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Added by the giraffe on 2 Nov 2020 02:58
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2020: November

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 26 films
24 first views, 2 re-watches
24 via streaming and 2 via DVD/BR
Decades touched: 1940s-2020s

November was not as productive as I'd hoped for, but that's fine. Probably best to have a less productive month after going overboard on horror in October, and historically that tends to be how the month plays out. Most of all I missed being able to go to the theatre, a feeling that will grow over the months ahead. I'm reluctant to go to the drive-in during the winter months, which means it might be 6 months before I return. Tough to process that, and I hope I'm wrong. We'll see.

Thankfully there was plenty to watch, and I didn't even clear my watch list by the end of the month. I left a lot of films untouched just because I wasn't in the mood for them whenever I pulled it up. Interestingly most of what I have NOT seen that's on Prime seems to be dramas, and while I dig a good drama I don't want to watch them almost exclusively. Maybe next time I pick it up for a month there will be enough variety to offset them.
People who added this item 375 Average listal rating (229 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Nov. 21st

Bogart and Grahame shine in this twisty film that keeps you guessing through the end. Both characters are so well fleshed out, and watching them navigate through everything thrown at them makes for an entertaining flick. It's also got a great streak of humor running through everything that I deeply appreciated. I got really caught up in it and was pleased with the way it ended. I'd gladly watch this one again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 81 Average listal rating (55 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Nov. 23rd

Pretty much every list I've seen in the past year talking about the best films on Prime right now has included I Am Not Your Negro, so I felt I needed to watch it before my month ended. And I'm glad I did. It's a great look at the history of race and the American Civil Rights movement through the eyes of James Baldwin, who knew first-hand key figures like Dr. King, Malcolm X, and Medgar Evers. Using Baldwin's own words from a unfinished manuscript works so well, and the film hooked itself into me from start to finish. It's informative, naturally, and passionate as well, but Baldwin's sense of humor is present too to keep it from being overwhelming. It serves as a reminder I need to read more of his works in the future. In the wake of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor this documentary is maybe even more vital and essential viewing. I'd even sit through it again.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (69 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Nov. 1st

I switched from Shudder to Amazon Prime for this month, and the first thing the kiddo wanted to watch was this. It was fine. It's got some decent jokes sprinkled throughout (some of which were in the trailers unfortunately), and it's a light, fun film overall. It's also pretty predictable, to the point I knew what the characters were going to say next at times. It's nothing I'd go out of my way to sit through again, but my daughter and I enjoyed it well enough for what it is.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 111 Average listal rating (79 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.2
First viewing - Nov. 2nd

I'm not sure how I missed Stay Tuned back when it came out, as it's totally the kind of film I would have loved as a teenager. I recall seeing trailers and yet for some reason ignored it. Not that it's a great film, mind you, but it's fun enough that it held my attention and delivered some laughs along the way. The poking fun at various TV shows and movies, surrounded by the plot of lost love and motivation with an effort to recapture one's spark made for an enjoyable experience. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but I just might do so once or twice and I'm glad I finally caught this.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Nov. 5th

This was one of my priorities for signing up for Prime this month, and the only reason I didn't watch it sooner was that I wanted to save it for a night when I really needed some comedy. And as the U.S. election dragged along to its conclusion, I decided I would watch it prior to the results rather than save it for after.

As typically happens with sequels, this one falls far short of its predecessor. It's got some funny and memorable moments, but nothing that hit me like the hotel fight in the original film. It is amusing, however, to see Cohen play Borat pretending to be other people, and Maria Bakalova performs admirably. But I'd argue that for a number of reasons this film was going to be difficult to make anyway. For one thing, Borat rose to popularity which is wisely addressed in the film...he can't just show up as himself without being recognized. For another, America changed in the years between films. Where the first film laid bare the biases in America that people held but kept quiet about when they were around others, in the past 4 years the biased have felt free to speak up about how they really feel. And I'm not saying this film needed to be that again, but there's just not much for it to sink its teeth into this time around. As the film ended I couldn't help feeling that a better idea would have been to center everything on Bakalova's character and allow the film to strive for a female-centric version of the original film.

Ultimately I'd say it is worth watching, I just don't see myself needing to revisit it in the future.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 19 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Nov. 6th

This caught my eye while browsing options, so I figured I'd check it out. It's pretty good. The cast is solid, the story is intriguing and entertaining, and there's an interesting approach here to break things up with sea shanties. I wouldn't go so far as to call the film great, but if you're looking for a solid crime flick that's a little different from the norm it's absolutely worth your time.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Nov. 7th

As much as I've appreciated Jessica Rothe's performances in the Happy Death Day franchise, I haven't seen enough of her work outside of it. This gave me the chance to do that, and I'm glad I came across it. The film takes its time revealing what the two main characters are dealing with, allowing their issues to come to light organically as they struggle to find connections between them beyond being related by blood. It's meditative at times, but the pacing was never too slow thanks largely to the two lead performances. It's a different film and for that I deeply respect it. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but I'd gladly do so if someone else wanted to watch it with me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 164 Average listal rating (105 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 6.4
Valley Girl (1983)
First viewing - Nov. 7th

I checked out Valley Girl out of curiosity, as I know it's got fans. And it's fine I guess. It feels like a time capsule at this point, very '80s through and through. There are stretches of the film that are little more than shots of various popular locations in California, and between that and the opening sequence in the mall I couldn't help but feel like they were begging me to buy things. As for the story, it's pretty standard I guess. Boy meets girl, but he's not from her social circle so her friends don't approve and she has to make up her mind whether she wants to stay with him or return to her awful awful ex. I kinda tuned out during the last third of the film as I just didn't care much about it, but I got the gist. It's not at all my kind of film, and the only thing I can really say in its favor is that the acting has some bright spots.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 146 Average listal rating (105 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.1
Harlem Nights (1989)
First viewing - Nov. 7th

I ended my Saturday night with Harlem Nights because it's an Eddie Murphy film from the '80s I hadn't seen yet. And I had a good time with it. Watching Murphy work with his idol Richard Pryor is a treat all around, and it's refreshing to see a 1930s gangster film told from a Black perspective. The cast is very good, the story is well-told, and it's consistently entertaining. It's not quite great, but it's better than the ratings above would suggest. I'd watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 256 Average listal rating (167 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.3
First viewing - Nov. 8th

It's not a good sign that 2 weeks after watching Detour I had to look up the plot to remind myself what it was about. I liked it well enough at the time, however, but clearly it didn't stick with me very well...which means in like 5-10 years I'll watch it again thinking I've never seen it. Heh. I don't recall having any issues with it, and I know I was entertained while watching it, but clearly it didn't make an impact on me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 31 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 4.7
Capone (2020)
First viewing - Nov. 8th

It's also possible that the experience of Capone totally wiped Detour from my mind. Tom Hardy continues to be one of the most impressive actors ever, and makes this film worth sitting through. There's something quite amusing to me about watching an infamous criminal reduced to ineptitude and obsolescence, as the film focuses on the final year of his life when he was out of his mind. Some aspects don't work so well, and it'd be a stretch to call this a great movie as a result...but if you're looking for something different that challenges your expectations then this is worth a look. I might even watch it again, though I think once was sufficient.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 101 Average listal rating (53 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
Images (1972)
First viewing - Nov. 9th

This was an interesting and different film. It takes a lot of patience to hang with it, between the stretches of reading passages from a book the protagonist is writing to the ways the film plays with reality versus fantasy. I figured out how it would end up before it got there, just not the exact details, which means the ending worked well enough. Overall though it was so artsy that it felt a little like an assignment to complete, and thus one viewing will be all for me.

Just a thought: Images would've paired better with Capone than Detour did.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 75 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Nov. 11th

I'll watch pretty much anything Charlize Theron does, and that's how I got here. I dug that it's a film with a person of color as the protagonist trying to navigate two worlds he doesn't fit into and finding his own way through. The story is told well enough, and I was entertained throughout. It's not great, but I thought it was worth watching.

Just a thought: Something that's been gnawing at me all year long...why do we still make films in which the characters don't wear a seat belt? And then they'll put one on to save them from a potentially fatal car crash at the last minute? Don't people generally wear seat belts now whether they're driving or not? Am I in the minority and just don't know it?
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 180 Average listal rating (105 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
Trees Lounge (1996)
First viewing - Nov. 16th

Much like Buscemi himself, this film is an odd duck. We follow our protagonist along through what seems to be the lowest point of his life, and end up in a place that suggests a chance things could improve without giving us a concrete delivery of catharsis. The cast is excellent all around, the soundtrack is mostly good, and it entertained me and left me with something to think about. So yeah, if you haven't seen this give it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 60 Average listal rating (38 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.4
Navajo Joe (1966)
First viewing - Nov. 18th

If you can get past the fact that the film features mostly white people playing POC characters, this is pretty entertaining. Burt Reynolds gets a chance to shine every moment he's on screen, and it's no surprise his career took off from here. (He doesn't even need his trademark mustache.) It's a blast watching him thwart his rivals and make most of the people around him look like fools and cowards by comparison. It was fun enough I'd sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 158 Average listal rating (86 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.1
Parents (1989)
First viewing - Nov. 20th

I've seen a fair bit of praise for Parents around here, so I'm glad I finally got the chance to check it out. It works well as a satire of '50s America as well as a dark horror-comedy, and Randy Quaid is clearly having a blast the entire time playing the father. The attention to detail is exquisite, and I often found myself impressed by the costumes and set design. I don't know that I think it's great, but it's really good and I appreciate everyone who put and kept this on my radar.

Just a thought: I want this family's living room decor, but in a different color than green.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 140 Average listal rating (93 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.2
Waxwork (1988)
Re-watch - Nov. 20th

It's been about 17 years I think since I last watched Waxwork, and since I just wanted something short to chase Parents before bed I figured I'd revisit it. The effects are so so good throughout, and I still dig the story. There are some places where it's almost too cheesy to hang with, especially in the early going...some of the dialogue falls flat, and the characters seem unreal. But as it rolls along it gets better, and ultimately it's a fun ride. Just don't take it too seriously.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 104 Average listal rating (67 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Nov. 21st

I wound up spending my Saturday afternoon submerged in '50s movies, kicking things off with The Hitch-Hiker (a film I should've paired with Detour). It amused me that the film kicks off with a warning that this is a true story and it can happen to you if you pick up hitchhikers. Do people even do that anymore? If I've seen someone hitchhiking outside of TV and movies it must have been over 30 years ago.

Anyway, true or not it's a decent story, and the film is made well enough. And hey, it's directed and co-written by a woman, Ida Lupino, which is pretty cool given the time it was produced.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 182 Average listal rating (88 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Nov. 21st

Frank Sinatra acts his ass off in this film...I was really impressed. You can see more or less where it'll wind up, but thankfully it's written so that I was invested in the characters enough that I hardly minded. I think this is the earliest film I've seen that deals honestly with drug addiction, and I found that admirable. I don't know that I need to watch it again, but if someone wanted to watch it with me I'd be happy to do so.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 166 Average listal rating (101 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Nov. 21st

By the time I finished dinner I was itching for something different all around, so I initially started to watch Chi-Raq. It fast became apparent that I was not in the mood for what it was doing, so I switched it up and checked out Dead Presidents instead. I recall seeing the trailers for this back when it came out, but at the time I didn't really care. Much like the poster to the left, what I recall was the trailers centered on the heist scenes which is only one piece of the overall film. The film is more interested in telling the story of what one man goes through from high school to Vietnam and after, but from a Black perspective. It's just as timely now as it would have been in '95, and sadly a lot of what's depicted here hasn't changed much. You could easily update the film to follow someone through the post-9/11 conflict and aside from costuming not much would be different. The cast is excellent all around, the soundtrack is full of great music, and overall it's well worth seeing. It fell just shy of greatness for me for some reason, but I'm glad I gave it a look and might even sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1090 Average listal rating (741 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.6
Re-watch - Nov. 25th

I know it's obvious to watch this around Thanksgiving, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea. I haven't watched the movie too often either, so it felt justified. The film hits a little harder in 2020, knowing I can't go home to my own family much like Del Griffith. And yet it also serves as a reminder of what a hassle the holiday travels can be, making me feel a little better I didn't have to deal with it this year.

When it ended I watched most of the supplementals on my Blu, which was time well-spent.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
Time (2020)
First viewing - Nov. 29th

The kiddo and I didn't watch a single movie together over the holiday weekend, so after I dropped her back off to her mom I came home and watched Time before I went to sleep. I went into it knowing pretty much nothing about it and wound up really enjoying it overall. It's a heartfelt document of one woman's crusade to bring her husband back home with her and her family, and I love the ways it looks at the journey through home footage mixed with professional documentary techniques. By the end of it I had some questions I felt were not adequately addressed in the film, but other than that I enjoyed and appreciated it and I'm glad I gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 313 Average listal rating (191 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.8
Evil (2003)
First viewing - Nov. 30th

Ondskan aka Evil was one of the films that was part of the Five by Five project I was a part of with some of my fellow Listalites. I've also seen others around here say it's worth watching, so I made a mental note to check it out in the future. I was pleasantly surprised to spot it on Prime. Fair warning, however, that if you've got Prime in the US and want to watch it the quality could be better...seems more like a DVD scan, definitely not HD.

Thankfully the technical quality of the scan didn't hurt my enjoyment of the film too much. The performances are excellent across the board, and it's a thoughtful and entertaining story. Tough to watch at times, but then it's supposed to be. It's not perfect, but it was absolutely worth watching and I'm glad this site put it on my radar.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Nov. 30th

Lovers Rock

I'd hoped to get the first two "episodes" of Small Axe watched, but other obligations led to me getting a later start than intended and left me with time to watch one of them. I picked Lovers Rock because it was the shorter of the options. I said "episodes" because each one could well be a feature film, hence also why I'm including it here. And it was good overall. The cast is stellar, and it really transported me to what it would be like to be at this house party and observing what's going on around me. The attention to detail is impressive. There's conflict here as well which keeps it from just being a bunch of people dancing to music for over an hour. I felt like one or two of the dance scenes went on longer than needed, but that's probably more due to my wanting it to keep moving along or my own tastes. It's worth watching for sure, and I look forward to watching the rest of the series the next time I loop back to Prime.

Rating: 7/10
People who added this item 1195 Average listal rating (739 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Nov. 30th

I ended my month with this classic because I hadn't seen it yet and felt I should give it a look. Again here we have a film with a cast that does an outstanding job, especially Justin Henry who plays the son caught in the middle of everything. It's an honest look at divorce, albeit from an exclusively male perspective. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I would've like to see Streep's character given a bit more depth and screen time. In spite of that it's a well-made film and I mostly enjoyed it for what it is.
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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 - Nov. 22nd

If you can roll with the plot that makes no goddamn sense at all, this is fine. Even fun at times despite its ridiculousness. The monster fights are easily the best thing about it, and while the human side of things is too stupid to attempt recounting at least the actors do their best with what they're given. The music is fine I guess, but at times it feels transported from another film. So yeah...this is kind of a trainwreck, but if you can shut your brain off long enough it's at least a mildly entertaining one.
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