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October 8, 2011

Well, I quit WoW again, and while I’m spending most nights watching streaming shows & movies from Netflix (finished Veronica Mars, getting going on Arrested Development and Eureka, dabbling in Psych and Lie to Me, probably will finish off Buffy & Angel this way), I am still watching the discs enough that I’ve worked my way through the last 20 blogged-about titles, and am now into the next score. Without further ado, they are…

Withnail and I (NF)
It’s a comedy! A comedy about being a poor drunk actor in England in the late 1960s and heading to the country for not especially good reasons. Bad reasons, even. To quote Roger Ebert in his entry for the movie in his Great Movies series:

Why does the film, which I have made sound so depressing, remain so popular after more than 20 years? It achieves a kind of transcendence in its gloom. It is uncompromisingly, sincerely, itself. It is not a lesson or a lecture, it is funny but in a consistent way that it earns, and it is unforgettably acted.

Shopgirl (NF)
Steve Martin and Jason Schwartzman romance Claire Danes (the titular Shopgirl) from opposite ends of the social and age spectrum, based on Martin’s own novella. I’m not sure when I became so interested in Steve Martin (on Twitter as SteveMartinToGo), but the banjo-player sure does keep me interested.

Here, watch him sing a song on Letterman.

Sideshow: Alive on the Inside (NF)
Um… yeah. I’ll just paste the description in here.

Jason Alexander narrates this eye-opening documentary that explores the long history of the circus and carnival sideshow, right down to its present-day incarnations. Archival footage and fascinating, behind-the-scenes interviews with the performers themselves, such as Sandy Allen the world’s tallest woman, reveal a compellingly human portrait of the lives led by those who practice this unusual and sometimes controversial profession.

If you have any interest in the human oddity fare that is the sideshow circuit… well, now you know I do, too. Couple that with my predilection for documentaries, and wanting to see The Great Waldo swallow and regurgitate a live mouse, and here we are.

Zatoichi: Vol. 1: The Tale of Zatoichi (NF)
The first in the long-running series of movies about the blind swordsman. It’s possible I added this to my queue after researching the origin of the character Zato Ino from Usagi Yojimbo.

Munich (NF)
So, here’s an interesting Oscar theory I heard someone propose a bit ago. What if there was a five-year waiting period on the Oscars? At the end of this year, instead of picking the best movies of 2011, what if they tried to recognize the best movies of 2006? It deflates some of the hype out of the scenario, and might let some movies that got overshadowed rise up while others that were hyped at the time be viewed in a more rational light.

I bring this up because Munich was nominated for Best Picture in 2005, and I don’t think I’ve heard anyone mention it ever since. For the curious, the other not-winning nominees that year were Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Good Night and Good Luck, with Crash winning the prize. And I think the only time I’ve heard Crash mentioned is in the context of, "Hey, the movie that got the award instead of Brokeback Mountain."

Oh, plot summary. Yes. Munich is about the Mossad tracking down the terrorists who killed a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympics in Munich. It stars Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Geoffrey Rush and Some Other People I Don’t Recognize.

Penn & Teller: Bullshit!: Season 2 (NF)
Penn and Teller skewer… well, some pretty easy targets (PETA, The Fountain of Youth, The War on Drugs, The Bible: Fact or Fiction), as well as some more generally accepted sacred cows (Safety, 12-step programs, recycling). Even if I don’t agree with it, it’s usually funny. :-)

Ripley’s Game (NF)
A sequel in only the loosest sense (I don’t think many Matt Damon fans rented this one), it apparently hews much closer to the Patricia Highsmith Ripley novels. I should read some of those.

City of God (NF)
I caved on this one. I allowed Netflix constantly recommending it and the stellar reviews and accolades to finally drive me into adding it to the queue. A hard-R movie about three decades in the slums surrounding Rio de Janeiro and the lives of the gangsters who populate them, it’s supposed to be fantastic. Or so I hear. Over and over and over again…

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (NF)
Tommy Lee Jones stars in and directs this Western about a hardass who seeks redemption for his killed friend. I’m in.

Syriana (NF)
Some day, a story about political infighting and intrigue in the Middle East that revolves around the oil industry won’t be topical… but not yet. Stars George Clooney (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for this movie), Matt Damon, Amanda Peet, Mark Strong, Chris Cooper, Christopher Plummer, Gina Gershon, Tim Blake Nelson, William Hurt, Jeffrey Wright… yeesh. That’s a Murderer’s Row of Actors.

Rescue Me: Season 1 (NF)
This series, about Denis Leary as a tormented FDNY firefighter, feels like it should be right in my wheelhouse but I’ve watched one episode so far (hurrah, streaming), and it didn’t absolutely hook me. Still, I’m giving it a chance. And, yes, I’m starting to watch it now that the final season is starting to air on FX. Timing, I has it.

Night Watch (NF)
Russian modern urban fantasy, about the Night Watch, who police (after a fashion) the shadowy forces of the night. I watched the trailer years & years ago and I just rewatched it and… it’s not all that I remember thinking it was. Maybe it got a recommendation from someone else, too?

Devil in a Blue Dress (NF)
Denzel Washington plays a private eye of sorts, in a twisty noir movie based on Walter Moseley’s novel set in post WWII Los Angeles.

Danger UXB (NF)
Hee hee. I laugh because I know exactly when I added this movie to my queue. Netflix used to allow you to recommend movies to your friends. Heck, Netflix used to allow you to have friends on their site. But I digress. You could send someone a recommendation, and it’d email them, “So-and-so thinks you’d like the Adventures of Lucky Pup.” Well, if I search through my email for the term UXB, the sole search result is Jeremy recommending this series to me on June 13th, 2006. It’s about the UneXploded Bomb division operating in London, charged with defusing and disposing of undetonated German bombs from the blitzkrieg. If I had to guess, it came from a conversation where I recommended The Sandbaggers to him. (The Sandbaggers: SO SO GOOD.)

The Matador (NF)
And lastly, Pierce Brosnan bids farewell to Bond (at least in my chronology) by playing a scraggly hitman (possibly?) that Greg Kinnear talks to in a bar and somehow endears himself to. Or something. I probably haven’t seen a trailer for this in about five years, gimme a break.

And that’s it for the 20. UXB spans this group and the next, but that’ll just mean the next post will be a teeny bit shorter. Teeny bit. Can barely see it.

264 discs in the queue, and the last 5 in the queue are 13 Assassins, Tropic Thunder, Dog Day Afternoon, Hanna, and Red State.

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