Netflix, the coolest thing about the internet. Ease, low cost, great selection. Love it. My friend Willy--a great guy who runs our campus rec center, remembers your name for life the first time he scans your i.d. card, and always has interesting things to say about movies--has convinced me to start watching 'The Wire' asap. I've never seen an episode. He offers familiar raves about the show: stark representation of drugs and politics, consistently high quality of the writing. But, as Detroit's real-life mayor finally steps down in disgrace, Willy also says it's a great time to dig into The Wire's plots about urban corruption. You talked me into it, Willy, in a week or two I'm going to start Season 1. I'll probably become obsessed and watch all the seasons in quick succession. (I did this with the Harry Potter books, reading all seven back-to-back immediately after the finale's release...I've got some kind of mild OCD thing when it comes to pop culture.)
Speaking of obsessions and netflix, I've been working my way through the giallos, an Italian, grindhouse-ish fusing of the "low" genres of horror and murder-mystery. Named for the cheap paperbacks that the films adapt ("giallo" = Italian for "yellow"), the giallos couldn't be wierder. At first glance, the giallo looks like a so-called police-procedural: a violent crime, a good deal of gore, a detailed investigation. But they tend toward the surreal: close-ups of a drop of blood, extended musical interludes where perspective shifts to the killer as s/he skulks through a cityscape. The best of the bunch: Dario Argento's Deep Red, about a musician investigating the murder of a psychic who foretold her own killing. The film disturbs and the music (Argento collaborated with the Italian rock band Goblin, aka The Goblins) is as memorable as the killings that serve as Deep Red's centerpieces. Check it.