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Added by the giraffe on 3 Jul 2020 04:44
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2020: July

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 30 films watched
23 first views, 7 re-watches
24 via streaming, 2 via DVD/BR, and 4 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1960s - 2020s

All in all, July was a productive month. My focus on clearing out as many options as possible from Hulu in a month helped contribute to most of this list, and I'm proud to say I watched every film I'd genuinely wanted to while I had it (which makes it all the easier to drop it again). Having a drive-in theatre helped out too, affording me the opportunity to revisit one of my favorite films ever as well as check out some new ones. It did derail me from my planned Starz double features on Friday nights, but I'm not complaining. Supposedly next month all theatres will reopen here, but with no vaccine in place yet and numbers of cases still high because American leadership is failing us I won't be going back to AMC for a while. If I can't catch something at the drive-in, I'll just wait to watch it at home. At least with the drive-in I know nobody else can sit too close to me & there are less instances where I run the risk of encountering someone who doesn't want to follow guidelines. Both trips this month others ignored the 2 people in the restroom at a time rule, but speaking up tends to turn them back so I can handle that. Insane to me that people here aren't fully on board with protecting themselves, but, well, I'll stop here rather than rant incessantly.

For those of you with Hulu, hopefully this list gives you something to watch in the near future. That is, of course, provided you haven't already watched all the films on there as from what I saw the pickings were slim. Next month will be my last with Starz, unless they offer me more months at less than $5 each again, so expect me to focus on them next. Tentatively considering adding Netflix for a month after that, then Shudder for my Horrorfest, and maybe one more trip with Amazon in November...we'll see if that sticks.
People who added this item 238 Average listal rating (145 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - July 19th

I've been wanting to watch Hustle & Flow for at least 10 years, but it's been tough to track down on streaming services. AMC's On Demand service has it right now for $3.99, however, so I ponied up the money to finally watch it. Turns out I should've just spent the $9.99 to own it. Next time I come across a physical copy I'll pick it up. I can't think of a single thing I took issue with, and the only thing missing was that perfect 10 feeling.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 334 Average listal rating (216 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - July 15th

I think Coherence was on Netflix for a while, but for whatever reason (lack of familiarity probably) I kept skipping past it. Something about it caught my eye this time around, however, and I'm glad it did. I went in knowing nothing about it, and I can't recommend that approach enough. It hooked me in fairly quickly, and kept me engaged through the ending. If I still kept track of hidden gems, this would probably wind up being my pick for that for this month. I'd gladly sit through it again, just to see how it plays now that I know what to expect from it.
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First viewing - July 21st

This unusual title caught my eye among Hulu's offerings, and seeing it was directed by the same person as The Hate U Give I figured I'd give it a look. It reminded me a little of Fresh or maybe even The Transfiguration (though I recognize the latter came after this). The child actors who play the titular roles are outstanding, and the rest of the case does an excellent job too. The story feels authentic, and there were a few surprises along the way. It's an engaging and thoughtful look at inner city life, even if it's not all that original. It is well worth seeing though, and I'm glad I noticed it.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 5.9
VHYes (2020)
First viewing - July 1st

So in June I got an email from Hulu offering me a month-long free trial. And I figured, well, why not? So I went through their selection of movies, and I found it rather lacking. Most of what they have I've either seen or know better than to bother with. Even their TV selections have dwindled down from what they once were, though I suspect that's largely due to the increased competition pulling content from them. But there were a handful I genuinely wanted to check out, so I bookmarked them all with the intention of knocking them out within 30 days. And so we begin here.

Look, VHYes will not appeal to everyone. And in all fairness the plot is pretty thin and lacks follow through on the threads it gives you. But it's also clear to me that the main point of this is to recreate the feeling of taping stuff off of TV and making your own mix-tape. In this case it's added to "home videos", and the entire thing was shot on video (VHS and Beta) to sell a more authentic presentation. The joy I found in the film lies mainly in the many strange creations it finds among the late-night TV offerings, many of which had me rolling on my couch with laughter. As someone who grew up in the '80s scanning channels after my parents went to sleep on the weekends and during the summer, many of them rang true enough, and I thought the approach was heartfelt with a terrific sense of humor. Could it be better? Sure. Would I want it to be any different? Not so much.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - July 2nd

Between the title that references the Marx brothers and my long-time appreciation of Melanie Lynskey as an actor, I really wanted to check this out. Overall I thought it was very good. She does an outstanding job throughout the film of selling her character's journey, and the writing rose to the task admirably. Sure it's a little unusual to have the central relationship have such an age gap, but it's not unheard of (just look at the real-life age gap between Demi & Ashton). And at least the situation is handled honestly. I don't know that I need to watch it again, but I'd gladly revisit it with anyone who hasn't seen it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1183 Average listal rating (706 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - July 3rd

Dancing Machines double feature

I've long put off seeing Saturday Night Fever because I hate disco music. But sometimes I need to push myself out of my comfort zone, and since it's considered a classic I decided I should finally give it a look. It was a struggle, but I got through it. The racist and misogynistic characters prevalent kept me at a distance, as did the overlong dance routines. But in the end it seemed like Travolta's character wanted to change and become a better person, even if he lacks the know-how to do so...and I guess that made up for it a little. And even if a lot of it isn't to my tastes, I can't deny that it's a well-made film on technical levels. So I don't entirely regret giving it a chance, but rest assured I won't bother sitting through it a second time.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - July 3rd

Dancing Machines double feature

I kinda wanted to see this back when it came out just because Nick Frost hasn't had as many lead opportunities over the years as Simon Pegg has, and I figured it would pair nicely with the previous film. Of the two films I preferred this one by far. Chris O'Dowd's character is a bit too much at times, but I liked pretty much everything else about the film. Seeing Frost pull off the dance moves is a treat, and I like the way his character arc plays out. Rashida Jones and Olivia Coleman are excellent in their respective roles too. I had a lot of fun with Cuban Fury and would gladly sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 80 Average listal rating (55 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - July 4th

I had zero plans for Independence Day, so I decided to spend most of my time on the couch watching some movies. I began with The Nightingale, which was a brutal watch. If you can withstand the opening stretch of the film, it ultimately pays off though I could see some of it coming. It's a well-made film with an excellent cast, and while I've seen some of these elements in other films having it set in Australia made it feel fresh. It's nothing I'd watch twice, but it's worth a look.
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People who added this item 26 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 4.7 IMDB Rating 5.6
First viewing - July 4th

This was listed as a comedic Western, and while it's not often funny it was at least more fun than The Nightingale. It's an oddball of a film to be sure, and while the cast is good the story unfolds in ways that had me scratching my head at times. It never quite comes together in a satisfying way, and requires a lot of patience as a result. It's got moments, however, that I appreciated, but I think one viewing was sufficient.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - July 4th

After dinner I dove into Little Monsters, which brought me back to Australia again. And I mostly loved it. It's not a great film, but I appreciated the take on the zombie genre as well as the lead characters. It's weird and wonderful, and as long as Hulu keeps it around I'll probably revisit it there whenever another free month is offered.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 426 Average listal rating (309 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
Re-watch - July 4th

I wanted to end the holiday with an American film, and nothing seemed more appropriate to me than Us. I have nothing new to add about it, other than the more I watch it the more deeply I appreciate it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.3
Hail Satan? (2019)
First viewing - July 5th

I've seen good things about this documentary, so I was curious to check it out and it lived up to the buzz. Hail Satan? is a timely and important film for Americans I feel, and I found myself appreciating what these people are doing and wanting to support them. As with most documentaries I don't know that I'll need to watch it twice, but in this case if someone wanted me to watch it with them I wouldn't hesitate to agree.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.2
Shirley (2020)
First viewing - July 6th

Look, Elisabeth Moss is a treasure and we don't deserve her. But I'm glad she's doing her thing because it makes me happy to watch her. Once again she acts her ass off here and makes the entire film worthwhile. The film takes some unexpected turns, and when it ended I had to think about it for a while to figure out how I felt about it all. It's a challenging film, which is a compliment, and while I didn't love it I'm glad I was able to see it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 6.3
My Spy (2020)
First viewing - July 10th

The kiddo and I have wanted to watch My Spy ever since the trailers first dropped, and so of course now that it's widely available it was a priority for us this weekend. Now I recognize that this idea has been done before elsewhere, but in the past I've generally avoided those films. I like Dave Bautista, however, which is why I was willing to make an exception. And the film is fine. It's nothing great and you can easily figure out where it's going, but there are some really fun moments along the way and Bautista is a joy to watch for the most part. The film never quite strikes the right tone consistently, and at times the story seems to lose track of what it's supposed to be doing, but it manages to inject enough fun at the right moments to keep it from being a trainwreck. My daughter enjoyed it more than I did, which is to be expected, and I might watch it again with her but definitely not on my own.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1025 Average listal rating (694 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - July 11th

Oh, that's right, I have Disney+ still, don't I. Now I barely registered John Carter's release back in 2012, which might explain why I've never seen it before. I recall seeing the posters for it, but I'm pretty sure I didn't see a trailer for it. And while I'm aware it's adapted from books, I'm not familiar with them. My work friend had spoken favorably of it, however, and knowing it was a fantasy film I figured my daughter would dig it and so we dove in.

I thought it was a decent film, which was surprising given that it's one of the biggest bombs ever. The CG effects are solid, the story is consistently entertaining, and the cast is pretty good. The ending could be better, but then it left some aspects open in anticipation of this launching a trilogy that died with its box-office take. It'll be interesting to see whether it finds a wider audience thanks to the streaming service, but I won't hold my breath for subsequent entries to emerge down the road. It's not great, but we enjoyed it well enough for what it is.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 217 Average listal rating (166 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.7
Shin Godzilla (2016)
First viewing - July 12th

I missed Shin Godzilla's theatrical run because it was released around the same time I moved across the country, and when I got here its run was over. I've kept it in my head since then, and decided to watch it with the kiddo. The effects side of the film is a treat, watching Gojira grow and change is a delight. The production value on this film is solid all around, and I regret not being able to see it in a theatre where I could get the full effect. If I had any complaints, it's that watching the humans gathered around debating over what to do to handle the situation eventually gets to be a bit overwhelming. Part of me wishes these scenes were trimmed down, which might have given it a more compact running time, but I also recognize that if this situation happened in real life this is probably fairly accurately how it could play out. It's compelling enough that I wasn't bored with it, but I also felt like I could've walked away for a few minutes at a time here & there and not missed anything. If nothing else it was a nice break from the Showa Era films I've been watching all year, and if I ever find myself with the opportunity to catch it in a theatre I'll probably revisit it that way.

Just a thought: Huge credit is due to the effects crew for making one of the most visually interesting and memorable versions of Gojira I've ever seen.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 179 Average listal rating (131 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - July 13th

So the entire weekend with my daughter I kept seeing everyone on social media freaking out over Palm Springs, The Old Guard, and Relic, films I couldn't watch with my daughter. Since Palm Springs is the only one of those films on Hulu I made it a priority to watch it Monday night after dinner.

And it's really good. I definitely enjoyed it. I'm not sure that I'd go so far as to call it great, but I'd watch it again. I don't want to say too much about it since people have yet to experience it, so for now I'll say go in as blindly as possible and give it a chance.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2412 Average listal rating (1488 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.5
Re-watch - July 18th

I know I watched Thelma & Louise forever ago, but at the time I don't think it resonated with me very much. Watching it again I found myself really appreciating it for the most part. Sarandon and Davis are outstanding throughout the entire film, and I really felt for their characters. Plus the film does a great job of balancing the dramatic moments with lighter ones, keeping me engaged and entertained. My only issue with it was the lack of representation and the unfortunately stereotypical handling of its only POC character. Otherwise it's a really good movie and I'm glad I finally circled back to it.
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First viewing - July 18th

Portrait of a Lady on Fire was on so many best-of lists for 2019 that I felt compelled to give it a look. At the time of its release I decided it wouldn't be my cup of tea, but as I mentioned above I'm trying to push myself outside my comfort zone now and then. Overall it's a very well-made film. I liked the characters fairly well, and the story kept me engaged. I didn't love it as much as the critics seemed to, but I can understand why it was so loved and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.5
Clemency (2019)
First viewing - July 18th

I keep seeing praise for Clemency online as well, so I decided to end my night with it. Alfre Woodard gives an outstanding performance that makes the whole thing worthwhile. At the end of it I had plenty to consider with regard to how prisons and particularly death row affects people. I never connected with it much on an emotional level for some reason, but that doesn't mean others won't and so I suggest giving it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 198 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.8
First viewing - July 20th

I read Dean Koontz's Odd Thomas and absolutely loved it, which is why I've put off watching the film for so long. I knew it couldn't possibly live up to it. It's been enough time now, however, since I've visited Odd's world so I figured I could give this a fair shake. First off, I was pleasantly surprised by some of the casting choices. Second, it's been so long that I'd forgotten some of the details of the original story, so I was able to roll with it for the most part without comparing it in my head to the book. I personally would've gone with different actors to play Odd and Stormy, but I'm sure it was cast with the intention of appealing to the widest audience possible. And they do a fine job, I just kept wishing someone else was in each role at times based on what I'd had in my imagination. The CGI and effects are a mixed bag, but the film moves along at a quick enough pace while hitting the major points of the story so I wasn't too upset with it. In fact I found myself enjoying it more often than not despite my issues with it. I wouldn't watch it again, but I don't regret finally checking it out.

Just a thought: If nothing else this was worth watching for Willem Dafoe.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 44 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 6.3
The Patsy (1964)
First viewing - July 23rd

Since I had such a good time with The Bellboy I wanted to check out another Jerry Lewis film. Hulu has this and Cinderfella, and if time permits I may catch that film too. It took me a little while to get into The Patsy, but there are some really amusing moments throughout. It also reminded me a little of Andy Kaufman's antics, by having this guy who can't do anything right for most of the movie finally turn it all around to impress people (not really a spoiler, I mean, it's a comedy...what do you expect?). And the ending is a special treat for sure. The film isn't great, per se, but it's a good time and I'm glad I gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 296 Average listal rating (200 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - July 25th

I had my daughter over the weekend, and when she spotted this on Starz she insisted we watch it. The upshot of it being my second go-round was that I had no issues getting into it from the start like I did back in January. As a result it confirmed my love for the film, though that elusive 10/10 feeling was still not there for me. I'll gladly be revisiting it in the years ahead, however, and I'm thankful she enjoyed it too.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 692 Average listal rating (469 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.9
The Burbs (1989)
Re-watch - July 26th

I wanted to watch something with my daughter, and when I ran down our options she picked The Burbs. Even though I only watched it 6 years ago I'd forgotten how it ended somehow, which made the experience about as enjoyable as it was the first time around. The kiddo enjoyed it as well, so I'm hoping I can convince her to watch more of Joe Dante's films in the near future.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 368 Average listal rating (236 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Re-watch - July 29th

The kiddo wound up spending some extra time with me this week, so on this night I insisted we watch a movie after dinner. Since I'm dropping Hulu I wanted to make sure she was introduced to Elvira before time ran out. And she enjoyed it mostly, though she complained throughout (not unfairly) about all the objectification going on. The film is just too much fun to resist though, much as I said last time I watched it.
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Big screen attractions

Films I caught at the drive-in
People who added this item 2117 Average listal rating (1431 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Re-watch - July 17th

When I saw the local drive-in was showing The Evil Dead with The Lost Boys I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I do rather wish they'd flipped the order around, however, as this film is a tough act to follow. But I had a great time overall and I'm thankful for the chance to see both films this way.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1741 Average listal rating (1135 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
The Lost Boys (1987)
Re-watch - July 17th

I think this was my first time seeing The Lost Boys on the big screen. It's possible I'm forgetting seeing it as a midnight movie at some point, but I don't think I am.

Looking back at the last time I watched it I'm not sure why I came down so hard on it. Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood, or maybe this time around I was just in a better headspace in the wake of The Evil Dead. Whatever the case, I do still think the film puts too much weight on style over substance, but I was never bored with it. It's still far from great, but I had a good time watching it so maybe in the future I should only watch it with an audience.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 57 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 5.7
The Rental (2020)
First viewing - July 31st

I ended the month with a trip to the drive-in theatre to watch some new movies for a change. The night began with The Rental, which is the directorial debut from Dave Franco. The cast is solid all around and the first half or so of the film rolled along satisfyingly enough. There's some foreshadowing of what's coming, and to some extent the way it plays out is logical enough. Trouble is when the film shifts into full-on horror mode there's no feeling to any of it. It's not scary in any sense, and the ending feels unresolved in some ways. If the sole point was to make you not want to rent a vacation home, it falls short of selling you on it. Which is a shame, because there's enough potential shown in the opening stretch of the film to suggest a better finale could've been pulled off. Perhaps next time around Franco will do a better job.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.1
First viewing - July 31st

Given that Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead produced She Dies Tomorrow, I was not willing to wait for the VOD release & opted to catch it on its opening weekend. As the film began, I understood why they ran it second because the opening stretch of this film requires a whole LOT of patience to get through it. I wasn't surprised when cars pulled out during the first half hour, and was even considering whether to join them. But I resolved to stick it out to the end no matter what, and as the film meandered along it finally started to come together in some very interesting ways. And for a while I was into it. But then the ending came along and undid some of the goodwill it had built up for me. Maybe another viewing would yield better results, but it's more likely that this just is NOT my cup of tea.

In fairness, the quality is there. The cast is mostly good, the sound elements work well enough, there are some really interesting shots and it looks like it has more of a budget than it did. And it's got some stimulating ideas in it. Ultimately though I struggled with the vague approach it takes on at times and the insistence on keeping the audience removed from the characters most of the time. Go in expecting more arthouse than horror and perhaps you'll get more out of it than I did.
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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 98 Average listal rating (64 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.3
First viewing - July 30th

The kiddo has officially bailed out on this project, so going forward I'll be watching these on my own. That should allow me to squeeze more in in the months ahead. This entry is rather curious. The first thing that struck me was the music in it, which is downright playful for the most part. Jaunty, even. It was a nice change of pace, but the trouble is it was most of what I enjoyed about the film. Gojira's son sucks, which causes most of the issues. I kept wishing he wasn't in the film at all after he was introduced, and thus was disappointed every time he didn't die. I'll give them credit for exploring the father/son relationship, but this isn't what I want or need to see. The human side of things is merely OK, basic B-movie sci-fi nonsense though the cast tries their best. But of all the films I've watched in this series it's by far my least favorite and I don't anticipate revisiting it.
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