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We are rapidly closing in on the end of this three-year video adventure. For those just joining us, we’ve been watching all the movies I’ve always wanted to see, but somehow never did… in alphabetical order.

We now present those titles that begin with W. That’s double-u, not Dubya. My apologies to any who might have expected ruminations on everybody’s favorite president.

We begin with the best. These first three films are each great in their own distinctive way.

  • Waiting… (2005) I give this one high marks for sentimental reasons, because it premiered at the Prytania Theater in New Orleans just six weeks post-Katrina. It was shot in Kenner. Plus, it has that smarmy Mac guy from the Apple commercials. He’s much more appealing in this movie as the lone serious role. But this is a film that is best enjoyed with high spirits and low expectations. For a teen raunch-fest, this is actually pretty good.
  • The Wicker Man (1973) Best horror film I’ve seen in a long while, maybe ever. No gore, but there are plenty of psuedo-pagan folk songs integrated right into the plot, almost enough to qualify this as a horror/musical. Supposedly there is a longer “director’s cut” that I’d like to see.
  • The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2005) This may be a perfect documentary. It actually made Xy cry, and that isn’t easy.

Next, here’s are some W films which I classify as “damn good”:

  • The Wire: Season 1 and Season 3: Each season of this HBO series plays like a long movie. It’s a cops and criminals story but developed to a level of realism I’ve never seen. The scope is expansive and humanizing. The first and third seasons in particular are excellent. I’ve heard the fourth season is even better, but it’s not out yet on DVD.
  • Word Wars: Through the auspices of my father-in-law, who is a competitive Scrabble player, we met Marlon, who is one of the key figures in this documentary. The genius of this film is that it make the world of competetive Scrabble fascinating.

Then we have the films that are good, but lacking the “damn” intensifier.

  • The Whales of August: I don’t remember much about this flick except that Lillian Gish was in it and some other really old people.
  • Wall Street: Greed and deception in the world of corporate raiders. This movie is very 80s.
  • The Wild Bunch: A very bloody and nihilistic Western.
  • The Wire: Season 2: The second season just wasn’t as good as the one before or after.
  • Weeds: Season 1: This Showtime series is ostensibly about drug-dealing, but the real topic is Suburbia and its discontents.
  • The Witches: A fun kid flick based on a story by the inimitable Roald Dahl.

Of course this is not the definitive list of W movies. There have been several great films that start with this letter and end with a question mark: Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Not to mention Winged Migration and Witness for the Prosecution (and Witness for that matter) and Wonder Boys and The World According to Garp.

Published inFilm & Video


  1. Have you seen ‘The Woodsman?’ I’d put that on the Damn Good continuum. Kevin Bacon plays a (recovering?) pedophile who’s released from prison. Pretty dark, of course, but damn good. If you’re in the mood for a downer.

  2. Seung Seung

    Waiting was a guilty pleasure for me too. I have to qualify it a bit though, as my first full time job in life at 18 was at that very Bennigan’s where it was shot in Kenner. It felt almost semi-biographical watching that film. The work sucked but the people on the floor and in the kitchen were all gems.

  3. Jon Nelson Jon Nelson

    Wild Parrots squeezed out a tear or two from me. Mostly it’s a picture of a San Francisco that’s all but gone. Tiny houses on Telegraph Hill sell for around a million dollars. There’s no room for odd ducks or lonesome friends of the birds. Much of the movie was filmed in neighborhoods that I know quite well, but it’s been a long time since I saw them in that light.

    One faint misgiving: Competition among SF’s homeless is as fierce as the competition among yuppies. I find it a little hard to believe that the hero of the movie was able to clear out that little space in the big city. My experience is that once a neighborhood accepts an odd but charming homeless person, that neighborhood will be swarmed by hundreds of junkies, crack smokers and alcoholics. I couldn’t help but imagine the protagonist having to kill dozens of people who were hoping to move in on his good thing. San Francisco breeds cynicism.

  4. Cool. Season 2 of The Wire got the best ratings, and many pundits blame that on the fact that the cast was “whiter” than usual. It was my least favorite as well.

  5. Whatever happened to baby Jane? Is one of my favorite movies, I made Jeremy buy it for me when it came out on dvd. I also really liked the Witches when I saw it.

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