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Added by the giraffe on 2 Sep 2018 01:59
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2018: September

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 31 films watched, one of which was abandoned
24 first views, 7 re-watches
12 via streaming, 10 via DVD/BR, and 9 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1940s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & 2010s

September was a very productive month, though the quality didn't quite match the quantity. Ah well. While that means there's a shortage of great films in this section, there were plenty of films I did enjoy this month among those I wasn't as thrilled with. But I definitely encountered more movies I didn't like than I have in months, and for the first time in a long time I gave up on one of them and never went back. I got more than my money's worth out of my AMC subscription, which was the best part. And I also managed to enjoy quite a few movies with the kiddo.

As the end of the month neared I started getting really antsy to start my Horrorfest, so I expect to hit the ground running for October.
First viewing - Sept. 17th

Here's another film I keep seeing people praise, and my curiosity finally led me to give it a look. If you know nothing about it, that's great. Just dive right in and let it work its magic for you. This is one instance where the hype is justified. I adored everything about the film, and would gladly revisit it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 335 Average listal rating (243 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Sept. 16th

I remember growing up my dad would watch Smokey and the Bandit any time he found it on TV, and the way my luck works I usually wandered in long after the opening & opted to not keep watching it. So it was quite a treat to be able to catch it in a theatre, though I'd have preferred that it not require Burt Reynolds die first. I'll miss him.

As for the film itself, it's so much fun. Everything about it is wonderful, and it's probably my favorite film out of the 4 I caught in theatres on this weekend. There are some minor touches I didn't appreciate, but overall the positives outweighed them. I'd gladly watch it again, and it served as a reminder to make sure I dig deeper into Reynolds's filmography in the years ahead.
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Big screen attractions

Films I saw in a theatre
People who added this item 61 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6
Juliet, Naked (2018)
First viewing - Sept. 1st

I kicked off September with a trip to the movies. As a long-time fan of Nick Hornby, I'm willing to give anything he's done a chance so I opted to catch this film based of his book of the same name. And it was fine. Rose Byrne, Ethan Hawke, and Chris O'Dowd perform well enough, and the film has enough going on that I wasn't bored with it. There's not much here you haven't seen done similarly elsewhere, however, and I suspect that the book would be a more rewarding experience than this is (admittedly I haven't read it yet, but it's on my list). For one thing, the story centers on Hawke's artist character being great and how his disappearance and absence have left some people spending countless hours speculating on where he is and what he's doing. And yet the music itself is the most middle-of-the-road bland stuff I've heard, which leaves you scratching your head as to why anyone would be obsessed with it. The lyrics aren't anything exceptional from what we get to hear either, and the lack of focus on ensuring the audience can share O'Dowd's character's appreciation for the music he so reveres works against the film to some extent. Thankfully Byrne's character is the most interesting of the three, and following her journey made it worth sitting through. It could've been better though.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 235 Average listal rating (172 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - Sept. 1st

After a lunch break and stretching my legs, I returned to see Searching. First off, John Cho carries the film wonderfully, and I hope it delivers more opportunities for him to do so. He's underappreciated as an actor, and this could be the film that starts to turn that around for him. I was deeply engrossed in the story and the way it unfolded, and in hindsight wound up appreciating how many clues were hidden along the way to lead you to the right conclusions and yet in my case I didn't get too far ahead of the film. The screens-centric approach works pretty well rather than feeling gimmicky, and overall I thought the whole thing was well worth spending time with. I might even catch it again in the future.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1101 Average listal rating (827 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8.5
Re-watch - Sept. 3rd

When I saw Marvel was re-releasing its entire run to IMAX for its 10th anniversary, I was initially very excited. When I checked showtimes at my local IMAX theatre, my excitement was rather crushed. As fate would have it most of the films were in 3D, which I have no interest in or use for. Thankfully Infinity War was one of the exceptions, so I took advantage of the opportunity to see it again since I could do so for free.

This time around I appreciated much more what they went for here. It's like picking up a comic book in the middle of its run, and I dig it. It's a bold move for a film to take that approach, but I'm on board. All the fun moments still hit the mark, and I was surprised to find that one scene which hit me hard on my first watch was just as effective even though I was more prepared for it this time. I still question some of the choices made for the film's final moments, but I suspect that when the other half drops in 2019 my view of that will shift and hopefully for the better.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 240 Average listal rating (182 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 5.3
The Nun (2018)
First viewing - Sept. 15th

In short, The Nun is better than Annabelle: Creation but falls short of the excellence of the first two Conjuring movies. There's a graveyard scene that's pretty inventive and the strongest moment in the entire film. Casting Vera Farmiga's sister in her role helps sell that we're still watching the same character, and she does a solid job. The vibe of the film worked for me, and so I was able to enjoy it. That said, it's a film I don't need to see again, and I doubt I'd bother with a sequel should they make one.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 254 Average listal rating (191 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 5.4
The Predator (2018)
First viewing - Sept. 15th

How was this movie NOT made in the '80s? It feels like it was. I had a total blast with The Predator, despite its flawed effects and silly ending. I caught it in IMAX which was pretty sweet, and of all the sequels in this troubled franchise it's the only one I'm likely to watch more than twice. I say if you enjoyed the original there's no reason to skip this one.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 237 Average listal rating (162 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Sept. 16th

Earlier this year I watched a film called Gemini, which has quite a bit in common with A Simple Favor. Thankfully this film is better written and overall more enjoyable. I'd figured out where it was headed, but thanks to the characters and the way it all unfolded I didn't mind at all. I wouldn't ask for a sequel, but if Blake Lively and Anna Kendrick get another opportunity to work together in a film this well-made I'll be there opening weekend.
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First viewing - Sept. 23rd

The kiddo surprised me by being really excited by the trailers for this one. I guess the magic elements outweighed the horror elements for her. But since I also wanted to see it I made sure we caught it opening weekend, and we wound up seeing it in IMAX which had the added bonus of the film being preceded by Michael Jackson's "Thriller" video in 3D. That video never looked better, and I'm convinced it's long been responsible for sparking my interest in horror movies in the first place. It scared the kiddo more than the film that followed, which is pretty amusing to me.

As for The House with a Clock in Its Walls, well, I never thought I'd ever say that my 8-year-old daughter and I would equally enjoy an Eli Roth movie. He balances the horror and humor elements very well throughout the film, which makes for a fun time. The only thing lacking is some emotional depth, and you can easily imagine Spielberg doing a version of this back in the '80s where every aspect hits its mark and we'd still be singing its praises. Ah, but had he made this film back then the effects probably wouldn't hold up as well as these will. The kiddo and I would both gladly watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.9
First viewing - Sept. 29th

So I never saw a trailer for Assassination Nation, but the fact that it was released by Neon sparked my curiosity so I booked my ticket and showed up. And it was certainly entertaining throughout, as the film had me occasionally thinking of Black Mirror and God Bless America. The cast is pretty good, and the story is consistently engaging, but I never connected with it on any deep level. So I don't regret seeing it, but I doubt if I'd sit through it again.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 462 Average listal rating (302 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Sept. 1st

Unbeknownst to me, I wound up bookending my Saturday with a pair of Nick Hornby films as he wrote the screenplay for Wild. My co-worker friend loaned his copy of the film to me after we'd had a conversation where he brought it up & I had no idea what it even was. The film mainly served as a reminder of all the reasons I'd originally been impressed with Reese Witherspoon. She gives a great performance all around, which isn't surprising but it was a little disappointing to reflect on how much of her career she's spent on rom-coms that aren't anything essential or even noteworthy. As for the story, it's well told and pretty interesting. I was certainly entertained by the film overall, but it's also nothing I'd go out of my way to sit through again. Given the awards attention it evidently received, I rather expected a bit more from it I guess and yet aside from her performance it never crossed my personal line of greatness.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 384 Average listal rating (221 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Sept. 2nd

Mildred Pierce is mostly worth seeing for Joan Crawford's performance, as she does a stellar job of bringing the titular character to life. There's enough going on to keep you invested in the story, and yet it runs a bit overlong. It also doesn't help that it uses the approach of starting with an important scene and then backtracking to give the full history that led to that moment, when a straight linear approach would've worked far better. Or maybe I'm just getting tired of that approach...but the more I think about it the less enamored I am with this technique. I also really struggled to accept and understand the mother/daughter relationship at the film's center as it's never really clear why the daughter feels the way she does about her mother, and a bit hard to believe that the mother would indulge the child the ways she does. Thankfully everything else about Mildred's story was better handled and thus far more worthwhile. I can't see myself sitting through this again, but it was worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2725 Average listal rating (1854 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Sept. 2nd

As summer wound down I found myself itching to finally revisit this film, and as I watched it I became convinced that I hadn't seen it since its theatrical run. Which is shameful, I know. It's not only the best sequel in the series, but it's the only one that matters and you'll never convince me otherwise. The 2nd film is fun but forgettable, while everything about this movie excels. The dynamic between Willis and Jackson is perfect and it's deeply rewarding to have them play off each other. Jeremy Irons is always a good choice for a villain, and he clearly enjoyed his role here. I love this movie, and I'm promising myself that I won't go more than 10 years without revisiting it in the future.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Sept. 3rd

Here's another fun pairing...Eastwood and Maclaine are a joy to watch and make this entire film worth sitting through. I thought it was a bit overlong as it ran out of steam at times, but it's totally worth seeing at least once. Also, Ennio Morricone's score is stellar.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.2
Amira Sam (2014)
First viewing - Sept. 5th

There's something quite beautiful to me about seeing a romance between a Muslim woman and an ex-military American white dude. Martin Starr and Dina Shihabi have great chemistry, and I enjoyed the story despite the fact it falls into obvious genre cliches. It's not great, but I kinda loved it anyway and I'd gladly watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 891 Average listal rating (533 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Sept. 7th

I picked this up to watch with the kiddo in my continuing quest to lead her through the Studio Ghibli run. And it was good, but I can't say I loved it. There are some really funny moments, and it strives to entertain non-stop, but in the end I found it to be just a cute movie that was worth seeing once.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4719 Average listal rating (3262 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Beetlejuice (1988)
Re-watch - Sept. 8th

The kiddo asked if we could watch Beetlejuice this weekend, and of course I said we could. Nothing more needs be said, as I've talked about this film in the past.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 316 Average listal rating (223 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.8
Re-watch - Sept. 9th

I picked this up from the library too, thinking that I'd either watch it with my daughter or watch it on my own. I definitely hadn't seen it since the '90s, and recall loving it when I was younger. And aside from the effects it's held up pretty well. I was surprised. The space battle scenes look super cheesy now, with their blocky video-game-style appearance. The creature effects have held up far better thankfully, and overall it's a fun movie. My daughter wound up really enjoying it, and shared my appreciation for Grig.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 8578 Average listal rating (6131 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - Sept. 9th

My daughter also requested that we watch this together. I guess she'd seen a commercial or something and it caught her interest. She spent part of the movie cringing in fear for what Edward might do next, but overall she loved it especially the ending.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 664 Average listal rating (459 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Sept. 10th

Back in the '90s it felt like gangster movies were everywhere, so I skipped a lot of them. This choice was consistently reinforced by the fact that in my view Tarantino's gangster movies were light years beyond the competition. But I've long heard good things about A Bronx Tale, so I figured I'd finally give it a look. And it's a really good movie. I liked the story and the characters well enough, and the music was decent too. It's like a time capsule, and they do a good job of bringing the time period to life. I don't know that it crossed my personal line of greatness, but it's definitely worthwhile and I'd be willing to watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 333 Average listal rating (215 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Sept. 12th

"Savage" Steve Holland is a national treasure, and I'll not hear a word against him. I've always loved One Crazy Summer and I used to watch Eek! the Cat all the time growing up, and had I known he made Better Off Dead I would've watched it a long damn time ago. Those who care deeply about the technical aspects of filmmaking might be justified in hating on this movie, but there are so many wonderful jokes that hit the mark and the animated sequences are inspired. I loved it completely, though I'll admit it's far from a perfect film. I'm ashamed I hadn't already seen it, but I can guarantee I'll be revisiting it any time I'm in the mood for it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 237 Average listal rating (138 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.7
Sorcerer (1977)
First viewing - Sept. 14th

I tried, but I gave up

Roy Scheider is as excited about this movie as I am.

So it's Friday night, and I wanted to watch something, and for whatever reason I picked this out of all the options available to me. I know it's a well-regarded movie, but holy shit was I bored with it. I got a little past the 45 minute mark and realized that I didn't care about a single character and had zero interest in finding out how it would unfold from where I was at. So I abandoned it in favor of something I hoped I'd enjoy more.
People who added this item 382 Average listal rating (230 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 5.6
Wanderlust (2012)
First viewing - Sept. 14th

And OK, fine, this wasn't the best choice. I let my long-standing love for all things created by the collective formerly known as The State lead me in this film's direction, and it turned out I could have ignored it. That said, there are moments here I appreciated. Some parts made me laugh as they intended. Others were just grating, which is why I can't give this a very good rating. There's an attempt at a joke that fails from the start and then for some reason gets dragged out to the point I wanted to kill whoever wrote the bit. But hey, I still enjoyed it more than Sorcerer, so it wasn't a complete loss.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 237 Average listal rating (178 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
Mandy (2018)
First viewing - Sept. 15th

So for months now I've been seeing chatter about how Mandy is a must-see. As it got released to VOD and theatres on this weekend, I couldn't go online for very long without seeing more talk about it. So I figured I'd give it a look. And, well, it's not really to my taste. I really struggled to care about the characters, and the first hour moves so slowly I nearly gave up on it. But there were some artistic visual flourishes I appreciated, and I was determined to get through it. Thankfully the second half was more rewarding, beginning with a scene where Cage acts his ass off in a way we rarely get to see. And from then on the film goes bonkers in some really good ways, so that by the end I no longer regretted watching it. I can't say I'd bother with sitting through it again, but I can see why it's praises are being sung now.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 229 Average listal rating (152 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Sept. 18th

What the hell is this? There's enough going on in this movie that it kept my attention, but when it ended that was the main question that kept going through my head. You'd think with the three actors involved this would be a far better film, but the script is just stupid. Bill Murray as a mobster is a poor casting choice, there are narrative threads that are started up and then just end somewhere in the background without affecting anything else, and the tone is all over the place. It's like they couldn't decide what kind of movie they wanted to make so they shot it several ways and then threw it all together without worrying about keeping it consistent. I can't think of a single reason to recommend anyone sit through this movie, and I'm not sure how it even got released.

Just a thought: If you'd told me in the '90s that I could save Bill Murray's life and he'd send Uma Thurman to my house, I would've signed up for that mission in a heartbeat.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1173 Average listal rating (781 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - Sept. 22nd

Willow has been one of my favorites since forever, and I knew my daughter would enjoy it. So when she told me I could pick a movie for us to watch I jumped on it. And of course I was right and she loved it, and she'll probably ask me to watch it again. I was amused that she noticed some elements that have been in other films that followed it, and when she pointed them out I would remind her this film came first.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 306 Average listal rating (171 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Sept. 22nd

Saturday night the kiddo picked this for us to watch, and while I don't recall ever seeing a trailer for it I had seen the poster before. It was solidly entertaining, though it's safe to say she enjoyed it more than I did. I wasn't thrilled with the frame narrative, or at least not the fact that it broke from the main story to return to the frame as often as it does. It's hard to stay invested in a story that keeps getting interrupted, especially when it's excessive. It was different though, and I appreciated some of the messages. But a story like this should have a stronger emotional impact, and I found it lacking in that department. It winds up being one of those overly crowd-pleasing films that works against itself.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 866 Average listal rating (565 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Sept. 26th

When I was looking into the film above, I saw that its director also made Dan in Real Life and realized I had basically forgotten about its existence and was curious to see what it's like. I definitely preferred it over Timothy Green, thanks largely to the chemistry between Carell and Binoche. As with most of these rom coms it doesn't take a genius to figure out what will happen, but the journey was mostly worthwhile. I didn't love it, but I enjoyed it and would watch it again if someone wanted to see it but not by myself.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 842 Average listal rating (549 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 5.9
Cocktail (1988)
First viewing - Sept. 28th

I thought I'd take one last opportunity for the year of checking out a Tom Cruise movie I hadn't seen, and, well let's just say I'm glad I didn't watch this one earlier in my run as it may have derailed my efforts. It's really dated and while there's enough going on that it kept my attention it's all ultimately forgettable. Amusing at times, but I could've gone on ignoring it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 73 Average listal rating (56 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 5.6
Hold the Dark (2018)
First viewing - Sept. 30th

Hold the Dark is a very well-made film in some respects. It looks fantastic, except for some of the scenes where it's too dark to clearly tell what's going on. The acting is very solid across the board, though none of it is so exceptional that I'd sing someone's praises. There's an action set piece that's outstanding all around, and yet once that high point is hit there's nothing that follows that manages to match its excellence. And therein lies the problem. Once that scene is done there's still plenty of movie left, and while some of it is interesting there's a restraint employed that keeps it from delivering a meaningful or worthwhile finale. Sometimes a subtle ending is a good thing, but I felt like that approach worked against this film rather than in its favor. Ah well...if this leads to a far better follow-up film for Jeremy Saulnier then perhaps it'll have been worthwhile. I'm just glad it was released via Netflix so I didn't have to drop money on a ticket to see it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2413 Average listal rating (1608 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
The Crow (1994)
Re-watch - Sept. 30th

I've wanted to revisit The Crow for a while now, but despite the fact that it's very much a Halloween-friendly movie I usually skip it in favor of keeping my monthly horror run going. So I figured I'd end September with it, and that'd put me in the mood for October.

I still love The Crow, and the fact that it turned out as well as it did given the obstacles its production faced is kinda miraculous. It's dark with a great sense of humor, the city is well-realized and visually captivating, the cast is all game, and the soundtrack kicks ass. It's a shame that Brandon Lee died while making it, as you can see from his performance that he would have gone on to bigger and better projects. Best of all though it allowed me to end September on a high note (which was really needed after a string of middling films) and put me in the right mindset going into October.
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