Candid Queue: Michael Agger

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
Sept. 21 2010 12:00 PM

Candid Queue: Michael Agger

Once a week, Procrastinate Better features a peek into the Netflix queue of a staffer or critic. No tampering with the results to make ourselves seem more or less erudite, we swear! Just the brief opportunity to explain (or defend, as the case may be) the choices. This very special fantasy installment comes from Slate senior editor Michael Agger . More Candid Queues here.

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My Netflix queue suffers from a personal and peculiar malady: My wife Susan will only watch movies set in America, near the present time, preferably about families or teenagers. That means no sci-fi, no buddy comedies, no subtitles. Also, early in our shared Netflix life together, I made the mistake of renting Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo , his excellent but stately samurai tale. That sat on top of our TV for a year, along with Michael Apted’s life-tracking documentary 42 Up . Then Susan countered by ordering every season of the teen drama My So-Called Life . Needless to say, we no longer have a Netflix account.

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But were I to have a Netflix account, here is what my queue would look like:

1) Star Wars (the original): My 5-year-old son has asked me to watch this movie every morning this summer. (He’s like Scorsese that way, preferring to greet the day with a film.) For awhile, I’ve been able to sate his Star Wars desire with amateur Lego productions on YouTube—check out the genius comic timing in   " An Average Death Star Day "—but he won’t be satisfied with fan creations much longer. My plan is to show him the original three movies and then pretend the others don’t exist.

2) 42 Up : I really do want to see this, dammit. It’s not like there is going to be another lifelong and by-all-accounts-deeply-moving documentary project coming along anytime soon which captures the ups and downs of normal lives with a kind of clinical authenticity. (Read Ann Hulbert’s excellent essay on the series .)

3) Rocky : In a recent, rather amazing interview in GQ , Stallone says how after his first film was released he got letters from Charlie Chaplin and Frank Capra. If you really, really think about it, Stallone is an indie hero of sorts. He turned down a lot of big offers so that he could star in the movie he wrote. Though I ran up the steps of the Philly Art Museum on occasion as a kid, I barely remember the story that inspired it all.

4) The Complete Preston Sturges : I’ve only seen Sullivan’s Travels , perhaps my favorite 90 minutes at the movies. It’s a "comedy-romance" that dances around a somewhat profound question: Is it better to do "serious" art or to make people laugh? It also has Veronica Lake. Some would think my life just a mere shell for not having seen The Great McGinty or The Lady Eve . I would agree with them.

5) Kicking and Screaming : After seeing Greenberg , I sort of/kind of want to rewatch the "early" Noah Baumbach. Do they hold up? Or are they insufferably annoying? This bit of dialogue from the newly minted post-collegians of K&S has always stayed with me:

Max: I’m too nostalgic. I’ll admit it.

Skippy: We graduated four months ago. What can you possibly be nostalgic for?

Max: I’m nostalgic for conversations I had yesterday. I’ve begun reminiscing events before they even occur. I’m reminiscing this right now. I can’t go to the bar because I’ve already looked back on it in my memory... and I didn’t have a good time.

Bonus: Susan will actually watch this movie too.

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