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Added by the giraffe on 4 Apr 2019 01:21
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2019: April

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 25 films watched
19 first views, 6 re-watches
7 via streaming, 9 via DVD/BR, and 9 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1940s, 70s, 80s, 2000s, & 2010s

First off, this section was previously missing because I keep running into issues with Listal losing my notes. It’s beyond annoying. Anyway, nothing much to comment on besides that I’m suffering a little from option paralysis when it comes to my home viewings. I keep thinking of films I want to watch, only to find them unavailable, and then I’m left trying to make up my mind among films that I’m in no rush at all to sit through. At least there have been plenty of new films I’ve been interested in, and of the nine I caught this month the two best were NOT among my AMC subscription options.
First viewing - April 10th

First off, I think we’re all a little in shock that this film even exists. Gilliam’s tried to make it for most of my adult life, and finally overcame all the adversity. Well, I’m happy to report it was worth all the time, effort, and especially the waiting. I’m so glad I caught it on the big screen, and if it returns to theatres here I might catch it again. It’s not quite perfect, but I loved pretty much everything about it and will gladly sing its praises to anyone who’ll listen.
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First viewing - April 8th

I’ve seen a lot of praise heaped upon this film from various critics I follow online, so when I found out that it was screening locally I made a trip out on a weeknight to catch it while I could. And it was well worth the trip. I don’t want to say too much because it’s best to go into it blindly, but the main thing you need to know is it’s about 90 minutes long and keeps getting better as it rolls along. I’ll be picking this one up for my collection.
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People who added this item 172 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - April 2nd

The most impressive thing about this film is its commitment to being as realistic as possible. I could easily see someone land on this while flipping channels & not realize it's fiction instead of a documentary. As a horror movie, it doesn't really deliver though. There are some moments that are mildly creepy or just odd, but that's about it. So it winds up working best as a faux-documentary, and in that respect it rather excels. In the end it was interesting enough that I'm glad I watched it, but I don't see myself bothering with it again.
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People who added this item 436 Average listal rating (294 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - April 5th

Talked the kiddo into watching this with me, and while she was initially kinda bored with it the moment the aliens showed up she was into it. So overall she enjoyed it, which I figured she would. My thoughts on it are much the same as they were the last time I watched it 3 years ago.
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People who added this item 231 Average listal rating (150 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - April 15th

I'd initially avoided this partly because it's my default setting to avoid Ben Stiller, but because it's a Noah Baumbach movie I knew I'd eventually get around to it anyway. To be fair I'm not sure I would've been as open to it in 2014 for personal reasons, but watching it now I deeply appreciated it. The characters are fascinating and relatable, and I found myself connecting often with some of the ideas it explores. Overall I kinda loved it, and would even be willing to watch it again at some point.
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (30 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - April 16th

So this was a film with an interesting approach. Basically you've got a re-enactment of actual events with a cast of actors, and you also get to hear from the actual people involved in the events the film lays out. And while it was different, I also found it a bit distracting at times. Often the film is chugging along and doing a solid job of ratcheting up the tension and getting you into what's going on, and then it detours to have someone comment on the moment thus derailing the story. To be fair I'm not sure how else this could have been handled, aside from making a documentary and a fictionalized version of it. Here you get both in one shot basically. The ensemble cast does a very good job, which makes it all the more disappointing when their action gets stopped every now and again. Overall American Animals was worth watching, but I don't see myself sitting through it twice.
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People who added this item 1304 Average listal rating (809 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
The Wolverine (2013)
First viewing - April 19th

I'd skipped The Wolverine during its theatrical run because I was determined to avoid getting burned again like I did with the previous Wolverine movie, Origins. But now that I know James Mangold directed it, and after being so pleased with Logan I figured I was safe to give it a shot. As a bonus, it's PG-13 which meant I could watch it with the kiddo while I had her for spring break. And, hey, it's definitely better than Origins, but not quite as good as Logan.

I appreciated the story overall, and the cast is decent enough. The humor and action are well balanced, and the cast is solid overall. The CGI is occasionally kinda bad, but that tends to be the case with these films and at least it wasn't especially egregious. I don't know that I need to watch this one twice, but if someone suggested it I wouldn't decline either.
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First viewing - April 20th

Continuing my quest to watch the Ghibli movies with the kiddo, I picked this up from the library with the three films above. Naturally she loved it, and even thought for a moment it was returning to a setting from Castle in the Sky. The two cats were her favorite characters, though she apparently would've preferred it if there were kittens too. I thought the film was pretty good. The story is solid and the animation is excellent as it should be. I'd figured out more or less where it was headed, but the journey was worthwhile at least. So while it's not a personal favorite, I'd gladly sit through it again with my daughter.
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People who added this item 444 Average listal rating (300 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6
Re-watch - April 21st

I was reminded today that Critters 2 is set at Easter, and so I set out to watch both it and the original film since I was on my own for the night after a family gathering. Now, I haven't seen either film since the '90s ended, and as it turns out I'd had the two more or less mixed together in my memory despite seeing them multiple times when I was younger.

Watching the original film again, I noticed a lot of things I'd either forgotten or ignored, but the main thing is how inept the bounty hunters are. They follow these creatures across the galaxy, and instead of searching from where their ship crashed down they go into town and pick random locations to ask people where the creatures are. And it's clear the creatures haven't made it to either location yet. Granted this gives them the opportunity to interact with other characters, but those characters ultimately don't matter. Ah, but then if they'd actually tracked the damned things they would've resolved the conflict too soon I guess. And to be fair there's plenty in this film that doesn't make much sense. But at least it's a lot of fun regardless, which is why it retains its special place in my heart.

Just a thought: I'm not sure I'd ever noticed before that Billy Zane was in this.
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Re-watch - April 21st

So first off, the first film does set things up for a sequel, but then the writers take a stupid approach to bringing us into it. We learn that the central family from the first one left town right after because nobody else believed them, and the local sheriff lost his re-election at the same time for the same reason. So the son from the first one returns to visit his grandmother for Easter, and naturally some eggs are found which haven't hatched in two years and off we go. Obviously we're jumping through hoops because most of the original cast didn't return, but it's a lot of effort that feels unnecessary. Again the film is a lot of fun overall, which helps offset the stupid moments. And I remember this one far better than its predecessor, which says something for it. But I can't help wondering if the series could have risen above its cult status had they managed to raise the quality with this sequel instead. I'm not asking for it to be great, but it could definitely be better. To be fair, I'm probably the sucker because I'm now tempted to watch the other two films in the series during my Horrorfest. But if they're as much fun as these two films then at least it won't be a total waste.
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People who added this item 765 Average listal rating (530 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - April 22nd

While the kiddo felt no need to revisit any Marvel films prior to Endgame, I was itching to watch a couple of them just because. So since I was off this day I chose to start with Ragnarok, and if you’d told me back when The Dark World ended that there would ever be a Thor movie I’d willingly watch more than once I would’ve called you a damn liar. But here we are, and bless Taika Waititi for overhauling the character and making him worth not only watching but caring about. The entire film is almost non-stop fun, plus the story actually makes sense and resonates. I still think they should’ve left Hulk out of the trailers for a better effect, but other than that I don’t have much to complain about. Which is, again, a miracle when it comes to Thor.
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Re-watch - April 22nd

It blows my mind how a film about a mismatched group of aliens manages to be so human. I love this look at families and how the characters deal with abuse of varying forms, and watching it again I found it even better the second time around. I absolutely love everything in this film and will gladly return to it over & over again.
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People who added this item 1143 Average listal rating (771 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - April 24th

I was a teenager the first time I watched Child’s Play, as well as its initial pair of sequels, and I haven’t bothered to revisit it since. Now that there’s a reboot fast approaching which I may or may not check out I thought I’d go ahead and sit through this one again to see what I think of it now. And it’s fine. It’s astounding to me that it’s generated so many films in its wake when it’s not even great by any means. For the time it was released it’s decent, the cast is solid enough, and the effects have mostly held up. The fact Chucky is a white guy who uses Voodoo successfully is somewhat problematic, though I guess the fact he doesn’t get the best outcome with it sorta makes up for it. And yet thanks to the film being turned into a franchise Charles Lee Ray got what he wanted in a sense. The concept is laughable, and the way the character arc is handled requires a LOT of suspension of disbelief (would someone in his position really reveal his true nature to the child immediately and start killing people in the home that could be his sanctuary? I don’t think so). But these are all things a reboot could potentially correct, assuming it has any interest in doing so. As a slasher it works well enough I guess, but this is one franchise whose longevity I’ll never understand.
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (44 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - April 27th

I was pleasantly surprised to find this at the local library, as I’ve been wanting to see it since I first heard about it. Alas it never found its way to my present hometown (or if it did my radar failed to pick up on it), but better late than never. Those who enjoy the action genre would do well to give this a spin. The camerawork is often jaw-dropping during the action setpieces, to the point where I wanted a feature-length making of focused solely on how the hell they pulled it off. (There’s a little of that in the bonus features, but I wouldn’t mind having even more.) Of course the downside to that is when you start focusing more on the technique than the characters and story, and ultimately I got more out of the craft than anything else. So while it failed to be a new favorite of mine, I might be willing revisit it once or twice just to enjoy the technical side of things again.
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First viewing - April 28th

This month is sorely lacking in older fare, so I picked this up since I hadn’t seen it and it boasted such a strong cast. Despite its ridiculousness and the fact that the dialogue often comes off as scripted rather than natural (not in a good way) the story wound up winning me over enough that I could let some of its faults slide a bit. I wouldn’t go out of my way to watch it again, but it was worth seeing.
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People who added this item 63 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Joe (1970)
First viewing - April 28th

While I appreciated the fact that every character in this film is flawed to varying degrees, I really struggled to find something worth hanging with it for. The performances are decent enough I guess, but after about an hour or so I quit giving it my full attention and it never managed to bring me back. It’s sad that the themes here are still relevant, and I get what they’re trying to say but I just couldn’t fully appreciate any of it.
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - April 29th

Elisabeth Moss’s performance is reason enough to sit through this film, as she channels Courtney Love to stellar effect. As an exploration of how stardom and addiction collide it’s really damn good, and ultimately proves to be better than most biopics (it’s not a biopic at all, as it’s fictional, but still). I wasn’t entirely thrilled with the presentation at times, however, because while it’s rewarding to see scenes in what look and sound like actual places, the background noise seemed to overshadow the dialogue so that I occasionally lost track of what characters were saying. Perhaps at some point I’ll revisit it when I can get a physical copy of it and utilize subtitles so I can catch everything, but if they’d mixed the sound properly I wouldn’t have to go that extra step. Thus it loses some points.
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People who added this item 41 Average listal rating (25 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - April 30th

So first off I was confused because despite the entire cast being comprised of people who speak English, all the opening credits and a couple title cards during the film were in Spanish. Thankfully the dialogue was all in English, and I could read what little Spanish was relevant to the story, so it wasn’t an issue. As for everything else, it was pretty good despite the fact it occasionally made me think of another film (I won’t say which as it could potentially spoil things). It didn’t go exactly where I’d expected, which was rewarding, and the cast was solid all around. And while I’d been searching for a horror movie to watch and this didn’t quite scratch that itch as I’d hoped for, it wound up being worth watching.
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Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 45 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 0
First viewing - April 6th

The kiddo has zero interest in most of these Disney live-action remakes, which I wholeheartedly share with her. But since this was directed by Tim Burton she was really excited to see it, so we went. And I thought it was fairly good. The flight scenes are quite impressive, and the fact that we get Keaton and DeVito on screen together again pays off nicely. Best of all it jettisons the racist aspects of the original film, which was needed. I wouldn’t say it’s great but I thought it was somewhat of an improvement over the original film and I’m glad we watched it.
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People who added this item 66 Average listal rating (104 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - April 6th

After Dumbo we grabbed a quick lunch and returned to catch Shazam! in IMAX. And while I expected to enjoy this movie I didn’t dream I’d have as much fun as I wound up having with it. The kiddo and I both discussed wanting to go back and watch it again as soon as it ended, and while that didn’t happen this month it’s safe to say we’ll own it and watch it plenty of times in the future. And hey, if it’s still around next month and time permits maybe one or both of us will catch it again before it leaves the theatre.
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First viewing - April 13th

I was skeptical when I heard the Ip Man series had a spin-off film, but then I found out Yuen Woo-Ping was behind it and saw some positive reviews and decided I had to give it a look. And it’s really good overall. There are some sequences that’ll stick with me for a long time (there's a scene involving a glass of liquor that's sublime), I enjoyed the characters, and while the story wasn’t too out of the ordinary everything else more than made up for that. It didn’t quite cross my line of greatness, but I’d gladly watch it again.
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People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - April 13th

So I avoided most of the trailers for this remake, and thus went into it as blindly as possible. Given that it was directed by the team that gave us the excellent Starry Eyes I’d hoped it would be worthwhile. Add to that the fact that I really enjoyed the book when I read it in high school as well as the original adaptation, and it seemed like this could be a good time. Yeah, not so much. I’ll give them credit for opting to do something different with the story rather than staying faithful to the source material, but the whole thing is hamstringed by the fact that the film rushes past properly establishing the characters up front to get to the horror elements. And especially with a story like this, if you botch the characters your whole film fails to hold up. So no matter how much I appreciated the ending (and I did) it failed to be meaningful in any way. They should’ve left it alone.
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First viewing - April 22nd

I could’ve seen Missing Link the previous weekend, but since my daughter wanted to see it I waited for her. Prior to seeing it I was surprised to find that it had flopped on its opening weekend, given the usually high quality of LAIKA’s films. And then I saw it, and, well, I can’t argue with anyone who opted out of it. Now that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it. The animation is stellar as usual, and the story of yet another outcast trying to find his place in the world works well enough overall. Perhaps LAIKA needs to give that idea a rest and try something else, but as long as they keep finding fresh takes, I can be content about it. Here’s my problem with this film though…the humor falls flat most of the time. And for a family-friendly comedy, the humor needs to hit the mark. It seems like they decided to keep all the jokes period-specific, but the gags all feel like they were pulled from an outdated book that should’ve been left where it was. So it also feels forced, and when your humor feels forced and fails to accomplish its goal you’re probably better off leaving it out of the film. And thus LAIKA delivers its first true disappointment, and I’m worried for their future. Because I want them to keep making their films, but if they can’t make their money back they can’t afford to make another one, and I’d hate to see them close up shop. Hopefully they can turn things around next time.
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First viewing - April 23rd

So I’m at work when I get a notification on my phone that I’m invited to attend an advance screening of Booksmart for free. Naturally I jump at the chance, because it looked good from what I saw in the trailer. And if I’d failed to get in I could’ve caught a 40th anniversary screening of Alien instead. Clearly I didn’t fail to get in, and I’m pleased to say I didn’t regret getting in to see it either. The whole film is very much a female-centric Superbad, so if you enjoyed that film you should enjoy this one too. The humor hits most of the time, I liked the characters, and it even managed to have a few surprises along the way. I don’t know that it’s great, but it’s definitely worth seeing and I’d watch it again.
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People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (196 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 9.2
First viewing - April 27th

I’m pretty sure we all caught this opening weekend, given how much money it raked in. I took the kiddo, and caught it at 9:30am so we’d be done in time for lunch. And not surprisingly it was totally worth the wait. I avoided all the trailers & went in as blind as possible, which ensured I fully enjoyed it as it kept surprising me in good ways. The whole thing was an emotional rollercoaster too, and while it’s not perfect I loved it. I have many questions in my head that are not resolved, but perhaps some of them will be answered in future films. That’s an issue with a series that’s episodic, especially one like the MCU where questions often go unanswered and ignored. Hopefully they’re learning from their mistakes, however, as is suggested by the way Endgame goes down. This whole thing has been one hell of a gamble, and I’d argue that overall this film paid off the effort wonderfully.
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