Saturday, May 24, 2014

Eight movies I'd watch on Netflix if my wife didn't find out

Netflix is a great resource for cinephiles. I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

It means you can sit down to watch nearly anything from nearly any genre at nearly any time, as long as you've paid your monthly dues and Netflix has it available for streaming.

Unless, of course, you share your Netflix queue with your spouse.

That limits the field somewhat.

I'm sure that this is only a neurotic like me talking, and that you are a lot more evolved than to get hung up on things like this, but every time I consider watching something on Netflix, I wonder what my wife will think of seeing it among our three most recently viewed titles. It's only the most recent three I have to worry about, since for some reason, our "See All Activity" link is broken. (It reads, simply, "You have not viewed any titles yet.")

Wonder what I'm talking about? Here are some examples:

1) Blue is the Warmest Color (2013, Abdellatif Kechiche) - "I hear this is filled with graphic lesbian sex. What was my husband up to when I was sleeping last night?"
Why this fear is irrational: It was an acclaimed arthouse film from 2013, so there's every reason a cinematic omnivore such as myself would want to watch it ... even if it did not contain graphic lesbian sex. Besides, its three-hour running time would prove my dedication.

2) Marriage Italian Style (1964, Vittorio de Sica) - "Why is my husband wondering how marriage is done differently with Italians? Is he not happy with our marriage? Does he want an Italian wife?"
Why this fear is irrational: De Sica is a brilliant director (see The Bicycle Thief), and consuming more foreign cinema is always one of my goals.

3) UnHung Hero (2013, Brian Spitz) - "Does my husband worry that he has a small penis?"
Why this fear is irrational: We love documentaries, and ones with a comedic bent and an original approach often jump to the top of our list. And besides ... um, I don't. I have a friend who has that problem.

4) My Week With Marilyn (2011, Simon Curtis) - "Does my husband have a crush on Michelle Williams?"
Why this fear is irrational: My wife doesn't know I have a crush on Michelle Williams.

5) Zombie Ass: Toilet of the Dead (2012, Noboru Iguchi) - "What kind of fetishist mood was my husband in last night that he was watching a movie involving zombies, shit and Japanese girls in skimpy school uniforms?"
Why this fear is irrational: It's just a zombie movie, albeit an oddball and probably terrible one.

6) Show Me Love (1998, Lukas Moodysson) - "Is this the lesbian movie my husband watched when he decided Blue is the Warmest Color was too long?"
Why this fear is irrational: She probably wouldn't have even heard of the movie or bothered to look up what it was about, and the title is pretty vague. Plus, we loved Moodysson's film Together.

7) Irreversible (2002, Gaspar Noe) - "Why did my husband want to watch a movie featuring a nine-minute rape scene a second time?"
Why this fear is irrational: Okay, it's not so irrational. (The movie is brilliant and haunting, though.)

8) The Piano Teacher (2001, Michael Haneke) - "Why did my husband want to watch this movie that I warned him was brutal?"
Why this fear is irrational: I don't even know what's brutal about it, though I believe it's something sexual. And besides, she's actually seen it.

So now that I've proved that all (okay, most) of these fears are irrational, I oughtta go get watching, right?

Not so fast. I mean, I'm still the same neurotic I was at the beginning of this post.

It's not so much the idea that I might ever want to watch these movies that bothers me ... it's giving my wife that moment where she says "Why did he choose to watch this movie last night?" In other words, what mood was he in that made him think this was the right movie to scratch that itch?

That thinking too is highly irrational ... in the sense that it can be applied to any time we watch a movie for any reason. Every viewing we've ever had, you might say, has been preceded by a particular mood that created the necessary conditions to kick off the viewing. If you're ever going to watch Irreversible, you have to at some point decide that tonight's the night.

But it isn't so surprising to me that I should want to keep some of these things hidden. Irreversible is, in many ways, a dark and twisted film, one that plumbs the very depths of darkness and brutality. It also contains some moments that are just plain beautiful. The overall cinematic experience is unforgettable, and something I seek to repeat. But I also don't want to be accountable for why I wanted to watch it again. I don't want anyone to think that I'm a disturbed individual who gets some sort of sick pleasure from watching Monica Bellucci get raped for nine minutes. Although that's the most famous thing about the movie, it's hardly the most interesting. I sort of want to watch this movie again just for that incredible final shot and the strobe light effect that closes the movie. Oh, and for that part where the guy's head gets smashed in with a fire extinguisher, which was simply horrifying.

So yeah, I won't be watching Irreversible again until the circumstances are just right ... when I can hide the evidence of having done so.

The others? Well, you could argue that simply adding them to our queue in the first place was the moment when my wife's eyebrows might have raised. You could argue that watching the title is just the logic eventual completion of a transaction that may have begun years ago.

The most irrational thing about this whole post? My wife isn't like that. She doesn't think things to death. She doesn't wonder about my secret motivations. She just isn't wired that way. If she saw that Irreversible was one of the three most recent views on our accout, her eyes and brain would make a momentary acknowledgement of the simple fact of it, without applying any additional analysis. Then she'd just move on.

In fact, you might say, the only reason she'd have occasion to think about any of this would be if she were to read this post.

Neurotics ... you just can't save us from ourselves.

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