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 installment comes from Slate senior editor Daniel Engber. More Candid Queues here.
1. 1974 : This is the first installment of the grim and violent Red Riding Trilogy , a British television series about police corruption in the case of the " Yorkshire Ripper ." I was ready to watch this trilogy at the IFC Center in New York a few months ago as a 300-minute triple-feature, but they wanted to charge me separately for each movie. That's what I call a Yorkshire ripoff.
2. Step Up 2: The Streets : This is the second installment of the grim and violent Step Up trilogy, an American film series about a motley, streetwise crew that must navigate the corrupt world of underground dance-offs. I'm watching these movies in reverse: Having seen (and loved) Step Up 3-D in the theater, the storyline will be unfolding for me backwards through time, like a popping-and-locking Benjamin Button. (Netflix predicts that I'll give this movie 2.5 stars. Nice try, computer. More like five stars!!!1!)
3. My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done : This one is research for a Slate piece I'm doing on people who commit murder with samurai swords. How's this for a Netflix queue incidence? The most recent samurai-sword killer, matricidal actor Michael Brea , supposedly had a bit part in Step Up 3-D . Lucky for me, he's not the first guy to saw off his mom's head with an ornate sword. This 2009 film by Warner Herzog dramatizes the case of an Aeschylus buff in San Diego who killed his mother in 1979 in order to protect her from a nuclear holocaust. With Willem Dafoe and Chloë Sevigny—man, those two are always good.
4. Au Hasard Balthazar : Ah, Robert Bresson, the director responsible for what must be the least exciting movie ever made about a jailbreak. Sure, there wasn't much dialogue or editing or action or color in that film, but I'll confess to being mesmerized by its bare-walled intensity and vivid psychodrama. Can the wily Bresson bring this same energy and suspense to the tale of a farm girl named Marie and her beloved pet donkey, Balthazar? We'll have to see!
5. The Book of Eli : Um, would you believe this one is also research for a Slate piece? OK, fine, it's not. But I'm only watching the movie on a bet: Which of the following recent sci-fi flicks would be the least unwatchable— Daybreakers , Legion , or The Book of Eli ? I've already seen Daybreakers , which isn't bad (three out of five stars), and Legion , which isn't not bad (zero out of five stars). Now I have to watch The Book of Eli . Hey, we're in a recession over here—anything to win a dollar .