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Added by the giraffe on 1 Jan 2019 08:31
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2019: January

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 25 films watched
21 first views, 4 re-watches
19 via streaming, 2 via DVD/BR, and 4 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1950s, 80s, 2000s, & 2010s

Between newer releases and catching up on 2018 films, this wound up being an excellent month. Not only was I able to stay productive, but this section is bigger than usual and most of what I watched was totally worth seeing. Streaming options provided most of the content, and were it not for the occasional technical issue I might have watched a couple more movies than I managed. That's fine though, there's always another day. Hopefully I'm putting some of these films on your radar as well, as the better films listed below are absolutely worthy of your time and attention.
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.8
Bodied (2017)
First viewing - Jan. 14th

Bodied is one of the most complex, thought-provoking films I've seen, and for that it earned my love and respect. It also put me on a big hip-hop kick for several days. If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, then I highly recommend seeking it out. It's available via YouTube, and well worth whatever they charge you for the privilege of watching it.
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First viewing - Jan. 19th

I had three films I really wanted to see this weekend, so when it was reported that we'd have a bad storm hit the area I decided I'd have to do it all in one fell swoop. And I'm glad I did, because the worst of the weather didn't show up until I was asleep Saturday night.

I began with If Beale Street Could Talk, a wonderful film that critics are rightly singing the praises of. The cast is outstanding all around, it's heartbreaking and uplifting in turns, and I found it to be a far more rewarding film experience than Moonlight. The only thing missing was that perfect 10 feeling, and I'm glad I caught it.
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First viewing - Jan. 16th

I'd been eagerly anticipating this film ever since I encountered a ton of positive buzz after it screened at Austin's Fantastic Fest in 2017, so I was dismayed when it failed to find a single screen in my town last month. I even tried encouraging the main indie theatre to pick it up, but to no avail. So the moment I found a way to watch it at home I jumped on it. And it was totally worth the wait. I mean, it's a musical and I enjoyed it, which pretty much tells you everything. Of course it doesn't hurt that it's also a zombie movie set at Christmas, which isn't a common thing. But the cast is wonderful, the music is really good (I even had one of the songs stuck in my head the next day), and it's just a fun time all around. If I can get my hands on a copy to keep at home, it may wind up in regular rotation at the holidays each year.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 81 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Jan. 5th

Now this is a hell of a film. I'm surprised I haven't seen more people talking about it, though it has turned up on a few 2018 best-of lists I came across. I did actually want to catch it in the theatre, but other films took priority and I wound up missing it. I'm glad I caught up with it at home, however, as it's very well-written and acted and timely. I can't compare it to the source material, but I might pick up the book in the near future just to see how well they adapted it. If you slept on this one, give it a look as soon as you can.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 372 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Jan. 19th

Admittedly Glass was my first priority this weekend, given that it ties together one of my favorite films, Unbreakable with the surprisingly excellent Split. Now I personally would've preferred to watch it last among the three films I caught this day, but the timing didn't work out that way. On the upside though I caught it in IMAX, which is always appreciated.

To keep it brief, I fucking loved it. It's not perfect, mind you, as there's a bunch of stuff that happens in the first two-thirds of the film that's uneven. But I loved the way the last third came together, and it made up for any issues I had up to that point. I'd love for Shyamalan to follow up on it with another film in the same world, but I'm just as content if he leaves it alone after this.
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First viewing - Jan. 26th

This was probably an even bigger priority for me this month than Glass, and my daughter wanted to see it ever since she caught the trailer (during which she was bouncing in her seat with excitement, eyes wide as dinner plates). We both highly enjoyed it, and she said it's in her top 10 films she's seen so far. The characters are great, the story is a lot of fun, and it brought to mind some of the kid-driven '80s movies I grew up on. (Hence why I insisted we watch The Goonies the next day.) There's one moment that I felt was not handled as effectively as it should have been, but otherwise I had no complaints. It's not in my personal top 10, but then I'm not 8 anymore either. I'll definitely watch it with her several more times in the years ahead, and gladly. Between this and Attack the Block, Joe Cornish has ensured I keep turning up for his films. I just hope it expands its audience while it's in theatres, as its opening weekend wasn't as profitable as it should've been.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Jan. 2nd

As per usual, my main focus this month is catching up with films that I missed from last year. Those year-end top films lists critics post often lead me to films that weren't even on my radar, and this is one of those. Now this one is billed as a comedy, and while I guess it is it's not one that's concerned with consistently making you laugh. Instead it's focused on telling the story it wants to tell, one delivered with a strong, mostly female ensemble cast. Each character feels natural and like someone you might actually meet in the real world, which is always welcome. It's an interesting look at the value of empathy, one that makes you think about how you treat those around you. I can't say I completely fell in love with it, but I did enjoy it and might wind up watching it again now that I know better what to expect from it.
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People who added this item 438 Average listal rating (320 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Jan. 4th

As 2018 ended it seemed like I couldn't go anywhere without someone mentioning Bird Box, and this time rather than ignore it I decided to give it a look for myself to see what all the hype is about. What I got was basically an alternate version of The Happening which people still hate and probably some of them loved this film instead. It's not bad, mind you, but I felt like in some ways I'd seen it before. Regardless I got caught up in the storytelling and was pleased that it had a decent cast (Trevante Rhodes being the main standout, though Malkovich and Bullock give strong performances as per usual). I wouldn't call it great, but it was certainly entertaining and if someone wanted me to watch it with them I wouldn't say no.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 860 Average listal rating (561 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.6
The Box (2009)
First viewing - Jan. 7th

I've been a devoted fan of Richard Kelly's ever since the first time I watched Donnie Darko, and yet it somehow got by me that he'd made The Box. I vaguely recall seeing ads or whatever for it, but missed that key detail which is why I'm just now getting around to seeing it. Of his three main films it's the weakest, but I still found plenty here to appreciate. It's different and commits fully to all its ideas, which helped me hang with it. It's an intelligent film which requires some patience, but that's par for the course with his output. The cast is solid enough (Langella being the best among them), and it left me thinking about it well after it ended. It doesn't quite cross the line of greatness, but I highly enjoyed it and look forward to revisiting it in about 10 years or so.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 47 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - Jan. 8th

I can't deny that Thunder Road is a well-made film. The fact that Jim Cummings wrote, directed, and starred in it, while juggling all those roles so well is worth recognizing. And yet I struggled with the tone of the film. It's clearly supposed to be comedic, but I rarely laughed. It doesn't help either that our main character is not endearing despite how interesting he is. And while it's consistently entertaining I never felt like it completely connected with me. Maybe I should revisit it in the near future now that I know what it's doing, and perhaps then I'll appreciate it better.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 103 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.1
Hotel Artemis (2018)
First viewing - Jan. 9th

It's interesting to me that I never saw a single trailer for Hotel Artemis. I think I might have seen a poster for it at one point, and saw the title among the options during its theatrical run, but nothing really led me to seek it out. But then my brother from another mother had mentioned he wanted to see it, and I saw it pop up on a couple of best of 2018 lists (never near the top, mind you, but still), so I decided to give it a look.

Now rumor has it that the marketing campaign set it up to be similar to John Wick, and so I suspect that anyone going into it expecting an ultraviolent film would walk away disappointed. There is quite a bit of violence on hand, but most of the film is focused on this small group of outlaws trying to survive one frantic night. The cast is mostly excellent, and I deeply appreciated the relationship between Foster and Bautista. Much ado is made for how deadly Boutella's character is with little payoff, which was disappointing. The action sequences are fine, but not impressive (especially in a year that gave us The Night Comes for Us and Fallout). I enjoyed it for what it was, and should it manage to spawn a sequel I might turn up for it. I doubt I'll go out of my way to watch this again, but I don't regret watching it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 5.8
First viewing - Jan. 13th

I saw this mentioned on a list of the best Horror films of 2018, which led me to give it a chance. The relationship between the father and son make this well worth seeking out, and it's got some pretty creepy moments. I wouldn't call it great though, as a week later I've almost forgotten I watched it. It's a decent indie horror though for what it is, and I wouldn't talk anyone out of checking it out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 48 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Jan. 18th

I'm realizing that this month is short on films from before the year 2000, so I figured I'd give this a look. I was hoping that since it's a Burt Reynolds movie from the '80s it'd be fun. Eh, not so much. Honestly you could trim at least a half hour out of this film and it'd be a much leaner, meaner machine. It feels like it was made during the '70s and then shelved for a couple years, to be honest...as if someone realized it wasn't quite strong enough to be released during that decade. It's got some really amusing moments, but there's far too much time spent watching characters sit around and watch each other while none of them are doing anything really interesting. I guess the intent is to capture police work in a realistic way, but it was tedious. Far too much of the film is wasted on a romantic subplot that's just not necessary or very believable, though without it the film wouldn't have much to do I guess. Thankfully the ending mostly pulled things back together. I certainly wouldn't sit through this one again.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Jan. 21st

My daughter was talking to me about the latest season of the Netflix series based on the same books as this film, which reminded me that I still hadn't seen either adaptation. I was off work on the 21st for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and she was off school, so I kept her with me for the day and as fate would have it she came down with a cold. Thus we agreed to spend the day on the couch watching movies, and began with this one.

Given that it ties three books into one film, I thought it was pretty well done. The story doesn't always get enough breathing room (which I'm sure is better handled with the TV series), but the characters are engaging and it's mostly fun. I thought it was better than the comparable Miss Peregrine, and it's a joy to see Jim Carrey disappear into the role of Count Olaf and his disguises. My daughter enjoyed it, though she prefers the TV series by far and is now insisting I watch it with her. Perhaps I will.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 7257 Average listal rating (5173 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Spider-Man 2 (2004)
Re-watch - Jan. 21st

I decided to finally give Spider-Man 2 another look given how often people keep proclaiming it to be one of the best superhero movies ever and yet I didn't feel that way whenever I first saw it. I got to use the kiddo as my excuse, as she hadn't seen it yet but caught the first film last year. (Don't worry, I'm not telling her there's a third entry.) And, okay, it's better than I initially gave it credit for. I still don't think it's great (and thus still find those who insist it's the best superhero movie ever to be misguided), but this time around I better appreciated the overall story and even got a little caught up in some of the emotions that run through it. There are some moments that still don't work for me (I kinda wish Franco's Harry Osborn was left out of it entirely, though it would have made sense as a payoff for the effort to have the third film focus on him becoming Hobgoblin to take on Spidey...from what I know of the third film, which I still refuse to watch, that wasn't the case, though I suspect it's in there struggling against the two other villains for attention). But it's better than I'd remembered and I've adjusted its rating accordingly. Maybe if I watch it again in another 15 years I'll come around and rate it higher?
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 461 Average listal rating (325 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.9
Isle of Dogs (2018)
First viewing - Jan. 21st

Isle of Dogs was purely my daughter's choice, as she found it while browsing through the options we have on hand. As is well documented I'm not a big fan of Wes Anderson, and honestly after the million times (give or take) I had to sit through the trailers for it I had zero interest by the time it was released. And so to my surprise I wound up kinda digging it. It's a decent story, well-told and entertaining. I think it could be improved if the entire cast was Japanese, but given that the majority of the white cast portrays the dogs it's not so bad I guess. (Representation matters, dammit.) I don't know that I'd go out of my way to watch it again, but it's one of the rare films of Anderson's that I don't regret sitting through and that's saying something.

Just a thought: Maybe Wes Anderson should stick to stop-motion films. Or perhaps I should only turn up for his stop-motion films when he makes them.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 570 Average listal rating (316 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Jan. 22nd

When this movie ended I mostly wished I'd watched it with someone else, because holy crap did I want a discussion to help me figure out how I felt about it. To call this an unusual film is a severe understatement. The cast is solid across the board, there's some memorable dialogue and moments, and I found it to be very interesting as far as the ideas it explores. Some of the execution left a lot to be desired, however, as there are far too many psychedelic interludes where we're supposed to be seeing what William Hurt's character is experiencing. This wouldn't be so bad if they all added depth to the narrative, but some of it is just visual noise as far as I could tell, and often these sequences go on longer than necessary. A couple times I had the Pythons in my head shaking their fists & yelling "Get on with it". And that's about as much as I can successfully articulate about it. I don't know that I enjoyed it, and I doubt I'd watch it again, though I'm tempted to make myself watch it once more with other people just to see if I process it differently. We'll see if that ever happens...

Just a thought: This is one of those movies that will likely never be remade, especially given how much of the technology which is central to the story is so far outdated now.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 297 Average listal rating (213 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - Jan. 23rd

I have mixed feelings on this one. Phoenix gives a very strong performance, communicating more through body language than actual dialogue. There are a handful of scenes that I appreciated and found refreshing. The whole thing is definitely interesting. But I'm thinking either I wasn't in the right mood for it or my expectations were in the wrong place, because while it kept me engaged I didn't get too into it or love it. We're left to fill in a lot of blanks due to a minimal approach, and while that can be something I'm into it's not a technique that always works for me. In this case I wanted a more straightforward approach perhaps, which left me struggling to meet the film on its own terms. I'll note here also that this is the only film of Lynne Ramsay's that I've seen, so perhaps if I'd been keeping up with her I would've better anticipated where the film was coming from. Given how many best-of lists it's popped up on others may get more out of it than I did, but this time around I just thought it was OK. Perhaps down the road I'll give it another look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 261 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Jan. 25th

The kiddo and I agreed on watching Rampage, which I'd wanted us to catch in theatres last year but couldn't get her to go with me. Thus I found it amusing when she wound up enjoying it even more than I did. She especially loved George's antics, and surprised me by cheering on Lizzie. It's more or less what I expected, a big, dumb, fun blockbuster with some decent CG work and another charismatic performance from Dwayne Johnson. There's not much depth to it, but there doesn't need to be either. We had a good time with it, and may or may not sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 234 Average listal rating (136 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.5
Re-watch - Jan. 26th

After dinner my daughter wanted to watch a movie with me, and I picked this. I loved Ernest P. Worrell when I was a kid, and I recall watching this a few times back in the '80s. I hadn't seen it since, however, so I wasn't sure how it'd hold up. Turns out...not so well. I mean, it's fine for what it is but it's pretty cheesy, the acting is a mixed bag, and there's the unfortunate choice to have the only non-white child characters be the criminals too (though they do get redeemed, but still). I still find much of Ernest's antics funny, and the kiddo got a big kick out of seeing turtles parachuting onto people. We'll see whether she asks to see more of Ernest, but for now I'm content with this brief stroll down memory lane.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2602 Average listal rating (1736 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.8
The Goonies (1985)
Re-watch - Jan. 27th

My daughter spent this Sunday with a stomach bug or food poisoning (tough to tell exactly which), and after lunch we curled up on the couch to watch The Goonies. I thought she hadn't seen it yet, but turns out she watched some/most of it at her mom's house. She hadn't seen the opening stretch, but once they're in the restaurant after the Fratellis briefly leave she'd seen from there on most of the way to the end. It hasn't been too long since I last watched it and my thoughts haven't changed. I'm glad to know that I was right, however, to wait a couple years to show this to her because the timing was perfect.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.8
First viewing - Jan. 28th

Monsters and Men is a very interesting film centered on the shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer, a tale that's all too familiar in the U.S. We experience the immediate aftermath of the event and its effects on a trio of young men. One of them is a friend of the victim who witnessed and recorded the event, one is a police officer who patrols the neighborhood and works with the officer who pulled the trigger, and the last is a student who sees the video and wants to get involved with the protests it sparks. Each character is given an equal amount of time and focus, sending the message that the ways they're affected are equally valid. A lot of questions are raised and some have tough answers. The acting is stellar throughout, and overall I appreciated the film for what it is. But it also left me wanting more, as some of the plotlines are left unfinished so we can move on to the next character. Which makes it less effective than similar films like The Hate U Give, Blindspotting, or Fruitvale Station but that doesn't mean it's not worth seeing. If exploring these themes interests you, then you should check it out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 155 Average listal rating (108 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Jan. 29th

The last 2018 film I watched this month is one I'd intended to catch in theatres, but it wasn't here long and either I had other priorities or the timing didn't work out (or both). And so as usually happens I wound up watching this Western at home (unsure why I do that the most with this genre, but there it is), though I feel like in this case that's probably fine. Phoenix and Reilly are excellent as usual, but as Westerns go this one was a bit more meditative rather than being action-driven. Which again is fine, but possibly not what I was initially in the mood for (though the opening scene suggests it could go either way, so possibly it set the wrong expectation). Still it's an entertaining enough film, with some things I haven't seen elsewhere. I was most amused by the moments where Reilly's character first encounters some then-new modern conveniences he didn't even know about. I don't know that I'd sit through it again, but I'm glad I finally caught up with it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
Re-watch - Jan. 30th

Watched in honor of the passing of the legendary actor Dick Miller. It wasn't often he got the chance to be the lead actor in a picture, which is one of the reasons I love this film so much. Plus it's just such an oddball horror movie and a classic B picture to boot. It may not feature the more gruff version of Miller most of us know (thanks largely to supporting roles in films like Gremlins which is where I first encountered him), but he still slays. He could always be counted on to boost the quality of any film he was cast in, even if only while he was on screen, and I'm thankful I've had the opportunity to see so much of his work. And there's plenty more I haven't seen yet, so I look forward to eventually finding other gems among his filmography.
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Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (49 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Jan. 19th

On the Basis of Sex was pretty much exactly what I expected. Thankfully it's a very well-made movie with a strong cast, and the fact that I didn't know all the details of the story it tells made it worth sitting through. I don't know that I thought it was great, but I can see how others might and I think it's absolutely worth sitting through at least once. I'll probably revisit it with my daughter in several years to see what she thinks of it, if she doesn't find it on her own first.
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