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Added by the giraffe on 1 May 2013 09:27
1530 Views 16 Comments

Movies the giraffe watched: May 2013

Sort by: Showing 19 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
The breakdown: 19 movies watched - 12 on Netflix instant, 2 in the theatre, 4 on DVD, and one via YouTube; of those 16 were first views, 2 of which I abandoned, 3 were re-watches (one of which was actually a TV episode), 2 were documentaries, and they came from the following decades: 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 90s, 00s, & 2010s.

I did really well watching movies the first half of this month, but the 2nd half my productivity dropped off. I'd more or less expected this, but I'd be lying if I said I hadn't watched anything on the free nights I didn't watch movies. My "wife" and I wound up watching a fair bit of TV shows both past and current (including the newest season of Arrested Development), some of which I indulged in late at night in the final hour before sleep. I'm not too bummed about it though because I happen to know that the next couple months I'll have some vacation time that'll allow me to squeeze more movies in than usual. Hopefully that'll work as well as I want it to. Ah, but I'm supposed to talk about this month here.

I managed to make it out to the theatre twice this month to see a pair of films I'd really wanted to see, which was cool but I kinda wish I'd picked a different 2nd choice now. My ongoing projects yielded the month's best films, which is pretty exciting. And I sat down with 2 films I hadn't seen in far too long, both of which were well worth revisiting. Lots of 7/10s this month I see, which means I watched several films that were mostly worth the time watching them just not ones I'd watch again.

And then of course there were the two films I abandoned, one of which utterly sucked and the other I wasn't in the mood for. It's not often I can't hang with a movie until the end, but at least both times I had the good sense to stop when I did instead of forcing myself to carry on. Life's too short. ;)

Best film for May: Rope
Best hidden gem: Alice
Worst film: Nacho Libre
First viewing - May 5th/6th

So I was all set to write this one up, but then I went back & read Xanadon't's write-up from last year and he'd already covered all my thoughts on it (though I wouldn't have mentioned Opera and I might have added that of all the characters the stoner/fool was easily my favorite). So here's what he said...
I really can't remember the last time a wide-release English-language horror film got quite as much early buzz and praise from seemingly reputable sources as much as this movie has. So naturally I had to see for myself what all the fuss is about.

Up top I have to say that despite some bold claims that would have you believe otherwise, this is not the final word in horror. And it doesn't "reinvent the horror film" or "turn the genre on its head". For one thing, it's far from a singular film with a firm grasp on its own vision. For another, there's not a single scare to be had. But even with no such luck on these fronts, I will say that I enjoyed the film. I enjoyed it mostly because it's a good deal of fun. It's also cleverly self-aware and surprisingly comic, in a wry style that mostly works.

Horror fans may take delight in picking out the countless images and references that harken back to myriad horror films that have come before. A number of them are very obvious (Hellraiser, Evil Dead just for starters) and others are a bit tougher to pick out (A Clockwork Orange, Argento's Opera -that is, if I'm not giving the film too much credit). At any rate, if horror references are your thing, The Cabin in the Woods has got them in spades. And then of course there's the whole business of toying with the archetypical characters established by the genre. Some of this is interesting, but none of it is quite as clever as a lot of people seem to think.

To be sure The Cabin in the Woods is very much one of those "post-modern" "film as film criticism" exercises. This kind of approach has vast potential for becoming smug or preachy or phony and just pissing me off in general, but luckily the film displays enough affection for the genre while simultaneously heckling it, that an agreeable enough balance is struck. The real trouble here is that a horror film tailored for the horror cynic, and one that spends half the time standing beside itself, is never nearly as satisfying as a straight-up, well-made and effective horror movie that exists fully within its own identity.

But maybe I'm just old-school like that.
--from Xanadon't's April Movie Journal (2012)

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 3004 Average listal rating (1880 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Bambi (1942)
Re-watch - May 9th

I rented this one for my daughter so she could finally see it. We had this crappy board book that introduced her to the characters, and ever since she keeps pointing Bambi out whenever she sees him anywhere (like on the back cover of some of her other books). And since I hadn't seen it since childhood I figured I'd watch it with her.

For its time it's still really good. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say it's Great, but it's rightfully earned its classic status. The visuals are beautiful & I often found myself impressed by the art of it. I dug too the ways they use music throughout the film, especially when it worked with the visuals to form a composition (which brought to mind Fantasia a few times). The story is decent enough as are the characters...it's all definitely memorable. I can't say I worked up much emotion for the film though, which was a little surprising considering that there's a scene here that's notorious for inspiring tears. But I still liked it well enough that I'm content to leave my rating where it is.

Just a thought: Clearly the message here is people suck & ruin everything.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1294 Average listal rating (917 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Commando (1985)
First viewing - May 11th

AKA Ahnuld kills everything. This movie was a fun watch, but the plot was obvious from the moment it was laid out. There's never a moment where I doubted Arnie's character would kill the bad guys & save his daughter, and so really you just sit back & watch the carnage. So it's entertaining, but definitely nothing essential unless big dumb action movies are your thing.

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 415 Average listal rating (208 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 7.6
First viewing - May 12th

After watching Touch of Evil I decided to watch another of Orson Welles's films & chose this one from my queue. I can't compare it to the book since I haven't read it yet, but I wouldn't doubt if it fairly accurately captured the spirit of the novel because it all clearly came from Kafka's head. Which means it's entertaining & frequently odd with moments that are funny due to their absurdity. I thought it was a rather uneven film though due to the tonal shifts throughout. Sometimes I was very entertained, yet other times I was bored & by the last half hour I was more ready for it to be over than truly enjoying it. Still it's a very interesting film & perhaps in a different mood it would have appealed to me more. So I'd say it's worth a look even though I was never in love with it.

Just a thought: Watching this & Touch of Evil back-to-back made sense not just because of Orson Welles, but also because each film has a major role played by a cast member of Psycho.

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 7 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
First viewing - May 14th

My better half said she wanted to watch this documentary, so I decided to join her. And I'm glad I did. The film focuses on how we've moved away from our connection to the soil/dirt, the ways it continues to affect people around the world, and then talks to some people who have worked in various ways to bring back vegetation & healthy soil in areas where it's been lacking or even absent. If that doesn't seem like something that matters to you, then perhaps you need to watch this & your mind may change. If that does seem like something that matters to you, this will still likely be well worth a look.

The only downside here is that it's still a standard documentary as far as format goes, so don't expect anything revolutionary on the technical side of things. But I personally think this is a must-see due to the importance of the subject matter, despite what my rating may otherwise suggest.

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 249 Average listal rating (151 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
"Incident on and off a Mountain Road"

- May 16th

This one is easily among my favorites from this series, and the reason I re-watched it was because it came up tonight when lotr23 asked me about Coscarelli's work. I linked him to it & decided I should just watch it again since I'd enjoyed it so much. And I do still enjoy it, though this time around the time jumps throughout occasionally annoyed me which they hadn't done before. I almost wish the past scenes were shown before the current scenes, but most of the time the juxtaposition works well enough I can let it slide. Angus Scrimm almost steals the show though with his supporting role.

Among the episodes I've seen from this series, this one now sits at 9/10.

Streamed on YouTube
the giraffe's rating:
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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 977 Average listal rating (651 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7
ParaNorman (2012)
First viewing - May 10th

So my "wife" & I rented Lincoln & this was the last night of the rental. As I turned on the DVD & sat watching the menu scenes & hearing the orchestral music, I realized I was not at all in the mood for that movie. So I asked her if she'd rather watch Paranorman, and she said yes.

The animation here really won me over. I love the way the entire film looks & had several moments where I was really impressed by what I was seeing, with a conscious awareness that it must have taken many people and hours to put it all together & have it work the way it does. I loved the characters and I laughed heartily several times. And how cool is it to see zombies & witches & ghosts animated this way? The only thing I might complain about is that the story's not as original as the presentation is. But with as many movies as are made I guess that's typical.

All I know is Lincoln wound up being a day overdue, and I have no regrets about my choice to not watch it.

Just a thought: Sooo glad I didn't try watching this with my daughter instead; definitely not a movie for young children.

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 469 Average listal rating (254 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.5
First viewing - May 17th

First off, this could also have gone in the Netflix Exorcisms section of this list, but since VierasTalo recommended it for the Netflix project I felt it was best to put it here.

I absolutely LOVED the animation throughout this film. Such a unique version of Alice in Wonderland that I feel does more service to the source material than most adaptations have (well, from the few I've seen anyway), and there were many times when I sat in awe of the puppets & scenes Jan Svankmajer created. It's fairly faithful to the source material story-wise, so if you're familiar with it the surprises are all visual but I don't think that's a negative thing. If I had any complaints it's that there are a couple scenes that go on a bit longer than seems necessary (the tea party scene in particular could be trimmed down with all its repetition).

Highly recommended & I'll be adding this one to my collection whenever I get the chance so I can re-watch it & eventually show it to my daughter when she's the right age for it (like Paranorman this is also not for young children).
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Five by Five

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:
Phillydude's Movie Log - Spring 2013
Mack's Movies 2013: May
lotr23's May-June 2013 Movie Journal
jaytoast's Dear Cinema Diary - Vol 4 E4 - Summer 2013
May 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
People who added this item 957 Average listal rating (588 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 8
Touch of Evil (1958)
First viewing - May 11th

Recommended by Xanadon't

Now this is a hell of a movie. Every shot is visually interesting, the plot moves in a way where it's impossible to know where exactly the movie is going, the performances are excellent, and really I can't think of a single negative thing to say about it. It's reputation as a classic is more than well-deserved & I'm glad this project finally gave me the opportunity to sit down & watch it for what will no doubt be the first of several times. The only thing missing here is that physical feeling that the perfect 10 films give me.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 1194 Average listal rating (799 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 8
Rope (1948)
First viewing - May 24th/25th

Recommended by Mackenzi

My thoughts can be pretty well summed up by this: I had a beer I was drinking, which I finished early on in the movie; by the time I wanted another one I didn't even want to pause the movie so I could grab it, much less leave the couch for even a second, which means I didn't have that 2nd beer until the movie was over. I especially enjoyed the various ways death remains omnipresent throughout the entire film (including the frequent use of the word "late"), and was pleasantly surprised by the humor that worked without interfering with the tension. And I couldn't help but be reminded by Dial "M" for Murder at times since both films have much in common, which may account for why Rope wound up falling just shy of a 10/10 for me. Like Touch of Evil above that magic feeling was missing at the end of Rope, but it's safe to say I enjoyed Rope even more. So while I'm putting it down as a 9/10, it's more like a 9.5. This is another film I'll have to add to my collection.
the giraffe's rating:
First viewing - May 25th/26th

Recommended by phillydude

Of the three films from the project I picked for this month, this one has the unfortunate distinction of being my least favorite. The performances are excellent & the story is so well-told that there's no possibility of knowing where it's going or how it'll end. And yet I never got too deeply drawn into it, and I'm not sure whether it's because of the film itself or the exhilarating experience of watching Rope the night before. Whatever the case, I can say that while I did admire many aspects of this film I simply didn't love it & wouldn't sit down with it again. Once was enough for me. But I do think it's well worth watching & looking at others' ratings it appears that some will find more to enjoy here than I did.
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Big screen attractions

Films caught in a theatre
People who added this item 2210 Average listal rating (1439 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 7.2
Iron Man 3 (2013)
First viewing - May 4th

In a nutshell, this was better than the 2nd film, but not as good as the original. In the 2nd installment it seemed like RDJ forced his way through the movie & much of the movie fell flat as a result. This time around he seems invested in his role & the film, and I liked how they picked up with Stark in the aftermath of The Avengers instead of acting like those events didn't happen. Guy Pearce is excellent in his role for the most part, and the rest of the cast is solid (there's even a child actor that doesn't ruin things, which isn't common). There are some familiar elements along the way that make some events rather predictable, but fortunately there are enough little surprises that make the whole film worthwhile (and I personally loved the post-credits scene too). It won't change your life or anything, but it's so entertaining you probably won't mind.

If they can bring this kind of quality to future installments I'll keep watching them.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 227 Average listal rating (148 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 5.1
First viewing - May 7th

OK, first off I want to mention that of the four films Rob Zombie has made before this one I'd enjoyed watching 3 of them (The Devil's Rejects being the exception & for the life of me I can't figure out why others seem to like it the most...or even at all). That still stands. There are some wonderful visuals throughout this movie, and the actors are undoubtedly dedicated to their roles. The music's mostly well-done too. And that's about all the good I can say for it, unless the statement "I hated it slightly less than The Devil's Rejects" is a positive thing.

It fails as a horror movie because there's nothing scary here, unless this is somehow your first horror movie & even then you probably won't be scared so much as disgusted at times. There are a couple occasions when the sole purpose of a scene seems to be to offend the audience, which I found disappointing. They may often make one feel uncomfortable, but I was acutely aware that they were trying to offend me & so these moments didn't really work. And the biggest problem here is that the story isn't very well-written, and there's little to no reason to care about any of the characters. Our protagonist is especially problematic because she only reacts to everything that happens & thus she comes off dull & somewhat lifeless. Perhaps a better actress could have done more with the role, but if the script was the same I don't think it'd matter. And then there's the dialogue which works OK for the most part but has an unfortunate tendency to devolve into an overindulgence in expletives that REALLY sounds forced coming out of the actors' mouths (which was one of my biggest problems with The Devil's Rejects, though fortunately here it's done to a lesser degree). The story idea isn't bad, and if it had been written by someone else it could easily have been worked into a good to great film. After all, Zombie appears to be aiming for a "Satanic Panic" style film in the vein of The Sentinel and Rosemary's Baby. Unfortunately he lacks the storytelling skills to do so successfully.

I could go on & on it seems, but the bottom line here is your time would be better spent with other films instead of this one. You've been warned.

Just a thought: I had a very strong urge to throw my drink cup at the screen at the end. I didn't do it because the cup was empty, plus it wasn't the theatre's fault the movie sucked.
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Netflix exorcisms

Films I caught before Netflix removed them from my IQ this month
People who added this item 513 Average listal rating (303 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
Rabbit Hole (2011)
First viewing - May 6th

Well, this is pretty much a downer of a film. Good thing the story is well-told for the most part & the cast does a solid to excellent job. I was most impressed by Nicole Kidman's acting as she effectively portrayed a wide range of emotions, and so I felt like her Oscar nom here was worthy. And yet for all this tragedy heaped on I never shed a tear or otherwise got too deeply invested on an emotional level in the story & characters. I never felt like turning it off either though, and was pleasantly surprised by some moments along the way. But still, not a film that endeared itself to me nor one I'd willingly watch again.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 40 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - May 13th

A couple years ago I remember reading an article about Austin filmmaker Emily Hagins, the subject of this documentary, and how she'd just made her 3rd film at age 18. It mentioned her first film she'd made at age 12 (Pathogen) & this documentary about that experience; of the two films this one was the only one on Netflix so I added it to my IQ. And now that I've watched it I need to track down Pathogen just to check it out.

I found it very fascinating to watch this young girl working on her first movie & deal with all the various obstacles along the way, and so for me it was well worth watching. As documentaries go it's pretty run-of-the-mill in its execution, but fortunately the subject matter is good enough that I hardly minded. Definitely worth a look.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 64 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.9
First viewing - May 22nd

OK, so I swear someone around here had this on a favorite movies list alongside a bunch of films I love & so I added this to my IQ. But I just looked & can't figure out who's list that was (if it's yours & you're reading this let me know). Anyway, I'm glad I did because I really enjoyed it. Admittedly it's sort of Rocky except about pool, but I was entertained nonetheless. I liked the characters, liked the story, and liked most of the music (the bad hip-hop I could have done without), & that was good enough for me. It's nothing groundbreaking & it won't change your life, but I thought it was better than the above ratings would suggest. I don't know that I'd ever need to watch it again, but if the opportunity presented itself I'd be a lot quicker to watch it than I was the first time around.

Just a thought: Nice to see the Walken I remember liking in the '90s here & not the one I keep seeing in trailers for lowbrow comedies.
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 2838 Average listal rating (1843 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.2
Re-watch - May 28th

Perfectly content now with leaving this one at an 8/10. I first saw this in theatres with my dad, and not only did I enjoy it even then but it sparked my interest in martial arts in general & launched my love of martial arts movies. So it's got some importance for me. I was glad to find that it's held up so well over the years. The characters are mostly believable & well-developed, the story is entertaining & heartfelt, and I still remembered most of it well despite the fact I probably haven't seen it since the '80s ended. My biggest complaint here is the painfully '80s soundtrack, especially the song that's repeated throughout the tournament scenes (which got stuck in my head, argh!). Beyond that the only issue I have is that it's obvious how the film will end, which doesn't make the film any less enjoyable in my book but does detract from any importance the tournament scenes may otherwise have had, & almost renders them pointless except for the final showdown. Ah, but this is clearly a crowd-pleaser & never makes any attempts to be anything else so the obvious ending is to be expected. Fortunately it's well-earned.

Looking forward to watching this again with my offspring at some point.

Just a thought: I love Noriyuki "Pat" Morita's performance as Mr. Miyagi, even if his wisdom IS partially stolen from Yoda.
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I tried, but I gave up

People who added this item 1192 Average listal rating (794 ratings) 5.2 IMDB Rating 5.9
May 19th

My "wife" likes this movie & has been bugging me about the fact I've never watched it, so on this night I decided to give it a chance. Everything about it annoys the shit out of me, from the colors (why is everything blue & orange?) to the characters to the fact that every "funny" moment in the film feels like someone's idea of humor who never grasped the concept to begin with. I kept hearing this voice in my head saying "this is funny, right? Look how ridiculous this is, isn't it funny? Don't you want to laugh?" To which I kept repeating, nope, not at all. And so it came as no surprise when I looked it up & this came from the same person who made Napoleon Dynamite, another movie I hate all around. Fortunately with this one though I started falling asleep about a half hour into it & we turned it off about halfway through the film in favor of sleep. Normally I don't rate films I don't finish, but this time I feel justified in rating this piece of shit exactly what it deserves.

Just a thought: This film & Napoleon Dynamite are among the few films that call my other half's taste in movies into question. Fortunately for the most part her taste is awesome, so I'll try not to hold this one against her.

Currently streaming on Netflix
the giraffe's rating:
People who added this item 820 Average listal rating (457 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.6
Hunger (2008)
May 31st

Don't think too much about this one. It left Instant on June 1st so I forced myself to try to watch it even though I knew I wasn't in the right mood for it. Well, I was right about my mood & couldn't hang with it. Maybe I'll give it another chance some day, but for no more than went on in the maybe 30 minutes of it I watched I'm not very encouraged to do so.

This month I have plans EVERY SINGLE WEEKEND, so odds are I won't get much watched movie-wise. But we'll see. Since I know this up front I'll be more inclined to take any chance I get to watch movies, but I also won't plan on any specific month-long focus. The only real plan is to get 3 films from the Five by Five project watched, though I may drop down to 2 if I'm too busy to work the 3rd one in.

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