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Added by the giraffe on 1 Aug 2020 08:32
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2020: August

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 30 films watched (31 if you count both films contained in Grindhouse)
19 first views, 11 re-watches
22 via streaming, 5 via DVD/BR, and 3 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1960s - 2010s

This month my main focus was on watching the films I hadn't already seen on Starz before I dropped it (last day was the 23rd). And I'm proud to say I hit my goal. After that I kind of fumbled around with what to watch, but I think it turned out mostly OK. I only made it to the drive-in once this month, but now that more new movies will start popping up there I anticipate I'll get out there more often. And I did make it to a regular theatre once, but only because it was a screening with people I know. (See last month's list if you want more thoughts on the reopening.)

I've decided I will indeed pick up Netflix for next month, so hopefully there's enough on there I haven't seen to keep me busy for the entire month. I know there's a few titles off the top of my head that they've got I'll be excited to see, so if nothing else I'll have good momentum at the start of the month. And I'll be watching at least two Gojira films to justify ignoring them in October, as well as to make it easier to ensure I complete the series by the end of this year. I can't say the last one I watched has me excited to see the next, but at least odds are good it won't be worse.
People who added this item 155 Average listal rating (110 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Aug. 12th

Almodรณvar is one of a handful of directors I need to watch more films from, so when I spotted this on Starz I wanted to give it a chance. And I'm glad I did. Banderas gives one of his best performances and creates a character that is fully realized. You can tell the story is a personal one, though it's likely enough has been fictionalized to shift the details so the people involved are less easily recognized. And this is one of the few films that employs jumps back and forth in time that worked for me, which is commendable. Best of all it encourages me to dig more into his works and catch up, so hopefully I'll be able to do that soon.

Just a thought: I really want a Sabor poster.
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First viewing - Aug. 17th

This was very interesting. It's not technically a movie I guess, as it's a filmed performance of a one-man play. But since its run-time is equivalent to that of a film I'm including it. Plus, Spike Lee directed it and made sure it feels at least somewhat cinematic. Roger Guenveur Smith is captivating as Huey P. Newton, and I hung on every word he delivered. The piece feels as timely now as it probably was at the time of its release 19 years ago, perhaps even more so in the wake of George Floyd's death. There are some truly strange moments along the way, but it all works to paint a picture of what it might have been like to sit in a room and listen to Newton reflect on his life. I deeply appreciated it, and can't recommend it enough if you've got the Starz app.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 2040 Average listal rating (1283 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Aug. 1st

Lisbeth Salander double feature

Since I now tend to go to the drive-in on Friday nights when I can, and this is my final month to have Starz, I've decided to just do my double features on Saturdays as time allows. Kicking off August with a film I had zero interest in upon its release simply because I've seen the European adaptations and don't need another (especially without Noomi Rapace who was perfectly cast as far as I'm concerned). But I've seen mostly positive feedback about Fincher's adaptation, and as a long-time supporter of his films I figured I should just get it over with.

And it's good. Naturally it's well-made all around, and the cast is pretty damn good aside from the fact that the majority of them aren't Swedish. In that respect the previous adaptation far surpasses this one. It's mildly irritating to have actors portraying Swedish characters speaking English in a variety of accents. Craig doesn't even try, he just uses his normal voice. Rooney Mara nails her role, however, and I was pleasantly surprised. In the end though I felt like it's still unnecessary when the other adaptation exists beyond catering to American audiences who shun subtitles. But at least it's executed well enough I don't regret sitting through it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 122 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Aug. 1st

Lisbeth Salander double feature

I was mildly curious to check this one out during its theatrical run, but the reviews weren't exactly glowing so I waited. And while it held my attention well enough for the most part, I probably could've gone on without watching it. Claire Foy isn't bad in the lead role, but she doesn't have the same presence as Rapace or Mara. The plot side of things is full of issues though. For starters it rewrites Salander's past to birth a new villain and gives said villain a character arc where you're wondering why it took so long for them to run into each other with no satisfying explanation. There are so many subplots that some go nowhere and others are only partly resolved, and some characters get brought back with no impact on the events. But mostly it all just feels like a story we've more or less seen before and better. Kudos though to casting Lakeith Stanfield as the sole major American character instead of any white guy.
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People who added this item 858 Average listal rating (563 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 8
First viewing - Aug. 2nd

I really don't have too much to say about Papillon. The acting is excellent and it's a good story, though the ending felt a little underwhelming. Technically the film is mostly excellent. I don't know that I'd go out of my way to sit through it again, but I'm glad I finally saw it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 77 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.5
Re-watch - Aug. 3rd

It's safe to say I hadn't seen Neighbors since the '90s ended, but in my teenage years and early 20s I really loved the film. I never owned a copy and I don't think it was even released on DVD. I managed to find a copy on Blu, however, for less than $10 so now I finally have it. And I'm pleased to say I enjoy it just as much now as I did then, and it's held up very well. It's an oddball of a film, to be sure, and thus not for everyone. Belushi, Aykroyd, and Moriarty are excellent in their respective roles, with Belushi showing off his acting chops and making me feel bummed he didn't live to see more diverse roles. I remembered much of the film as it rolled along, which only speaks more to its quality in my opinion. My only complaint is that the Blu is lacking in any supplementals. I get that it's not a popular film by any means, but you'd think they could have found some interviews or made an effort to conduct one with the cast & crew. Nope, just the movie. But then, for less than $10 I'll more than get my money's worth out of it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 425 Average listal rating (277 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.1
Nurse Betty (2000)
First viewing - Aug. 5th

I remember being mildly interested in seeing Nurse Betty during its theatrical run, but I suspect there were too many other priorities for me at the time. I've seen generally positive feedback on it over the years, however, so I figured I'd give it a look. And it's solidly entertaining thanks largely to the talents of the cast. It's fairly fun most of the time too, though I struggled somewhat with moments where our protagonist was in situations that we're clearly supposed to feel happy for her despite the fact her mental state suggests otherwise. Overall I enjoyed it in spite of its issues, so it was worth a look.
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People who added this item 196 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Aug. 10th

A neo-noir with Denzel in the "detective" role? This was totally up my alley. I dug everything about it, and I'm so glad I gave it a look. It may not have crossed my personal line of greatness, but I'd gladly sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2030 Average listal rating (1275 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Aug. 11th

The kiddo wanted to watch a movie with me and we landed on My Girl, a film I had zero interest in at the time of its release. And that's probably just as well, because watching it now I was able to appreciate aspects of it that I likely would've been bored with as a teenager. The cast is solid all around, and I thought the story was mostly well-told. The only trouble is that I knew certain important plot points just because I've come across them more than once in passing and that minimized the impact somewhat. Still, I'm glad I finally watched it though I wouldn't need to watch it again.
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First viewing - Aug. 13th

Back when this came out it was difficult for me to catch films in the theatre as often as I'd like because my daughter was so young. So I was excited to see it pop up on Starz so I could finally watch it. I love Tribe now but didn't really find my way to them until after they broke up in '98, so getting this in-depth look into their history was interesting and entertaining to me. It also made me more thankful I didn't road trip to see them when they toured in 2008, though at the same time it made me feel bad I didn't road trip to see them the last time they toured (though in fairness that was the year my daughter was born, and thus I couldn't; and neither tour brought them through the city I lived in at the time). If you're into their music or just curious about their importance in hip-hop I can't recommend this enough.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 290 Average listal rating (202 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7
Hang 'Em High (1968)
First viewing - Aug. 14th

I took Friday off from work to have some extra me time, so naturally I wisely spent as much of it watching movies as I could. I began after lunch with Hang 'Em High, which did not earn its spot among my favorite Eastwood films. Not that it's bad, but it never sustains a feeling of dramatic tension. Eastwood's character clearly wants to get revenge, but for the most part is seems like a foregone conclusion that he'll get it rather than establishing clear obstacles to his path. This isn't to say I wasn't engaged with the film at times, but mostly it was just a film I watched and will likely forget about in a few years.
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First viewing - Aug. 14th

I wanted to check this out due to the predominantly Asian cast, and went into it blindly. Therefore I was pleasantly surprised to find out it's an American film set in California. I'm not a fan of director Justin Lin's work in general, but I thought he did a pretty good job with this film. It's both fun and dark and yet sustains an appropriate tone throughout that works well. The cast is excellent all around, and I enjoyed the story for the most part. It's a thoughtful look at how surface-level expectations can lead to rebellion and obscure one's reality. It's not quite great, but I wouldn't mind watching it again at some point.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Girlfight (2000)
First viewing - Aug. 14th

After dinner I decided to finally watch Karyn Kusama's first film, Girlfight, which was also Michelle Rodriguez's feature debut. And I really enjoyed it all around. Rodriguez impresses at every turn, and the story was believable if a little predictable at times. The rest of the cast does a really good job, and it came close to being great in my book. It's absolutely worth a look if you haven't seen it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 360 Average listal rating (241 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.9
Re-watch - Aug. 14th

My parents were teenagers in the '50s, and they've always listened to music from that decade so I was exposed to Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly, and other artists from a young age. So when La Bamba came out I watched it with my family, and caught it several times on cable over the years. I don't think I'd seen it since the '90s ended, however, so I wanted to give it another look. And for the most part it's a well-told account of the brief career of Valens. The cast is excellent all around, and I like that most of the attention and character development is focused on Ritchie and his family. The music is, of course, wonderful. It's always bothered me, however, that the character of Donna is one dimensional and having her internal self brought out would definitely improve the film. We get why she likes Valens, but there's no clear insight into why he likes her besides finding her physically attractive. I don't think it would've taken much more time and effort to give us that, so since it's absent I've never been able to give the film a higher score. I still enjoy the film overall though, and will likely watch it again.
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First viewing - Aug. 15th

Lee family double feature

I went into this with lowered expectations (especially when I saw Rob Cohen wrote & directed), but was curious as a long-time fan of Bruce's. For the most part it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It hits the main parts of his life well enough and tells a compelling and entertaining story. Jason Scott Lee is believable enough as Bruce, both fighting and not, and you can tell the film was made with love and respect for him. Which is as it should be. I wound up having a blast with some of the fight scenes and it left a smile on my face. I don't know that I need to watch it again, but if the opportunity presented itself I might.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 257 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Aug. 15th

Lee family double feature

I figured it only made sense to chase a film about Bruce with a film starring his son. For whatever reason Showdown in Little Tokyo was overlooked by me in my youth, which is odd because watching it now it's exactly the kind of thing I would've loved as a teenager. Watching Brandon and Dolph fight their way through Yakuza while exchanging one-liners is a treat. It's nothing great, but it's not trying to be either. It's just a big, dumb, silly action movie, and I had a ball with it.

Just a thought: I partly wished that instead of letting Dolph appropriate a lot of Japanese culture they'd cast someone who's actually Japanese in his role, but then Hollywood wouldn't have greenlit the project I suspect.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1200 Average listal rating (849 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.3
Predator 2 (1990)
Re-watch - Aug. 18th

This was my second time ever watching Predator 2. I vaguely recall being mostly bored with it when I was a teen, but watching it now I found more of an appreciation for it. It's still nothing great, and probably the weakest entry in the franchise (excluding the Aliens crossover films), but it's got moments. The characters are somewhat forgettable (I'd entirely forgotten that Bill Paxton and Gary Busey were in this, and how does that even happen?) and there's some truly atrocious effects work, but the effects that have held up make it worthwhile. And it still brings me joy to see the Alien queen's skull on the Predator ship (one of a handful of details about the film that had stuck with me). So it's a mixed bag, but I wanted to revisit it just to see what I'd think of it. I doubt I'll watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 140 Average listal rating (91 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Aug. 19th

I thought I'd seen this before, but I quickly realized I had not. And, I mean, it's a Cheech & Chong movie. It's fine. Some jokes are great, some are mildly amusing, and others fall flat. There's not much to the plot, but it goes to some weird places that I respected. Plus it's got Paul Reubens playing a rude hotel clerk and then turning up to perform as Pee-Wee too. If you dig that kind of thing you'll dig this, and if not, well, carry on.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1259 Average listal rating (842 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
Re-watch - Aug. 21st

I wanted the kiddo to see Small Soldiers since she likes Gremlins and enjoyed The Burbs. And as I'd anticipated she had a good time with it even though she's not quite the target audience. I enjoyed it about the same as I did when I watched it 5 years ago, and I'm glad I was able to share it with her.
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First viewing - Aug. 21st

After Small Soldiers the kiddo wanted to watch something else and we somehow landed on this. For whatever reason, Starz only had the English-language dub and not the original French language with subtitles, and I couldn't help wishing it were the other way around. I suspect it might have worked better that way. But it was kinda cute and amusing regardless, delivering three tales that were a different riff on your usual wild animal film. I respected it more than I enjoyed it, ultimately, but the kiddo mostly loved it. If I ever come across the original version I'll watch it and report back.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 564 Average listal rating (382 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
The Rocketeer (1991)
Re-watch - Aug. 23rd

Since I still had my daughter with me and we'd exhausted all the good options from Starz, we switched over to Disney+ to find something to watch and landed on The Rocketeer. And it's still a fun movie despite the obviousness of where it's headed. And watching it I'm reminded that Joe Johnston also directed Captain America: The First Avenger which seems perfect. The kiddo enjoyed it, though possibly not as much as I do.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 91 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 8.1
First viewing - Aug. 25th

There was a lot of buzz around Free Solo when it came out, and I've kept it in mind to give it a look. I finally decided to check it out, and it's 100% worth watching. No way in hell would I ever attempt rock climbing with ropes, much less the free solo style, and so it's nice to experience it from a safe distance. Alex Honnold makes for an interesting subject, and I enjoyed spending the time with him. By the end of it I kinda wished I'd watched it with my daughter, but as long as we keep Disney+ I'll get the opportunity to do so.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1832 Average listal rating (1068 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Grindhouse (2007)
Re-watch - Aug. 28th

I had an itch to watch something fun on this Friday night and Grindhouse scratched that itch in all the right ways. Granted, watching it alone doesn't compare to watching it with an audience, but I had a good time all the same.

Just a thought: Can I count this as two movies?
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1327 Average listal rating (978 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Aug. 29th

When Grindhouse ended I checked social media and found the heartbreaking, devastating news of Chadwick Boseman's passing. It was after midnight, so there was no way I was launching into one of his films (especially not a 2+ hour Marvel one). Thus I waited until Saturday afternoon to do so. And seeing him first turn up as T'Challa here was really emotional for me. Then watching him through the rest of this film and the next reminded me of what a talent we've lost. I'm just so thankful he gave us everything he had while he could, as the world would be less rich without his being here.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 907 Average listal rating (678 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Re-watch - Aug. 29th

Wakanda Forever. Rest In Power, Chadwick Boseman.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
Re-watch - Aug. 7th

The drive-in paired this with Beetlejuice, and when I told my daughter she said we had to go. This was my first time seeing Willy Wonka on the big screen, and it was nice to better view the amount of artistic detail that goes into the film. Aside from that my opinion of the film hasn't changed much, and you can find that over here.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4717 Average listal rating (3261 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Beetlejuice (1988)
Re-watch - Aug. 7th

All I have to say is that I was disappointed to see people leaving the drive-in between the two films when this one is clearly the better movie.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 7514 Average listal rating (5468 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 8.5
Re-watch - Aug. 16th

Because America is run by morons and a significant group of people actually listen to them instead of experts we're still more or less in lockdown over here. My supervisor wanted to organize some way for our team to meet up outside of work just to see each other and engage in person (while following social distancing rules, of course) and wound up booking a theatre for a private screening. We had several options to choose from, and after votes were put in we landed on Back to the Future. Other options included Iron Man, Do the Right Thing (which was my preference), Caddyshack, and Magic Mike XXL. As it turned out only 7 of us showed up including myself which seems like a safely small number, and one couple had never seen it before (I KNOW...they said afterward they want to watch its sequels though). I think this was my second time to ever see it on the big screen, the first being during its initial run. And it works its magic just as wonderfully as it always does, so I'm glad I got the opportunity.
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Year-long focus: Godzilla's Showa era

I picked up the Criterion Collection release of Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954-1975 in 2019, and have decided to watch all of the films in it over the course of 2020. There are 15 films in all, so I'll watch no more than two per month.
People who added this item 112 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Aug. 30th

I almost made it through the month without watching any films from this set, so it's a good thing I've left it out and in my way whenever I clean my house. Destroy All Monsters starts out good and ends strong, but the middle part needed some trimming. There's a long stretch where the film seems to forget the kaiju entirely, and I wasn't invested enough in the humans to be fine with it. I kinda checked out of the film for a bit, but when I saw they'd assembled all of the kaiju in one place I perked up and hung with it through the end. Also wasn't crazy that Gojira's son returns, but at least his presence is minimized (and it gave me a good chuckle seeing him do a successful ring toss on one of Ghidorah's heads). So it's got moments that made it worthwhile, but I don't know if I'd sit through it again.
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First viewing - Aug. 30th

What the hell is this crap? It's like they shot a short film and someone insisted they turn it into a kaiju film instead. To spare you the trouble, basically you've got a kid who gets bullied by his peers and then kidnapped by two robbers on the run and he has to find the courage to fight back against both and stand up for himself. To help him with this he has dreams of hanging out with Gojira's son, who talks now, and they hang out on "Monster Island" watching fight scenes from previous Gojira films as if they're in real time. Once I realized they were recycling material I skipped through the parts I've seen before just to get it all over with faster. Thankfully the run time is around an hour & 10 mins total, so it wasn't as painful as it might have been. And I'll give them credit for giving a human character a full arc for a change. But still, the entire thing seems like a complete waste of film.
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