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Added by the giraffe on 1 Apr 2013 05:15
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Movies the giraffe watched: April 2013

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The breakdown: 18 movies watched - 14 on Netflix instant, 1 in the theatre, and 3 on DVD; of those 17 were first views, one of which I abandoned, 1 was a re-watch, 1 was a documentary, and they came from the following decades: 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & 2010s.

This wound up being a lighter month than usual for me due to various real-world goings on, and next month looks to be the same way from here. So I guess I should be thankful I watched as many films as I did. I'm a little bummed I only made it out to the theatre once all month long, but given that the one time I went was to see one of my favorite movies ever I can't complain too much. I didn't realize though that The Lords of Salem opened in Austin whenever it did because my theatre of choice wasn't screening it & I don't keep up with what's screening anywhere else. And I don't think anyone is crazy enough to argue that I should have seen the new Evil Dead over Evil Dead II.

Anyway, outside of that my attention was mainly drawn to the large amount of content Netflix jettisoned at the end of the month, which I got about 1/3 of watched. Didn't get my top choices among them all watched, but I'll just have to try to catch those via rental or if Netflix decides to bring any of the films back. So no worries there really. It does seem like I watched quite a few odd/quirky/out-of-the-norm films this month, which wasn't intentional at all...just how it worked out.

Honestly I got the most enjoyment this month out of my Five by Five picks, so next month I'm looking forward to working in 3 of those films wherever I can.

Best new to me film for April: The Station Agent
Best hidden gem: Sleepless Night
Worst film: Holy Motors (which I couldn't finish) or Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky (which is awful but also entertaining if in the right mood)
People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.7
Nuit blanche (2011)
First viewing - April 9th/10th

Came across this one thanks to an AV Club article & upon their recommendation I added it to my IQ. And I can honestly say it was worthwhile. It's not a very deep film, but as modern action movies go it's easily among the better ones. As the aforementioned article also points out, what the film lacks in character development it more than makes up for by keeping everything moving along all the way through the ending. Like the main character you're not given much time to rest or stop & think, and the film's messages are delivered subtly which I appreciated. The acting is solid across the board, and I love the way it mainly takes place in one building even if the building is pretty big. I foresee this being a recommendation for the Netflix project next month.

Just a thought: I wish Taken had been this good.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 641 Average listal rating (405 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - April 20th/21st

I definitely hadn't planned on watching this one this month, but on this particular night my "wife" wanted to watch something with me & I wound up choosing this. She really liked it but fell asleep about 30 or so minutes in. I liked it OK. The film's biggest asset in my opinion is that the characters actually seem like real people, which isn't often the case for me with Wes Anderson's films as he tends to overdo it trying to make them quirky (or at least that's how I see it). It's still a little quirky I guess, but not so far that it renders the film unnatural. The whole thing is entertaining enough, with moments I actually laughed at & a plot that was never obvious about where it was headed. But I can't say I really liked it that much. Maybe it was because she was asleep beside me & I started getting tired too, or maybe it was just the movie itself, but I didn't enjoy the last third of the film as much as the first 2/3. I feel a little like it went on longer than it should have & I don't have much interest in watching it again to figure out what I didn't like about it.

Just a thought: This answered my question of whether Owen Wilson has always been somewhat irritating. Yes. Yes he has been.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 467 Average listal rating (283 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.7
First viewing - Apr. 27th

My "wife" suggested this one on this particular night simply because she's seen it & I hadn't yet. The cast was what kept me away from it, and so not surprisingly I didn't care for them while watching the movie either. I'm not a fan of Dave Chappelle & yet his was the only character I genuinely liked (the rest ranged from tolerable to awful). There are some cameos which were fun & I did find several moments very funny, but honestly I could have gone on skipping it.

Just a thought: I've never understood why whoever it was dug Jim Breuer out from the rock he was hiding under. Shoulda left him there.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 1565 Average listal rating (1036 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.8
Re-watch - Apr. 9th

When I bought tickets to see this, I bought two so that I could have another guy night. Unfortunately my guy friend bailed on me when he realized his wife had plans on this night & he couldn't go. Oops. I tried in vain to find someone to take his place, and eventually decided I'd just leave the extra ticket at the box office for the next person who walked up. But then a neighbor whose daughter is friends with mine offered to watch the kiddo so my "wife" could go with me. And so we wound up having a spur-of-the-moment date night to see Evil Dead II.

I've seen this film so many times I don't even know really what to say about it. I will say that the more times I see it, and especially now that I've seen it on the big screen, I notice little things like wires & harnesses that aren't as well-hidden as they should be. And yeah, the acting's not so great at times. But you know what? I don't care. I love the hell out of this movie, flaws and all, and will continue to re-watch it for the rest of my life. In my book it will forever be a horror-comedy masterpiece.

Just a thought: The scenes where Ash battles his possessed hand are easily among my favorite cinematic moments ever. I feel nothing but pure joy when I watch them & laugh heartily along the way every damn time.
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Five by Five Project 2013


2013 - Five by Five


Last year I did the Movie Exchange Program with fellow Listalites jaytoast, phillydude, and Xanadon't. This year we've modified our project, expanded our group to include lotr23 and Mackenzi, and set out to watch 25 films throughout the year with 5 films recommended by each member to each other member. See the above list for all recommendations, and as soon as I have links to everyone else's lists to share I'll include them here.

See also:
jaytoast's Dear Cinema Diary - March and April
Phillydude's Movie Log - Spring 2013
lotr23's March-April Movie Journal
Mack's Movies 2013: April
First viewing - April 19th

Recommended by jaytoast


Figured I'd go ahead & watch both films in this section together since they're made by the same writer/director & were both part of the project. And now that I have clearly I need to track down his 3rd film Win Win.

I loved the cast here, and the film only served to reinforce my appreciation of Peter Dinklage as an actor. He conveys so much through facial expressions & body language that his character's preference for silence is never an issue. He's heard all the insults that could possibly be hurled at him, so they don't sting so much anymore but they do have some effect on him especially in large doses. I could tell what was on his mind much of the time without him speaking which really pleased me. And it seems that the rest of the film follows suit by being understated yet having plenty to say beneath the surface.

Wonderful film. I really loved it & would gladly watch it again & again for the chance to hang out with these characters more.

Just a thought: Couldn't help but notice the Scissorhands Salon next to the train shop at the beginning & smile at the thought that Edward finally started his own business.
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People who added this item 345 Average listal rating (218 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
The Visitor (2007)
First viewing - April 20th

Recommended by lotr23


Another film with great characters, great performances, understated moments, and a lot to say (though this one says more I think through action & dialogue than it does through body language & such). It's nice to see a film tackle such a difficult subject so honestly without trying to dress it up like a Hollywood movie. And while I certainly enjoyed it, it fell a little short of earning the same amount of love that The Station Agent did from me. I can't say for certain why that is...perhaps it's just a little less my kind of movie? Perhaps a re-watch down the road will sort that out.

I'd meant to see this one back when it was in theatres but never got around to it, and so it had been in my head to check it out at some point. Glad lotr23 finally gave me a reason to sit down with it.

See also: Review by lotr23
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Netflix Instant Project 2013


Netflix Instant Project for 2013


My secondary project for 2013 involves recommendations of lesser-known/lesser-seen films that are currently streaming on Netflix, also from my fellow Listalites. If you use Netflix Instant Watch & want to participate, please check out the list above & the thread in the Movies Forum.
People who added this item 181 Average listal rating (117 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.1
First viewing - Apr. 6th

I think my brain melted a little while watching this one. So many things happen in this film that make no sense & defy all logic, physics, and reason to the point that the only way I could make it through was to mock it. Sadly I was alone & had no one else watching it with me to join in my mockery, but I persisted anyway. The MST3K crew would have been proud.

The effects are horribly dated for the most part, but I tried not to hold that against it too much. The dialogue frequently gives way to completely nonsensical lines that had me wishing I had alcohol to douse my brain in in hopes it'd help me swallow it easier (alas, I was out of town & in a hotel room with no minibar). And probably that's the best way to watch this one - drunk or stoned or otherwise under the influence. Ah, but on the upside there's some amazingly creative violence going on that keeps the whole thing just entertaining enough to prevent one from shutting it off & walking away. Too bad there's so much awful dialogue in between those scenes.

Clearly I was NOT in the right frame of mind for this one when I watched it, and I wouldn't attempt it again. But if you want something violent & nonsensical, by all means have at it.

Just a thought: I love these movies where the main character gets viciously wounded in one scene, then shows zero signs of it in the next. I suppose this time around I should've expected that though considering the main character is supposed to have bullet-wound scars on his chest which bears no scars at all that I could see.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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People who added this item 295 Average listal rating (184 ratings) 5.5 IMDB Rating 5.5
First viewing - April 13th

I'd heard here & there that this movie was slowly paced, so I had no issues with it like some others had. Honestly I felt it worked well for the most part, especially since we're given time to get to know the characters before much happens. So many horror films have a tendency to put the characters on screen & throw everything at them before you've had a chance to learn anything about them, which for me is usually less effective (or not at all in some cases). And at the center of this film is a pair of characters which are memorable & believable without being cliche in any way. Add to this the great use of atmosphere & you've got the makings for a great horror flick.

The trouble I had with it, however, is that the slow pace provided me enough time to anticipate what was going to happen, and at no point was I surprised by anything deviating from what I expected. Fortunately that didn't prevent me from enjoying this movie, but it was a bit of a let down. I'd still say though that this is worth a look, and I will continue to check out Ti West's films going forward.

Currently streaming on Netflix
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First viewing - April 15th

Technically this could also go in the Netflix exorcisms section, but I figure the Netflix project is the better place for it. Meant to watch this for a long time now & glad I finally gave it a chance. It's pretty refreshing to see ean American animated film that's aimed at adults instead of children first, as they don't come along often. And it's funny to me that animated characters having sex warranted the X rating considering that it's nothing compared to actual porn. It's gratuitous sure, but the characters engage in it naturally & it's more humorous than titillating. The story isn't much, but I dug the dialogue & was solidly entertained throughout. I wouldn't consider this a Great film, but it's definitely worth seeing especially if you'd like a different-than-the-norm animated movie.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I caught before Netflix removed them from my IQ this month
People who added this item 891 Average listal rating (577 ratings) 5.1 IMDB Rating 5.7
First viewing - Apr. 6th

If you liked the first one, here's more of the same. The only thing I liked better about this one compared to its predecessor is the fact that the characters were more likable than infuriatingly annoying this time around. Don't get me wrong, I did find this film to be fairly entertaining, but it was SO MUCH like the first one that it ultimately felt pointless. The differences are so minor that the only thing that'll help me distinguish between the two films is that the first has an annoying couple and this one has a family complete with a baby & a dog.

The thing that most annoyed me about this one, however, is the fact that so much of the film was shot by someone with a handheld camera. Someone wakes up in the middle of the night due to crashing noises, he/she grabs the camcorder first. Having a mundane conversation or looking something up online? Better turn on the handheld, you never know when it might be worth archiving. And why the hell would you take a camcorder with you down into your basement when your child has gone missing & might be in danger? I'd take a flashlight & a baseball bat (or similar easy to handle & easily obtained weapon). Oh, but wait, then we'd miss whatever happened. Right, that's a good excuse.

If you've seen the first film & haven't got around to this one yet, I'd say don't bother.

Just a thought: I think it's safe to say I won't watch any more films in this series if there's no more creativity than what's on display here.
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People who added this item 76 Average listal rating (46 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.2
Winnebago Man (2009)
First viewing - Apr. 8th/9th

OK, so first off prior to watching this movie I was ignorant of who this guy is. I'm not one to sift through YouTube videos to see what's most popular, and in fact most of my time spent on there is for movie trailers, music footage, and other professionally produced things rather than watching amateurs either actively claw for fame or accidentally find it doing something idiotic. All I knew was that the documentary is fairly well liked around here & Netflix thought I'd rate it in the 9-10 range for some reason.

It's an interesting documentary, though I personally don't find the outtake footage that made Jack Rebney famous that entertaining, much less something worth obsessing over. But I found Rebney to be an interesting subject that eventually made the whole thing worth watching. Much like his viral video though, I wouldn't watch it a second time, but it's worth a look once.
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People who added this item 145 Average listal rating (89 ratings) 6.4 IMDB Rating 6.3
First viewing - Apr. 15th

It's pretty dated thanks to some very '80s fashion choices, but that adds to the B-movie cheesiness in a good way here. An opening scene involving a teddy bear initially won me over, and the whole film was too much fun for me to dislike. Plus it's all about keeping your inner child alive, which I also appreciated. The acting could be better at times & the film is too short to take time with getting to know the characters very well, but otherwise I didn't find much to complain about.

Just a thought: Carolyn Purdy-Gordon is so androgynous here I was never sure she isn't a man.
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First viewing - Apr. 17th

My growing love for Billy Wilder & some praises from fellow Listalites raised my expectations too high here I'm afraid. One, Two, Three is certainly entertaining throughout, thanks largely to James Cagney being a cyclone that the rest of the characters get sucked into & thrown back away from. And sure, the characters are memorable here, plus the story moves along so swiftly there's hardly time to anticipate where it's headed. The film looks great for the most part too. But personally I didn't really connect with any characters (most annoyed me if I'm honest, albeit mildly), and some of the comedic aspects just didn't work for me. For a film that's clearly a comedy I wasn't laughing often & nothing made me laugh very hard, which I consider a problem. Plus the heel-clicking & standing at attention gags wore out their welcome after the 2nd time, so by the end of the film I was beyond over them. Ah well. I'd still say it's worth a look, especially considering that funny is a subjective thing. I just didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped to.
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People who added this item 1336 Average listal rating (776 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.7
First viewing - Apr. 23rd


Writer-director Alfonso Cuaron is here heavily indebted to Francois Truffaut, whose Jules et Jim this movie strongly resembles in two particular ways. It's not simply in the time-honoured theme of two close male friends besotted by the same alluring and slightly mysterious woman. It's also in the use of the distancing device of a narrator who serves to provide a degree of hindsight to an extremely up-close-and-personal story, locating it in a wider social context. In this latter regard, where Truffaut used newsreel footage, Cuaron cleverly incorporates fleeting glimpses of events taking place along the road as the journey unfolds: fatalities, drug busts, folk festivals. These brief sightings reveal almost subliminally an alternative Mexico of political corruption and economic poverty, but also of the endurance of the human spirit.

It's a world that the over-privileged but under-nurtured Julio and Tenoch have scarcely begun to connect with. Cuaron's knack for displaying social injustice is as acute as his ear for raucous teenage banter and it gives his film a resonance beyond the reach of the average teen comedy. There's a raw, improvised feel to the script that is entirely successful in conveying the fluctuating moods and energy levels of its testosterone-fueled protagonists. Bernal and Luna fling themselves into their roles with engaging enthusiasm and humour. Verdu is pleasingly understated in a role that seems a little under-developed. Perhaps deliberately, Cuaron never allows us to get too close to the heroine.
--from AgentLexi's review
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People who added this item 92 Average listal rating (51 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.1
Topkapi (1964)
First viewing - Apr. 26th

This is ridiculously wacky. I really don't know what else to say about it. I enjoyed it, was totally entertained, but was not at all prepared for its oddness. Unlike the last odd movie I watched (see next section below) this one has an actual plot though, which the insanity swirls around & through. Go check it out so I'm not alone in having watched it, please.
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People who added this item 265 Average listal rating (142 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - Apr. 29th/30th

So I started this one night & was really into it for the first hour. But after that I started falling asleep, so I turned it off & tried to finish it again the next night & again I was falling asleep. I eventually managed to stay awake long enough to finish it but I can't say I felt like I'd seen anything amazing or worth my staying up for. Donald Pleasance is great in his role here though & the rest of the cast is believable enough. The story reminded me a little of The Ref, but it wasn't as much fun as that film is (if it was I doubt I would have been falling asleep). Worth a look though, especially if you're into Polanski. I just didn't enjoy it as much as some of his other films.
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People who added this item 742 Average listal rating (429 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.6
Reality Bites (1994)
First viewing - Apr. 30th

While there were likely far better options for me to end the month with, when my "wife" realized I'd never seen this she insisted we should watch it. I ignored it in the '90s due initially to my disinterest in the film itself & later simply because Ben Stiller is in it. Turns out it's actually worth watching due to the characters & the ideas it presents (some of which I identified with even now), though aside from that it's mostly your average love-triangle movie. I did like the ways it poked fun at MTV's then-relatively-new reality shows & the ways they presented things back then...very amusing.

So I ended April on an average note I guess, but at least it wasn't a bad note.

Just a thought: Janeane Garofalo was gorgeous back then.
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I tried, but I gave up

People who added this item 422 Average listal rating (255 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.1
Holy Motors (2012)
April 23rd
What the fuck is this bullshit? I watched about 20 minutes or so & was completely lost with no signs that there would ever be a coherent narrative or anything beyond crazy images to latch onto. And that's not what I want from a movie nor anything I admire at all. My mind simply couldn't take it & was so repulsed that I abandoned all attempts to watch any other movie on this night. And I definitely won't give this one another attempt. Fuck it.

Currently streaming on Netflix (and actually this one is part of the Netflix Instant Project too)
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Off to a slow start this month, but hopefully I'll be more productive as it goes on. Doesn't help that my "wife" & I decided to finish up Netflix's House of Cards series first thing, which took away two nights movies might have been watched. Plus I had a weekend out of town, and other various real-world things going on all of which has taken my attention away from getting movies watched. So I anticipate this being a light month all around, but we'll see...

I definitely don't plan on any focus or anything, especially now that I've seen the large number of films leaving Netflix Instant at the end of this month. Sigh.

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