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Added by the giraffe on 3 Nov 2018 03:45
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2018: November

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 22 films watched and 4 stand-up specials
23 first views, 3 re-watches
18 via streaming, 1 via DVD/BR, and 7 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1990s, 2000s, & 2010s

This month the majority of what I watched came via Netflix, because I signed up for a free month of it just to shake up what I watch as well as catch up on some things I'd been wanting to see for a while now. And overall it paid off pretty well, though by the end of the month there wasn't enough left unseen to justify keeping the subscription going. The main thing I'd missed was watching stand-up, hence their inclusion in this list. Maybe at some point next year I'll drop back in for another month and cancel it again. I figure if nothing else the final season of Orange Is the New Black will entice me to return (and one reason this list isn't longer is because I watched all of the 6th season of that show too).

I also managed to catch several films on the big screen, and while none of them managed to crack the top of my list for 2018 one of them came very close and all of them had moments that justified my taking the time to see them. Overall it was a decent month if a bit uneven.
First viewing - Nov. 9th

The Night Comes for Us is insane in all the best ways. Take the non-stop action and intensity of The Raid and mix it with the over-the-top gore of Dead Alive and this is more or less what you get. If you have Netflix and aren't going to watch it, you should probably just delete your account because you're wasting your membership.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 198 Average listal rating (142 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.8
Widows (2018)
First viewing - Nov. 21st

I wasn't sure whether I'd be taking my daughter to see Wreck-It Ralph 2 over the holiday weekend or not, so I figured to be safe I'd catch Widows after work on Wednesday night. Of all the new films I've seen in the theatre this month, Widows is easily the best. The ensemble cast does a great job, the film delivers some social commentary that mostly hits the mark, and there were moments that recalled Michael Mann's filmography here and there. The only thing I had issues with was the fact that there are so many characters and plotlines going on that you could tell it was adapted from a TV series, and it'd be even better if it would've been a Netflix miniseries instead I think. This leaves some character motivations unclear, and results in some aspects being underdeveloped. But Steve McQueen does his best to tie it all up in one film, and mostly succeeds. It's possible this film will be bumped up to a 9 the next time I watch it, but for now I'm leaving it at an 8 (call it an 8.5).

Just a thought: Give Viola Davis an Oscar.
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First viewing - Nov. 24th

Nobody told me Adam Sandler returned to stand-up, though to be fair if they had I would've ignored it. I mean, when's the last time he made anything under the comedy banner that was truly worthwhile? As it turns out, this was absolutely worthwhile and I'm shocked. As someone who grew up listening to his first two comedy albums a fair bit (OK, in the case of They're All Gonna Laugh at You I listened a TON), this was entirely in that same vein. He tells some jokes in between playing a bunch of songs, and I found myself loving it all in spite of myself. There are some aspects that are very different as far as the presentation and composition of the special, and then it ends with a pair of songs that are really heartfelt. I'm floored. Should he ever decide to return to the stage again I hope I hear about it and am able to attend one of his shows. And no, I didn't think I'd say that in 2018.

Now if he can just figure out how to make a good movie again...
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Home viewings

MISSING: The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - First viewing - Nov. 26th

The Coen brothers deliver a thoroughly engaging if uneven anthology set in America during the 1800s. The first tale, which shares its title with the overall film, caught me by surprise. Had it been all there was to the film it'd be my favorite of the year (perhaps I can call it my favorite short film of 2018?). It's soon chased by a bank robber story that was quite thrilling and highly amusing, then a more meditative piece that almost doesn't fit in here but still works well enough. After that we follow a gold digger played by Tom Waits in a story that I found to be the most lacking and a little tedious. The final pair of tales are one led by a female character which was a step back in the right direction, and the closing tale is far deeper than what's on the surface. The cast for the entire film is solid if rarely exceptional (Tim Blake Nelson and Stephen Root not surprisingly are the main highlights), and I'm finding that the anthology approach works differently for each person which is fascinating. Digging through the internet I've seen regular folks and critics alike singing the praises of different tales, which suggests there's something here for everyone. Due primarily to the unevenness of it, however, I'm tempted to keep it at a 7/10 overall. I may revisit it several years down the road and find that I appreciate some/all of it more, but it's not anything I'd watch over & over save perhaps the first story on its own.
Re-watch - Nov. 4th

The kiddo and I had agreed to have a lazy movie day in our PJ's, and I let her pick the films. What she didn't realize initially is that all three films she chose are adapted from books and set at least partly in London, which led to her questioning whether all movies she wants to see are set in the UK. Heh. We recently read the novel this film is based off of, and so she wanted to revisit the film. I'm still not thrilled with what they did to the book here, and can't help wondering if Douglas Adams had been alive to oversee the final product whether it would've turned out far better. It's got some fun moments, however, and the cast is solid enough. Thanks to this adaptation I always hear Alan Rickman's voice for Marvin whenever I read the books. Probably the thing that bugs me the most is what they did with Zaphod's heads, a character design that makes no sense to me, and then the finale doesn't really work.

When it ended the kiddo asked if they might make the other books in the trilogy into films, and I had to break it to her that there's no demand for it. Which, to be fair, is for the best.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3308 Average listal rating (1987 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.7
First viewing - Nov. 4th

I did such a good job of avoiding this film like the plague, and I'm sad to say that thanks to my daughter's high interest in this adaptation my run finally came to an end. Aside from Hugh Laurie and his sidekick I found the entire film grating and tedious. I tried to keep a good face on for my daughter, but luckily that didn't last as she was unhappy with the film as well. She kept complaining about the fact that none of the animals speak and how it keeps you from understanding some of what's going on, and I can't argue with her. I'd also say that the better choice for Cruella would have been Anjelica Huston, but perhaps Disney thought she'd be too effective in the role. Hopefully they never attempt another live-action adaptation again, though if they do at least now CGI has caught up enough that it'd probably be better than this.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 117 Average listal rating (94 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
Peter Rabbit (2018)
First viewing - Nov. 4th

I went into this with low expectations, especially following the other two films, but wound up being pleasantly surprised. That's not to say it's a great film by any means, but of the three films she chose it was easily the best of the bunch. There are some truly funny moments throughout the film, and it has genuine charm at times. Rose Byrne and Domnhall Gleeson are predictably great in their respective roles, and the CGI is mostly well-rendered. It's nothing I'd go out of my way to watch again, but if my daughter wanted to revisit it with me I wouldn't mind.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 4.2 IMDB Rating 4.5
First viewing - Nov. 6th

I'd wanted to see Mohawk back when it came out thanks to my appreciation for Ted Geoghegan's previous film We Are Still Here, but to my knowledge it never found its way to my city. So when I noticed it was on offer via Netflix I figured I'd give it a look. Now anyone expecting another horror movie will be greatly disappointed as it's not that at all. Instead we get a western/action film set during the War of 1812, and for what it is I mostly dug it. I was never sure where it was going, and less sure which characters would live to see the end of the film, if any. The acting is solid across the board, and I thought it was interesting the way it treats a polyamorous relationship. It's not great, but I might watch it again at some point.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 106 Average listal rating (81 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.6
First viewing - Nov. 13th

One of my best friends urged me to give this a look early this year, but I've had issues tracking it down. Netflix to the rescue! Now, for the most part this is a very predictable horror movie which keeps it from being great. But the effects are practical and outstanding, and the best reason to watch it is for David Howard Thornton's performance as Art the Clown. I've never really appreciated coulrophobia until now, and remain thankful I don't suffer from it. In a better world he'd get awards consideration and we'd be on the verge of this becoming a franchise. Perhaps we can still get the latter, but for now I'll just have to keep an eye out for the next film Thornton turns up in.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 87 Average listal rating (60 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 5.8
Murder Party (2007)
First viewing - Nov. 14th

Of course I was going to watch Jeremy Saulnier's directorial debut. I can't say I loved it, but I appreciated what it's going for. It works as a commentary of art geeks, and despite the title and setting on Halloween it's less a horror movie and more of a satire. There are certainly horror elements present, but we spend most of the film watching these characters who are so full of themselves voice ridiculous opinions and argue amongst themselves. It's entertaining, but nothing I'd go out of my way to watch again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 457 Average listal rating (325 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Re-watch - Nov. 17th

My daughter absolutely loves this movie and will watch it any opportunity she gets. And of course I'm always willing to indulge her so I can revisit it too. It's becoming an annual thing for us to watch Kung Pow together, and I'm fine with this.
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First viewing - Nov. 19th

I love Man in the Moon, so of course I wanted to catch this behind-the-scenes look at the filming of it. Jim Carrey's performance in that film is arguably the best of his career, and seeing what he went through to bring Andy Kaufman and Tony Clifton to life is just mesmerizing. The doc also delivers some insight into Jim's career trajectory and where his head is at, which was intriguing as well. Overall it's totally worth watching, and I'd even watch it again at some point.

Just a thought: I'd love for someone to create another film out of Man in the Moon and these behind-the-scenes sequences so that they'd be woven together into one big epic film.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.4
Nocturama (2016)
First viewing - Nov. 23rd

Nocturama appeared on a number of year-end best movies lists last year, so it's been on my radar to give it a look. After about 15 minutes I felt I'd made a mistake, but forced myself to stick it out. Here's the thing...in a world where terrorist actions keep happening, a film about it is not easy to swallow. Having a bunch of young adults/teens in France carry out a terror incident and then spend the rest of the film trying to lie low until they can go back to their normal routines is not a good time at the movies. It doesn't help that we're never given any insight into the reasons behind their actions, which might help make us care about what happens to these people. In fact, there's no valid reason to care about any of them, which might be interesting on an artistic level, but it makes it tedious for the audience. The film does have some charms, but it's mostly from an artistic perspective and never from a narrative or emotional one. Some parts are replayed from different perspectives so we can view them from alternative angles, and there's a performance of the song "My Way" which is rather captivating. So it's not a total bore, but finding a handful of aspects I appreciated throughout over two hours of film doesn't make up for the flaws. And I'm sure someone will say I just didn't get it, and perhaps that's correct. All I know is I can't think of a single reason to revisit it.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Nov. 24th

Despite the fact that we've all more or less seen this film at least a dozen times now, No Estamos Solos nails the atmosphere of a good ghost story. Having a cast full of people I don't know also helps sell the whole thing. None of the cast members are worth singing the praises of, but they do a solid enough job. I was fairly entertained by it, but at times I also wanted to poke fun at it and like I said it's been done before and with far better results too. Looking at its ratings elsewhere I'm evidently in the minority in appreciating any of it, so your results may vary.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 106 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 5.9
First viewing - Nov. 24th

I though this film took a unique approach to exploring our desire to perfect our online personas while competing for more followers and the potential perils that can follow, with echoes of de Palma and Lynch running throughout. It's solidly entertaining, and definitely not predictable. The cast is game and a lot of it rings true enough. In the end it doesn't quite cross over to greatness, but this one is well worth seeking out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 69 Average listal rating (55 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Nov. 27th

Since Headshot shares some of the same cast and crew as The Night Comes for Us I figured I'd give it a look. It's nowhere near as fun as that film, but there are some excellent action set-pieces and the cast is game. I could do with less handheld camera work for the action scenes in this one though. I get that it allows someone to get closer to the action, but it's also still annoying to watch at times. Thankfully the shaky-cam is not omnipresent, but that doesn't make it any less irritating when it pops up. Aside from that this was a solid action movie and I'm glad I checked it out.
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First viewing - Nov. 28th

I wound up ending the month with this documentary about a handful of people involved in various haunted houses. On the one hand it's a fascinating subject just because it's not often explored, and I thought most of the people they talked to were absolutely worthwhile. On the other hand, I felt like there were too many subjects involved and while it made for a wider scope it also detracted from getting deeply involved in any of them. Two of these people could easily have been given their own film and had enough going on to sustain each one, and they pretty much overshadow everyone else involved. Maybe they didn't want to just document two people and have it wind up being too similar to The American Scream (which I prefer by far). Or maybe they felt having a less narrow focus would allow them to dig into some of the history and evolution of the craft. Whatever the case, it left the whole thing feeling uneven to me. And while Merkley Manor was easily the most interesting story among all those offered, it's also rather revolting and having other stories to jump to probably helped lessen its impact and avoid alienating the audience.

Anyway, I'd say it's worth seeking out, especially if you're interesting in American haunted house, but nothing that needs to be seen more than once.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 564 Average listal rating (428 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Nov. 10th

Given all the negative critical feedback for Bohemian Rhapsody, I went into it with lowered expectations. I had to wait a week to see it, and by then my main reason for wanting to see it was the music. On that front the film completely delivers, to the point that when it ended I lamented the fact that I no longer live near a Drafthouse and thus can't attend any Sing-along screenings of the film any time soon. This film would be twice as good if you were in a room full of Queen fans, singing along with every performance. And speaking of performances, Rami Malek and company totally nail their respective roles. I settled into the story and let it roll along wherever it wanted to go, and found myself getting caught up in the emotions of the film. On reflection I admit it's got a fair number of flaws. The fact that so many loose ends are resolved in less than 12 hours seems ludicrous, and there's never any clear sign the band struggled much along the way. But hey, if I wanted a historically accurate account of Queen I'd watch a documentary or Behind the Music or something. This is a movie, so creative liberties are to be expected...and of course having the surviving band members be given oversight into the final product doesn't allow for it to go places it might have explored otherwise. Still, I highly enjoyed it for what it is, and would sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 288 Average listal rating (188 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Suspiria (2018)
First viewing - Nov. 10th

After Bohemian Rhapsody I took a lunch break and returned for Suspiria. Those expecting a faithful adaptation will be sorely upset I suspect, as the film is more interested in taking the idea behind the original film and creating something new with it. Given my lack of appreciation for the original film (which I've come to recognize is probably due more to the circumstances under which I viewed it, and I now intend to give it another chance at some point) I wasn't complaining that this was an almost entirely different experience. I am glad, however, that I knew what the run-time was before it started as it allowed me to better accept how long it is. Had I missed that detail I probably would've been begging for it to hurry up already. The film is methodically paced, and there's a lot going on here. I can't even break it all down, but if you look around the web I'm sure you'll find plenty of analysis of its themes. For my part, I appreciated more of the film than I genuinely enjoyed. And someone needs to give Tilda Swinton a handful of awards for her portrayal of three different characters here. I doubt whether I'd sit through this again, but it's definitely worth seeing and I have a feeling my fellow film buffs on here will appreciate it far more than I did.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 163 Average listal rating (127 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Overlord (2018)
First viewing - Nov. 11th

I'd hoped to watch all three of these films in a single day, but the timing of each worked against me. I would've preferred to watch Overlord with Suspiria, but there was no way to do that without waiting at least and hour & a half between them which I wasn't going to do. So I wound up catching the two previous films back-to-back despite the fact they don't go together at all, and returned the next afternoon to catch this one in IMAX.

Overlord hits the ground running and only occasionally stops to catch its breath. The effects are well-done and made it worth seeing in IMAX while I could. And given the increased presence in the world of actual Nazis it was highly rewarding to watch a bunch of them get killed. The film isn't great, but it's not trying to be either. It's just a solid action/horror movie, and one I'd probably sit through again.

Just a thought: Now that Wyatt Russell has proved he can be just like his dad, can we make sure he gets cast in any future attempts to remake any of Kurt Russell's films?
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Nov. 17th

This was the kiddo's #1 movie priority for the month, so I got us tickets to see it in IMAX. And while I enjoyed the first film fairly well, this one was just okay. She of course loved it and can't wait for another one. I found it to be overlong and overpopulated with characters. As one example, Grindelwald has a second-in-command who appears in a handful of scenes, but I couldn't tell you what the hell her name is. The political aspects are fairly obvious, with Grindelwald being the magic-world's Hitler in the years between the two World Wars. And so some of it you can see exactly where it's going, and the journey to get there isn't so rewarding. There's one character who switches sides, but it's unclear exactly why it happens & thus rings false. Mainly though it's problematic when the most interesting characters are still the beasts. And I'll grant that Jude Law does a decent job as a younger Albus Dumbledore. Overall though it's nothing great, but at least this series still benefits from not having source material to compare it to.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 209 Average listal rating (159 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Creed II (2018)
First viewing - Nov. 23rd

When I finally got around to seeing Creed I was pleasantly surprised that it was so much better than it had any right to be. So I figured I'd give its sequel a chance, despite the fact that the first film tied everything up well enough that it was unnecessary. And yes, I knew it wasn't being handled by Ryan Coogler, and thus lowered my expectations accordingly. The result here isn't anything great, but like its predecessor it's better than you'd expect. The film does its best work when it's focused on the human relationships, especially between Adonis and Bianca but surprisingly also in its handling of the Dragos. The film runs into issues, however, when it forces itself to stick to the franchise formulas. With the exception of the final fight in the film, the boxing aspects are lacking emotion and heart. And it's occasionally annoying having to sit through the boxing commentary, which rarely adds to the sequences. Overall the film is entertaining enough, and almost justifies its existence. However, it would've been better had they left it alone, or perhaps they should've waited about 10 years before trying to pull off another hit.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 430 Average listal rating (325 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 8.2
First viewing - Nov. 23rd

What I appreciated most about Green Book is the way it looks at this friendship between two people who would not have been friends had circumstances not initially required them to work together. Mortensen and Ali both perform wonderfully, and really sell this story. There's also a good (if obvious) message about how standing up for yourself and those you care about is worth the struggle, especially in the face of prejudice, and another about how taking the time to really get to know another person can change your overall outlook. The film occasionally stumbles with the ways it handles the racist aspects, but this bothered me more on reflection afterwards than while I was watching it. I don't know that it crossed my personal line of greatness, but I enjoyed Green Book and might even watch it again.
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Stand-up specials

Re-watch - Nov. 5th

This list felt a little light, so I figured I'd include the stand-up specials I watched this month too. 2018 has been such a long year that I'd forgotten whether I'd watched Thank God for Jokes before, until it started and I realized I had just last year. But the entire special is so good that I kept watching it anyway. I love the way Birbiglia has a skeleton for his routines that he uses to go off on tangents but also return to and ultimately tie everything else together somehow. It's quite brilliant, and very rewarding for a comedy nerd like me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Nov. 21st

I really like Iliza. She's quirky and intelligent and her jokes often slay me. I've seen all her stand-up specials on Netflix and they're all worthwhile.
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First viewing - Nov. 25th

Demetri is 100% my comedic wheelhouse. He's intelligent and I appreciate not only his style of humor but the fact he mixes in visual artwork and musical pieces. This one has some unique touches that I thought worked pretty well.
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