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Added by the giraffe on 14 Mar 2021 05:18
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Movies the giraffe watched in 2021: March

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Noteworthy: The best films I watched this month

The breakdown: 26 films and 1 short film watched
22 first views, 5 re-watches
25 via streaming, 2 in the theatre
Decades touched: 1940s-2020s

I guess March was a decent enough month. I didn't watch as many films as I probably could have, partly due to other things pulling my attention away and partly just because a lot of what I've got handy to watch I'm not highly driven to check out. Or maybe that's just the downside of having so many options to choose from. At any rate, this month saw a lot of good films but only one truly great one. Could be worse though...could be a lot more bad films listed below.

I'm hoping having some plans for April will lead to a higher level of productivity. We'll see...
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Mar. 27th

Some of you will recall that I had Starz for an extended period last year. Well, this month they hit me up to return for a measly $0.99 a month for 3 months, and I decided why not. The moment I spotted Saint Frances, my decision was rewarded. This popped up on a fair number of Best of 2020 films lists I saw, and I've been itching to watch it ever since.

And let me tell you, those accolades are accurate. I loved the story and the characters and the overall look at womanhood in the present-day. It's thoughtful and heartfelt and a truly different story that I haven't seen before. I won't divulge details, but I'll be recommending it to everyone that might appreciate it from now on.
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Home viewings

People who added this item 257 Average listal rating (141 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Mar. 1st

I've generally seen good things about Diner, so I've been curious to check it out. It's clearly one of those personal films looking back at one's youth, which means I'm better able to appreciate it now than I might have 20 or more years ago. The central characters are interesting and mostly fun to hang out with, and it did remind me somewhat of my days after graduating high school when my friends and I would frequent Denny's to hang out until all hours. It's not a high stakes kind of film, more focused on these guys as they strive to figure out how to transition from childhood to adulthood with mixed results. Mistakes made, lessons learned, you get the idea. And the soundtrack is pretty stellar. It never quite touches greatness, but it's a solid film and I'm glad I gave it a chance. Don't know that I'd need to watch it twice, but I could without complaint.
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People who added this item 394 Average listal rating (250 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.2
First viewing - Mar. 3rd

I watched the remake of this film in *checks notes* 2012, and while I enjoyed it at the time I'd be lying if I said enough of it stuck with me to adequately compare the two. I knew some of the broad strokes, but that's about it. Not to worry though. This film works well enough regardless, with a solid cast and a decent story that kept me engaged throughout. It's pretty fun, not great in my book but easy to recommend to others looking for a good old-school comedy.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 6214 Average listal rating (4363 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8.8
Inception (2010)
Re-watch - Mar. 5th

I figured the kiddo would dig Inception, so we watched it together and she was very into it. Granted the film is even better if you can watch it on the biggest screen possible for the effects, but that's OK. The film is well-crafted all around and more fun than I'd recalled. I still think it falls just shy of greatness, but it's probably the last time Nolan was firing on all cylinders (I still haven't seen Dunkirk though, so I might be wrong...maybe I'll finally give it a look since it's on Max too).
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People who added this item 237 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - Mar. 8th

One of these days I'll catch up on De Palma's films, and this puts me one step closer to doing that. Margot Kidder is excellent, and the rest of the cast is solid. The story is well-told and kept me engaged. I did feel like the last third of the film went a little off the rails in a way that didn't fully work for me, but the final twist is pretty amusing. I doubt I'll sit through it again, but I'm glad I finally caught up with it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 636 Average listal rating (371 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - Mar. 12th

So first off it's kinda weird seeing Tim Robbins playing someone other than himself when a host of other famous actors are playing themselves. I'm guessing they needed one major actor for his role just to help get the film produced, but it still messed with me. It's a film I found rather interesting and fairly entertaining, but also kind of a mess in some aspects. It's all very meta, but I don't know that that approach works as well as they'd intended.

I don't know. I keep watching Altman's films and I'm finding they're rarely to my taste I guess. This makes the 4th film of his I've seen total so far, and of those there's only one I deeply enjoyed. I'll probably watch a couple more, but my expectations are going to be kept low from here on. That's not to say this isn't worth a look though.
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People who added this item 199 Average listal rating (135 ratings) 4.9 IMDB Rating 5.5
Shocker (1989)
Re-watch - Mar. 12th

It had been so long since I last watched Shocker that I barely remembered it. Watching it a second time, that's not too surprising though as the film is a mess. The first stretch of the film has potential, but as it rolls along it starts getting more outlandish. It's like Wes Craven was trying to put a new character through everything Freddy Krueger had been through over the course of 4 films all at once. He quickly goes from fairly menacing to a cartoon, and it undercuts everything going on. Maybe if it had been shot as a spoof by a director with stronger comedic sensibilities it'd work better. At least that'd make the lack of logic that plagues the back half of the film more palatable. As it stands, however, it's not really worth wasting time on unless you're just a die-hard fan of Craven's and feel a need to see it for completion purposes.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 358 Average listal rating (214 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.8
My Uncle (1958)
First viewing - Mar. 13th

So apparently Mon Oncle is some great classic, which is why I was curious to see what it was about. And there are some truly fun and funny moments stretched out across its run-time that I enjoyed. But overall it's not my taste. The characters lack interiority and Tati seems content to just shoot these long stretches where nothing of consequence happens. I struggled to maintain my focus on it, and at times I considered turning it off for something else. But by the time that urge was strong enough to follow through on I was almost halfway through it and figured I'd just plow through. And while I'm glad I stuck with it for the better moments in the back half (like the above shot), I think overall I would've been better off leaving this one alone. Looking at the ratings here and on IMDb it's clear the film has it's fans, so don't rely on my take.
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People who added this item 420 Average listal rating (281 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
First viewing - Mar. 13th

Back when Dolores Claiborne was released I had zero interest in seeing it. But it's maintained a decent reputation over the years, so when it popped up on Max this month I figured I'd finally give it a chance. And I'm glad I did. It's solidly entertaining despite the dark subject matter. Bates and Leigh give outstanding performances, and most of the rest of the cast is solid. John C. Reilly seems to struggle with his accent, but that was the only issue I really noticed cast-wise. It's even got a score by Danny Elfman that flexes some different skills than usual for him...after his name appeared in the credits there wasn't a single moment where I thought to myself that it was an Elfman score. So yeah, it's definitely worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 826 Average listal rating (581 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Mar. 14th

I've seen The Searchers on a lot of people's lists for best Western films, so I've wanted to give it a look for a while now. And it's definitely got aspects I could appreciate, but it's difficult for me to get fully behind a film where the protagonist is a proud Confederate soldier going up against Native Americans. Granted, both things make sense for the character, but that doesn't mean I can cheer him on along his quest for vengeance. Thankfully some of the supporting cast is likable enough and the story moves along in a way that kept my attention. Thus it is worth a look, but wouldn't place among my own favorites in the genre.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 5.8
Lupe (2019)
First viewing - Mar. 14th

After The Searchers I wanted to watch something completely different, so a film centered on a Latinx protagonist who is also transgender felt like a good fit. It's a meditative look at the struggles between what's expected of us and our reality and how to reconcile the two. The acting is excellent all around, it has a fair bit to say, and I especially appreciated the friendships explored along the way. It never fully crosses over into greatness, but I don't think it's trying to either. It's more concerned with telling this story that's worth listening to, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
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First viewing - Mar. 15th

I spent most of the week before this going through Bowie's discography chronologically, so I figured I'd give this doc a look. And it was a very insightful and engaging dive into the last years of his life, especially since The Next Day and Blackstar are two of his best albums and he declined to do any promotions or interviews for either one. Thankfully those he collaborated with were willing to discuss the recording processes, and as a long-time fan I dug all of it. I had completely missed that Bowie had helped bring a Broadway play to life during this time span, and recounting how that came together was pretty fascinating too. Overall it was great to hear his music and excerpts from various interviews he'd done throughout his life woven together with the rest, and I deeply appreciated it. If you're a fan of Bowie's I recommend it.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 392 Average listal rating (228 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Cronos (1993)
First viewing - Mar. 17th

I've wanted to check out Cronos for a long time now, so I was pretty hyped to find it on Max. And hey, it's pretty entertaining. The film serves as a neat twist on the vampire tale, which I mostly dug. The acting is good, the effects are impressive at times, there's some dark humor I enjoyed, and it kept me guessing as to where it was going next. It's not quite great, but I could watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3138 Average listal rating (2078 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.3
Gremlins (1984)
Re-watch - Mar. 19th

I'll forever love this film, despite the racist moments which prevent it from ever getting full marks from me. Watched it with the kiddo as detailed below (see Raya), though we had to stop it before it ended because she was falling asleep and I wasn't far behind her. We wound up finishing it the next day.

I've talked about this film plenty elsewhere on the site, so beyond the anecdotal details above I don't have anything new to add.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1404 Average listal rating (796 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 8.1
First viewing - Mar. 22nd

There's a fair bit of Bergman's films on Max, and since this was one of the shorter ones I figured it would work well enough for a Monday night. Persona is a very interesting film, and those who like to dig into the meanings behind a film will find much to make them happy. After it ended I checked Wikipedia and found that there's a wealth of analysis regarding the film, so much so that it even has its own section on the page. Getting lost down a rabbit hole of critiques is great when you love a film enough, but I didn't go too far as I thought the film was just OK. The acting is really good though, and it's clear there's an explanation of identity going on, but it ultimately wasn't to my taste I guess.

I spent more of my mental energy wondering how many people walked out on the film at some point during its theatrical run. After all, the opening stretch of the film makes it seem like the reel isn't working properly off and on, and the film returns to doing this again in the middle. I'm sure Bergman's long-time fans just rolled with it, but perhaps not everyone did? And then there's the end of the opening stretch which leads into the main part of the film and is left behind until the very end, but there's never a clear connection between the two parts which leaves it up to you to figure out why the approach is used. So yeah...lots of things to think about however you feel about the film, which means cinephiles should absolutely give it a look. I just don't have any interest in sitting through it twice.
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Re-watch - Mar. 24th

On Wednesday night I wanted something purely fun, not a heavy drama, and thus decided to revisit Birds of Prey. My opinion of it hasn't changed much since I last watched it about a year ago, as I still enjoy everything it's doing. It's just a blast from start to finish, and at some point I'll buy a copy so I can keep revisiting it whenever the mood strikes.
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People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.3 IMDB Rating 5.3
Happily (2021)
First viewing - Mar. 26th

I've been seeing some chatter about Happily among people I follow on social media, so I was curious to see what it was about. Having Joel McHale in the leading role helped encourage me toward it too, having been a fan of his since the first season of Community. And look, this is just my kind of movie. It's smart, funny, different, and not afraid to be itself. It'd pair nicely with Game Night, if that tells you anything or entices you to give it a look. The cast is excellent all around, and I never once regretted paying for the digital rental (currently $6.99 in the US).
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1271 Average listal rating (714 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.9
First viewing - Mar. 27th

I decided that by the end of the month I want to watch this entire trilogy if I can, and I started out with the Blue entry since it was released first. It's an interesting, meditative film on grief and loss, and I spent much of it making conscious note of the many uses of the color blue throughout. As we all know, Binoche is a great actress and she keeps the film worth watching. By the end of it I liked it fairly well, though I doubt I'd need to watch it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 422 Average listal rating (245 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.1
La Notte (1961)
First viewing - Mar. 27th

I switched from France to Italy for my second feature on this Saturday afternoon, and had I enjoyed this film more I probably would have made an entire day out of watching films from other countries. But while this film has a good story and some memorable scenes and characters, I found it tedious to hang with its relaxed pace and extended detours. By the end of it I felt like they could have dropped 30-45 minutes out of it and it would have worked even better. I get that they're trying to show just how much distance there is between the central couple, but it was just overdone in my opinion. Clearly others have enjoyed it far more than I have, so perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for it or it's just not entirely to my taste.
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First viewing - Mar. 28th

Some may be surprised that I'd never seen Sleepless in Seattle before. I mean, even I figured I'd seen it but as it ran along I quickly realized I've seen so many clips from it throughout my life that after a while I wrongly figured I'd watched it already. But let's also keep in mind that most of the women I've dated haven't been hugely into rom-coms and generally I'm not either, which reduces the probability that I'll actually watch one.

And in fairness, I didn't need to see this one. Oh, sure, the cast is solid and it's fairly entertaining, even funny at times. But there's nothing too exceptional about it unless you count the choice to end the film with the meeting. But still, in the end you get more or less the ending you'd expect. So it's fine, just nothing I needed to bother with nor would go out of my way to sit through again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 272 Average listal rating (191 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7
Real Genius (1985)
First viewing - Mar. 29th

I wish I'd seen Real Genius when I was a teenager, as I suspect I would've loved it then. Watching it now, it's fine. There are some really funny moments, but some of the jokes fell flat for me. And there's only one female character that exists beyond being an object of desire, which bugged me. I'd also say it's fairly obvious where the plot is going, but they do enough to keep it entertaining along the way. I'm glad I finally watched it, though I probably wouldn't sit through it again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 864 Average listal rating (487 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - Mar. 30th

Out of the three films in this series, this was by far my favorite entry. I thought the story was very well-crafted all around, and the cast is excellent. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to call it great, but I'd gladly watch it again.
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First viewing - Mar. 31st

I struggled occasionally to hang with this one, but by the end of it I was glad I stuck with it. Paying attention to all the uses of red throughout helped somewhat (funny, the white entry was the only one I didn't think much about the color it's named for). All three of these films are pretty well-written, I think my issues with this one stem more from the way it pivots between characters and takes its time really establishing them. The ending of this one amused me, even though it might be somewhat far-fetched. So much like the Blue entry this one was worth seeing but I wouldn't spend time with it again.
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Re-watch - Mar. 31st

It's been about 9 years since I last watched Everything Is Illuminated, and at first I wasn't even sure I'd watched it before which says something I think. As it rolled along, however, some of it was more familiar but I'd be lying if I said much of it had stuck with me. It's a good movie, just nothing exceptional really. I like the characters (especially the dog) and story well enough, and the soundtrack is pretty good. I won't be too surprised if I lose track of it again in the future though. Should that happen at least I know it's worth sitting through.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught at the drive-in
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 7.8
First viewing - Mar. 19th

This was the short film that precedes Raya, a simple yet effective work about keeping one's youth alive. It's gorgeously animated, and I really enjoyed it.

Probably what most amused me, however, was my daughter's response partway into it when it was clear there would be no dialogue that there were no voice actors because they couldn't afford to pay anyone. After laughing, I countered that there clearly wasn't any need for dialogue as the images alone told the entire story. Not everything is about money.
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First viewing - Mar. 19th

The kiddo & I headed to the drive-in to catch Raya and the Last Dragon, and it was a much needed return. We both enjoyed the overall experience of catching a movie on the big screen, and she would have been content to stay for the second film. However, the second film was Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, which I really don't need to see again. So I insisted we head home, but as a concession to her I agreed we could watch Gremlins when we got home (it was on another screen, as the second film paired with Tom & Jerry).

This film? Pretty darn good. I liked the story, characters (Awkwafina is especially endearing), and overall message, and that last one was especially appreciated given the current state of things here in the States. Would be great if most people in this country would watch this and take that message to heart, but, well, I'm not holding my breath. I'll try to be optimistic though. The plot is fairly predictable, but the road it takes to get to its obvious resolution is worthwhile and heartfelt and best of all doesn't revolve around white people. So yeah, I'd watch it again.
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Max exodus

Films that left HBO Max this month
People who added this item 1190 Average listal rating (763 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.5
First viewing - Mar. 10th

I remember back when this came out there were ads for it in every comic book I was reading for months. I was far too young then to be able to see it, and I don't recall it ever popping up on cable when I was younger or else I might have watched it at some point. Cheers then to Max for having it as part of their library, if only for a little while. The main cast is predictably excellent all around, and I dug the story of these 3 women finding their inner power. I couldn't help but wonder if it'd be better were it directed by a woman (I'd love to see a remake with the right cast), but you'll not hear me speak ill of George Miller. I was really enjoying it up until the final stretch of the film, which has some cheesy effects and a final moment that felt more forced to appease an audience, but these are minor gripes in the grand scheme of things. Overall it's a good time and I'm glad I was finally able to see it.
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The Shape of the Month to Come

Here's a sneak peak at some of the films I'm hoping to watch in April. Of these, only The Invisible Man and Godzilla Vs. Kong are slated to leave Max, though I'll be watching the latter on the big screen instead. I've also set a goal of watching all of the Lone Wolf & Cub movies, but rather than include all of them I've just placed the first in the series below. And I'm going to watch a handful of silent films since I haven't done that in a while.

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