my head but most of what fell between those points had been lost in my memory so it felt at times like I hadn't seen the film before. It's still entertaining all around, but that's to be expected from any script written by Shane Black. Not all the jokes hit their mark, and the goons in the film feel very late 80s/early 90s cheesy at times, but the chemistry between Wayans & Willis keep the film afloat. I still don't think it's a great movie, but I like it enough I'll probably watch it again in several more years.
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People who added this item 635 Average listal rating (388 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Sept. 21st

Ok, so you might have expected me to wait to watch Crimson Peak until next month, but based on what I've heard about it I figured it wouldn't fit in well with the other films I have planned plus some have suggested it's "not horror". As an aside, I hate it when any movie that's clearly horror gets deemed "not horror" simply because it's not scary to someone. Here's a film that's clearly horror in the Hammer tradition, very Gothic with a good dose of ghastly creatures, so just because it doesn't scare you doesn't mean it's not horror. I've seen plenty of comedies that didn't make me laugh, but do we ever argue whether a comedic film is a comedy? Then why do we feel the need to denounce a horror movie as a horror movie simply because it's not scary enough? It makes no damn sense to me.

Anyway, I enjoyed Crimson Peak for what it is, and I'm glad I waited to watch it so my expectations had been transformed. Del Toro and his crew work wonders with the visuals throughout the film, so that there's always something worthwhile to look at. The house at the center of the film is beautifully realized, and I love the fact that depending on where you are in the house it can look decrepit or intricately detailed. Here again we have a movie where I figured out some of the reveals ahead of time but I was kept engaged enough that being ahead of the game didn't detract from the overall experience. I don't understand why it was so hated upon its release, beyond it maybe not living up to what people expected of it. If you'll meet the film on its own terms it's absolutely worth watching, and I'm glad I finally got around to it.
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People who added this item 1607 Average listal rating (1052 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Sept. 22nd

This movie was a blast from start to finish. I adored the characters, the film moves just swiftly enough to balance being entertaining with delivering necessary information, the action is shot in ways that make visual sense (sad that this needs to be applauded, ever), and the humor works to elevate everything. It never achieves greatness, but it doesn't feel like it's trying to either. It's just a fun movie that I'd gladly watch again. And I'm even more annoyed that I didn't get to see it during its theatrical run.

I liked it so well, in fact, that I tried to watch its sequel right after it ended, but due to technical issues with Showbox that caused the film to keep freezing up I bailed on it. From what I did get to see though it looks like I'm better off skipping it, which is disappointing.
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First viewing - Sept. 23rd

After watching two new movies earlier in the day, and thinking about how most of the films I've seen lately have been modern, I decided to watch something from the past. This was an interesting movie that's well put together and buoyed by the performances of Robinson & Welles. We spend the entire film with most of the pieces given to us up front and waiting to see how what we know will affect the characters involved. I do think both Welles & Robinson worked on far better films, but this was worth checking out.

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People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 4.7
First viewing - Sept. 25th

This was brought to my attention thanks to Edgar Wright, who was voicing his support of the film on Twitter, and I figured I'd give it a chance. All you need to know is it's about a team of hitmen played by nobodies trying to bring down the best hitman in the world played by Ahnuld, and it's shot as a faux documentary. Unfortunately the humor falls mostly flat & the action parts are mostly stuff we've seen before, which adds up to a film nobody needs to see. I'll allow that there are some amusing moments along the way which saved me from shutting it off, but they're scattered far enough apart I wouldn't blame someone with less patience than I have if they gave up on it. Which is somewhat disappointing as the idea for the film could have produced a very worthwhile experience had it been cast with better actors and supported by a more compelling/amusing script. Ah well.
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People who added this item 752 Average listal rating (491 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Sept. 28th

With the remake on its way to theatres I decided to finally watch the original Flatliners, especially since the new one looks like worthless crap. This film takes a little while to really get rolling along, and once it does it's interesting enough to keep you hooked into it. It helps too that the cast is so well put together which results in solid to strong performances. I was a bit disappointed in the resolution of the film though, so it's not one I'd watch again. I wouldn't talk anyone out of watching it though.
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People who added this item 267 Average listal rating (190 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Sept. 2nd

Unintentional Elizabeth Olsen double feature


As the above indicates, I didn't plan to watch two movies back-to-back because Miz Olsen was in them, it just worked out that way. Both films also share some darkness, but since this is a thriller and the next is a black comedy that's about where their similarities end. Oh wait, I did laugh at least once during each film, does that count?

I wanted to see this one because Taylor Sheridan is on a roll lately, and I'd place this film firmly in the middle between Hell Or High Water and Sicario. Once again he tells a gripping story with characters that feel true and which goes places you won't anticipate. It helps too that they cast actual Native Americans in Native American roles, which I deeply appreciated. And the music used throughout impresses, though that's to be expected with Nick Cave & Warren Ellis who have proven themselves to be experts at creating music for film. Wind River didn't quite cross over into greatness for me, but it came close enough that I'd certainly watch it a few more times down the road.
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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Hi Stranger (2016)
First viewing - Sept. 2nd

This was a short film that preceded Ingrid Goes West. I couldn't decide whether it was nice or just creepy, which seemed to be what it was going for anyway. It wasn't bad but also nothing I'd need to see again.
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First viewing - Sept. 2nd

Unintentional Elizabeth Olsen double feature


Neon continues to put out films that are in my wheelhouse, or should be anyway, and Ingrid Goes West is among their better offerings so far. Aubrey Plaza gives a powerful performance throughout the film, and O'Shea Jackson Jr. steals every scene he's in. It's a freshly modern take on the stalker film, peppered lightly with commentary on how we can let social media influence us, and I have no doubt I'll watch it again.
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People who added this item 751 Average listal rating (503 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Sept. 10th

Thanks to the marketing for IT, I've been eagerly anticipating it ever since I calmed down about Baby Driver. The only film this month I'm anticipating more is Mother!, but that's also a film that basically turned up out of nowhere. We've been seeing trailers and such for IT for the better part of this year, and clearly that paid off as seemingly everyone went to see it on its opening weekend. Of course a big part of that is the fact that the film genuinely delivered on that promise, as opposed to some films this year which were all marketing hype & nothing more.

Now, it's been ages since I last sat down with the TV adaptation but that's still burned permanently into my brain to the point I would occasionally try to figure out whether what was happening would follow the same path or diverge. Most of the time, however, I just sat back and enjoyed the ride. The Losers Club has been wonderfully realized despite some minor changes that I was able to let slide. I do find it odd what they did with Mike, but the rest didn't really bother me. All the young actors perform admirably in their respective roles, and their friendship rings true and forms the heart of the whole movie. Henry Bowers is even more terrifying than the TV version, and I was especially impressed by the boy playing Georgie.

Updating the childhood part to the late 1980s similarly sat well with me and allowed for some amusing moments, though I think my favorite pop-culture-ish touch was the TV show that runs in the background from time to time. The film delivered plenty of creepiness, and I thought overall it looked great visually (finding out afterward that Chan-wook Park's DP handled the camerawork gave way to my understanding why). Honestly I can't think of anything major to complain about and I wound up mostly loving it. The only downside is that now we've got to wait for the sequel, but if they'll retain the same crew & creative forces that worked on this outing then it'll be worth the wait.
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People who added this item 420 Average listal rating (270 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Sept. 23rd

If you liked the first Kingsman, then you'll probably like this one too. Much like its predecessor it's got plenty of entertaining moments, does a fine job of balancing humor & action, and has a villain with clear motives that's also off-the-rails insane. It's also longer than it probably needed to be (and reading about the film afterwards I found out the original cut was over an hour longer, ouch), and never manages to surpass the first film.

Part of my problems with this entry in what will no doubt become a bigger franchise lie with the action sequences that rely too heavily on CGI. The opening car chase could have been great, but when held up against the opening scene of Baby Driver (or any scene in that film involving a car chase) it feels empty and weightless. And the final fights drag on forever with little payoff, though that's not helped by the wealth of fighting sequences that precede them nor the fact that most action movies rely on similar sequences to wrap up their plots.

I do have to give credit though for the film having one of the funniest lines of the year, and a cameo that's well-utilized & best left unspoiled. So despite the film's problems it was worth seeing, I just have no desire to see it again.

Just a thought: This is the only time I can think of where Fox News is portrayed as a news source without any mocking of them and it did not sit well with me. I get why they couldn't be mocked (Fox distributed the film), but since the film is fictional anyway why not make up a news company that exists within its own world? And would Eggsy's friends REALLY have Fox News on their TV? Doubtful.
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Re-watch - Sept. 30th

My neighborhood theatre was having a Harry Potter weekend, and since my daughter has recently got into the series I had to take her for the kid-friendly portion of it. She caught the film adaptation of Chamber of Secrets during summer camp, and came home asking to watch the other films. I don't own any of them, but I do have all 7 books so we've been working our way through them instead (and on this weekend we started Prisoner of Azkaban after wrapping up the 2nd book). The theatre was filled with vendors selling various items that related to the series, and they had an entire room set up so you could take a photo at platform 9 3/4, make potions from a variety of glass containers, choose a wand & get a patronus, and a host of other things for attendees to engage in. Additionally they screened Sorceror's Stone, which I hadn't seen since it was in theatres the first time around.

And I'd say it holds up well. I could nitpick over all the changes between it and the book, but it successfully adapts the most important parts, captures the overall feel of the book, and the cast is pretty solid. It's also still a treat to see the many sights within Hogwarts rendered as they are in the film, especially on the big screen. The kiddo loved it, and said afterwards it's "the best movie ever! Besides Spider-Man" (Homecoming). I still don't think it's great, and leave it at 7/10 though I'd say it's more like a 7.5.
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