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Added by the giraffe on 3 Feb 2020 12:50
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2020: February

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Noteworthy: The best films I saw this month

The breakdown: 25 films and 1 short film watched
19 first views, 7 re-watches
19 via streaming, 3 via DVD/BR, and 4 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1950s-2010s

This month was heaviest on content from Starz because I'd planned on canceling the subscription. Then when I went to do that they gave me an option to keep it for another 3 months for $0.99 or 6 months for $2.99, so I'm hanging onto it for longer than I'd initially planned. It's fine, however, as there's plenty of older content on there for me to keep watching it periodically plus I didn't completely clear out my list in time. There's also a bit from Prime this month because I scored a free month, and the more I looked through options there I decided to hang onto it for a month where I'm paying for it before dropping it again. Had I known of the Starz offers I probably would've made Prime my focus instead, but c'est la vie. I'll make Prime my priority next month instead.

The small quantity of theatrical releases that I wanted to see was rewarded in quality, so I'm not too upset about only making 3 trips to the theatre all month. I could have put 3 of the 4 films in this top section, but I opted instead to highlight the best film of the bunch. Thankfully things are about to pick up on that front...
People who added this item 417 Average listal rating (285 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
Shane (1953)
First viewing - Feb. 15th

Growing up my dad would watch Shane whenever it was on TV, but for some reason I never managed to watch it with him. Even more curious is the fact that every time I found him watching it the film was at the end. So I've always known how the last minute or two play out, but not the rest of the film. Luckily it popped up on Starz this month and I was able to finally give it a look. The film is a classic for a reason, and I can't find anything to fault in it. The story, the characters, the visuals, everything fires on all cylinders and it's consistently entertaining. I feel silly for not having seen it sooner, but I'm so glad I finally managed to watch it.

Just a thought: Not as many Van Heflin fans out there as Van Halen fans.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Feb. 22nd

My buddy at work brought up Singin' in the Rain and I admitted I'd never seen it and he was baffled. I explained that it's largely because I'm not a fan of musicals, but also I've never had any friends or significant others who insisted I watch it with them so it's never been a priority. He then loaned it to me and suggested I watch it with the kiddo, which I did. And to my surprise I wound up pretty much loving it. It helps that some of the musical numbers are funny (credit largely due to Donald O'Connor), as well as that they're not over-the-top to the point of absurdity. But probably what I most appreciated was the way it explores the time of transition from silent films to "talkies". Add to that a story that's well-constructed so that the characters earn their way to the film's final moments, and it's tough to find anything to criticize here. The only thing it lacked for me was that magical 10/10 feeling, and I feel silly for not having watched it sooner.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 287 Average listal rating (211 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Feb. 29th

Leigh Whannell is fast becoming one of my favorite filmmakers, a fact solidified by his work here. This time out he demonstrates that he took good notes while working with James Wan on how framing should be used to build suspense and get under the audience's skin, thus allowing the horror aspects to deliver in satisfying ways. Elisabeth Moss impresses at every turn as the film's lead, showcasing a wide range of emotions in a performance that's Oscar-worthy and yet will likely end up forgotten by awards time just like Lupita N'yongo's performance in Us last year. I don't want to get too much into the film since it just came out, so suffice it to say that when it ended I seriously considered sticking around to watch it a second time.

Just a thought: I would love it if Moss could play Sue Storm in the MCU in the near future.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 67 Average listal rating (45 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Feb. 1st

Since February is also Black History Month, I decided to kick off the month with a pair of Black Horror movies starting with Tales from the Hood. As the title suggests it's an anthology film, in this case one tied together by a kooky old funeral director telling stories to a trio of young men searching his home for a score he claims to have found. I thought it did a good job of sustaining the same tone throughout the entire thing, which I appreciated. The point of view makes it refreshing, and the cast is solid across the board. It's a little cheesy at times, but overall I wound up appreciating what they're doing here and I wouldn't mind watching it again some time.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 438 Average listal rating (305 ratings) 4.4 IMDB Rating 4.6
First viewing - Feb. 1st

Given the notorious reputation of Vampire In Brooklyn I've avoided it for years now. But on this night I decided to finally give it a chance. And you know what? I genuinely enjoyed it. Murphy plays his role straight, which I think most people weren't looking for back when it came out. For comic relief there's John Witherspoon and Kadeem Hardison who both deliver most of the time. And the chemistry between Murphy and Angela Bassett is believable and elevates the film. So yeah, I'm fine with being in the minority who appreciates the film, and I'd even be willing to watch it again once or twice.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Feb. 2nd

I've wanted to watch Let the Corpses Tan ever since it premiered at Fantastic Fest a couple years ago and everyone who saw it sang its praises online. And while I can't say I loved it, there were some aspects I dug. Artistically it's outstanding. Story-wise it's interesting and engaging. But there's not much depth to the characters, and the style of the film outshines any substance. So it's worth seeing, but I doubt whether I'd watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 62 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 5.8
Dolemite (1975)
First viewing - Feb. 3rd

First off I thought I'd seen Dolemite at some point, but watching it now I'm pretty sure I hadn't. Now that I know the story behind how it was made thanks to Dolemite Is My Name I was able to appreciate it on a different level than I might have before. Given the challenges they faced in making the film it's amazing it came out as well as it does. That's not to say it's great, mind you. It's entertaining and fun, sometimes unintentionally funny, and Rudy Ray Moore is a joy to watch at times. But it's also flawed, which is to be expected when most of the people working on it had never made a movie before. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but I'm glad I was able to do so.

Just a thought: I find it amusing that Dolemite isn't on Netflix but IS available on Amazon Prime.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Feb. 5th

Robert Evans died recently, and at the time I had no idea who he was. This documentary was mentioned in the news articles of his death, however, so I figured I'd give it a look to learn something about him. And the dude definitely lived in interesting life. Plus he's responsible for some great films getting released, and hearing the stories behind them was really entertaining. The overall presentation here was fairly refreshing and I was engaged the entire time. I don't know that I'd go so far as to call it great, but I'm definitely glad I watched it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3271 Average listal rating (2099 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.4
Re-watch - Feb. 7th

The kiddo wanted to watch Honey, I Shrunk the Kids on this evening, so we watched it together. I think I've commented on it recently enough that I don't have much to say about it, but one thing that I caught for the first time was the fact that the story is credited to Stuart Gordon and Brian Yuzna. And at that point I remembered there was an AV Club article last year that discussed the genesis of the film (among other things), but I'm surprised that I overlooked that detail on previous viewings as an adult. Gordon was even originally supposed to direct but fell ill, so just think about that the next time you watch this.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 341 Average listal rating (215 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Feb. 10th

I remember enjoying the trailers for this back when it came out and I'd intended to watch it, but for whatever reason I wound up missing it entirely. I'm glad I finally caught up with it now, as I really enjoyed the story and the characters. It never crosses the line of greatness for me, but it's a good, fun film that I might watch again down the road.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Feb. 12th

So browsing Prime options on this night for something short to watch, I found Seoul Station which is a prequel to Train to Busan. As you're likely aware I loved the latter film, so naturally I was curious to check this out. Too bad it doesn't live up to the excellence of the original film, though I guess that's to be expected. I thought it was interesting that they chose the animated format for it, though this approach has its positives and negatives. For one thing you don't get the same level of emotions or the full appreciation of the aspects which would be rendered with special effects. Also I felt like there were too many characters being juggled, and it wasn't clear until about 30 minutes into it who our central characters would be. Once the film gets around to focusing on them it comes together better, and that thread of the story plays out in some interesting and occasionally amusing ways. But I doubt whether I'd watch it again, so it's more just an unnecessary curio for fans of Train to Busan.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 529 Average listal rating (364 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Feb. 14th

I was pleasantly surprised a few years ago when I watched Romancing the Stone for the first time I highly enjoyed it, so I figured I'd give its sequel a look. And I should've let well enough alone. The Jewel of the Nile has some fun characters in it, but both Michael Douglas and Danny Devito seem bored at times. Maybe it was just a mistake for them to go with Lewis Teague as director instead of getting Zemeckis to return (or finding someone with similar sensibilities), but overall the film lacks the consistent fun of the original. So while I found some things to enjoy I was mostly bored with it and wished I'd picked something else to watch. Ah well, so it goes.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 169 Average listal rating (121 ratings) 4.4 IMDB Rating 4.5
First viewing - Feb. 14th

Given how much fun I had revisiting the first two Critters movies it was inevitable that I'd get around to revisiting this one as well. And I quickly realized how much of it I'd forgotten, though by the end of it I wasn't surprised how little of it had stuck with me. The film is mostly notable for having DiCaprio in it, and watching it again you can see hints of his star power and how he has more charisma than anyone else in the picture. Which might be okay if he was the main character, but he's very much not. So instead we're left with a bunch of nobodies getting the majority of the attention, and I can't say I cared much about any of them. Usually that's fine, however, because the titular creatures make up for any lack in that department, but they're not given as much to do this time around. And the fact they only manage to kill off two characters doesn't help either. So yeah, this one was not worth wasting my time on either but at least now I know I won't have to watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Feb. 15th

One of my best friends encouraged me to finally give 24 Hour Party People a look, and overall I'm glad he did. At first though I was concerned because the opening credits are an eyesore (and the style is unfortunately used again for the closing credits). But then the story kicked in properly and for the first half of the film I felt like it was catering to my tastes heavily. There's the Sex Pistols and their influence on events that follow, the rise and fall of Joy Division, and the birth of Factory Records. Punk and post-punk have been a part of my DNA since I first discovered them, and even knowing how Joy Division's story plays out it still managed to deliver supremely (though for those looking for the full tale of Joy Division, Control is even better). As the film moves into its second half, however, it lost my enthusiasm but managed to keep my attention. Tony Wilson had an interesting life (even with the fictional flourishes on display), and the film is right to use him as the center of the events. But I suspect the film plays better to those who were into the Happy Mondays and New Order, two bands I never could get into beyond a song or two. Still, I thought the film was worth seeing and I'm glad I gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1415 Average listal rating (911 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Feb. 16th

Once upon a time this was near the top of my Netflix queue as something my fellow Listalites highly recommended I check out. Clearly I never got around to it back then, but luckily it's currently on Starz which allowed me to finally correct that mistake. I'm sure I don't need to tell you that Pacino and Penn deliver very strong performances in this film. Basically everybody does for that matter. The story is familiar but has enough new elements sprinkled throughout to make it feel fresh, so I was very engaged with it. My only gripe is with the opening of the film which lets you know where you'll end up and thus takes a lot of the power out of the finale. De Palma tries to compensate for this by eliminating some of the details in those initial images, but the approach still would've been better had he just started the story at the beginning and built everything up to those moments.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 259 Average listal rating (170 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
Re-watch - Feb. 16th

"Quoth the raven...oops, wrong movie"

The last time I watched Needful Things it was in theatres, and in the years since I've forgotten a lot of it. This was initially drove home for me during the opening credits when I realized I'd forgotten every member of the cast except for Max Von Sydow. I still appreciate the story and some of the ways it plays out. The whole film is proof that when communication between people breaks down it can have disastrous consequences. Which makes it rather fitting that the hero wins the day by talking to the people of his town instead of via a violent showdown, even though the moment gets a little too ridiculous. But hey, this is a Stephen King story and if there's not a little ridiculousness then it wouldn't be the same. There's nothing here to make it great, but I think it's a solidly entertaining film and might even watch it again one or two more times.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Feb. 18th

The kiddo wanted to watch something short while we waited for our dinner to be ready, so we chose Lamp Life. If you ever wanted to know the story of how Bo got from Andy's room to where she first meets up with Woody in Toy Story 4, here you go. There are some amusing moments as you'd expect, and for a throwaway short it's still well-animated. The kiddo and I enjoyed it, but it's nothing necessary.

Just a thought: The title of this song is now forever linked to this song in my head.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 537 Average listal rating (332 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7
Parenthood (1989)
Re-watch - Feb. 19th

Here's another film I hadn't seen since the '90s, and one I appreciate on a whole different level now that I'm a parent. As one example, I now better understand why the father wants to help the one son who's a total fuckup despite all evidence that he shouldn't. As another I deeply appreciate Steve Martin's character coming to his son's rescue when there's a mix-up with the entertainment for his birthday party. The entire cast is excellent in their respective roles, making this family of average people resonate. There's one choice for the finale that doesn't entirely work for me, partly because it throws into question how much time has passed and mainly because it basically comes out of nowhere. As a result it feels unearned and left me questioning why they didn't just end things with a more story-driven outcome. Thankfully it doesn't detract too much from the rest of the film which is wonderful and one I need to revisit more often.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 525 Average listal rating (367 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
Re-watch - Feb. 22nd

The kiddo and I followed up Singin' in the Rain with an old favorite of mine, having decided prior to the weekend that today we'd watch movies at home all day. She's at the right age to appreciate and understand this movie, and watching her laugh through the Ruprecht scenes brought me a lot of joy. Knowing how the film plays out doesn't detract from it at all on repeat viewings, and in fact I'd argue it only enriches the experience. I'm glad I was able to share this with her, and hope that she'll want to watch it again in the future.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1251 Average listal rating (911 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - Feb. 22nd

I figured we needed to dial things up a little bit, so our third film was Edge of Tomorrow. She absolutely loved it, so I let her know there's a sequel in the works and she's looking forward to it. As am I. My opinion of the film hasn't shifted much from the last time I watched it, but it's one I'm proud to say I own so I can revisit it whenever the mood strikes me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 76 Average listal rating (56 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - Feb. 24th

When I noticed this was on Prime I quickly added it to my watchlist, and took the first opportunity to watch it again. My dad turned me on to this and its sequel several years ago, and it remains a super fun film from start to finish. It's smart and funny and James Garner's charisma shines the entire time. If you need something light and fun, and you've got Prime (in the US at least, I can't say for certain whether it's available elsewhere), then I highly recommend giving it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 126 Average listal rating (59 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Feb. 26th

So Ekusute AKA Hair Extensions is what I thought I was watching, but it turns out I was mistaken. Apparently the film I watched, called Hair Extension, is a 2010 Japanese horror film that's on Prime but doesn't exist as far as IMDb is concerned. Even searching the cast and director, the film isn't credited to any of them. Which should also tell you that it's not really worth watching. It should've been quickly apparent, however, as the film doesn't look or feel like anything Sion Sono would do. I stuck it out, but the horror elements mostly failed to make an impact thanks to some poor choices in the cinematography/framing department. The story idea was fairly interesting, but the characters could have been better developed in my opinion. Had I paid more attention I would not have watched it in the first place, but that's my fault.

Rating: 5/10
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught in a theatre
First viewing - Feb. 15th

Finally, a reason to go to the theatre this month. And hey, the movie is a good time to boot. The action scenes are well-staged and shot in ways that make sense, the characters are a lot of fun, and I dug that it took the approach of having Harley be our narrator for the entire film. Granted her mental state leads the film to backtrack a couple of times which can be annoying after the first time, but overall it works. There were quite a few surprises along the way, and some truly memorable moments. The cast is clearly having a blast with their respective roles, though if there's anything lacking it's that we could use a little more time with the titular group spending time together. Perhaps they'll make another one, and if so I'd be down for it. The soundtrack is pretty good too, and I'm glad DC continues to make moves in the right direction.

Just a thought: I look forward to watching this one with the kiddo when she's older.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 115 Average listal rating (76 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
Guns Akimbo (2020)
First viewing - Feb. 28th

If you saw Deathgasm this is from the same director. Add to that the fact that it stars Daniel Radcliffe and Samara Weaving, and there was no way I was going to miss it. Luckily it popped up on a non-kiddo weekend so I could catch it before heading home after work on Friday night. The film is a total blast, and it's clear Ms. Weaving relishes her role. The story takes some unexpected turns and has a lot of fun playing with the hardships of having guns bolted to one's hands. The film moves along at a fast enough clip that it doesn't overstay its welcome or wear out its premise too soon. My only complaint is that there's a lack of practical effects which would make the film feel more realistic. Watching gun blasts and blood spurts that are obviously computer-generated diminishes the impact of it all and occasionally breaks the spell. But overall it's a fun film that I'd sit through again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 93 Average listal rating (61 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6
First viewing - Feb. 29th

This month hasn't given me many reasons to catch films on the big screen, so I figured I'd end it by catching a double feature of new horror movies. The Lodge comes to us courtesy of the same directing team that delivered Goodnight, Mommy, and they're here to bum everyone out. This is a dark film that commendably sustains its mood despite the fact that a little bit of humor to relieve the tensions would be welcome. The cast delivers across the board, and the story unfolds in ways that keep you guessing about what's really going on. Where it ends up may be less of a surprise, however, and I felt like there were some character motivations that didn't completely track or at least weren't clearly defined enough to fully justify. In the end this is worth seeing, but I'm skeptical of whether I'd sit through it again.
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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.
First viewing - Feb. 22nd

The kiddo and I closed our Saturday movie marathon with the next entry in our year-long project, and overall it was more fun than the previous film in the series. I thought maybe I'd seen it when I was younger, but if I did I'd forgotten all of it. The story struggles a little to juggle all the different characters, and maybe overextends itself to bring the two titans together, but it works well enough. Watching them fight each other is rewarding enough to keep the film in my good graces, even if it's kinda obvious we're watching two dudes in suits wrestle each other. The human characters were more interesting/entertaining than in the previous entry too. The kiddo still laughs at the model work used in these films, and to be fair there are times where it's obviously models and not the real thing. Whether that's more apparent thanks to the Blu-ray transfer or just was always the case I can't say for certain, but it brings us some additional unintentional laughs at times.
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