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 's editor David Plotz and DoubleX co-editor Hanna Rosin. More Candid Queues here.
DAVID: Hanna, let's be honest. Your name should not be on this. You're either too lazy or too technologically obtuse to pay attention to our Netflix queue. You make occasional suggestions, but you've outsourced all the work to me. This all-too-conveniently allows you to carp and berate me when Year One shows up in its red envelope or The Hurt Locker doesn't.
HANNA: This is a fiction men tell themselves, that their wives are chronically "lazy" or "technologically obtuse," and would absolutely die without their assistance. The fact is, I am perfectly capable, but have a lot of other things going on. In my mind, manning the Netflix queue is the technological equivalent of paying the utility bill or cleaning the cat litter. I don't bother, because you do.
DAVID: This is the only documentary in our entire queue, which is unusual, because documentaries—being short and non-special-effects-y—are by far my favorite movies to watch at home. Based on what I've read about No Impact Man , I suspect I will have the same reaction to it as I did to Morgan Spurlock's Supersize Me , when I was filled with an overwhelming desire to punch the protagonist in the face.
HANNA: Maybe I am obtuse, since I thought, based on the New York Times article, "The Year Without Toilet Paper ," that No Impact Man was a book project, not a documentary. In any case, this will be a good bonding experience for us. David, you have enough No Impact Man in you—farmer's market obsessive, biking commuter, etc.—that it will be useful for you to realize that you're only two heirloom tomatoes away from being incredibly annoying.
2) Bright Star
DAVID: When I was in college, every girl I wanted to date was apparently a signatory to a secret pact: "You may not touch me until we have watched A Room With a View together and discussed it at great length." Sometimes we even had to watch it twice. As a result, I have seen A Room With a View more times than I've seen Star Wars , and I still shudder whenever I hear the words Helena Bonham-Carter. Is Bright Star the Room With a View of our time—lush, literary, obscenely romantic? We'll soon find out.
HANNA: I don't think I was one of those girls. In fact, I'm pretty sure I wasn't. Whenever I hear Merchant & Ivory, I think of a neighborhood tchotcke store that sells handmade jewelry and fussy vases. Still, I'm fine with period love stories, and John Keats' was especially hot and heavy.
DAVID: I have no idea what this movie is. Netflix categorizes it in the "Children & Family" genre, so I must have assumed that our kids would like it. Would they?
HANNA: I know exactly how this got on our list. Two sets of urban parents discuss what they did this weekend. One says to the other, "We rented Bandslam and the kids loved it." The point of this conversation is not to trade useful movie tips, but to convey that they have the kinds of cool rocker kids who play instruments and might one day be in a bandslam. Even though we know full well that our kids would rather watch Alvin and the Chipmunks any day, we succumb.
4) Whip It
DAVID: A passive-aggressive move by me. I know that Hanna has already seen it, yet I queued it anyway, anticipating that it will produce a Friday night when I'll bully (or guilt) her into watching it with me again, even though she didn't much like it when she saw it in the theater. Or, more pathetically, I will watch it alone one night when she's out with friends. Is there anything sadder, or creepier, than a middle-aged man watching a Drew Barrymore/Ellen Page movie by himself?
HANNA: No, except a middle aged man watching Bright Star alone—and weeping. And just so you know, I will not watch this again, except to see the lesser Wilson brother, who is excellent as a coach named Razor.
DAVID: This has been near , but never at, the top of our queue since it was released in early 2009. Every few weeks, when I update the queue, I find a couple of movies to slot above this Bush biopic. I assume this is my subconscious telling me: You don't want to see W., even though you think you should. On the other hand, would I really prefer Sunshine Cleaning , the DVD that's sixth on our list?
HANNA: The precarious position of W. on many Netflix queues must be some kind of referendum on the former president himself. A biopic of LBJ, Richard Nixon, or even Bill Clinton, we would watch. But W . just doesn't seem interesting enough. And W . plus Oliver Stone seems like a fantasy dreamed up by the kinds of people who love No Impact Man .