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Added by the giraffe on 5 Aug 2018 12:07
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2018: August

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 28 films watched
21 first views, 7 re-watches
14 via streaming, 9 via DVD/BR, and 5 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1950s - 2010s

As the summer draws to a close, I think it's safe to say that it's been the summer where Tom Cruise fell back into favor with me. Like a lot of people I lost sight of my appreciation for him as an actor due to the public, tabloid-exploited side of his life. And I don't even pay attention to tabloid nonsense or seek it out, so you know it's bad when it still manages to turn me off him. That doesn't mean of course that he's infallible when it comes to making movies, but I've come around to find myself squarely in his corner going forward, at least with regard to supporting the movies he makes. Catching up with his films this summer has been a rewarding experience all around.

Once again I almost made it through the month without watching any films prior to the 1970s, but I managed to avoid it at the last moment. Since my streaming options are often lacking in exciting options for older film fare, I'm thankful the library tends to deliver on that front more often than not.

And while I didn't make it to the theatre as often as I did last month, that had more to do with a lack of worthwhile options than anything else. August tends to be a dumping ground for movies that fall short of everyone's expectations, and only 2 of the 5 films I caught on the big screen were released this month. It's safe to say they're the best films the month had to offer as well.
People who added this item 69 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Aug. 4th

Blindspotting blew me away. And I'm aware that this is the third film this year that takes place in Oakland that I've loved & have no doubt it'll wind up in the upper tier of my films when I eventually rank them. It's in good company though, and earns its place with outstanding characters, a consistently engaging and compelling story, wonderful social commentary, a solid soundtrack, and some very powerful moments. Catch this one as soon as you can.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Aug. 3rd

I was pretty underwhelmed with Ghost Protocol, which led me to skip out on Rogue Nation until now. I'd also intended to skip Fallout because the trailers made it look like more of the same. But then Fallout was released and seeing praise from a number of people whose tastes I trust encouraged me to give it a chance. So I figured if I was going to watch it, I should probably finally sit down with this one.

And once again I'm annoyed with myself for skipping a Tom Cruise movie. Rogue Nation is leaps and bounds better than Ghost Protocol, thanks largely to the addition of Ilsa Faust. But more importantly it excels because the action and story actually support one another rather than it being like most action films where there's a story and a bunch of action set-pieces that look cool but serve little to no function within the story's framework. The whole film fires on all cylinders, and it was only during the final big chase/fighting/finale that I started getting tired of what was going on. Also it didn't help much that seeing trailers for Fallout let me know which characters would survive the film, but that's my fault for not seeing this sooner.

Lesson learned...from now on I'll catch anything Cruise does in the first two weeks it's in theatres (no regrets on ignoring The Mummy, however, which I can assure you I'd never waste my time sitting through).
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Aug. 5th

Hands down the best entry in the franchise. If you haven't already seen it, get to the theatre as soon as you possibly can, especially if IMAX is an option (which is how I saw it). Just make sure you've seen Rogue Nation first so you can appreciate it fully. I can't recall the last time I spent so much of one of these films on the edge of my seat, or genuinely fearing for the safety of the characters. I can't wait to see it again.

Further reading for those who have already watched the movie: Film Crit Hulk's write-up
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 352 Average listal rating (209 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.1
First viewing - Aug. 12th

Since I really enjoyed Secret of Kells I've been wanting to check out more films from them, and when the kiddo said she was in the mood for a fantasy film with magic I suggested we try Song of the Sea. We were both pleasantly surprised by it. I love the art throughout the film, which ties in visually with Kells while also being its own thing. The duality of some of the characters was really interesting, and overall the story is engaging and moving. She loved it so much she watched it again with her mom the next weekend. I'd gladly watch it again too (though not as quickly).
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 515 Average listal rating (326 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Aug. 27th

I don't know why I've delayed watching this for so long. It's a really well-made film, full of stellar performances and a script that's still (sadly) relevant. I have zero complaints and the only thing missing was that perfect 10 feeling. I'll gladly watch it again down the road.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 122 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Aug. 31st

I couldn't let August end on such a bum note, so I ponied up the money to rent my most anticipated film of 2018 via Amazon. And it was well worth the wait, though it fell short of surpassing Sorry to Bother You for my favorite film of the year. It's an excellent film overall though, with some moments I deeply loved but won't discuss because spoilers. I highly recommend checking it out, however, especially if you're a fan of Resolution and Spring.

Just at thought: Now I want to revisit Resolution.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 135 Average listal rating (83 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.8
Middle Men (2010)
First viewing - Aug. 2nd

I kicked August off with a movie I've wanted to see since I first caught a trailer for it. I can't recall why I let it slip past me (probably more important movies to watch took priority) but better late than never. And while it's nothing great, I found the story to be very interesting. I also thought it was an interesting approach to make a film that's centered on the porn industry yet keep the sexual elements on the peripheral edges of the film. We get to see some characters engage in sex, but they're almost all supporting characters or extras. To be fair, this approach was probably necessary for the film to avoid an NC-17 rating and its inclusion wouldn't have benefited the film really, but given the story you'd think there might be more on display. Overall it was worth sitting through once, and I'm glad I finally gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3931 Average listal rating (2684 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Aug. 5th

After seeing Fallout I felt like I should revisit the first film in the franchise to see whether it still held the top spot. And no, it doesn't. I still really dig everything going on throughout the film, and De Palma did an outstanding job for the time it was produced in. The film works best when we're following Ethan along as he works to reveal what's really going on around him, and the tension of the Langley scene still works for me. The ending goes a little too over the top, however, which knocks the film down a peg. It's still a wonderful film, and it sets a solid foundation for the rest of the series. But I'd place it just below the pair of films McQuarrie directed.

Just a thought: Cruise looks absurdly young in this, to the point it's less easy to believe it's the same character that's in the more recent entries in the series, as well as calls into question just how long he's been a part of his team.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Aug. 6th

I went into Sweet Virginia completely blind. The only things I knew about it were Jon Bernthal is the lead and it had appeared on a couple best of 2017 lists, one of which focused on underseen films. I don't know that it achieves greatness, but it was entertaining enough. I really can't think of much to say about it, other than that I didn't regret sitting through it once.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1942 Average listal rating (1316 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.7
Office Space (1999)
Re-watch - Aug. 8th

Sometimes I just need to revisit Office Space.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 536 Average listal rating (325 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1
Re-watch - Aug. 10th

I watched this with the kiddo, who spent the first part of the movie comparing it to the book which she's read but I have not. I've always enjoyed this movie, with its atypical visual style and winning underdog story. I've tried a number of times to get her to watch it, and this was the first time I succeeded. More to her surprise than mine she enjoyed it too.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2073 Average listal rating (1442 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Airplane! (1980)
Re-watch - Aug. 11th

And sometimes I also just need to revisit Airplane!.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1238 Average listal rating (810 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Aug. 13th

Yep, still playing catch up with Tom Cruise movies. Knight and Day was better than I'd anticipated. There's a lot of fun to be had here, and I kinda loved the ending. I can't decide though just how much I appreciated the way the film repeatedly uses Diaz's character being unconscious to skip to the next moment. On one hand it's a fun way to avoid rehashing action sequences we've all seen a million times, but on the other it's a bit jarring to leave a scene as it's building tension and then suddenly be out of it. It's never anything great, and I doubt I'd watch it a bunch more times, but I'm glad I gave it a chance.
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First viewing - Aug. 14th

I found this story quite fascinating. Admittedly I knew nothing of Wonder Woman's creation prior to watching this, and since I never saw a trailer for the film either it worked its magic as it should. The cast is wonderful, but it's the story and the way it's told that makes this well worth seeing. I can't speak to how much of it is accurate, though I know some elements tend to be embellished or more dramatized to make the final product more entertaining...but for what it is I really enjoyed it. I'm not sure that I'd go out of my way to watch it again, but if someone wanted to check it out I wouldn't complain about seeing it again either.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 767 Average listal rating (550 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 7
Jack Reacher (2012)
First viewing - Aug. 17th

I spent most of the opening scene of Jack Reacher being amused by how many things I recognized, as it was shot here in Pittsburgh. From there the story is fairly well told, and while it's not a bad film by any means there's also not much to it that I haven't seen before. I was entertained by it, but as time has passed since watching it it's not really sticking with me. So don't count on me watching the sequel.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 560 Average listal rating (393 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.5
Flash Gordon (1980)
First viewing - Aug. 18th

This was so cheesy and dull I fought to stay awake through it. Once or twice I lost the battle to stay conscious. And yeah, I knew it'd be somewhat cheesy, but while I tried to get into it I just couldn't. I should've gone on ignoring its existence, and I regret that I didn't.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Aug. 20th

So this month the kiddo and I finally completed reading the original run of Harry Potter books, which meant she was itching to watch the last pair of films. I took off from work the 20th-27th because my mom was coming to town, and after spending pretty much all of the day before cleaning house I was in a good position to just enjoy my time the rest of the week. So the kiddo and I watched this film before lunch, and the next after.

First off, taking the approach of splitting the last book into two films helps ensure that the most important pieces don't get skipped over or diminished. This makes the pair of films work better than the 3 or 4 films that preceded them. It's just too bad they couldn't justify splitting every film into two parts starting with the 4th book, though I feel like the best thing that could be done to adapt the series to a visual medium is to turn it over to TV and let each book be its own season. Should they ever decide to do that, however, I hope it's not for at least 20 years.

Both films work well enough, and I was glad that not much was changed this time out. The only change in both films which I felt worked against the logic of the story was allowing Harry Potter to run around undisguised for most of the run time. In the book he basically can't go out because of Voldemort hunting him, so he spends most of the book under the invisibility cloak whenever he goes out and the rest of the time he's among people he takes the polyjuice potion. I guess the filmmakers decided having him be invisible was too much trouble or maybe not cinematic enough, so the cloak only gets used once. This means he's running around in public more often than he should be able to do, which I found frustrating. Aside from that, I didn't have much to complain about which was a nice change of pace. Of course the books are far superior to the entire film series, and always will be, but I'm glad they managed to end the series in a satisfying way rather than splitting up the book and still messing it up.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Aug. 20th

See above.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Aug. 21st

After a morning and afternoon spent shopping and running around town, we returned home to relax. I suggested to my daughter that we watch this because I knew she'd been wanting to see it, and she quickly jumped at the chance. I know she really enjoyed it, but I thought it was just fine. Certainly there is much to appreciate, especially Eva Green's performance and the sparks of life that emerge any time one of the peculiar children gets to show off their talents. And then there's a battle involving skeletons which is the best thing the film has to offer. The opening stretch stumbles to find its footing, however, and there are too many characters to manage so that it's hard to get too deeply invested in what's going on with them. But overall it's not too bad, just nothing I'd go out of my way to watch again.

Just a thought: If nothing else, at least Johnny Depp isn't in this one. Kinda refreshing to see Burton working without him.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1690 Average listal rating (1060 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.5
Bean (1997)
Re-watch - Aug. 21st

I still dig this silly movie. Mr. Bean's antics have always amused me, and while this film is pretty average the amount of laughs it gives me allow me to rate it higher than it probably deserves. I watched it with my daughter, who enjoyed some of it but found it stressful constantly waiting to see how he would screw things up. Ah well.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 813 Average listal rating (516 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
Time Bandits (1981)
Re-watch - Aug. 22nd

I've been trying to get my daughter to watch Time Bandits with me for a while now, so I was glad when she finally picked it up and handed it to me to put on. It's been at least 10 years since I last saw it, which meant it was able to work its magic on me very well. She really enjoyed it and kept talking about it after it ended, which is a good sign. While she's too young for most of Gilliam's work, I felt this would be a good introduction and will probably watch Baron Munchausen next with her. If she enjoys it too (which I have no reason to doubt she will) then I'll slowly work through the rest of his filmography with her, and hopefully she'll come to appreciate him as deeply as I do.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 74 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 10 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Aug. 24th

There were a couple of nights where my daughter stayed with her mom so she could have time with family that came into town, so I took the opportunity to watch something for myself. I didn't really know what to expect with this one, and found it to be fairly entertaining overall. There were some interesting twists to the story that worked successfully, and of course Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway are excellent throughout the film. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call this a great movie, but it was well worth seeing and I'm glad I finally sat down with it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 5417 Average listal rating (3708 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.7
Re-watch - Aug. 25th

It's been quite a while since I last watched Ocean's Eleven, and that's largely due to how omnipresent it was in the first few years following its release. Back when I had access to cable TV it seemed to be on some channel almost every time I turned on the TV, and my dad would often go out of his way to watch it again to the point where it stopped being impressive to me. Watching it again I was surprised to realize that it was so much more fun than I'd recalled. And while most of its cast is underdeveloped they play their respective roles well enough that you hardly mind. The heist is still wonderfully played through, and overall I found myself enjoying it far more than the last time I came across it. Maybe I should watch it again in another 10 years and see if I still like it as well then too.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 115 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Aug. 27th

After dropping my mom off at the airport, I had an errand to run and stopped for lunch while I was out. On my way home I decided to see what I could find at the local library, and wound up walking out with 5 films to spend time with over the next week. This one caught my eye, and when I saw the words film noir in the description on the back I held onto it. And it's pretty good. I thought the three leads had wonderful chemistry, and enjoyed the way the film plays out as it mostly takes place on a train. It's not great or we all would have heard of it, but it was worth seeing and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 215 Average listal rating (124 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Aug. 29th

As someone who has long appreciated stand-up comedy, this was of great interest to me. The sheer number of comics who participated also ensured I'd give it a chance. The joke that the film is about is only as good as the person telling it, and so it remained interesting to see how each person gave their own version of it. Some were more inspired than others, which is to be expected. And in some cases it feels like too much effort into going over the top with zero payoff. But content wise I thought it was worthwhile. What didn't work for me, however, is the visual presentation of the film. There are far too many cuts, to the point that they become annoying. Most of the comics are shot with two cameras, which you know because while they're speaking they keep cutting between the two cameras and there's no real justification for it. Perhaps they thought watching only one shot was less interesting than bouncing between two shots, but holy crap does it wind up being jarring and irritating at times. During the last half hour of the film it got to the point where I would close my eyes and just listen to the people speaking because I couldn't take it anymore. And part of me was interested in checking out the wealth of bonus features to see some of what ended up on the cutting floor, especially for those whose segments I most enjoyed. But I couldn't take the sloppy, thoughtless cutting anymore and opted to skip out on them. Maybe before it has to go back I'll be willing to give them a look, but I doubt it.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 170 Average listal rating (106 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Aug. 4th

Of the three films I caught on the big screen this weekend, this was my least favorite. That doesn't mean it didn't impress me though. I deeply appreciated the approach to the story and its central character...it feels more realistic and you can tell it's made by actual humans who recall the awkwardness of adolescence, not Hollywood heads who assume they know what teens are like and embellish their experiences to the point where you have to struggle to relate. It also made me dread my daughter's future, given that it's very likely her experiences will be similar in some respects. It's a well-made film all around, and worth seeing, but I doubt I'll be revisiting it much down the road.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 199 Average listal rating (140 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Aug. 11th

The kiddo and I wanted to see Christopher Robin, a film that made me think of Hook quite a few times. They each take tales that revolved around boys and spun a new tale where the boys become adults who forgot the joys of being childlike. It's also cool that CG has progressed to the point where it's not too jarring to see animated characters interacting with live actors. Overall it's a well-made film, one which I was destined to enjoy given my lifelong love of Pooh and company. It's not great, but worthwhile especially if you've got children to experience it with.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 435 Average listal rating (316 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Aug. 18th

For what it is, BlacKkKlansman (please don't ask me to type that again) is a solidly entertaining movie, one that I was really enjoying until it got to the tacked on ending which shatters its spell. The ending reminded me of Don't Be a Menace to South Central... whenever Keenan Ivory Wayans shows up & yells "Message!" after each meaningful line in the script. While Spike Lee doesn't show up for the final scenes, he may as well be screaming the same over the images. And while those scenes are certainly important to keep in mind, at the same time there are enough nods to current events throughout the script that it's really not needed.

Aside from that I mostly enjoyed it. John David Washington gives a wonderful performance, and his scenes with Laura Harrier are some of the best parts of the film. The rest of the cast does an excellent job as well, and I dug the music in the film. There's also a powerful sequence centered on Birth of a Nation which will stick with me for quite a while. Best of all the film has a sense of humor running throughout that's not overdone, and it keeps the story from getting too overwhelmingly serious. So it's really a shame that it ends the way it does, because otherwise I'd gladly put this up among the best of the year (and my rating is technically a high 7/10 rounded up as a result).
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