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Added by the giraffe on 7 Sep 2020 04:18
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2020: September

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 28 films watched
26 first views, 2 re-watches
24 via streaming, 2 via DVD/BR, and 2 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1970s, 90s, 2010s, and 2020s

Not much variation with regard to decades of release this month, but I know I'll make up for that next month. My main priority was to watch as many films from Netflix as possible, which wound up mostly being their exclusive films (everything in the first 2 sections was watched there). I didn't even get everything watched that I'd added to my list on there, but that's to be expected especially as other films popped up throughout September that I was interested in. Granted not everything was worth my time, however I enjoyed more than I didn't so it works out. And any of their "originals" I missed will still be there the next time around. Best of all I somehow managed to get it free for the month.

I'd hoped for more reasons to hit the drive-in, but there wasn't much to justify a return trip after the kiddo and I went. Oh they had films I wanted to see, but usually they were paired with something I had zero interest in. (As as example, the weekend I went with my daughter they had The New Mutants paired with Deadpool, but the next weekend New Mutants got matched with Unhinged, and the next it was gone.) Now that every major release has been pushed back to next year (wisely) I don't expect to make many more trips in the months ahead. Hopefully they do something for Halloween that I can attend...we'll see.
People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (62 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Sept. 12th

First off, Delroy Lindo slays every moment he's on screen and deserves every award we can find for his performance here. I've always liked him as an actor, but I was pleasantly surprised and impressed by him as Paul. Not that the rest of the cast isn't excellent here too, but he outshines them all. Everything about this film works, and I can't recommend it enough. It's a fresh Vietnam war story that delivers insight into the context of said war from both sides, and even has some nods to other movies (most notably Apocalypse Now) while remaining its own thing. The only thing missing for me was that perfect 10 feeling, and I'll probably revisit it in the future at some point.
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People who added this item 87 Average listal rating (70 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Sept. 25th

Oh man, I loved this film. Granted I'm the target audience since zombies are my thing, though this is more of an infected situation similar to 28 Days Later rather than traditional zombies. I thought this was a fresh take on the genre though and really dug the characters and the concept. In a better world, maybe the World War Z adaptation would have been more like this. It fully worked for me and I'd gladly sit through it again a few more times in the future.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Sept. 2nd

As mentioned last month I've got Netflix for the month of September and that'll be primarily what I watch. I decided to kick things off with another Chadwick Boseman film since he's still on my mind, and this appeared to be the sole option on there. He's really good throughout and the story kept me engaged and entertained. I've seen this subject done before of course, but I thought it was well-executed and the rest of the cast was solid. It's nothing great, but definitely worth a look.
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People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Sept. 5th

The kiddo and I watched this together, and once again we have a film that's only available in English dub instead of the original language. In fairness that kind of made sense given the film is set in New York City, but I would have much preferred to watch it in French with subtitles. As it stands, however, it's a really good story and I dug the animation style. The villains are incompetent, which is amusing but also lets you know they'll be overcome and thus pose no serious threat. My daughter loved some of the characters, and we had a good time with it overall. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but I'm glad we gave it a look.
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People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.5
An Easy Girl (2019)
First viewing - Sept. 6th

One of my friends put this on my radar recently, so I figured I'd give it a look. I found it to be well-acted and beautiful to look at. It's basically one of those slice-of-life films which means not much happens, but there was enough there to sustain my interest. Ultimately it left no real lasting impact, despite the fact I was able to appreciate it well enough for what it is. She was right that it's worth a look, but it's far from a new favorite.
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People who added this item 165 Average listal rating (128 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - Sept. 8th

The Old Guard was pretty fun overall. I dig the concept, though I have no doubt it translates better to the page than it does the screen. There's a lot of jumping back and forth through time to pick up pieces of our central characters' pasts, which eventually had me wishing they'd started with a film moving forward through their pasts before tackling the present-day story we get here. But it works more often than not. The fact that the final scene sets up a sequel, however, has me wishing they'd just made it a TV series instead. But then we might not have been able to see Charlize Theron in her role, and she's reliably excellent throughout. Marwan Kenzari and Luca Marinelli get some of the film's best moments, and their characters were probably my favorites. So yeah, it's worth watching...I just doubt I'd need to sit through it again.
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First viewing - Sept. 9th

I suspect that had I not so enjoyed its predecessor I wouldn't have liked this sequel as much as I did. It lacks the magic and freshness of the original film, and ultimately suffers for it. The story is fine I guess, but nothing you can't find elsewhere. It's watchable, competently made, and had some moments I enjoyed in spite of myself. But ultimately it's unnecessary, which is a shame given the impact the first film had on people.
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First viewing - Sept. 11th

The Babysitter was a nice slice of fun horror-comedy, a real treat that I had a blast with. None of that applies to Killer Queen. The film has no regard for the rules established by the first film, or even its own rules. Some of the characters are complete cartoons, and the film feels like it's trying so hard to be funny without understanding how comedy works. As an example, the characters seem to reference other movies, songs, books, etc. almost every damn time they open their mouths. And then you're supposed to be amused by the fact they referenced something apparently. It reminded me of watching season 4 of Community where suddenly the characters were referencing things and basically looking at the camera like "hey, we referenced a thing, isn't that funny? It was funny, right? Please laugh!" The film even drags back everyone from the original film, even Samara Weaving who generally seems like she'd rather be doing anything else. In fact, when she turns up in the flashback scenes I thought at first they were using unused footage from the first film and throwing it on a green screen, poorly editing her into each one. Oh, but wait, what about the horror side of things? The blood and gore is almost entirely CG if that tells you anything. Almost every time someone gets killed there's a blood spray into someone else's face, which means after the first time it's meaningless. And there's no real suspense to any of it, nor stakes when you realize that everyone after the protagonist will only die temporarily.

So yeah, if you haven't already made the unfortunate mistake of sitting through this sequel, don't bother. If you want to spend more time with The Babysitter just watch the original film again. I wish I had.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 5.6 IMDB Rating 5.2
First viewing - Sept. 11th

After being annoyed so much by Killer Queen, this felt like a masterpiece. It's not, mind you, but it's infinitely better by comparison. I like the Satanic Panic-inspired tale and the way it plays out. It's well-written, the acting is solid all around, and it kept me engaged and entertained. It's not great, but I'd gladly watch it again.

Just a thought: This film earns big bonus points for the Metallica dialogue.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 152 Average listal rating (103 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.9
Set It Off (1996)
First viewing - Sept. 12th

Set It Off deserves credit for clearly communicating why these women would pull off their heists by grounding their motivations in reality. I thought the characters were well-realized and the story was well-told. There's even a kinda fun moment where they all sit around a table goofing on The Godfather which will likely stick with me. And the film maintains a realistic approach for the most part through the ending. It's not great, but it's absolutely worth seeing and I'm glad I finally gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 324 Average listal rating (203 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Sept. 12th

OK, so I kinda ruined the opening of this film for myself because I've seen Don't Be a Menace to South Central... too many times. But I tried really hard to forget that film as this one continued moving forward. The story is grounded in reality, one that we often don't want to hear. The acting is good all around, and I was mostly entertained. I found the narration to be a bit much though, and the bleakness of the film makes it one that I wouldn't want to sit through again. But I don't regret finally watching it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (57 ratings) 4.6 IMDB Rating 2.7
Cuties (2020)
First viewing - Sept. 13th

It's unfortunate that a bunch of idiots who haven't seen anything but a trailer and/or clips from this film are causing a stir over basically nothing. Make no mistake, the backlash from this film comes mainly from people who would never watch a French film on purpose, and they're blowing the whole thing out of proportion. The claim is about the objectification and sexualization of the young girls in this film, but when you watch the entire thing it's pretty clearly communicated that while this is something that can happen it's not OK. The film doesn't really celebrate it. The girls are emulating what they think women should be, at an age when they're on the verge of womanhood themselves and without any parental guidance or influence because their parents are mostly not around (not unusual anymore). I'll grant that there's one scene that blurs the line of good taste and seems to contradict the overall messaging, but that's because of the framing which is used in a way that calls into question who's point of view we're getting. But hey, this is a directorial debut...we can't expect everything to be perfect.

I thought the acting here was excellent all around, the child actors do such a good job you forget it's fiction at times. And the story is essential viewing for parents trying to raise their children in these modern times, reminding me at times of Eighth Grade for its honesty about the realities children face in the social media age. I don't know that the film is quite great, but it's absolutely worth watching if for no other reason than to make up your own mind about it instead of letting strangers shape the film for you.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.4
Lingua Franca (2020)
First viewing - Sept. 14th

This was an interesting film, an honest look at the realities trans immigrants face in America. The acting is excellent all around, and I was consistently engaged with the story. I don't know that I'd need to watch it again, but I'm glad I gave it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 98 Average listal rating (69 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.3
Cargo (2017)
First viewing - Sept. 16th

I thought Cargo was pretty good, though the pandemic angle didn't give me quite as much escape as it might have prior to 2020. Martin Freeman carries the film well, the rest of the cast is good, and it was a decent story. I couldn't help feeling by the end of it that it might have been even better had they allowed the young girl to be the center of the film. It's a good little genre film regardless though, and worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 78 Average listal rating (54 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Sept. 18th

The kiddo and I watched this together, it's a mostly silent animated film with some rich and impressive visuals. The lack of dialogue had both of us occasionally struggling to hang with it, but there's a clear story it's telling and it has some memorable moments along the way. I doubt either of us would watch it again, but it was different and I appreciated that.
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First viewing - Sept. 19th

Yet another animated film that's not in its original language. Sigh. Despite that I thought it was pretty good, though of course I would have preferred to have the option to watch it in French instead. I like the world as presented within this story, and found its details quite fascinating. The story was entertaining if a bit predictable, and overall my daughter and I enjoyed it. If I can find it in the original language I'll definitely watch it again just to see whether I like it better that way.
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Re-watch - Sept. 19th

I watched Mask of the Phantasm several years ago, and at the time I wasn't really in the mood for it and it failed to leave much of an impression on me. That's despite my long-time love for the animated series which spawned it. So I decided to watch it with the kiddo, and was pleased to find that this time around I enjoyed it. It's a nice change of pace to see a Batman that fully captures the spirit of the character, one that has empathy and detective skills and feels genuinely human. And I enjoyed the story about the one that got away and how Bruce might never have become Batman under different circumstances. I didn't think it was quite great, but I liked it so well that I'm annoyed with myself for not giving it a more fair chance the first time around.
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People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 5
Residue (2020)
First viewing - Sept. 21st

Residue hit Netflix this month with little fanfare, and were it not for the fact I follow Ava Duvernay on social media I would have missed it entirely (her company, Array, produced it). It's an understated look at how returning to a place after many years can be both familiar and alien at the same time. The cast is strong all around, and I like the way the film mixes past and present as well as fantasy at times to convey its emotions. It's the kind of film that comes into sharper focus after you've watched it all and thought about it, and as such may benefit from a repeat viewing. I have enough to watch this month that that won't happen, but the next time I have Netflix I may give it another look to see whether I appreciate it more.
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First viewing - Sept. 23rd

This film hooked me in from the start, with an intense sequence set over the course of a single night. And then it jumped ahead in time, doing its best to carry forward the impact of those events on the characters but losing some of its momentum in the process. It's a good story, don't get me wrong, but it doesn't all come together quite as well as it seems to think it does. I was engaged and entertained well enough, but it's nothing I'd go out of my way to sit through twice.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 27 Average listal rating (19 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 5.8
First viewing - Sept. 25th

Originally I was going to save this and #Alive for the end of the month, sort of as a precursor to my annual Horrorfest, but then decided to pair them on the last Friday of the month so I don't feel too bad that they're off next month's list. I think I made the right choice.

1BR is a nasty little film with echoes of Midsommar. Both films were released the same year, so I don't chalk this up to one film influencing the other. But clearly their respective writers were on a similar wavelength. It's not an easy watch, but I thought it was mostly well done. It's not great, but definitely worth watching.
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First viewing - Sept. 26th

I couldn't resist the cast here, but holy crap is this a downer of a film. It's dark and bleak, so much so that I can't imagine sitting through it again. But it's well done on technical levels, and I respect it.

Just a thought: I didn't realize when the Ramones did "Needles and Pins" it was a cover until now.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - Sept. 27th

I had a lot of fun engaging with Bandersnatch and its Choose Your Own Adventure style layered over a story about making a video game dependent on choosing between two options. I didn't have enough time to try out every scenario, but thankfully the film will back itself up at certain points to let you change your choices and follow another path. I guess some might call it gimmicky but I thought it worked well enough and delivered a mostly satisfying experience. Next time I pick up Netflix I might have to play with it again.
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First viewing - Sept. 28th

I was pretty well hooked into what was going on here up until the main couple got back in their car and started driving toward home. Then the dialogue got extremely irritating to the point I checked out and let the rest of the film play out in the background. It came off as self-indulgent and pretentious and from what I saw there was never anything approaching a worthwhile payoff for sitting through it. I recalled JK Simmons's line from Burn After Reading..."Report back to me when it makes sense." I'm sure it'll find some fans, but it's not at all to my taste and I regret wasting my time with it instead of watching something else that might have been better.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - Sept. 30th

Beats was an interesting film, with its look at the ways trauma can affect someone mixed with the need to improve one's place in the world. The scenes where our main characters are sharing their common love of music are endlessly entertaining, and the film benefits from a strong cast. The only downside here is that the storylines don't come together quite as well as they could, resulting in character arcs and actions that don't fully connect through. I still enjoyed it despite the flaws though, and do think it's worth checking out.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 388 Average listal rating (280 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Sept. 4th

The local drive-in had Tenet for its opening weekend here, and the kiddo was on board for us to go check it out. The visuals alone made it worth the trip, though the story side of things could have been better (similar to Inception in my book). As per usual Nolan does a good job of throwing us in alongside his characters as they navigate a labyrinthine story and having us figure it out with them. However it's far too heavy on exposition, and there were a few scenes where the dialogue was lost beneath the score. It made me wish I was watching it at home with subtitles. And then as some of the truths are revealed I didn't think they were surprising as much as things that simply made sense. It didn't fully hold my daughter's attention, though she liked the action sequences. I don't need to watch it a second time, but I might throw it on once more just to have the benefit of subtitles and see if that improves it any.
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People who added this item 1919 Average listal rating (1324 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
Gravity (2013)
Re-watch - Sept. 4th

Tenet was paired with Gravity, a film I refuse to watch at home. Sadly it wasn't screened in 3D so the full effect wasn't quite there, but the film is so intense and well-paced that it hardly mattered. Unlike Tenet my daughter was fully hooked by it, and I'm glad she got the chance to see it. Should it ever return to the theatre in 3D, however, I'll definitely go again and if she's around I'll take her along.
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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 120 Average listal rating (76 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.1
First viewing - Sept. 19th

Once again Gojira tackles the perils of pollution, this time in the form of a monster that feeds on it. This film has some interesting visuals, but it's a minor entry in this series. It wasn't as bad as the previous film, thankfully, but it's not very good either.
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First viewing - Sept. 20th

My daughter checked into this film long enough to voice her confusion over the fact that Gojira had gone from villain to hero, which gave me the opportunity to lightly tease her about failing to keep up with the series with me. So that was fun. This time Gojira hangs out with Anguirus and eventually fights Gigan and Ghidorah (yes, again). Once again we have aliens coming to Earth to pull off some silly plan, this time they're trying to put us at peace by destroying humans, which, you know, makes total sense. There are some entertaining moments, but I wasn't really into it much. At this point I'm looking forward to ignoring the series next month, as maybe a longer break will give me a better appreciation for the few films I've got left to watch.

Just a thought: Gigan is like what if the X-Men's Cyclops was a kaiju.
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