E

There were not too many films starting with “E” on my list, so we made short work of this letter.

I actively disliked these:

I felt kind of ambivalent about these films:

They held my interest somewhat, but I couldn’t say I actually liked them.

In other words, I didn’t really like any of the E films.

But I’ve got nothing against the letter E. I loved Election. (Who didn’t?) And yes, I loved Eyes Wide Shut, though I’m not sure why. But the best E film of all time was probably Elmer Gantry.

D is for DVD

Haven’t been able to watch too many movies lately, but I did finally view the last “D” title on my list.

Loved:

Liked:

Ambivalent:

Didn’t really care for:

Fell asleep after too much beer:

ABC Films

Over the last three months Xy & I have watched rented a bunch of DVDs from Netflix. Since I’ve been proceeding through my list in alphabetical order, here’s my take on films starting with the first three letters of the alphabet.

Loved:

Birdman of Alcatraz
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
City of God

Liked:

American Splendor
Andromeda Strain
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Born Yesterday
The Beguiled
Chasing Amy
Catch Me If You Can
The Collector
The Cooler
Cops and Robbers
Curse of the Demon / Night of the Demon

Ambivalent:

Attack!
Big Trouble in Little China
Brainstorm
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Browning Version
Breathless
The Captain’s Paradise
Company Business
Crimes and Misdemeanors

Didn’t Like So Much:

Atlantic City
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
Barbarella
Best Seller
Big Trouble
Colors
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
The Cat From Outer Space

Really Hated:

The Comfort of Strangers
Contempt

Slacker

Slacker

I’m so excited I could just about piss in my pants. Today I got my Special Edition Double-Disc DVD Set of Slacker, which comes in a gorgeous box and includes a 64-page book. Wow. I am blown away just by the packaging. Even the case for the DVDs themselves is stunning. Hell, even the discs themselves are cool, one printed to look like a water meter cover, the other like a storm sewer.

There’s a quote from Godard in the booklet, but I can forgive that.

I had to have a copy of Slacker. I still remember seeing it in the theater back in 1991. Or was it 1992? It was the first time I had ever seen people in a movie who I thought “looked like me,” i.e., like real people my age, my peers in Bloomington.

Plus, it is a kick-ass movie.

Dairy Overdose

Xy and I went to an art extravafreakoutganza at the Big Top Gallery, something called Meow Mix that Heather Weathers put together. Everything had a feline theme. For example, they were serving some sort of “milk punch,” which actually tasted as nasty as it sounds. Xy took advantage of the grooming station to get her hair cut. All the performers were female. There was a stand-up comic (Marcia Wall) and burlesque dances by the Storyville Starlets and a “Hairy Pussy Slide Show” by Heather. Trista Douglass read The Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss, but she was dressed as the Cat in the Hat; while she read, Thing 1 and Thing 2 ran around and caused quite a ruckus, shattering a couple pieces of glassware, including my pint glass of beer. But what’s a few shards of glass between friends?

The event ended earlier than we’d expected, which gave us time to stop by the Creole Creamery. This is a relatively new Uptown ice cream shop, but it was disappointing even to Xy the ice cream addict. In fact she couldn’t finish her treat. Too much dairy for one night, perhpas?

Then we saw Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at the Prytania.

Godard

I’m about ready to give up on Jean-Fuck Godard. I tried watching Alphaville a few years ago, but found it so excruciatingly boring that I couldn’t finish it. More recently I rented Breathless; it was watchable, but I can’t say I really appreciated or enjoyed it. (In fact, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that my favorite part was the scene in which a pretentious author answers questions from reporters. This gave me a fleeting thrill of recognition because it’s the basis for a recent television commercial. My chagrin is mitigated by the fact that I cannot recall the product being advertised.) Last night we gave Contempt a spin, and once again, I found it so boring that I gave up about halfway through. Ordinarily I’ll watch films through to the end even if I don’t like them, because I am at least curious to know the whole story, and I generally crave a sense of closure. But I couldn’t see any point. I can imagine a thousand things I’d rather do than watch a Godard film, like washing the dishes or getting a cavity filled.

My Viewing Pleasure

I recently bought a DVD player so that I could watch the DVD-Rs that I’m burning. I got a Cyberhome CH-DVD 300/S — only $30 after rebate!

Of course, once I had a functioning DVD player in the house again, I wanted to watch some movies. So I reactivated my old Netflix membership. Last week Xy and I watched Shattered Glass, the first six shows in The Office series, and American Splendor. Edifying stuff.

Over the last few years I’ve kept a haphazard list of films I want to see. Netflix seems to have expanded their selection quite a bit since I last used the service a few years ago, and they now have a lot of the films on my list (about two-thirds, I’d guess). So I’ve been obsessively adding them to my Netflix queue.

Just in case anyone’s curious, here are the 284 items currently in my queue, which I’ll try (somewhat haphazardly) to link to IMDb:

3 Women
A Double Life
A Hard Day’s Night: Collector’s Series
A High Wind in Jamaica
A Man for All Seasons
A Place in the Sun
A Private Function
A.I. Artificial Intelligence
Aguirre: The Wrath of God
Andy Kaufman: Hollywood / Breakfast
Apartment Zero
Atlantic City
Attack!
Barbarella
Battleship Potemkin
Best Seller
Big Deal on Madonna Street
Big Trouble in Little China
Big Trouble
Birdman of Alcatraz
Born Yesterday
Brainstorm
Breathless
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Catch Me If You Can
Chasing Amy
City of God
Colors
Company Business
Contempt
Cook, the Thief, His Wife, Her Lover
Cops and Robbers
Crimes and Misdemeanors
Curse of the Demon / Night of the Demon
Darling
Death of a Salesman
Depeche Mode: 101: Disc 1
Dinner for Five: Season 1: Disc 1
Diva
Down by Law
Dr. Seuss’s The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T
Dreamscape: Special Edition
Dressed To Kill
Drugstore Cowboy
Easy Rider
Eating Raoul
Fail-Safe
Fathom
Fitzcarraldo
Friendly Persuasion
Gigantic: A Tale of Two Johns
Gigi
Going in Style
Gosford Park
Hard Times
Harvey
Heart of Glass
Hearts and Minds
Heavens Above!
Heavy Traffic
Hercules in New York
Here Comes Cookie / Love in Bloom
Hidden Agenda
Hidden Fortress
High and Low
Hiroshima Mon Amour
Hope and Glory
Houseboat
How Green Was My Valley
How to Get Ahead in Advertising
Hud
I Am Curious: Blue
I Am Curious: Yellow
I, Claudius: Disc 1
I, Claudius: Disc 2
I, Claudius: Disc 3
I, Claudius: Disc 4
I, Claudius: Disc 5/The Epic
Igby Goes Down
In a Lonely Place
In Cold Blood
In the Heat of the Night
In the Realm of the Senses
Invaders from Mars
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Irma La Douce
Is There Sex After Death?
It Happened Here
It Happened One Night
It Happened Tomorrow
It Should Happen to You
Ivan the Terrible: Part 1
Ivan the Terrible: Part 2
Joe Versus the Volcano
Ken Burns’ America: Huey Long
Kind Hearts and Coronets
King of Hearts
Kon-Tiki
Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet
Le Cercle Rouge
Lenny
Lightning Over Water
Local Hero
Lola Montes
Long Day’s Journey into Night
Look Back In Anger
Lost Horizon
Love Affair
Love and Death
Love at Large
Loving
Man of Aran
Man with the Movie Camera
Manhattan
Marat / Sade
Marnie
Masque of the Red Death / Premature Burial
Matewan
McCabe & Mrs. Miller
McKenzie Break
Medium Cool
Melvin and Howard
Mephisto
Mon Oncle
Monsoon Wedding
Mountains of the Moon
Mr. Deeds Goes to Town
Murder by Death
My Man Godfrey
Mysterious Island
Nashville
No Mercy
Number 17
Odds Against Tomorrow
Once Upon a Time in America
One, Two, Three
Only Angels Have Wings
Othello
Patton
Peeping Tom
People Will Talk
Persona
Phantasm
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Postcards from the Edge
Pretty Baby
Prizzi’s Honor
Punch-Drunk Love
Quest for Fire
Richard III
Richard Pryor: Live in Concert
Rififi
Road to Zanzibar
Robin and Marian
RoboCop
Room at the Top
Ruthless People
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
Savage Messiah
Scenes from a Marriage: Disc 1 (TV)
Scenes from a Marriage: Disc 2 (TV)
Seance on a Wet Afternoon
Seconds
Separate But Equal
Separate Tables
Seven Samurai
Singin’ in the Rain
Skokie
Sleuth
Smiles of a Summer Night
Spellbound
Streets of Fire
Style Wars
Sullivan’s Travels
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Sunset Boulevard
Swann in Love
Sweet Smell of Success
Tabu: A Story of the South Seas
Tape
That Obscure Object of Desire
The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai
The Andromeda Strain
The Beguiled
The Bride of Frankenstein
The Bridge on the River Kwai
The Browning Version
The Captain’s Paradise
The Collector
The Comfort of Strangers
The Cooler
The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
The Decameron
The Deer Hunter
The Devil and Daniel Webster
The Draughtsman’s Contract
The Dresser
The Duellists
The Eagle Has Landed
The Element of Crime
The Entertainer
The Freshman
The Guns of Navarone
The Heartbreak Kid
The Homecoming
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 1
The Iceman Cometh: Disc 2
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Ipcress File
The Kid Stays in the Picture
The Killers (1946): Disc 1
The Killers (1964): Disc 2
The Knack…and How to Get It
The Lady Eve
The Last Hurrah
The Lavender Hill Mob
The Leopard (Original Italian Version)
The Lion in Winter
The Long Good Friday
The Long Walk Home
The Maids
The Man in the White Suit
The Man Who Fell to Earth
The Mystery of Picasso
The Naked Kiss
The Odd Couple
The Office: Series 2
The Old Dark House
The Pawnbroker
The Philadelphia Story
The Point
The Pornographers
The President’s Analyst
The Prisoner
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes
The Professionals
The Return of the Secaucus 7
The Right Stuff
The Russians Are Coming …
The Rutles
The Singing Detective: Disc 1
The Stranger
The Stunt Man
The Sunshine Boys
The Tall Guy
The Testament of Dr. Mabuse
The Thing
The War of the Roses
The Weather Underground
The Whales of August
The Winslow Boy
Tiger Bay
Time After Time
Tin Men
Tom Jones
Tomorrow the World
Topper Returns
Touch of Evil
Trouble in Paradise
Truly, Madly, Deeply
Tuck Everlasting
Two-Way Stretch
Under Fire
Uptown Saturday Night
Vampire’s Kiss
Vampires in Havana
Vampyr
Victim
Victor / Victoria
Waking Life
Wall Street
War and Peace: Bonus Disc
War and Peace: Disc 1
War and Peace: Disc 2
War and Peace: Disc 3
War and Peace: Disc 4
War-Gods of the Deep
Witches
Young Frankenstein
Young & Innocent / Cheney Vase
Z
Zelig

I’m guessing that there’s maybe 150-200 films on my list that Netflix doesn’t have, so I’ve been looking around at other DVD rental services like GreenCine, which appears to list about half of my remaining films. (That’s a little misleading, since GreenCine lists out-of-print titles which they don’t actually have available for rent.) The other half are just not available on DVD yet. I might subscribe to GreenCine for a while and compare the quality of service, but I am pretty sure Netflix is going to be faster because they have more distribution centers; GreenCine is focused on the West Coast, and I don’t live there. When you’re paying a flat monthly fee, turnaround and delivery time is an important factor. I like GreenCine’s attitude, but I have to confess that I much prefer the design of the Netflix website.


Update — June 30, 2004: I mailed in my $10 rebate coupon for the DVD player, with a photocopy of my receipt and the UPC symbol from the box. They say I should get my money in eight weeks.

Update — August 16, 2004: Got my check for $10 from Best Buy.

Update

Here’s some things that happened over the last few days:

Got drenched to the skin on the way to work Friday morning. It rained real hard and it rained for a real long time. They cancelled Jazz Fest for the first time in thirteen years! I brought a change of clothes with me but I was still somewhat uncomfortable, so I left work a little early and ate a lot of sushi.

Friday nite Xy and I went to see Ghost Mice (Chris and Heather from Bloomington) at the End of Banks warehouse. They were awesome. I can’t adequately describe how good they were. You must see them. I talked to Chris before the show and gave him a VHS copy of “Fat,” which uses “Paper Dolls” by his previous band, Operation: Cliff Clavin.

I finished reading Islands In The Net by Bruce Sterling. The first three-quarters of the book was pretty slow going, but I slogged through and was rewarded by an interesting conclusion. I think that’s odd, because most books work the other way round.

Xy and I went to see Mean Girls. It sucked. OK, maybe I shouldn’t say it sucked; maybe I should just say it was mediocre. I understand it was the number one box office smash this weekend. This is probably because there was no competition.

I videotaped PJ & Gina’s band, Rabbit Hatch, at Gina’s art opening at the Marguerite Oestreicher gallery. It’s a tiny, ancient two-story building on Julia Street that I last remember as an abandoned ruin. Nice to see it fixed up. Unfortunately I was hungry and the weather was ugly and consequently I was just in a bad mood and unable to fully enjoy the event.

La Dolce Vita

One of the neighbor girls was over at our house tonight, helping Xy water the garden. She’s three years old, cute as a button, and her name is Willanita, but everyone calls her Mamaw or just Maw.

Willanita said she was hungry, and Xy asked me to fix her some oatmeal. She also likes rice milk, which we always have on hand, so I poured her a small glass. I fixed myself a rum and coke with a slice of lime.

Soon it was 8pm, and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita was coming on Turner Classic Movies. I didn’t want to leave Willanita unattended, so I asked her to come downstairs with me. I set her bowl of oatmeal down on a tray table and turned on the TV.

Soon we were watching a helicopter flying a statue over Rome. “Look,” I said, “that’s Jesus.”

Willanita’s reply: “He dead.”

“Yes,” I replied, “that’s true. He died a long time ago.”

Willanita said something I didn’t quite understand, except that it ended with “New Orleans.”

“What?”

She repeated only the end of her previous statement: “in New Orleans.”

“What about New Orleans?”

And I swear I’m not making this up. This three-year old child said: “A lot of people die in New Orleans. Did Jesus die in New Orleans?”

“No,” I said. “He died a looong way away from here.”

“How did he die?”

“Well, some people came and got him — the police — and they killed him.”

“Did he run?”

“No, he didn’t run.”

“He should have run,” Willanita said. “He should have run away fast.”

“Yeah. Is that what you would do?”

She grinned and nodded and finished off her rice milk. I sipped my drink, and we watched the Italian actors prattling on, neither of us able to understand a word.

Traffic

CONTAINS SPOILERS

I saw Traffic on cable last night, and I can’t remember when I’ve hated and loved the same movie so much.

What I liked: This was a serious movie dealing with an important topic, a topic that always fascinates me. It attempts to depict the complexity of the situation and the fruitlessness of America’s War on Drugs. The brutality of organized crime, the corrupting influence of the drug trade, and the impossibility of effective interdiction… It’s all there.

Toward the end, when Michael Douglass as the US drug czar has a crisis of confidence at a press conference, he sums it up very nicely by saying something like: “The War on Drugs is a war on our own family members, and I can’t do that.” Then he just walks away, quitting his job. Very unrealistic, but a point nicely made.

The film also indicates (correctly) that our drug policies are weak on treatment, focusing instead on interdiction. Why do we focus on the supply from outside of our borders instead of on demand from inside our borders.

What I disliked: The scene where Douglass’ (white) daughter gets fucked (literally) and hooked up on smack by her (black) drug-dealer boyfriend really made me wanna puke. I really felt the movie fell down in the depiction of drug use. In a way, it was cool that they primarily showed privileged upper class white kids using drugs, as that really dramatizes the quandry. But all the film’s depictions of illicit drug use are so extremely abusive in nature — I feel this misrepresents things. It’s my understanding that the majority of cocaine use (cocaine being the big focus in this movie) is fairly benign and casual, just like the majority of alcohol use. Addiction is a serious issue, but it’s also something that happens to a minority of users. Thus, again, the absurdity of the drug war. Traffic seems to reinforce the idea that drugs really are destroying this nation’s youth, which I think is an overblown myth.

Other gripes: Douglass asks who has his job in Mexico, and seems shocked when told there is no analagous position — yet. But that shouldn’t be a shock. The “drug czar” position is a very weird and uniquely American appointment, and Douglass would have to know this. The drug czar has little power, anyhow; I believe he’s more of a figurehead, who’s merely supposed to coordinate the efforts of the various gov’t anti-drug forces.

Also, many of the questions posed by the film (like why we focus on interdiction so much) are unanswered, even though the answers are not that hard to find.

Of course, if Traffic gets people to think, to ask questions, then so much the better.