I moved it up from #140 when I read the Eddie Izzard interview in today’s NYT. "His strongest screen role so far has been as Charlie Chaplin in Peter Bogdanovich’s underrated 2001 film, “The Cat’s Meow,” about a 1920s murder on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht. His Chaplin is a driven, complex character, self-absorbed yet madly in love with Hearst’s mistress."
It seems to be a trend to post a list of movies one hasn’t seen but plans to watch.
My Netflix queue is currently around 450 items long. Some of these are compilations of TV shows and recordings of concerts, but even without them it’s too long a list to burden you with here.
But I can share a chunk of it. Here are the next 10 movies I’m scheduled to receive. The summaries are from the Netflix website.
- Du rififi chez les hommes AKA Rififi (1955). Four men plan a technically perfect crime, but the human element intervenes. "Jules Dassin won the Best Director award at the Cannes Film Festival for this French noir caper (with English subtitles) in which jewel thieves pull off an elaborate store heist. Recently released from prison, Tony le Stephanois (Jean Servais) gathers criminals Jo, Mario and Cesar for one last heist. But when Tony refuses to give part of the loot to rival gangster Pierre, Pierre retaliates by kidnapping Jo’s son."
- I soliti ignoti (Big Deal on Madonna Street) (1958). "Director Mario Monicelli delivers this deft satire of the classic caper film Rififi, introducing a bungling group of amateurs — including an ex-jockey (Carlo Pisacane), a former boxer (Vittorio Gassman) and an out-of-work photographer (Marcello Mastroianni). The crew plans a seemingly simple heist with a retired burglar (Totó), who serves as a consultant. But this Italian job is doomed from the start."
- Bob Le Flambeur (Bob the Gambler) (1956). "In Jean-Pierre Melville‘s intelligent drama, Bob (Roger Duchesne) is a compulsive gambler with a deep well of compassion. He’s a father figure to street kids Paulo (Daniel Cauchy) and Anne (Isabelle Corey), and he cares for them as if they were his own. When he runs out of money, the three hatch a plan to rob a Deauville casino. Can they pull off the ultimate heist, or has Bob run out of luck?"
- The Good Thief (2003). " In this remake of Jean-Pierre Melville’s classic Bob le Flambeur, Nick Nolte stars as Bob Montagnet, a middle-aged gambler caught up in the seedy underworld of Nice, France. When a last-ditch effort to free himself from his self-destructive lifestyle falls through, Montagnet faces his toughest hand yet. Ralph Fiennes and Tcheky Karyo also star in this stylish neo-noir crime thriller."
- Damage (1992). " Honorable government official Stephen Fleming (Jeremy Irons) strays when he meets a beautiful woman (Juliette Binoche) at a cocktail party. Even finding out that she’s engaged to his son (Rupert Graves) doesn’t dampen Fleming’s passion, and a dangerous affair ignites, resulting in more than one broken heart — including that of Fleming’s loyal wife, Ingrid (Miranda Richardson). Based on Josephine Hart’s novel."
- The Getaway (1972). "Master thief Carter ‘Doc’ McCoy (Steve McQueen) and his wife, Carol (Ali MacGraw), escape with the loot from a botched robbery. Thanks to a sinister succession of double-crosses, they soon find themselves running from the law, from a vengeful cohort and from a crime boss’s deadly hit squad, all while trying to pull off the ultimate robbery."
- Inherit the Wind (1960). "Spencer Tracy (in one of his best roles) as lawyer Henry Drummond and Frederic March as Matthew Harrison Brady square off as opposing attorneys in this blistering courtroom drama about the famed 1930s "Scopes Monkey Trial," where a Tennessee teacher was taken to task for teaching Darwinism in the schoolroom. Song-and-dance man Gene Kelly co-stars as newspaper reporter H.L. Mencken."
- The King of Marvin Gardens (1972). "Uptight deejay David Staebler (Jack Nicholson) travels to Atlantic City, N.J., to learn more about an outlandish, get-rich-quick scheme cooked up by his manic brother, Jason (Bruce Dern). Despite David’s suspicions, he plays along — but when the plan’s flaws become evident, neither Jason nor his beauty-queen girlfriend (Ellen Burstyn) heed David’s protestations. Director Bob Rafelson‘s evocative drama costars Scatman Crothers."
- Primal Fear (1996). "When a blood-spattered altar boy (Ed Norton) is found running from a murder scene, his conviction seems certain. But when arrogant defense attorney Martin Vail (Richard Gere) steps in, the issue of the boy’s possible guilt may be less important than winning the case. Based on the novel by William Diehl, this twisty thriller delivers a perfect police procedural with characters that are deeper than they appear."
- Hurlyburly (1998). " Ambition, sex, money and drugs are part of an average couple of days for 1980s Hollywood players Eddie (Sean Penn) and Mickie (Kevin Spacey) — who maintain that things wouldn’t be so bad if they could only figure out the meaning of it all. Anthony Drazan directs this stark and witty adaptation of David Rabe’s popular play with an all-star cast, including Gary Shandling, Chazz Palmintari, Robin Wright Penn, Anna Paquin and Meg Ryan."
The DVD I currently have from Netflix is that of the BBC television show The Extras, Season 2, Disc 1. I’ve had this DVD sitting on my coffee table for weeks. I love this show, but every time I think I should go and watch it, something stops me.
That something is my hatred of pain. It hurts to watch this show, just as it hurts to watch episodes of the BBC’s The Office. The first time I tried to watch that program (programme?), I got about ten minutes in and had to stop. I liked the humor, but I winced every time Gervais’s character, David Brent, said anything awkward — which was about every 20 seconds. Eventually I got through the first episode, and somehow I built up a thick enough skin that I could enjoy the rest of the series.
I don’t watch the American version of The Office either, because I never could get started with it. If I could just get going I’d love it, but I have to steel myself.
I liked the first season of The Extras very much. Tonight I wanted to post something about it, and on YouTube I found the above clip from an episode I haven’t yet watched (because it’s sitting on my coffee table, spurned).
Here’s a funny thing: I watched about ten seconds of the clip and stopped it. Closed the browser window. My entire insides were wincing in embarassment. I know it’s going to be hilarious to see how it plays out — but can I stand it?
Still, I can’t keep that DVD forever. I’m going to get through at least one episode tonight, even if I have to pause the disc every few minutes and leave the room for a breather. Wish me luck.
UPDATE: I got 10:34 into the episode before having to pause and leave the room. This is episode 2 of Season 3 — the one excerpted above. I was pleased to be able to stand the bit with the guy asking for change, but next scene with Maggie asking for an autograph was awesome. I love her in proportion to how clueless she is. Funny, funny stuff, but relentless. OK, once more into the breach, my friends.
UPDATE #2: I fortified myself with a cocktail and made it through the rest of the episode. Which was awesome.
I like The Extras more than The Office because it retains that awareness of social taboos and hypocracy and adds awareness of the current star/celebrity culture, yet all the while allows the protagonist (Ricky Gervais’s character, Andy Millman) to be more sympathetic, kind of a tragic figure. In this second season in particular, he has traded in his integrity for a little bit of success, and Life does not let him forget it for a moment. There’s poignancy in his self-awareness of what he has done and how he has trapped himself: a pure tragedy in the classical sense.
Also, the show is damn funny. The guests each episode are awesome. Apparently, each one was a fan of the original Office, and each skewers his or her perceived image. This season started with Orlando Bloom as guest. I’m not a fan of Mr. Bloom — he was appropriately cool and efficient as Legolas in Lord of the Rings, but too girly for my tastes as Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean series — but I like him so much more having seen how he carried himself here. It was like seeing a star make fun of himself on Saturday Night Live (back when I watched that show).
About this episode, I’d read previously that Gervais asked Bowie to write a song for the episode, something on the lines of "Life on Mars." Bowie responded some way that reminded Gervais what gall he had in asking for such a thing, but then came up with a Bowie-esque song that’s perfect.
And from that scene, the show goes on to one that is so sad, and even more right on the money.
No matter how hard I find it to sit through the wincing, terrible minutes, The Extras pays off every time.
And big props to Ricky Gervais for putting himself and every personal fear a show biz professional might have up front and center, every time. I know it’s a show, I know it’s not real, but that has got to hurt. It’s emotional boxing. And he’s the champ.