On Entertainment 1: Regretflix

Immediately after the anniversary of our nation’s birth, we’re now basking in the afterglow of horrible events. Police manslaughters or murders in two different states; a war veteran sniper murdering police officers at a peaceful protest in a third. Hopefully we’re taking a moment to look at our lives, look at our choices.

A light distraction is in order.

What are Regretflix? Well, now that I’ve written this article I see that they are both an entry in Urban Dictionary and a Twitter hashtag so GOOD LUCK CHANGING THE ACCEPTED DEFINITION, ME! (With confidence) Regretflix are the movies and series you regret not watching, the films that came and went in your Netflix queue, movies you wanted to watch but never quite pushed the button on. So they vanished, unannounced and unviewed. Alas.

They could as easily be films and shows that you regret watching, but I’m making up the word here, I make up the rules. It’s always more interesting to think about the ones that got away.

Here’s a list of my greatest “shoulda, woulda, coulda” movies that silently vanished from my queue.

Top 10 missed Netflix regrets:

10) For All Mankind (2013)


This documentary about pro wrestler Mick Foley, the sensitive souled writer who portrayed Mankind–a frighteningly deranged schizophrenic in leather mask– in the ring. Foley is an eloquent crusader for children’s charities and for victims of sexual abuse and should cause even dumbasses like Scott Adams to reconsider what it means to be a Social Justice Warrior.

I didn’t know any of this until my wife told me about Foley. I put it in my queue so the two of us could watch it together, where the 2 hour 14 minute film languished and then disappeared into the wilderness of *shudder* Amazon Prime. Actually, we could probably watch it on my in-laws’ Amazon account.



9) A Town Called Panic (Panique au Village) (2009)


When I was living alone I actually watched about 20 minutes of this surreal French stop-motion adventure about plastic toys Cowboy, Indian, and Horse attempting and failing to live fairly ordinary lives in their picturesque village. I’d gotten into the bad practice of trying to read the internet while I watched movies, and that made the subtitles too difficult for me. Then I was working on my Master’s thesis. I blinked and it was gone.






8) Kill, Baby… Kill (1966)


The creepy image of a doll’s face staring through a window on Netflix previews arrested my attention. Speaking as a horror fan, though, good horror films are so hard to find. I was afraid to take a chance. It turns out that Kill Baby… Kill, the story of a murderous little girl ghost apparently embedding silver coins in her victims’ hearts, is one of the most influential films in the history of horror. Even Fellini cites it as a major influence, as do Scorsese and Lynch. A surreal occult murder mystery that is almost always in the top 100 list of the greatest horror films ever made.





7) Man on a Wire (2008)


In 1974 high-wire walker and artist Phillipe Petit somehow strung a tightrope between the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers and illegally performed– suspended in space– for nearly an hour. He was arrested and released; all charges were forgiven after he did a free show for children in Central Park. And guess what? Petit and his cohorts filmed the preparation, the smuggling, the performance, the aftermath. Complete with recreations, this is a valiant attempt to recreate the complete experience of what it was like to be Petit that day, or at least what it was like to be there when he committed his great guerilla art crime.

Guess I shoulda watched it.



6) The Station Agent (2003)


We all know him as brilliant drunk Tyrion Lannister, but The Station Agent is the film that launches Peter Dinklage’s film career. A comedy-drama about a little person who tries to isolate himself to grieve after he loses his only friend only to find that his overly friendly neighbors make isolation impossible.

I think I saw a trailer for The Station Agent when I went to an arthouse showing of Lost in Translation (2003– that long?). I recognized Dinklage from Living in Oblivion (1995) and was interested to see what he could do in a starring role. The film entered theaters, left theaters, made it to Netflix, exited Netflix.

We now all know what Dinklage does in a starring role– he owns it! This is another one that’s meandered over to Amazon Prime if you’re interested.


5) Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988)


Of course I’ve seen Who Framed Roger Rabbit, both on video and in the theater. Of course I have. I loved it and love it still. The classic Toontown Noir about washed up private dick Eddie Valiant uncovering a Chinatown-like plot to displace and destroy the minority Toons by destroying L.A.’s streetcar system and profiteering off the creation of the suddenly “necessary” highways that now plague L.A. with traffic jams.

You know, a genuinely funny comedy where a cartoon rabbit being framed for murder is small potatoes next to the crime that… actually happened in real life.

I’ve seen the movie, I know the movie and– again– I love the movie. I haven’t seen it in over a decade. Somehow it sat in my queue for 2 years, often considered but never viewed. Just knowing it was there made me smile. How much more would I have enjoyed actually watching it?


4) Wild Style (1983)


For the past year or so I have enjoyed the Ed Piskor’s mesmerizing multi-volume comic book history of hip-hop, Hip Hop Family Tree. Incredibly well researched but also somehow built entirely out of anecdotes, the series repeatedly references Wild Style as one of the great break out moments in hip-hop culture. Breakdancing, graffiti, and– yes!– Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels o’ Steel. The story in this film doesn’t matter to me– this was my chance to see Lee Quinones with a spraypaint can, to see the Cold Crush Brothers in their prime, to see the Rocksteady Crew rock steady!

I noticed it on Netflix in early June, didn’t watch it right away. It vanished and I can’t even find it on the “Leaving Netflix” lists now. Like a ghost, man. Like tears in the rain.



3) All-Star Superman (2011)


Forget the big screen portrayals of the Man of Steel– literally. Obliterate them from your mind. Earth’s future may depend on YOUR HEROES, the heroes you personally hold to and believe in, the heroes we will become. That’s what comics writer Grant Morrison wants us to know about superheroes.

His portrayal of Superman in the mini-series All-Star Superman is one of Morrison’s great achievements. A pastiche of Superman’s Silver Age tropes– Jimmy Olsen trying on identities and superpowers like new suits, Lois Lane loving Superman while trying to unmask his deceptions, Lex Luthor consumed with arrogance and brilliant murder plots, Bizarro Superman leading an entire Bizarro World– combined with an image of Superman as a nearly perfect, loving god. It’s not one for the history books, it’s one for the mythology books.

The direct-to-video animated film– like many of the DC animated films– is so much better than any version of Superman to grace the big screen. I watched this movie, once. Along with the lesser light Superman vs The Elite I wanted to watch it again and again, to share it with my wife and friends. Nothing lasts forever, but with a script torn directly from Morrison’s comic pages, I still want this film to last forever.

It makes me want humanity to last forever. I’m a born misanthrope, so think about that for a while.


2) Mad Hot Ballroom (2005)


My wife loves So You Think You Can Dance. We watched a season together and, as almost always happens when she shares something with me, I was an easy convert. A documentary about elementary school kids training for and competing in a frantic ballroom dance contest seemed like a perfect follow-up. However, we watch TV together less than either one of us would like– a side effect of having a toddler– and when we do watch something we usually don’t have the energy to go through any kind of decision making process. It’s usually a sit-com, something we’ve watched together before. And I like New Girl, I like Parks and Rec.

I just think we should have shaken things up and watched this is all.



1) Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-2011)


Some are born to the manor; my little girl is born to the nerdhouse (which is metaphorical, not a real thing). She hasn’t really seen any Batman or read any Batman because she’s not quite 3 years old. She’s finally at the point where I think she could really enjoy this Batman series– the funny, lighthearted animated series where Batman may be serious-faced all the time, but almost everyone’s funny. Here Batman is as comfortable patrolling near space in a Batrocket or secret Nepalese temples as he is prowling the mean streets of Gotham. When it’s good, it’s the funniest Bat-Thing since the Adam West series, it’s a great gateway to comics geekery for an inquisitive kiddo. It features Neal Patrick Harris hisownself as a musical villain in a light opera episode for Crikey’s sake! I want her to love superheroes, not to take them seriously.

She’s watching old Powerpuff Girls now, lighthearted cartoon violence and funny superheroes. She want to be Blossom when she grows up. She’s finally ready. Now I can share this with… where? Where’d it go?


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