2012.05.23 A wacko's list of movies

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I’ve mentioned before the HBO series from a few years ago called “The Wire.” When I mention it, I describe it as the best thing ever made for television.

That’s an odd thing for me to say because I don’t watch television. My TV set is just a movie-watching machine so I really have no business rating “The Wire.” Other people have called it the best thing ever and I’m just parroting what they said. Polly want a cracker?

I’m willing to believe that it’s the best because it’s the best that I’ve ever seen, and it’s the best show that I’ll never recommend here because I don’t know your tolerance for violence, drug use, swearing, bad attitudes, perversion, etc. Probably anything that can pull an R rating comes along sometime or another during the five years of the show.

It was compelling enough that it sucked my wife in despite the violence. She just covered her eyes a lot.

The show is about the cops and the crooks in Baltimore, and sometimes about the crooked cops and the somewhat appealing crooks.

The only reason I’m mentioning “The Wire” is that it was written by David Simon, a former Baltimore newspaper reporter, who later created an HBO series called “Treme” (pronounced Tremmay).

Simon has moved south this time and writes stories of post-Katrina New Orleans, including the neighborhood known as Tremé. It starts off a few months after the hurricane and chronicles the attempts to rebuild the city and maintain the culture.

Since we aren’t cable TV watchers, we have to wait until it’s available on DVD. We started season two earlier this month and we squeeze in an episode when we can. 

For two people who seem to work every day and most of the evenings, movie watching is very serious business. The viewing opportunities don’t come often, and for “Treme,” we need nearly an hour for an episode—an hour before I judge that it’s just too late for me to do it.

We had disk number two at home and Colleen determined that the disk includes four episodes. We had watched three and were ready for the fourth one Friday night. I turned on the equipment, we sat down and noticed there were only three episodes. Friday night, time available and it wasn’t there. We needed the next disk.

That means we were forced to turn to the dreaded Netflix Instant Queue list. With a Roku box, we can watch movies instantly, but my list of instant movies is legendary in Colleen’s head. 

“You could probably get a column out of this,” she said Friday, “but you’ll look like a deranged man.”

I like to point out that there are many movies from my list that she has thoroughly enjoyed. I should also point out that there are very, very few that she hasn’t liked. That’s because she won’t even try them out. She just reads the description and says something rude.

Here’s a quick sample of four that Colleen pooh-poohed. I have to agree that some caution flags pop up.

“Everlasting Moments”—After marrying charming but coarse Sigfrid, Maria finds that her life isn’t the fairy tale she expected, as her husband gradually becomes more brutal.”

“A Christmas Tale”—This artfully unconventional tale follows the members of a dysfunctional family who come together for an animosity-filled Christmas.”

“Paris is Burning”—Piercing New York City’s tight-knit community of minority drag queens, this 1990 documentary offers a look at the underground dance style of voguing.”

“Delicatessen”—A clown moves into a tenement with a deli at ground level and falls for the butcher’s daughter. But the deli’s meats are unsavory to say the least.”

Where do I ever come up with this stuff? she wonders. Generally I don’t know. Some movies come from people’s 10-best lists. Some come from Netflix’s suggestions (If you liked X, then you’ll like Y). A few are from Rolling Stone movie critic Peter Traverse. I think some of them must work their way onto the list all by themselves.

I don’t just start watching these odd things. I first go—well, sometimes I forget—to Rotten Tomatoes and check them out.

“Everlasting Moments” comes through at 91% favorability rating from critics and even 83% from audience members. This is one excellent movie that Colleen will likely never watch.

“Alcoholic lout.” “Making life hell.” “Catastrophic explosion.” She won’t bite on this one. Besides that, it’s a Finnish film and foreign movies often drive her nuts because they move too slowly. My prediction: I might end up going with five stars.

“A Christmas Tale” gets an 87% rating from critics and a cautionary 64% from the audience. I find that I generally agree with Roger Ebert and he gives it 3.5 stars out of four. I’ll watch this French film sometime when Colleen is working late and it will get four stars.

“Paris is Burning” has no Rotten Tomatoes rating and that can be a danger sign, but Ebert goes with three stars. This is definitely one to watch when Colleen is busy. After all, minority drag queens? That experience is so far from Morenci, as far as I know, and I like movies to carry me somewhere else. Easily four stars.

Holy popcorn! “Delicatessen”—which, I admit, sounds quite suspect from the brief discussion above—gets 90% from the audience and 88% from critics.

It’s an intricate dark French comedy that “may displease the weak of stomach.” The movie takes place entirely within a single apartment complex.

I’m really going to like this one, but then again, I like nearly everything I watch. I very seldom choose bad movies, except when I fail to consult Rotten Tomatoes.

I picked four from my list that I expected might prove Colleen right, but instead I was wrong and my initial selection was right.

I have some good evenings coming up, if I can only find the time.

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