Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Queue

Been feeling overwhelmed by my Netflix obligations lately: my guilt mounts when I see those red envelopes gathering dust on top of the piano. I joined Netflix six years ago, and have the La Grande Bouffe plan — eight at a time. Once, I used to be on a movie-a-night regimen: retire at nine, and comfortably tuck in a movie before hitting the pillow. But no more. There's life to live.

For years, my Netflix queue has had about 490 movies in it. (The limit is 500.) Every time I make some progress whittling it down, the new releases page appears Sunday morning at the Netflix site, and that Sisyphean boulder starts to roll down the hill again. But: the weather's turning cooler, and staying indoors to fire up a DVD is an attractive option when the mulberry tree in my front yard is drooping from the weight of snow on its limbs.

So, before I ask you what titles are at the top of your Netflix queue, here are the ones perched atop mine:

Et vous?


Blogger girish said...

I wish Katie Degentesh would blog more often.

November 22, 2005 5:56 AM  
Blogger girish said...

For fans of the Smiths: these 20 questions for Morrissey from his fans are fun.
His lasting influences (!): "The royal three remain the same: The New York Dolls, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, with Nico standing firm as first reserve. Oh, and Olivia Newton-John."

November 22, 2005 5:59 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I went through a fevered Italo Calvino period once and this Jonathan Lethem article on him makes me want to crack open "If On A Winter's Night A Traveler" again.

November 22, 2005 6:03 AM  
Anonymous Matt said...

Well, we don't have Netflix in Australia, but yesterday, realising that I only have two more weeks of access to my university's library before I graduate, I made a little list. Some of the films on it include:

* Germany Year Zero
* Chungking Express
* Shoah
* Pandora's Box
* Sunrise
* Metropolis
* Decasia
* Red Desert

And a number of Bunuel films that are on VHS, not DVD, so which I might wind up skipping, hoping to see them in better conditions somewhere in the future.

But I'm going like a madman to see as much as I can before I finish. I'm aiming at two films a day (except on the day that I watch 'Shoah', obviously).

November 22, 2005 6:15 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Ah, interesting.
Red Desert used to be on DVD here but it's out of print now.
And Pandora's Box has never been on DVD here.

November 22, 2005 6:22 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I keep on changing the order of my Netflix list. Sometimes I will want to see a certain film sooner than later. I also sometimes delete titles if I can get the DVD from the library, or it's a film that won't be significantly different seeing it full frame on cable or is a toss-up in terms artistry - example: I saw "Convoy" on cable because I feel I should see all of Peckinpah's films but also feel that the pictorial loss was outweighed by the general weakness of the film.

That said, my Netflix list currently tops out as:
Tabu (Murnau and Flaherty)
Mamma Roma
The Decameron (two by Pasolini)
The Teddy Bear (a Polish film that sounded interesting)
Siberian Lady Macbeth (Wajda)
Happy Times (Zhang Yimou)
Spun (uncut, unrated version)
Storefront Hitchcock (Demme)
Shatter (Monte Hellman)
Lord Jim (Richard Brooks)

I should get that new Lang on my list. I've been making an effort to see his silent films.

I wonder how many people are on more than one rental program. I just upped my subscription to Nicheflix to see more films not available in the U.S. On my list there is Conversation Piece, Jour de Fete, Triple Agent, and the original Godzilla (without Raymond Burr as Steve Martin).

November 22, 2005 7:26 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Peter, thanks for the Monte Hellman tip. Never even heard of it.

The Lang is actually a sound film from 1950. I've seen it once on the big screen as part of a Lang retrospective in Canada but asssumed I'd never see it again.
In terms of mise-en-scene and mood, it's one of his strongest, creepiest movies.
I'm a Lang nut and have been meaning to do a small series of Lang posts. (That oughta drive all the remaining readers away!)
Not sure which of his silents you've seen but I'm a huge fan of Woman In The Moon, Spies, Dr. Mabuse The Gamber,...heck, all of 'em.

November 22, 2005 7:35 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Sorry if I wasn't clear. I knew that House by the River was from 1950. Of the silent films, besides Metropolis, I've seen Die Niebulungen. I think I saw Spies but I can't remember anything of it. My introduction to Lang was seeing stills from his silent films in the magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland.
My favorite Lang film not on DVD is Manhunt.

November 22, 2005 8:15 AM  
Blogger girish said...

And my fave Lang not on DVD is probably Rancho Notorious (a bitter revenge western with Marlene Dietrich.)

November 22, 2005 8:34 AM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

As it now reads, at the top of the queue is:

"Two for the Road" (Very long wait, it says.)

Chabrol's "A Double Tour"

"Concert for Bangladesh" (another very long wait...I haven't seen this in over twenty years)

"Tales of Hoffman" ("short wait")

"Punishment Park" (another "short wait")

and "What a Way to Go!" (available NOW!)

November 22, 2005 8:48 AM  
Blogger girish said...

I'm especially excited for the Chabrol and the Powell/Pressburger (can't wait to see that pampering Criterion treatment.)

November 22, 2005 9:24 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I have no Netflix. I've been trying to watch everything I'm in interested in from the library before signing up with Netflix. Currently I have Crash and The Aviator on request, though I'm expecting the Scorsese to disappoint me (honestly, everything he's done since Goodfellas has disappointed me at least a little).

November 22, 2005 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

So much to say. . .

First off, regarding rare Lang, TCM showed Beyond a Reasonable Doubt last night, which thrills me no end (I DVRd it.) Jacques Rivette always raves about this film, and I've not seen it for about twenty years.

As for Netflix, I'm happy to hear that I'm not the only one with a maxed-out queue!

Girish - get Unseen Cinema out of your queue and onto your Xmas list. Drop a hint to mom. (Does Netflix have all of them for rent or just the NYC one?) It's an incredible box set -- something that every cinephile should own. I dip into it whenever I have an awkward amount of time to watch something -- it's absolutely wonderful.

Top of my queue at the moment -- kind of embarrassing -- I have both the Paul Schrader AND the Rene Harlin Exorcist prequels at the top (curious to watch them back to back - from the sublime to the ridiculous), followed by 5x2, Cesar and Rosalie and Castle Keep.

November 22, 2005 11:51 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Filmbrain--Yes! Beyond A Reasonable Doubt is amazing. I turned my mom on to it a few years ago, and now she's a diehard Lang fan. (She e-mailed me the other day asking me to pick up the Scarlet Street DVD.)
How incredible that everyone hated Reasonable Doubt at the time, and poor Lang decided to pack his bags and head home. (Though I'm thankful he made a trip to India after that to give us the sumptuous and wacky The Indian Tomb and The Tiger Of Eschnapur).

You're right--Unseen Cinema looks like the mother of X-mas gifts, from everything I've read and heard about it.

More synchronicity--both 5x2 and Cesar and Rosalie are on the upper slopes of my queue as well.

November 22, 2005 12:06 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Filmbrain--Netflix does have all 7 discs of Unseen Cinema for rent.

November 22, 2005 1:40 PM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

Synchronicity to the extreme: I just walked in from the rain, having trekked a half-mile to rent 5x2 as well as Christophe Honoré's Ma Mère on DVD.

I've stayed away from Netflix for no better reason than that it seems like renting from Microsoft, or the Yankees. I'm probably shooting myself in the foot. But I do have two subscription services, one of which is GreenCine. I currently have I Stand Alone (Noé '98) on its way back to them and Mysterious Object at Noon (Apichatpong '00) in my DVD player, while my queue is topped by:

1. Kings and Queen (Desplechin '04)
2. The Brown Bunny (Gallo '03) - whatever, you caught me
3. The Stunt Man (Rush '80)
4. Landscape in the Mist (Angelopoulos '88)
5. Heaven's Gate (Cimino '81)

Over at ClassicFlix.com, an unbelievable site for hard-to-find stuff from old Hollywood, I'm doing a whole "early years of Oscar" thing. I've got Mister 880 (Goulding '50) and The Love Parade (Lubitsch '29) right now, to be followed soon by:

1. Valiant Is the Word for Carrie (Ruggles '36)
2. Weary River (Lloyd '29)
3. Theodora Goes Wild (Boleslawski '36)
4. The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Buñuel '54) - speaking of synergy!!
5. Private Worlds (La Cava '35)

November 22, 2005 1:48 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Wow, had no idea Lubitsch's The Love Parade was on DVD!
Hadn't heard of Classicflix either.

You know how sometimes, movies take a long time to blossom in your mind and reach "full strength"?
A complete year after I saw Kings And Queen, it haunts me more than anything else I saw last year.
Truly a "paradigm shift" movie.

November 22, 2005 1:58 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Currently, I have 8 in my Netflix queue (just joined the service recently). They are:

Sexy Beast
Remembering Jacqueline du Pre
Jacqueline du Pre: In Portrait
Tokyo Story
The Piano Teacher
The Unfaithful Wife (Chabrol's classic)
The Beat My Heart Skipped
Punch Drunk Love

I'd like to add some Hou Hsiao-Hsien, but being unfamiliar with much of his work, I'm not sure where to start. I'd say you're the man to point me in the right direction, Girish. What do you recommend?

November 22, 2005 2:02 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, I think Flowers Of Shanghai might be a solid choice. It's accessible, and yet deceptively simple. (I've seen it four times, and will likely see it several more!). And visually, it's ravishing.

November 22, 2005 2:06 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Wow. Valiant is the Word for Carrie! All I know about that film is the title was parodied for the Three Stooges best film, Violent in the Word for Curly.
Cable seems to be Lang's best friend - that's how I've seen Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, While the City Sleeps, Human Desire and Rancho Notorious. I also tried watching An American Guerilla in the Phillipines but I got the feeling even Lang didn't really care.

November 22, 2005 2:07 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Michael, just putting two and two together here:
your Du Pre DVD's + your Shopgirl post.
Have you seen Anand Tucker's Du Pre movie, Hilary and Jackie? Might you recommend it?

November 22, 2005 2:09 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Yes, I admit it. I like the Stooges. After seeing their films theatrically I realized that the bigger the screen they are on, the funnier they are. Also, is more fun to watch than The Great Dictator.

November 22, 2005 2:13 PM  
Blogger Nick Davis said...

That's the thing: great gobs of stuff on ClassicFlix is available nowhere else. I have no idea what they're doing or how they do it but I. love. them.

November 22, 2005 2:19 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Nick, thanks for the tip.
And I don't know how you do it--watch and write about so many films. You're a prolific man.

November 22, 2005 2:25 PM  
Anonymous Michael said...

Flowers of Shanghai, it is (and it sounds very promising).

Actually, I skipped on Tucker's Hilary and Jackie when it appeared in theaters; I think I was worried it would be too sensational. But I think I'll add it to my queue and then view it after I view those two documentaries (might be good material for a blog post).

November 22, 2005 2:33 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

Nick, on the chance that GreenCine has only one copy of The Brown Bunny, please know that it is currently en route from my mailbox to the GreenCine hub. (I really liked parts of it, for whatever that's worth.)

I'm on the 3-DVD plan at both NetFlix and GreenCine -- the former because it carries a wider selection of television shows (and it's faster), the latter because it carries a wider selection of everything else.

My GreenCine queue:

- Rebel Without a Cause
- Bitter Victory
- Tabu (I just added it after seeing it in Peter's list)
- Betty Blue
- The Piano teacher

My netFlix queue:

- Freaks and Geeks 1
- Freaks and Geeks 2
- Freaks and Geeks 3
- Father and Son
- The Parson's Widow

November 22, 2005 2:36 PM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

I've only joined recently, too, and I have around 50 movies in my queue, some of them related to my research, others are new releases I never quite caught:

The Yes Men
First Person (Errol Morris)

Murder by Television
Notebook on Cities and Clothes
Maria Full of Grace
One Day in September
The Terrorist
Heir to an Execution

November 22, 2005 2:51 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Girish, I think there's a way to post the RSS feed of your Netflix queue in the sidebar of your blog, should you be so inclined...

I'm OCD when it comes to lists and such, and I can't stand having more than ten items in my Netflix queue at a given time. Right now those top spots are occupied by the original Siegel version of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (thanks to Matt's comments in his recent Week In Review), Pickpocket and Secrets And Lies.

Filmbrain, your Exorcist double feature sounds like the making of a great future post - but have you already seen the Schrader version, and did you really think it was sublime?

November 22, 2005 2:51 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

DVD, you've just reminded me that I'd written about The Yes Men and never posted it. Probably I should start a separate blog for all my movie ramblings.

November 22, 2005 3:17 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

The White Diamond (Herzog)b/c I really enjoyed Grizzly Man this past weekend
Wages of Fear (Clouzot)
The Killing (Kubrick)
Le Notti Bianche (Visconti), b/c I love the Dostoyevsky story
Shadow of a Doubt (Hitchkock)

As you can see, I'm still on a bit of noir kick.

Haven't read any Italo Calvino yet, but looks like a writer I would really get into; top of my list as soon as I'm done with what I'm working on now: Cavedweller, Dorothy Allison.

November 22, 2005 3:30 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

No DVD subscription service for me, yet. Not while there are so many delectible theatrical treats in my nexk of the woods. But I do use my public library's Holds system; currently the DVDs in my "queue" at the library are:

The Movies begin vol. 4: The magic of Méliès
Spike Lee's a Huey P. Newton Story
and three relatively recent Criterion discs,
Phantom of Liberty, the River and Burden of Dreams. Those should take a while to get to me 'cause I'm on a long list.

November 22, 2005 6:04 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay, classes done for the week: nice feeling.
Thanks to you all, my netflix queue now stands not at 490 but at a whopping 500. Lord only knows when I'll actually see these movies.

Darren: I've never seen an episode of Freaks & Geeks but you've got me curious.
I brought along The Parson's Widow to a dinner/movie party at a friend's house (they requested a silent film) and it was a huge hit. It's a perfect film in every way--funny, moving, cinematic.

Chuck: I've got Birth on its way to me now. And The Terrorist is one of the few movies available in the US that's in my native tongue (Tamil).

David--what a cool idea about the RSS feed. I'd like to do that for sure.

Tuwa, I think I blogged about The Yes Men too. I've been meaning to show clips of it to my students.

Brian, Herzog has three new docs out, and I've seen none of them. Kicking myself for missing Grizzly Man. I did pick up the Faber & Faber book of interviews, Herzog On Herzog, over the weekend.

Frisco Brian--If I lived where you do, I might not have a Netflix subscription either. And Renoir's The River is, IMO, the best movie made about India by a non-Indian. The Criterion tranfer is meltingly good.

November 22, 2005 6:49 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

I watched every episode of Freaks and Geeks that aired during its original run in 1999-2000. Like Sports Night, it blurred genres, and so TV executives didn't know what to do with it. I think it lasted 11 weeks. The DVD set includes several episodes that never aired and at least one commentary track per episode.

The show is set in a high school in 1980. Jake Kasden directed the first two episodes, and the opening shot is a classic: the camera cranes up some bleachers at a high school football field, where a handsome athlete is telling a beautiful cheerleader how much he loves her. Then the camera drops below the bleachers, where four of the "freaks" are hanging out, smoking, and talking about John Bonham's drum solo. That's the whole premise of the show. Instead of looking at the popular kids, it painfully recreates the high school experience of some outsiders. It's really, really great.

November 22, 2005 7:24 PM  
Blogger girish said...

One of the downsides of getting rid of TV is that I know there are great shows that are totally passing me by.

November 22, 2005 8:24 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay, I have my Netflix queue open in another window. A few more from the queue:

--Don McKellar's Childstar, which Darren saw last year in Toronto and I missed (I have a vague memory of oversleeping.)
--The terrific Malayalam film Shadow Kill.
--Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale. I saw this with a couple of hundred people and the gasps were deafening. My jaw was on the floor the whole time.
--Ron Mann's doc Go Further: has anyone seen this? It was on Rosenbaum's list of "essential cinema" in his book.
--Emile De Antonio's Vietnam doc In The Year Of The Pig. (I've been reading Warhol's autobiography, "From A To B And Back Again"--no idea De Antonio was so in the thick of the art world. He sounds like an utterly cool guy.)
--Tons of Errol Morris
--Sembene's Black Girl
--Motel Cactus from Korea: Ideas on this?
--Sokurov: Spiritual Voices, Confession.

November 22, 2005 9:41 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Erratum: the Andy Warhol book in which Emile De Antonio figures is actually Popism. (I've been reading both books simultaneously, alternating chapters--the effect is pure mash-up.)

November 22, 2005 9:53 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Which Errol Morris? I think his work tends to be fascinating and provocative, though I have to confess: I don't see the attraction to Gates of Heaven. Maybe I'm not brainy enough, but that long monologue at the middle loses me every time. I love the rest of his work, though, especially The Thin Blue Line and Mr. Death. Vernon FL is neat too. Good for us he didn't remain an insurance investigator.

Which reminds me ... I've yet to see Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe. Will have to look for it when I'm in San Francisco.

November 22, 2005 10:14 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, I've never seen Gates Of Heaven or Vernon Florida or First Person, etc. Actually it's embarrassing how little of his work I've seen--two, maybe three films.
Re: Herzog, you've gotta see his Gulf War I aftermath film, Lessons Of Darkness, one of the best (and most poetic and unclassifiable) docs I have ever seen.

November 22, 2005 10:19 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

A Netflix story:
Last weekend I popped in Flowers of Shanghai--as per Mr. G. Shambu's suggestion that it's a good 3H starting point. Fifteen minutes in, just as Triple H's zen-tableau methodology had me trancing out, the disc stops. I take it out and realize that there are gi-normous scratches--no, grooves in the disc.
I now have the replacement disc and can't wait to get back to it.
(Also in the queue: Head-On, An Angel at My Table, Le Samourai, Lady Snowblood, Mr. & Mrs. Smith [so sue me].)

Oh and I think you'll really dig the V. Mars. I'm having a blast working my way through the set.

November 22, 2005 10:49 PM  
Blogger Musing said...

My queue:

Me & You & Everyone We Know
Through a Glass Darkly
Scenes from a Marriage
Dazed and Confused
Waking Life
Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
Mr. & Mrs. Smith (just being honest here)

And added after reading everyone’s comments:

Flowers of Shanghai
Lessons Of Darkness
Battle Royale
The Parson's Widow
Tokyo Story

November 23, 2005 6:54 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Jeannette--Looks like a powerhouse queue you've got there!

November 23, 2005 9:11 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Ben--We've got a "mutual influence" thing happening.
I put Veronica Mars on there because I noticed on your sidebar that you were into it.
I hope you like the HHH.
I remember that first scene well: the ten minute sequence shot with no cuts, totally trance-inducing.

November 23, 2005 9:14 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Speaking of Battle Royale, I have been slowly going through Kinji Fukusaka's older films. Highly recommend Black Rose Mansion and Blackmail is My Life. I actually saw and enjoyed Mr. and Mrs. Smith in a theater. My SO is a big Angelina Jolie fan.

November 23, 2005 9:42 AM  
Blogger Musing said...

Mr. and Mrs. Smith--glad to hear you enjoyed it, Peter. I'm looking forward to seeing it. Have to have an action adventure fix every so often. :-)

November 23, 2005 12:28 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Lately, I've been getting my action fix from Seijun Suzuki (Tokyo Drifter, Branded To Kill).

Joshua Clover on Slavoj Zizek.

November 23, 2005 2:20 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Noticed a bumper sticker this morning:
"It will not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations."

November 23, 2005 2:23 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello on the films of experimental filmmaker Yvonne Rainer.
Rainer is one of those filmmakers I've only read about. Maybe someday I'll get a chance to actually see some of her stuff.

November 23, 2005 2:44 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

I downloaded some Tokyo Drifter mp3s ages ago, though I can't remember where I found them. I've yet to see the film, unfortunately.

November 23, 2005 3:45 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, the movie has some nice jazz in it but it's the visual aspect that's the truly amazing thing about it.

November 23, 2005 10:49 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Hey Tuwa, you've been holdin' out on us:
didn't realize you had a vegetarian cooking blog on the side!

November 23, 2005 10:52 PM  
Anonymous dvd said...

Wow, Tuwa - that Sweet Potato soup sounds delicious! I've been trying to think of something vegan to make for the family dinner tomorrow (so that I'll actually have something to east), and I may just give that a try.

November 23, 2005 11:16 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

"One mp3blog, garnished with movies and politics, with cooking on the side, please."

Yeah, it's very much on the side. I was amazed to find out that yesterday that I hadn't updated it since July. I have been cooking since then.... ^_^

John has a hut; I have a shanty and a lean-to.

November 23, 2005 11:20 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

DVD--I love that soup. I was thinking of cooking that again tomorrow, with an apple pie and some brownies for later.

November 23, 2005 11:22 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Thanksgiving prayer: William Burroughs said it best.

November 24, 2005 7:10 AM  
Blogger Musing said...

Tokyo Drifter added to queue.

November 24, 2005 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

What a prayer! I wonder how many people knew that Burroughs was also a member of the National Rifle Association? My SO downloaded several spoken word pieces by him on her computer.
Jeanette: I hope you also consider Suzuki Seijun's "Youth of the Beast".

November 24, 2005 8:58 AM  
Blogger Musing said...

Added Youth of the Beast. Thanks!

Now just wish I could add time to watch all these movies as easily.

November 24, 2005 9:06 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Check out this ad for skin-whitening cream for Asian women.

November 24, 2005 1:03 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa's offering up some classic Monk recordings for download.

November 24, 2005 4:56 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

eep! I forgot to post my question about Au Revoir Les Enfants (or, rather, about the soundtrack). Maybe next time. (though you'd probably know, wouldn't you? Yes, I think so....) ^_^

November 24, 2005 6:33 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, as it happens, I like the movie but it's been a good 10 years since I saw it, and I remember nothing of the soundtrack.

November 24, 2005 9:52 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Now you're just trying to be difficult. :-P

November 25, 2005 2:10 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Alas, I am.

November 25, 2005 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

dvd --

Haven't seen either Exorcist prequel yet, but as a die-hard Schrader devotee, I simply have to believe that it's good. After all, fall from grace stuff (and all that) is right up his alley.

November 25, 2005 10:43 AM  
Anonymous Aaron Hillis said...

I'm telling you, 'Brain, stay far away from both. Renny Harlin's Exorcist prequel is atrocious (my review here), but the Schrader version ain't that much better... neither are worth your time, energy or the chunks of cerebellum that will surely be destroyed.

November 26, 2005 11:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. Martin
2. Table for Five
3. Jefftowne
4. Silent Running
5. Cocaine Cowboys

November 30, 2005 11:26 AM  

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