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Bread, Eggs, Milk, and Herzog: The Movie To-Do List

September 21, 2010

Over the weekend I finally watched Three Day of the Condor, a perfect Friday night movie for salivating over sexy 70s Robert Redford in his tight shirts and peacoat, as well as the master of Stockholm syndrome, Faye Dunaway.  The political spy thriller did not disappoint in the entertainment department, but I also derived great pleasure in finally crossing the title off of my Movie To-Do List, which is quite expansive.  When I joined Netflix nine years ago, I filled my queue with these films; sadly, 80% of them are still there.  While scrolling through, I find the movies that feel most like homework could be divided into different categories to explain why I have not yet “done” them.


Depresso Flicks

This includes primarily issue flicks, your fictional portrayals like Hotel Rwanda, Munich, The Piano, as well as the documentary side, e.g. The Cove, Six Days in June, and Deliver Us From Evil.   This category can be dicey, because depending on the issue and the director, I could find the film morally repugnant in how they capitalize on tragedy, or it just might be boring as all get out.  Waiting a long time means the cream rises to the top, those movies that have been consistently written up by reviewers I trust or recommended by friends who are also moviehounds I will eventually watch and be glad that I did.  But even then, it’s hard to sometimes choose to watch the movie that will make you weep at human injustices, it’s not just any hour you can pop that in.  These movies are sometimes best watched with another person with whom you aren’t afraid to cry.

Film School Cohorts

Here you find your French New Wave, your Italian Neorealism, your German Expressionism.  I know some people who will totally kick back on a Sunday afternoon and rock the original Solaris, but I just can’t go there that easily.  These films are perfect date movies:  you’re up for being adventurous and showing off your intellectual side, it sounds charming to suggest a Fellini film at a vintage theatre, so then you go and hey, it’s actually pretty awesome, I get why this movie is a big deal.  These movies languish on my Netflix queue the longest, they need an excuse or occasion.  I recommend hosting a movie night with other friends who also haven’t seen the movie yet.

Brutal Movies

I don’t mean Saw or horror movies in general: those are never on a to-do list, people either do them or don’t, they don’t need a reminder.  I mean Lars Von Trier.  Michael Haneke.  Takashi Miike.  Films that are polarizing and possibly difficult to sit through.   These films also run the risk of being distasteful in how they handle complicated topics, so it’s good to sign on only after you’ve prepared yourself.  Like Depresso flicks, you must be in the proper mood to watch violence, self-mutilation, etc., but unlike the other category, I find these are better to watch alone so that you can take a bath afterwards and cry yourself to sleep in the fetal position under a pile of blankets.


My movie to-do list also includes lots of indies, mysteries, romance, melodramas, and spy thrillers, but I have no hang-ups, those are just a matter of time.   I see you, Don’t Look Now.

What’s on your Movie To-Do List?

51 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2010 9:54 am

    I don’t really have a Movie To-Do List; it’s more of a To-Don’t list. Unfortunately, it’s my partner’s mission in life to make me watch “Santa Claus” and all of the El Santo movies, so I sort of fail at avoiding them.

  2. September 21, 2010 10:05 am

    Ha! I have a to-don’t list too. My favorite button on Netflix is “Not Interested”!

  3. September 21, 2010 10:24 am

    I’ve owned a copy of Hotel Rwanda but have never had the nerve to sit down and watch it. I think I lost it in the separation — and I’m not exactly worried about that.

    There’s a few Michael Caine films I want to see that I haven’t gotten around to: Zulu (his first film appearance) and Harry Brown (his most recent, not counting that annoyingly brief cameo in Inception).

  4. September 21, 2010 11:39 am

    I finally saw Closer this weekend. Falls under the Brutal category. Very good, but sometimes I’m not sure that the world needs any more movies about horrible people being horrible to each other. At least in Closer they all end up miserable and most terrible of all, ordinary, in the end.

  5. September 21, 2010 11:40 am

    Oh, and I really need to see The New World, because I love Malik, even when he’s boring.

  6. September 21, 2010 11:59 am

    poplife: Closer is just…painful to watch. Very, very good, fantastic performances all around, but damn. Just…damn.

  7. hsofia permalink
    September 21, 2010 12:06 pm

    I’m impressed you were able to categorize these. I too have a long list. I remove stuff all the time, but things just keep getting added. I have another list, which is, “Added because Netflix recommended it and it sounded good, but now I don’t remember it.” I have 700 movies in my queue between DVD and Instant. There was a time when I’d watch at least one movie a day, but can’t seem to manage that anymore.

  8. September 21, 2010 12:47 pm

    @hsofia: mystery movies! sometimes I hover over the name and read the description and I’m like how the BLEEP did that get there?!? but clearly, I did it to myself and there was some good reason at the time.

    @p0plife: movies where people are assholes too each other the whole time is my favorite genre! Closer, , Squid and the Whale, Margot at the Wedding, every Nicole Holofcener film, a couple Don Roos ones. but, definitely a subset of Brutal movies. my ex usually would leave halfway into them. That Malik film is totally on my To-Do list too. I love his cinematography and his beautifully haunting boring films, but I hate Colin Farell and colonialist propoganda! Is that on Netflix instant? Maybe we can watch it simultaneously and liveblog it.

    @redlami: I have seen Hotel Rwanda and sadly, it’s because I’m hot for Don Cheadle. My crush on Liam Neeson is what finally got me to watch Schindler’s List too.

  9. September 21, 2010 1:43 pm

    I have a “to-don’t” list too, and Titanic, Forrest Gump and Avatar are at the top. Will. not. watch. My movie to-do list is basically my Netflix instant and DVD queue.

  10. evmaroon permalink
    September 21, 2010 1:48 pm

    men who stare at goats
    things we lost in the fire
    the prestige
    deliver us from evil
    have all been stuck in my netflix queue for a while now. someday I’ll get around to them. promise. pinkie swear.

  11. Nomie permalink
    September 21, 2010 1:51 pm

    Requiem for a Dream has been on my to-do list for ages, but I’m not sure if it fits into the first or the third category. Possibly both. I have a spreadsheet going on GoogleDocs to keep track of the list as a whole because I haven’t succumbed to Netflix yet, but I’m sure I will eventually.

  12. September 21, 2010 1:52 pm

    I love The Prestige!!! I’ve been thinking recently of rewatching it, actually. Grindhouse will be more fun to watch with friends.

    Things We Lost in the Fire, um yeah. That’s definitely a brutal movie!

  13. September 21, 2010 1:54 pm

    @Nomie: I would put Requiem in the third category, but could see an argument made for the first. I love that you have a spreadsheet! That is awesome. Do you have multiple columns to categorize each film?

  14. September 21, 2010 1:56 pm

    A spreadsheet? Damn, that’s organization.

  15. September 21, 2010 1:59 pm

    My crush on Liam Neeson is what finally got me to watch Schindler’s List too.

    So I’m sure you saw Clash of the Titans, right? RELEASE THE KRAKEN! (I actually didn’t see it, I just like yelling that randomly)

  16. September 21, 2010 2:04 pm

    oh Tasha, you know I did. Sadly, the movie was slick and boring, not even good-bad.

  17. evmaroon permalink
    September 21, 2010 2:09 pm

    I will finally admit publicly that I walked out on Schindler’s List after the first 20 minutes. I thought it was just awful. I’ve only ever walked out on two other movies: The Birdcage, and Pink Flamingoes. I love Waters but I just couldn’t deal with the chicken scene.

    I hope I still have some cred with my fellow Butterbloggers!

  18. September 21, 2010 2:15 pm

    damnit, Ev, now Spielberg will stop reading us!

  19. Citizen Taqueau permalink
    September 21, 2010 2:15 pm

    My “to-don’t” list is pretty short. It includes Seven and Antichrist (I get it, I just don’t want to see it).

    To-do includes a lot of pretty stuff I am afraid will bore me and then I’ll feel like a trog. I see you, Remains of the Day!

    Oddly enough a movie on my T-DL that ended up being one of my favorites of all time: Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the old one). It’s complex — even the dumb kids and the monster get to be complex — and shockingly gorgeous. Amazing scenery, well-shot, is nothing to scoff at — it’s one of the Coens’ fortes as well.

  20. evmaroon permalink
    September 21, 2010 2:21 pm

    Hey, Raymond, I LOVED ET! And Jaws! And Kate Capshaw was the bomb in Space Camp!!!

  21. September 21, 2010 3:17 pm

    Oh, and I really need to see The New World, because I love Malik, even when he’s boring.

    HAHAH. Exactly. Replace “The New World” with “The Thin Red Line”.

    This post is awesome, RJ! Munich was like that for me for ages until I realized I could spend a couple of hours with Nero, Madga and James Bond 5.0 watching Tony Kushner’s opinions of what happened in the aftermath of the Munich Olympics.

    Some of mine include:

    From the “I know they’re powerful, important works, but let’s face it, It’s never gonna happen” category: Iris, Platoon, Any number of “powerful” Eastwood helmed films (Heartbreak Ridge, Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby…) I just go read about the Eastwood films.

    From the “Dying to know why I watched this movie ten times a week as a kid” category: Max Dugan Returns (I see you, Donald Sutherland), Angel Heart, Bonfire of the Vanities, Mama, There’s a Man in your Bed, Twist and Shout (Swedish film from 1984), Anything with Robby Benson, bonus if it’s Ice Castles.

    From the “Very popular films that generally liked and everyone has seen but me” category: X-men saga, Juno, Little Miss Sunshine, Let the Right One In, anything starring one of those “Sam” people (Rockwell or Worthington) anything helmed by Ridley Scott that’s not Blade Runner or Thelma and Louise, Forest Gump, Harry Potter films after #2, Any and all “gross out” comedy crowd-pleasers involving Vince Vaughn, Owen Wilson, Ben Stiller or Will Ferrell. Again, it’s unlikely I’m ever going to actually watch them, but I might.

    I have a lot of Opie Cunningham’s films in my queue and I’m sure I’d like them. That said, I’ve only ever seen Splash, a half hour of The DaVinci Code, Night Shift and Frost/Nixon! All of which, I found entertaining.

  22. unscrambled permalink
    September 21, 2010 4:04 pm

    I have a category called “everyone else has seen it and I know it will make me angry, but I should watch it probably” (note: figure out catchy name) which includes films like Avatar, Disney Princess films, many teen movies, Crash, etc. etc.

    I tend to watch them when I’m somewhere that has cable and there’s nothing to do.

    I have a feeling that this is basically the “To Don’t” list–but mine is not just because the movie is awful, but also that there’s some kind of cultural force behind it that I feel guilted into being able to discuss, or that I feel like I need some facility with in order to engage in cultural critique with people that don’t read sites like this.

    Also, the remake of Clash of the Titans was really perfect for the drive-in. It was AWFUL.

  23. September 21, 2010 4:26 pm

    @unscrambled – Oh yes. Crash is a film that’s never appealed to me. I lived in LA and well, I don’t live there now. I lived through the tyranny of the Rampart Division. Rodney King, Richard Riorden and the LA Riots. I don’t need it earnestly and cheesely framed on screen with actors (besides a handful) I don’t much really like anyway.

  24. September 21, 2010 4:28 pm

    damnit, Ev, now Spielberg will stop reading us!

    I hope not. I love JP: The Lost World, Minority Report, ET!

  25. IrishUp permalink
    September 21, 2010 4:36 pm

    What snarky’s does with Eastwood is EXACTLY how I handle Altman films. MASH is the last Altman film that I saw in a theater – well, drive-in, and the ‘rents thought all the kids were asleep. Paradoxically, I’ve fallen asleep while trying to watch several at home. But they’re still in my queue, because people whose opinions I dig keep saying “but you would really LIKE (5 n Dime, The Player, Pret-a-Porter,) & etc”.

    My list divides into 3 groups – the “shoulds” as in classics I’ve never seen, friends recommendations, and recent movies I wanted to see but prices being what they are, I only get to the kiddee matinee these days. I HAVE seen every good animated film in general release since 2004, though.

    Wait, Snarky, is “Ode to Billy Joe” on Netflix? A friend and I who went to see it back in the day together were just wondering if the ending was REALLY as dark as we thought it was….

  26. September 21, 2010 4:57 pm

    @Irish Up – It hasn’t been realized yet! It has a four star Netflix rating! I want to see it. And I get what you mean about Altman. I had to find my way to him on my own – ignoring the den of praise and criticism – and come to my own opinion of his work, which I enjoy muchly. As far as Eastwood is concerned; I love him. I love his artistic contributions, but for the most part I am not particularly interested in the subjects he explores as a director – save Unforgiven, which, of course, I love.

  27. IrishUp permalink
    September 21, 2010 5:27 pm

    @Snarky’s – I feel you on Eastwood, too, although I would totally add “Bird” as well as “Unforgiven”. If I ever got to set down to bourbon and cigars with the man, I would have to ask him “Mr. Eastwood, don’t you think it’s time to stop hurting women, in your quest to de-mythologize the American Man?”

    Dang on the OtBJ! Will have to see if we can fix that!

    I forgot my other Netflix category, which is movies that I remember loving as a kid that I want to rewatch under the pretext of I think my kid should watch them.

  28. September 21, 2010 6:28 pm

    I often will be enjoying a Clint Eastwood movie, and then I wake up. His directorial style induces narcolepsy in me. That also happened once when Melanie Griffith came on the screen in Woody Allen’s Celebrity. I want dead asleep when she entered, and woke right up when she exited and never dozed the rest of the movie!

  29. September 21, 2010 7:19 pm

    Worst Valentine’s Date ever: being taken to see Million Dollar Baby. That was my first official V-Day with my current partner. I’m amazed we’re still together.

    @Ev: The Prestige was fantastic! Also, let me know when you get around to watching Barbarella. That’s one that I’m glad I saw, but only because it’s infinitely quotable. Grindhouse was…meh to me. I really enjoyed “Planet Terror” and the fake trailers, but actually rooted for Kurt Russell during “DeathProof.” I love old women’s revenge flicks, but that crap just bothered me. I think I’m in the minority on that, though.

    @Snarky: I have the “why did I watch this 10 times a week when I was a kid” list, too! For me, it’s movies like “Little Monsters” and “Mac and Me.”

  30. September 21, 2010 7:32 pm

    @eieioj: worst date movie I’ve ever seen was Leaving Las Vegas. I seriously did not want to have sex for a week afterwards, and I never want to see it again.

  31. September 21, 2010 7:50 pm

    @redlami: that’s on my list of “I Will Never Watch This Again” movies. They’re usually good (or at least decent) movies, but ones that I just can’t handle watching ever again.

  32. September 21, 2010 7:53 pm

    @redlami: my worst date movie was The Piano Teacher — there was no chance of sexy time after watching someone stab themselves in the chest. we ended up chain smoking on the front stoop and trying to shake the feeling before bedtime.

  33. thepants permalink
    September 21, 2010 9:19 pm

    I have the same problem with my Netflix queue. I have tons of movies that I know are amazing, well made, well acted etc. I’ve had The 400 Blows in my instant queue for months and every week I think “I should totally watch that!” but then I come home from work tired and put on Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion for the 50th time. Brain candy always wins over quality when I’m tired. (Though Romy and Michelle is pretty much eternal cinematic gold)

  34. September 21, 2010 9:45 pm

    @redlami: my worst date movie was The Piano Teacher — there was no chance of sexy time after watching someone stab themselves in the chest. we ended up chain smoking on the front stoop and trying to shake the feeling before bedtime.

    HAHAH. I’m working up a post of my worst “date” movies. This is gonna be great.

  35. September 21, 2010 9:46 pm

    @thepants: The 400 Blows taunts me, too!

  36. September 21, 2010 10:47 pm

    Tell me about this 400 blows? It sounds dramatic and expansive.

  37. September 22, 2010 5:24 am

    My to-don’t list: Killer Clowns From Outer Space- Starring John Allen Nelson, Suzanne Snyder, and veteran actor John Vernon (how could he show up in a piece of— film?
    No one will remake it. It is a B-movie that is fun to watch, mainly to see how many mistakes you can find. My favorite scene:

    The Clowns zap two clueless human bystanders with a ray gun for THREE FULL SECONDS before they REALIZE they’re getting zapped–and THEN they start to yell in affected pain-the director and producer actually kept the scene IN the movie.

    eh. I’m too lazy to search for the You Tube scene.

  38. September 22, 2010 7:33 am

    @Snarky: The 400 Blows is a Film School Cohort, one of the French New Wave ones. I think maybe it’s kind of the French Rebel Without a Cause.

    @misterkonglish: I remember that movie frequently showed up late at night on the UHF channels, but I could never make it through 5 minutes, so I’m impressed you made it the whole way through! And now your comment will ensure it gets remade.

  39. September 22, 2010 7:53 am

    When I was young, I used to watch Truffaut and Bergman films on PBS waiting for the naughty bits. So I sat through The 400 Blows. Good film. But no naughty bits.

  40. September 22, 2010 7:56 am

    @redlami: hahaha! thanks for the heads up.

  41. September 22, 2010 11:44 am

    @misterkonglish the clowns were that good either. I vividly remember the scene you mentioned from when I watched this film in my cousin’s basement.

  42. hsofia permalink
    September 22, 2010 6:42 pm

    evmaroon – Seriously, you need to see The Prestige already. It’s got David Bowie as Nicola Tesla, for crying out loud!

    There are basically no movies from my childhood that I need to see again. Although, E.T. was good and I should watch it again for my child’s sake, and of course there was The Goonies, but I saw that more as an adult than as a child. But as a kid I mostly saw comedies in the vein of The Money Pit and Troop Beverly Hills and all those Richard Pryer/Gene Wilder pairings. They were fun movies (I still love Lily Tomlin, Bette Midler, even Shelly Long), but comedies are not my favorite genre.

    Another category of mostly unwatched movies in my Netflix queue is the vitamin documentary. I know it’s good for me if I watch it … but I don’t wanna!

  43. September 22, 2010 6:52 pm

    vitamin documentary!!!! i know exactly what you mean. love it.

  44. September 22, 2010 10:39 pm

    My worst date was “The Sweet Hereafter,” but I touched on that previously.

    Any movie about sick kids… “Patch Adams,” “Lorenzo’s Oil,” “Extraordinary Measures…” they’re still waiting to be seen.

    Oh yeah, and most anything that labels itself as a “comedy” with Robin Williams, Mike Myers or Dane Cook. Oh but I guess those don’t count because they are on my DON’T do list!

  45. October 1, 2010 3:27 pm

    @NYC: That sickly kids film list also includes “Flowers in the Attic”

  46. October 1, 2010 8:29 pm

    @misterkonglish, oh no, incest has it’s own category!!

  47. October 2, 2010 4:59 am

    @ raymondj- yes you just reminded me that it was that also, but recall Grandmother’ fed one of the kids food laced with arsenic…..who became sick and died…

  48. October 2, 2010 8:53 am

    @misterkonglish: oh yeah, I forgot about that part! I wonder if muchausen-by-proxy might have enough movies to qualify as a subgenre, though right now I can only think of The Sixth Sense.

  49. October 27, 2010 1:07 pm

    Speaking of kids, the winner for All-Time Surprisingly Potty-Mouthed Film (if ever there was such an award) goes to “Warriors of Virtue” (go to 06:10). It’s got the kind of language that would make Lenny Bruce smile.

  50. January 1, 2011 9:07 pm

    Whatever they call those 30 minutes before a movie where they show you all the long previews with interviews and what not is the first and only real exposure I had to the new Clash of the Titans and the greatest quote not in the movie is I think Sam Worthington saying in an interview “If there’s a Krakken, you know, I’m going to slay it,” in, like, the most laidback, of course I am, kind of tone. Its all I need to know about that movie.

    Also, evmaroon and I have the exact same list of movies stuck in our queue but never allowed to reach the top.


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