Reflections On My Netflix Queue

Black Sheep & The Host

So I’m out on one of my woefully infrequent nights of carousing, and at some point a buddy of mine opines that I would like the movie Black Sheep, and also, while we’re on the topic, this other film called The Host. And somehow I write these titles down, which is fairly amazing since it required (a) paper, and (b) a working pen, and (c) the presence of mind to actually record the names of recommended movies for future references, three things I very rarely possess simultaneously. Anyway, as soon as I start writing, my buddy goes, “well, uh, I should probably warn you …” and I am all like “Silence! It is too late to deter me, for my commitment to watching these so-called ‘motion pictures’ is already ironclad. Let us speak of them no more!”

Anyway, long story short, a week later both discs arrived from Netflix on the same day, and I was all like whuuuh?, and it took me a while to recollect the above (and possibly paraphrased) conversation. (I was never able to remember actually adding the movies to the top of my queue … ah, late night inebriated Netflix queue adjustments …) So The Queen and I watched them, and: hahahaha! Yes, you should see these films! And learn nothing of them in advance, as I did. (I will, however, forward the one disclaimer than my friend insisted in divulging: “When renting Black Sheep you want the 2006 film … not the one with Chris Farley!”)

Downfall

Maybe you’ve seen the various Hitler gets banned from a computer game videos and wondered what film the footage was drawn from. *** spoilers! *** it’s 2004’s Downfall. An absolutely fascinating film that shows a side of Hitler and his regime that you rarely see on screen: as a bunch of losers. (Not losers in the “sitting around in their boxer shorts at 11:45 in the morning eating chips and watching To Catch a Predator on TiVo” sense, obviously, but as the side that lost the war they initiated.) It’s a testament to the skill of director Oliver Hirschbiegel that this portrayal of the “bad guy’s point of view” manages to evoke neither sympathy for their plight nor revulsion at the horrible acts you know they have committed, and instead makes you feel like the proverbial “fly on the wall,” watching the drama unfold with a dispassionate eye (or “dispassionate compound eye” I guess, to extend the Dipterian metaphor). And here, I’ll spare you the trouble of pausing the film halfway through to visit Wikipedia: the exact cause of Hitler’s tremors is unknown, though syphilis or Parkinson’s disease (or both) are suspected.

51 Birch Street

At first I though this documentary Doug Block made about his own parents was just so much self-indulgent navel gazing. Then he began hinting at their Dark, Hidden Secrets and I got all intrigued. Then said secrets were revealed and I was back, to, “dude, did you just trick me into watching your home movies?” Perhaps I would have been as enthusiastic about this film as the critics if I hadn’t felt suckerpunched. Or whatever the opposite of a suckerpunch is. Like when some guy says “I’m going to punch you in the gut!” and then he just gives you a friendly slug to the shoulder and you’re all like “wtf man I was all tightening my abdominal muscles and preparing to die like Houdini, lame.” Like that.

Juno

Aww, why the hate? Yes, it was aggressively quirky, but I still liked it twice as much as Little Miss Sunshine, to which it was often compared. I mean, at least this film was about a real issue (teen pregnancy), instead of a bunch of dilemmas as zanyfied as the characters themselves (I can’t be a pilot because I’m color-blind, waaa!). I guess this is one of these deals where hipsters liked it when it was largely unknown, but then when it got popular and started winning things they decided it must actually suck (see also: Barak Obama).

There Will Be Blood

How sad is it that, during the climatic end scene, I’m sitting there on my couch thinking, “I’d bet a hundred bazillion dollars that someone has already mixed this monologue with that abominable Kelis Milkshake song and posted the resultant video to youtube.” And then, after the film was over, I checked youtube and found it. And the topmost comment on the file was “i knew someone wuld make this!!!!!!”

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16 comments.

  1. Our group of friends (about 12) has a weekly tradition called Bad Movie Night, where we compete to find a movie that will get “gonged” by the majority of the group (Gong Show style) One week, someone brought Black Sheep and it lasted a bit longer than 2001 Maniacs, but didn’t last as long as Zardoz. I thought it was great! Well, I think all our Bad Movies are great, but who cares? It’s all in fun.

  2. Wait a second, I have to disagree about your assertion that Downfall “manages to evoke neither sympathy for their plight nor revulsion.” I DO think that the film did an impressive job in attempting to get there, but the final scenes, wherein Traudl and the boy escape the melee on bike to “freedom.” It’s idyllic and heroicizing.

  3. I wouldn’t have made the Juno/Little Miss Sunshine connection, but I see your point. The only thing I really had a problem with was the dialogue. Parts of it (honest to blog and homeslice) made me wince a little.

  4. I never noticed how “over zanyfied” the characters in Little Miss Sunshine were until I read it above. But it’s a great assertion. They were all just a little over the top. Still a good movie though.

  5. (I can’t be a pilot because I’m color-blind, waaa!)

    I actually have a friend who wanted to be a pilot but can’t because he’s color blind. He waaa-ed so much about it he ended up joining the Army on a whim at the age of 30.

  6. I’m interested in Black Sheep in that I felt a lot of the humour was in jokes that New Zealanders would find the most enjoyment from. Did anyone actually find there were things you didn’t get?

  7. I think I’d be more disturbed if they mashed it up with “The Milkshake Song” from “You Can’t Stop the Music” with the Village People.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=HDxEPHqvlhc

  8. Re: Milkshake mashup

    Damn you! You made me look!

  9. Not to disagree with your assessment of Little Miss Sunshine, but it is true about the restriction against color blind pilots. We would have pilot wannabees coming to my school’s vision clinic from hundreds of miles for the Farnsworth lantern test, which is the gold-standard test for pilot types who had been screened as color blind with other, less reliable exam techniques.

    For you doubters and those who indulge in way too much information:
    http://www.leftseat.com/falant.htm

  10. You’re aware of the All Movie Guide, right?

    The Host sounds vaguely interesting. Black Sheep sounds stupid. “Gore-filled horror comedy???”

    Ok, well, maybe it’s good. I did laugh at The Re-Animator.

  11. I managed to see The Host when it played in Oakland at a small movie house about a year ago. It’s a great film, and I laughed a lot.

    I agree with the previous commenter that the dialog in Juno is too unrealistic. It’s like the screenwriter was just trying to make a bunch of catchphrases, and I couldn’t stand it. Little Miss Sunshine has superior actors and funnier lines, and, honestly, my family’s so fucked up that it’s hard to think of the characters as overly quirky.

  12. I would just like to say that it isn’t very nice to talk about a video mash-up between a violent drama and a retarded hip-hop song and NOT PROVIDE A LINK. I want to see it soooooo bad. Please post a link?

  13. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but Eli from There Will Be Blood and Dwayne from Little Miss Sunshine are the same person!

  14. That hipster/Obama observation was gold, Matthew. Gold!

  15. Nitpick. It’s Barack, not Barak.

  16. The Colonel: My brain, you broke it. (I’ve seen both those movies and thought Eli looked familiar, but damn.)