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Added by the giraffe on 5 Jul 2021 08:27
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2021: July

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 29 films and 1 short film for a total of 30 films watched
27 first views, 3 re-watches
26 via streaming, 2 via DVD/BR, and 2 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1970s, 80s, 2000s-2020s

Overall a month spent with Netflix turned out to be well worth the expense. In fact, as noted below, I'll be renewing for another month as I had several films I didn't get to plus the kiddo and I are in the middle of a couple of series we started. There won't be a third month, however, as there's just not enough sticking around there to keep me engaged with it. Maybe if I was more of a TV person than a movie person that'd be different. But I'm not. Now if I can just get myself to wrap up everything by the end of August...

While I only made it to the theatre twice all month, both trips with the kiddo were also money well-spent, and thus July was a good month for the most part as I look back on it.
First viewing - July 16th

Gunpowder Milkshake is 125% my jam and I am here for it. I loved everything about it, and I hope that it gets a physical release down the road so I can watch it whether I have Netflix or not. I'm not going into detail here. If you dig action movies you have to give this a look.

Just a thought: I really want to pair this with Birds of Prey at some point.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - July 31st

I absolutely loved this movie. It's a heartfelt, honest, and entertaining exploration of the struggle between aging and artistic expression. The characters all felt real to me, and I love the way it tells the story by mixing in man-on-the-street style interview snippets along the way. As a fan of hip-hop, there are also some great performances and thought-provoking lyrics along the way too. More people need to check this out, and I hope it keeps growing its fandom via Netflix.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - July 5th

I loved Moxie. Great cast, great characters, great story, great soundtrack, great everything. It's exactly the kind of film I want my daughter to watch in a few years and hope she's inspired by it. The only thing missing was that perfect 10 feeling, but it came close to earning that from me. I'll happily watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 128 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.2
Pariah (2011)
First viewing - July 22nd

Since I've liked the other films I've seen from Dee Rees I wanted to make sure to check this one out too. And it's so so good. The cast is excellent all around, and it's an honest and heartbreaking look at one girl's struggles with her identity. When a film gets me talking to the characters, you know it's working really well. There's some great music spread throughout too. So yeah, I deeply appreciated the film and would gladly sit through it again.
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Home viewings

First viewing - July 2nd

I switched to Netflix for this month as there are some things hitting it throughout July I want to see, plus it's been a while. I opted to kick off my movie month with this since I was seeing some encouragement to give it a look. Now, I never read anything R.L. Stine wrote, so I can't compare this to the books at all. By the time he came along with Goosebumps and Fear Street I was reading more adult-level horror like Stephen King and Clive Barker, and wrote him off since from what I knew his work was more kid-friendly. Therefore I come into this with no real expectations beyond knowing that it's R rated and thus not so much for kids.

And yet, the whole thing seems squarely aimed at teens, aside from the soundtrack which wants to drag me back to the '90s as often as possible. I don't mind a good needle drop, but in some cases they're so close together it's a little annoying. And sure, I could nitpick over whether the songs were around in 1994, but that's not even the point. As a love letter to the slasher genre, it's fine. There are some decent kills including an especially great one near the end, and it's well-paced. The cast is decent, and it's nice to see some lesbian representation handled respectfully. But it never reaches a level of excellence like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (which far better catered to teens while sticking within the PG-13 guidelines), perhaps because it's just setting up the trilogy while aiming for wrapping up its story to a point so we can travel to other years in the subsequent entries. And while this is rated R it wouldn't take much to bring it back down to PG-13 without losing much (well, maybe that one great kill), and that's got me scratching my head a little. It's not so bad that I'm refusing to watch said sequels, but I can't say I'm highly anticipating them either. There's some potential here that could lead to better things down the road, but I'm suspicious of whether it'll get there without falling flat.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 24 Average listal rating (16 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.6
First viewing - July 3rd

I've been a fan of Iliza Shlesinger for a while now. Her stand-up specials are full of insight and wit, and any time one pops up on Netflix I'll watch it ASAP. So naturally when I found out she'd written a movie and was starring as a fictional version of herself there was no question I'd watch that too. And I enjoyed it well enough for what it is. Probably my favorite part of the entire film was Margaret Cho's character and performance...she's a treasure and I'm glad to see her getting roles. The plot is goofy but plays out well enough that I let it slide. It's obvious from the start what's going on here, but it's played in a way that worked fine for me. Ultimately the film is nothing great, but I had a good time with it. I don't need to watch it again, but I might anyway.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1610 Average listal rating (1025 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 7.9
Re-watch - July 4th

OK, so I spent most of July 2-4 at the local Living Dead Weekend horror convention. It's hosted by the Living Dead Museum here in Pennsylvania, and celebrates Romero's films as well as those related to it. So there were cast and crew members from Night, Dawn, Day and Return of the Living Dead present to meet fans, sign autographs, and discuss the films via panels all weekend long. On top of that there was the option to sign up for a guided tour of the mall where this film was shot, and I took advantage of that too. It was a lot of fun, but all the walking and socializing had me pretty wiped out by the end of it.

So as you might understand, after 3 days of diving deeper into these films I was itching to revisit Dawn and Day so I could reinforce what I learned and engage that with the films. And I got back home by 5pm, so there was plenty of time to watch both before I'd need sleep (especially since I was off work on the 5th). And it was a lot of fun watching Dawn and picking out places I've now been to like the stairwell and the boiler room, and recognizing where some of the shots are given how much the mall has changed over the years since. The guy that gave the tour had taken the time to go through the film frame by frame and tried to figure out where scenes took place based on the patterns on the columns in the mall and maps of the mall layout in 1978 versus now, and it was just so fascinating. If anyone is ever so inclined to come out and take that tour, I highly recommend it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 851 Average listal rating (561 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.1
Re-watch - July 4th

I've watched Day the least of the original trilogy, so watching it again my appreciation for it grew even more. Especially in the wake of the past year, as it holds a mirror up to how society has crumbled in some ways in the face of a worldwide catastrophe (despite the fact it was made 36 years ago). That's the great thing about Romero's best films...you can enjoy them for what they are on the surface, but there's always more to it beneath. So yeah, it hit a little differently this time around, and I'm glad I finally came back to it after several years.

Just a thought: Both this and Dawn have music that was later used by Gorillaz, which causes me to hear their songs in my head while watching these films.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 7th

I've heard a lot about this movie, even from my daughter who watched it a few times the weekend it dropped and then came to me asking if she could watch it again with me. I didn't have Netflix at the time, however, so we couldn't do that. And now that I've got Netflix she's seen it enough times she said I could watch it without her.

And look, this film feels completely aimed at me. Outsider oddballs coming together against great adversity will always appeal to me. I dug the animation style throughout, and there are some excellent moments. It's funny and heartfelt and it just works. For some reason, however, it never quite achieved greatness for me on the first go round. Perhaps a re-watch down the road will change that.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 8th

I highly enjoyed I Care a Lot. The cast is excellent all around, the story plays out with twists that are occasionally unexpected, and I dug how Rosamund Pike plays such a despicable character. As it neared the finish I was worried about where it was headed, but thankfully it stuck the landing. It's not quite great but it's so good I'd watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 8.9
First viewing - July 11th

Inside was one of the main reasons I was anxious to return to Netflix, because all of Burnham's specials are so damn good. True to form, so is this one. It's different from the others in that it's main purpose is not to be pure comedy, and as a result when it ended I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I definitely enjoyed it overall, but it's a unique animal, and given the nature of it I felt it was only fitting to include it in my list as a movie (plus it got a theatrical release, though on a weekend I wasn't able to attend). It's a RIDE, for sure, and one full of great music, wit, emotion, and insight. I might have to go back and watch it again to figure out exactly where I stand with it, but it's one of those rare things that deserves to be sought out.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 12th

Once again I was underwhelmed by this entry. It's a step down from the first film. The characters aren't as well explored, probably because there are too many of them given the setting, and a lot of it felt too familiar to me (the most obvious influence being the Friday the 13th series). The needle drops were less annoying this time around, which I appreciated. The cast does their best, and the story moves along well enough that I wasn't bored by it exactly...I just never connected with any of it beyond the surface level. Which means my expectations for the final entry aren't very high, but we'll see how that plays out.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 268 Average listal rating (196 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - July 14th

I wanted to check out Hardcore Henry back when it came out, but never got around to it. Then the reviews I've seen over time have been mixed, to the point I started to write it off. But as it was slated to leave Netflix this month I figured I'd finally give it a look and make up my own mind about it.

Overall, it's an interesting experiment and not much more I think. The experience is akin to playing a first-person shoot-'em-up video game, in the best and worst ways. It's often annoying to look at, and when you're denied the ability to see your main protagonist's emotions there's no emotional attachment to any of it. The villain is cartoonish, but as I reflect on it that suits the style of the film and probably for the best. As someone who generally dislikes first-person shooters this was never going to be entirely for me, but given that I rarely play those games I was able to appreciate what they're going for. The film moves along at a fast pace and Sharlto Copley's performance made it worthwhile, but it's nothing essential.

Left Netflix on 7/31
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 15th

I walked into this 3rd entry with low expectations given how dramatic of a step down in story quality the second film was from the original. And evidently that worked in this film's favor as I felt it worked far better all around. The cast remains excellent as per usual, and the story is very well-told. The emotional beats hit as they should and breaking us out of the norm by taking the characters to South Korea and New York City helps shake things up for the better. I wound up enjoying the film far more than I'd anticipated, and I'm glad they made it. That said, I hope they don't attempt to drag it out for another entry since it ends on such a strong note.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 16th

Well well well...lowered expectations paid off. This entry is hands down the best of the series, which was a pleasant surprise. From the moment we're dropped into 1666 I was able to lock in and connect with the characters, and it fired on all cylinders for me. I appreciated the thematic elements, which were missing from the prior entries and might have served them better. On the upside when they return to 1994 (as they must) everything continued to work well through the finale. That's not to say the third film is great, but it's a huge improvement and I'm glad I was finally able to enjoy one of these films fully given how many others I saw express love for the first film.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.2
The Drug King (2018)
First viewing - July 17th

I'm always down for a Song Kang-ho performance, and this is just one in a long line of excellent ones. He plays Lee Doo-sam with so much range and nuance and it's another reminder of what a great actor he is. The rest of the film is a fairly standard '70s drug story, with a couple moments that recalled Breaking Bad for me. It's consistently interesting and kept me engaged, and I'm glad I gave it a chance. I don't know that I'll need to watch it again, but it's worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - July 17th

I found Concrete Cowboy to be a pleasant surprise, a fresh take on the African-American experience that mixes past and present into a believable reality. There's even a credits sequence that lets you know there is a real-life place that inspired the story, which only endeared the whole thing more to me. The cast is excellent all around, and while there are some moments that are easy enough to predict they serve the story well so it's fine. It's not great, but it's absolutely worth a look and I will probably watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 270 Average listal rating (189 ratings) 4.8 IMDB Rating 5.5
Unfriended (2015)
First viewing - July 17th

I ended my Saturday night with Unfriended because it was getting late & I didn't want to watch something too long & stay up later than I probably should. Back when it was released I had no interest in it, but I know it's got its fans so I figured I'd give it a shot. Plus there's not a lot of horror on Netflix that I'd willingly watch but haven't already seen. And it's fine. Nothing great, but nothing terrible either. Mostly when it ended I felt like it had to walk so last year's Host could run.

The acting is decent and the concept is explored well enough. My main issue was that the film fails to dial up the suspense, which makes for a very passive watch. I also went back & forth on whether I appreciated or hated the ways it uses glitchy computer technology throughout the film. I get that video calls can be glitchy at times (though they've improved in the years since, in my experience), but it's kind of annoying when the characters' videos freeze and glitch out, especially when it's not really serving the story in any meaningful way.

So yeah...I wouldn't bother watching it again, but it wasn't as bad as I'd feared.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 38 Average listal rating (32 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6
First viewing - July 18th

Netflix kept throwing this one into my recommendations at the end of the movies I was watching, so I figured I'd give it a look. And it wasn't bad. I dug the story idea and really liked the characters. Some of the action sequences were a little disorienting as I lost track at times of what ship belonged to whom, but most work well enough. My main issue with it was with its finale, which looked like it'd end on a rather profound and moving note but then pulled back and delivered a nonsense feel-good ending instead. As a result I won't need to watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 110 Average listal rating (72 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.7
First viewing - July 18th

Going by the reviews I expected this to be a complete trainwreck, but the casting kept pulling me to give it a look regardless. And it's not as bad as its reputation suggests. Granted it's unnecessary when Rear Window already exists, and this film can't compete at all. But for a small-stakes mystery it worked fine enough. The cast is as good as you'd expect, even if some of them could have been given more to do. Amy Adams does the best she can with what she's provided though, and I was able to roll with the story. It's nothing great, but I didn't think it was complete crap either.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 73 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 6.8
Wildlife (2018)
First viewing - July 21st

Jake Gyllenhaal and Carey Mulligan starring in a film from Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan? Of course that caught my interest. Too bad the film didn't fully hold that interest. Watching this family struggle through hard times that split them up temporarily had its moments but never really resolved itself in any satisfying or meaningful way. Perhaps it's too grounded or too understated for its own good. Maybe even both. But as time passes I'll eventually forget I even watched it, and that's not so good.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 26 Average listal rating (21 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 5.6
First viewing - July 23rd

Vampires vs. the Bronx turned out to be a fun watch with the kiddo. I appreciated the way it tied vampires to the theme of gentrification, and the young actors play their roles very well. There are nods throughout to other vampire films, which I enjoyed, and the pacing was tight enough I thought. It's not great, but I'd be willing to watch it again some time.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 18 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 5.6
Sweetheart (2019)
First viewing - July 26th

This kept popping up in recommendations, and then I noticed J.D. Dillard directed it and threw it on. I really loved the minimalist first half or so of the film, watching our heroine fight to survive being stranded on a small island. They use the antagonist in all the right ways, revealing him over time effectively, and thus resulting in a satisfying finale. I'm not fully on board with a decision late in the film that raised a few unanswered questions and provided little benefit to the story arc, but in spite of that I thought this was a good time overall.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 65 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.6
Stowaway (2021)
First viewing - July 27th

Toni Collette, Anna Kendrick, and Daniel Dae Kim? That's all you had to say. Here's another film though that works better in its first half than the second. I did appreciate that the titular stowaway wasn't someone with a nefarious plot, as that angle has been done enough. Thus the film deals more with the negative consequences of mistakes with regard to spending a tour in space, and the ways its characters react to it and one another. And there are enough monkeywrenches thrown in along the way that it kept me engaged with it. But then the ending kind of ruined it for me despite its best intentions. The cast, of course, can't be faulted, and between them and the first 3/4 of the film I do think it's worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 52 Average listal rating (34 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.1
Blood Red Sky (2005)
First viewing - July 29th

It's amusing to me as this month has rolled along how many Netflix-exclusive films are a mixed bag. Here's yet another. There's so much potential in this idea of a vampire traveling at night by air, only to have the plane get hijacked and rerouted. I love that premise. The trouble is that the film insists on using flashbacks heavily to tell us the vampire's back-story and none of it is ever necessary. We get the gist from the opening stretch of the film. It's all there. And yet it keeps breaking away from the central drama to fill in the blanks and thus derails the film's momentum. They could just as easily have had the main protagonists have a brief conversation about the vampire's past while they're holed up somewhere and the film would be all the better for it. Or one brief flashback at least if they feel it's necessary enough. Or hell, if you're married to having all this back-story just start the damn film off with all of it at once and then jump forward to present day. It's just a shame they stuck with this approach as the rest of the film was so much fun and I did have a good time with it overall. It earned bonus points too for its anti-racism elements too.

Just a thought: More vampire movies should embrace the Nosferatu style as effectively as this one.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - July 30th

I wound up keeping the kiddo overnight on this Friday even though it wasn't our weekend, and we took a long time to come to an agreement on what to watch on Netflix. This caught her eye (and had caught mine earlier in the month), and since it's short we watched it first. It's an emotional watch, dark but important. It's reflective of one of the worst horrors of modern-day American life, and it really resonated with me as a result. If you've got 12 minutes then you should definitely give it a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4282 Average listal rating (2906 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
The Ring (2002)
Re-watch - July 30th

I'm not sure I even realized the first time I watched The Ring that it was PG-13, but that meant I could watch it with the kiddo. And, hey, what do you know? It's better than I'd remembered. It's still no Ringu, but it's not really trying to be either. This time around I better appreciated that it's doing its best to be its own thing, and I think it succeeds for the most part at doing so. It creeped the kiddo out, which may have helped me take it more seriously too. It probably didn't help the first time I ever watched it that I'd seen Scary Movie 3 before it and thus its spoofed moments were already in my head, twisting what I was watching. Some of that still came to mind this time around, but I was able to push it away for the most part. There are some weak moments here and there (some of the acting for example), but overall it's better than I'd initially thought. Sometimes revisiting a film later pays off.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.4
First viewing - July 31st

One of my best friends recommended this one to me, and I'd promised I'd watch it this weekend and let him know what I thought. Apparently it's based off a comic book, which totally makes sense in retrospect. The story is self-contained, and they take the time to establish the characters along the way which helped me connect with them. The action-heavy plot is pretty much by-the-numbers, but it's got some twists along the way that pay it all off. Plus it's Russian, which gives it all a fresh air.

If you sit through the credits, however, there are about as many credits scenes as your average Marvel movie. One amusingly ties up a loose end from the film, and the rest set us up for another sequel. And while they're well handled I would've been satisfied with them keeping it to just the one that tied up the loose ends. I guess that's the Marvel influence for you though. I'd be willing to watch it regardless, but I'm starting to get tired of the credits-scene industrial complex I guess.

Just a thought: My biggest disappointment is that at no point did they even try to throw in a "Ground control to Major Grom" line. Maybe next time around.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 296 Average listal rating (205 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.8
Black Widow (2021)
First viewing - July 10th

The kiddo and I caught Black Widow in IMAX the weekend it opened, because of course we did. And we enjoyed it well enough, which is not so surprising. I thought the focus on the family dynamic put a fresh spin on a Marvel movie, and those moments work the best. The issues start and end with the handling of the villain and his relationship to our protagonists. The film needs a few short scenes inserted early on to truly drive home the impact the villain had on their lives, instead of glossing over it. And when you have to spend a good portion of your third act using flashbacks to explain what's going on, you've got a problem. Also as post-credits scenes go, I'm not sure that worked out so well either despite the welcome opportunity to see two great actresses share a moment on screen. So yeah...it's good, but could have been great with a little extra effort.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 145 Average listal rating (101 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.8
Old
First viewing - July 24th

The kiddo and I caught Old on opening weekend, and overall we both enjoyed it. It's darkly fun, a little nonsensical perhaps but that's par for the course with Shyamalan. If you're willing to meet the film on its own terms and roll along with it, it works well enough. I liked its look into familial relationships versus time, and it's yet another reminder that when the locals tell you about a beach the tourists don't go to, your best bet is to give it a hard pass.
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The Shape of the Month to Come

Sticking with Netflix for another month to wrap up some unfinished business. Also planning to do a free trial of Paramount+. Here's a glimpse of what I've got lined up, plus the usual theatrical offerings.

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