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Added by the giraffe on 5 Mar 2019 01:23
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2019: March

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 28 films watched
19 first views, 10 re-watches (one film lands in both columns, hence the math looking off)
10 via streaming, 11 via DVD/BR, and 7 in the theatre (one of which was seen twice)
Decades touched: 1970s - 2010s

This month was a little heavy on films I thought were merely fine, which led me to revisit some films I knew were great just to make up for the mediocrity. But hey, I made it to the theatre on 7 separate occasions, and those trips were mostly rewarding. I took a chance on a couple films I wasn't as sure about, and those wound up being the low points but at least I didn't pay anything for those thanks to my subscription. Streaming options yielded a couple films that I've moved into the top section so others will notice them, and hopefully they'll grow their fanbase. I'm noticing a feeling coming over me where I have so many options to watch via streaming that I often can't make up my mind what to watch, or else by the time I decide on something I don't have enough time to watch it. This is leading me to make up for my indecision on the weekends, and causing me to watch less films during the week. Overall, however, I'm glad I kept up my viewing habits and especially thankful for the slate of upcoming theatrical releases I'm most excited for.
People who added this item 243 Average listal rating (172 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Us
First viewing - March 21st - Re-watch - March 30th

I had to catch Us on its opening night, because otherwise I would've had to wait until Monday to watch it since I had my daughter. I knew I couldn't handle potentially running into spoilers all weekend long, so when I found a convenient screening I jumped on it. And I had no regrets. Probably that's obvious enough since after thinking about it daily from that night on I wound up returning to watch it again the following weekend.

Obviously I'm not going to spoil anything here, and it's not a film that's easily discussed without getting into plot details so I'll keep this as brief as I can and avoid specifics as much as possible. The attention to detail throughout the film blew my mind. There's a lot to think about, and it's no surprise that it's launched a ton of discussion, thought pieces, and analyses among those who've seen it. I wasn't sure the first time around whether or not it crossed my line of greatness, but revisiting it confirmed that it did. This is a film I'll keep coming back to every few years, and I'll probably keep noticing details I overlooked the last time around.

Oh yeah, and if Lupita Nyong'o doesn't win some awards for her performance here, then I don't know why we bother with awards at all.
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People who added this item 21 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - March 11th

Of course I was going to watch the new Soderbergh as soon as I could get around to it. Dude's been on quite a nice streak since he decided to return to filmmaking, and High Flying Bird continues that run. The cast is fantastic all around, and even though I'm not a big basketball fan I was able to appreciate the story and how it plays out. I went into it knowing virtually nothing, which worked to its benefit and allowed me to fully meet the film on its own terms. Feel free to do the same, because it's worth seeing.
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People who added this item 6 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.3
Skate Kitchen (2018)
First viewing - March 10th

In some ways this is a far better skateboarding movie than mid90s, with which it shares a number of similarities. Skate Kitchen benefits from its cast of real-life skaters playing fictionalized versions of themselves, and by limiting the number of recognizable actors around them. Elizabeth Rodriguez (Orange Is the New Black) was the only person I recognized from anything else, and she's as good in her role here as anything else I've seen her in. But the focus is the skaters, and I dug how truthful and intimate the film is. We really get to know these characters, and they've stuck in my head as time has passed since watching it. I don't know that it's quite great in my book, but I really enjoyed it and would watch it again.
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People who added this item 373 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - March 1st

I decided to kick off March with Venom so I could finally make up my own mind about it. Everything I've read about it has told me it's a polarizing film, and so I figured I'd trust in Tom Hardy and give it a go. And, well, I don't know about this one. Hardy is excellent as always, and there are some truly funny moments throughout this film. It's kinda fun but also kind of a trainwreck at times. I couldn't help feeling like they should've kept the original intent for it to be an R-rated film, but evidently only Deadpool and Wolverine are allowed to get away with that approach. It's a shame. Mostly though this film made me want to revisit Upgrade which is a far better film all around and deals with some similar ideas. So if you haven't seen this or Upgrade, just watch Upgrade. You can thank me later.
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People who added this item 1491 Average listal rating (964 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
Bridesmaids (2011)
First viewing - March 2nd

I wanted something fun to watch, so I figured I'd finally give Bridesmaids a look. And it more or less delivered what I'd expected of it. The cast is excellent of course, and the humor hits a little more often than it misses. I can't say I loved it, but it was entertaining enough and I might even be willing to sit through it again some day.
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People who added this item 919 Average listal rating (587 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7
Re-watch - March 3rd

The only way ParaNorman could be better is if it was aimed at adults instead of at everyone. Seriously, one of these days someone will make an animated horror-comedy that's R-rated and it'll end up being my favorite film of all time. (Preferably someone like Edgar Wright, and if he works with Laika then that'd be stellar.) Until then, this will have to do. I really do enjoy everything about this film, and it's one I'll keep coming back to every so often.
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People who added this item 117 Average listal rating (77 ratings) 5.4 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - March 7th

I realized I hadn't watched a movie all week and figured I should fix that. Before I Wake wound up being better than I'd anticipated, but it's easily my least favorite of Mike Flanagan's films. There are some creepy moments along the way, and I thought it was an interesting way to look at how people deal with losing those who are closest to them. I found it rather amusing that about the time I started to wonder whether the central couple ever has to work there were suddenly scenes that addressed it (and justified how they have their home to boot). I can't say I'm at all impressed with Kate Bosworth, who comes across as wooden and lifeless most of the time which makes her a poor choice for a leading role. Thomas Jane does a decent enough job, as does Jacob Tremblay. My biggest gripe, however, lies with the ending which attempts to tie a nice bow on this package but also raised some questions like if everyone who disappeared can come back, why only let two people return and have her husband NOT be among them?. This definitely could have been better.
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People who added this item 7009 Average listal rating (4512 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - March 8th

We just watched this last year, but it's what the kiddo wanted to watch and who am I to argue with her? It's not like I get tired of watching it. Curious to see how the new film that drops this summer turns out, but I doubt it'll live up to this one.
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First viewing - March 9th

After dinner on Saturday night, the kiddo wanted to watch another movie with me so we agreed on this one. It's still so much fun all around, and I enjoy everything about it.
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First viewing - March 12th

Ok, so first off this wasn't quite what I was anticipating. What I expected to be the entire film plays out in the first 20-ish minutes, and so I had to reset my expectations a little so I could hang with it. It wasn't really a problem though because the film remains entertaining through the end thanks largely to Charles Durning's performance and a tight pace. The ending gets a little too tough to swallow and I really struggled to maintain my suspense of disbelief, but that didn't fully derail my appreciation of all that leads up to it. I don't know that I'd sit through it twice, but I'm glad I finally caught up with it.
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People who added this item 188 Average listal rating (108 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
First viewing - March 15th

I can't recall now why I skipped Demolition during its theatrical run. Maybe it was the reviews, which weren't very favorable as I recall. Whatever the case I'm glad I finally caught up with it because it wound up being worthwhile. I appreciated the fresh approach to following this character as he deals with grief and loss. There's one scene in particular where Gyllenhaal dances around in public that's sublime and makes it more than worth the time investment. Naturally the cast is solid all around, and I really can't think of anything to complain about. I don't know that it's great, but it's a really good little film that I wouldn't mind watching again.
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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (28 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - March 17th

Back in the '90s I got into Anime courtesy of the Sci-Fi Channel. They kicked off what would become an annual tradition for a little while by showing a trio of Anime movies: Robot Carnival, Lensman, and Vampire Hunter D. I watched them as they aired, and then when I found out they were running them again I set up a VHS tape & recorded all three so I could watch them whenever I wanted. I even had to go to the trouble of editing out the commercials to minimize the interruptions. I haven't watched that tape in many years now, but those three films still hold a special place in my heart for being my gateway to the genre. So when I found out recently that Robot Carnival had been released on Blu-ray thanks to AVPGuyver21's February list I hopped on Amazon to order a copy. It arrived on a kiddo weekend, so I had to hold off a week.

First off, the film has been restored and it looks pretty great. Better still the whole thing has aged well, which I was pleasantly surprised to discover. For the uninitiated, this is an anthology film with each story focused on or incorporating robots. It's similar to Fantasia in some respects, and I'd kinda forgotten that a lot of the sequences are lacking dialogue. Curiously, one of the segments, titled "Star Light Angel", I had never seen before. I can't say for certain now whether I'd missed recording it somehow or if Sci-Fi dropped the segment for some reason, but it was completely new to me. I can't say it's especially essential either, so if they did drop it it might have been for the best. By far my favorite of the bunch is "Strange Tales of Meiji Machine Culture", followed closely by the final segment "Chicken Man & Red Neck" which when I first saw it was called "Nightmare" (both titles fit, but I'd argue the latter is more apt).

Anyway, it was quite a treat to watch it again, and I'm glad that I'll be able to continue to do so without having to find out if that old tape will still play in a VCR (assuming I can find one that works). Huge thanks to AVPGuyver21 for putting it on my radar!

Now if they'll just put out Lensman...
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Re-watch - March 17th

It occurred to me that I hadn't seen Django Unchained since its theatrical run, which made it the only Tarantino film I hadn't seen twice. That didn't sit right with me. So I decided to finally revisit it, and I more or less felt the same about it. Tarantino's cameo as an Australian is still a little jarring, but not as bad now that I'm prepared for it. And by the end of the film I still get bored with the excessive gunplay. The music choices are mostly excellent, which is to be expected, though I still think leaving the hip-hop songs out would've been an improvement as they don't entirely fit in with the period. Aside from those issues, I still dig the performances and characters & the story is pretty damn good. It's very likely that I'll revisit this one the least often of his films, but I have no doubt I'll watch it again.
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People who added this item 116 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - March 20th

I'd debated whether to watch this with my daughter, and finally decided to watch it without her. I'd say that was a good choice, because she's too young yet to care much for this story. I personally found it quite fascinating, and shared the characters' frustrations with the situations they're stuck in. The animation is stellar throughout the film, and I deeply appreciated the casting choices which represent the setting of the film. I don't know that I'd watch this film a bunch of times, but I might watch it once more with my daughter when she's the right age to appreciate it.
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People who added this item 2004 Average listal rating (1243 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - March 22nd

I finally added Rango to my collection, and on this evening my daughter and I watched the extended cut which has a far more rewarding ending. I love pretty much everything about this film, as I've expressed before on this site, and it's one I know I'll keep returning to in the years ahead.
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People who added this item 761 Average listal rating (506 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.5
Re-watch - March 23rd

The kiddo wanted to watch a movie with me, and I talked her into this one. She enjoyed it, but probably not as much as I do. It's one of those films that I loved when I was younger and I'm still able to enjoy it, so it was nice to share it with her and have her appreciate it.
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Re-watch - March 24th

My daughter wanted to watch one more movie this weekend, and since she's enjoyed Burton's films so far I thought I'd see what she thought of this one. She had a good time with it, but I think some of the death scenes grossed her out. I don't expect her to want to rush back into watching it again, but hopefully in the years ahead she'll grow to appreciate it more. It's been three years now since I last watched it, and I still get a kick out of it.
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First viewing - March 27th

My friend at work loaned me this after a conversation where it came up and I admitted I'd never seen it. Now that I finally have seen it, I can't say I was missing out on much. I suspect that had I caught this on cable in the early '90s instead of avoiding it I might have enjoyed it far more than I do now. I went in with lowered expectations, anticipating it to be cheesy which it pretty much is. It's got a handful of moments I appreciated, but mostly there's little here that I haven't seen done better in other movies, and a lot of it was rather cringe-inducing. A handful of decent jokes aren't enough to inspire me to sit through it again.
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First viewing - March 29th

As I've stated on here before, I'm down with anything S. Craig Zahler makes. So of course I caught Dragged Across Concrete as soon as I could, and even supported him by paying for the rental since it's not screening in any theatres near me. And, well, I'm disappointed to say I didn't love it. Oh, it's watchable enough, and crafted very well I guess, but I struggled with the characters and the way the story unfolds. The film boasts a strong ensemble, but we bounce between so many characters that none of them really carry us through the experience. The first main character we're presented with spends about half the movie off screen, which doesn't help, and instead we're stuck with a racist cop played by Mel Gibson for most of the film. Mel's still a good actor, but a role like this makes it nigh impossible to separate the art from the artist, and it turned me against him. Granted the film isn't trying to say I should be on his side, but it presents him as such a major character that it feels at times like we're supposed to be rooting for him to succeed and I really wrestled with this a lot. And there are some significant stretches of the film where I was questioning why we're in a situation, and thus why I was watching the movie. Eventually it comes together in some interesting ways, and I felt like the ending rewarded me well enough for sitting through it all. And yet I don't see myself bothering with any of it a second time around. Again, this is disappointing to me because I'll gladly revisit Bone Tomahawk and Brawl in Cell Block 99 numerous times. This one feels like a big misstep, but I'm hopeful that the next time around he'll deliver something I can enjoy again.
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People who added this item 291 Average listal rating (195 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - March 30th

Hey, I finally caught up on PT Anderson's films. I don't know that I needed to watch this one, but it's fine for what it is. It's not at all to my taste, but there's plenty to admire about it from the performances to the craft to the music and so on. I can see why some people would love the film, and I guess I get why it was nominated for awards. I don't know that it'll stick with me as the years go by, however, and I wouldn't sit through it again to refresh my memory should I lose it completely.
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Re-watch - March 31st

Still hands down my favorite film of 2018. I wanted to revisit in while it was still in the theatre, but wound up missing it. I picked it up on Blu-ray not long ago, so I've had an itch lately to give it another look. Everything about the film is great in my book, and I love how original it is. It's so full of surprises, and great little details, and it's smart and funny and just kills me. I'll gladly watch it any time, and I hope it continues to grow its fanbase in the years ahead.
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First viewing - March 31st

I wanted to watch one more film to end March, and opted for this anthology horror flick. Now I'm not here to claim it's perfect, because it's not. As you can probably well imagine, the whole thing is a mixed bag. That's just how it usually goes with horror anthologies, and you can either settle in for the best parts & expect a certain amount of underwhelming shorts, or you can avoid the whole thing and miss out on the little gems. I prefer the former.

Now not all of these stories function on a purely horror level. A couple have some really creepy moments, but overall there's nothing here that especially scared me. But that doesn't mean it's not worthwhile. First off, each tale is from a different country which really appealed to me. Matter of fact there's only one American entry in the whole film, and in my estimation it's the worst of the bunch. Leave it to Americans to ruin a good thing, eh? The premise of that one is just stupid, and the execution isn't any better. The rest of the shorts work far better by comparison, and I think my favorite was the final short which is done in the silent film style (a great and pleasant surprise, to be sure). Overall I had more fun than I didn't, and that made it worthwhile in my book.
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Films I caught in a theatre
People who added this item 53 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - March 2nd

I was really looking forward to Isabelle Huppert going off the rails in this film. And while her performance is easily the best reason to sit through Greta, the story keeps pulling on the reins instead of letting things go over-the-top bonkers which in my book worked against the overall experience. There are also some aspects which could have been better explored here. So this wound up being worth sitting through once, and I'm disappointed to say I wouldn't sit through it again.
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First viewing - March 9th

The kiddo and I went first thing on Saturday morning to catch Captain Marvel in IMAX. As expected, the film was a lot of fun all around, delivering plenty of memorable moments along the way. Brie Larson is great of course, and I was quite impressed by the effects especially with regard to de-aging Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury. I like how Carol Danvers is as capable as any of the Marvel heroes who preceded her, and they get some decent digs in on how she doesn't let any men stop her. It doesn't quite approach the level of success Wonder Woman had from a cultural standpoint, but then that film set a pretty high bar as well as beat Marvel to the punch. You'd think maybe Marvel could exceed it, but I'd be lying if I said they did. Still, it's a joy to finally have a female-led film in the MCU.

My daughter loved Goose and really enjoyed getting a story that focuses more on Fury since he remains one of her favorites. I did occasionally find the music choices a little distracting, however, especially as someone who remembers all too well what 1995 was like. But that's not enough to keep me from watching it a few more times in the years ahead.

Just a thought: I absolutely loved the Stan Lee cameo in this. And on a related note, that opening dedicated to him about made me cry which is a dirty trick to play before the film even starts.
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First viewing - March 9th

After Captain Marvel and a lunch break, the kiddo and I returned for Fighting with My Family, which she insisted we watch after I showed her the trailer. I thought maybe it'd make for a good double-feature of films focusing on stories of strong women. And while I felt it delivered in that sense, I got the feeling she was a little bored with the film at times. As a former fan of wrestling I found much to enjoy here though. Paige came along well after I'd quit paying attention to wrestling so I wasn't familiar with her prior to the film, but I did a little research afterward and it looks like they kept fairly close to the actual story which is quite inspiring. The cast is solid all around, and it's made with care and heart. I was really interested to see some of the hard work that goes into becoming a professional wrestler, and was pleased that the film focused on that part of her journey. Overall it was well worth seeing, and I'd gladly sit through it again.
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People who added this item 42 Average listal rating (25 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - March 16th

I was initially reluctant to check this out. On the one hand it's the latest offering from Rupert Wyatt, and Rise was my favorite out of the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy plus John Goodman is in this. On the other hand, there were no advance reviews which is usually a bad sign. But since I didn't have to pay to see it thanks to my AMC subscription, I figured I'd give it a chance.

Well, when it comes to stories of humans battling aliens I probably would've been better off sitting through Captain Marvel again. Or for an earthbound version with political commentary I could have revisited District 9 instead. Oh, this film has its moments and there are some worthwhile ideas and concepts here, but ultimately it's too overstuffed to deliver anything too meaningful. The film sets us up with a handful of characters to juggle, but never takes the time to let us into their inner lives which kept me from getting deeply invested in their struggle. And given the choice of focusing on the human drama instead of sci-fi action, that's a big problem. Everyone is deadly serious here, as if the aliens stole everyone's sense of humor when they took over, and that doesn't help matters either. So when you spend most of a film trying to puzzle together why things are happening with no real rewards along the way it's just frustrating. Ultimately the story comes together in a way I rather admired, but by that point there wasn't enough goodwill for me to fully appreciate it.

Overall I was left feeling like the story would have worked better as a one-shot series for one of the streaming networks than as a film that comes in under two hours. Had Wyatt taken that approach perhaps the characters would be more fully formed and the overall experience would be more worthwhile. As it stands, however, I'm mostly just glad I didn't have to spend my money to see it.
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People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - March 19th

Triple Threat screened for one night only here, and if I hadn't been browsing for Us showtimes I probably wouldn't have noticed it at all. I'm glad I did, however, because action movies like this deserve to be seen on the big screen. The film delivers more or less what you'd want, especially if the idea of having Tony Jaa, Iko Uwais, Tiger Chen, Michael Jai White, and Scott Adkins in the same movie excites you. The fight scenes are well handled all around, though none manage to impress to the degree of anything in The Raid. The cast does a solid enough job all around, and overall it's a satisfying watch. I doubt I'd go out of my way to sit through it again, but I had a good enough time that if someone asked me to watch it with them I might give it another look.

Just a thought: It's probably not a good sign for this film's success that a behind-the-scenes look at the action sequences wound up playing to a mostly empty room. There was a pre-recorded announcement before the film asking people to stick around through the credits for it, and I think there was one couple left in the theatre for it when I finally made up my mind that I didn't need to wait for it.
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People who added this item 22 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 5.8
First viewing - March 23rd

The first time I caught a trailer for Wonder Park I knew my daughter would want to see it. The trailers hooked her also, and so we went on its second weekend to check it out. I'd seen some review headlines which suggested the film was not worth seeing, so I didn't have high hopes for it. As it turned out we both enjoyed it. It's not the film of the year, to be fair, but I dug the animation of the film and appreciated the story for what it is. If I wanted to pick it apart I probably could, but instead I just went along with it and had a fun time. It helped too to be able to share my daughter's enthusiasm for some of the scenes, and kind of see it through her eyes. I don't know that I'd watch it a million times, but I wouldn't mind watching it with her again a couple times if she wanted to.
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