Special Reports

What’s in Their Queue? Playwrights from The Netflix Plays Stream the Works of Henry James and “Badass Michael Shannon”

A. Zell Williams revisits his crush on Selma Hayek, while Dipika Guha finds Faith in Steve Martin.

What drives your movie selections? Do you go for “Critically-acclaimed Violent Suspenseful Movies?” Or are you more of a “Dysfunctional Family Drama” type? Whatever your preference, the playwrights of Ars Nova‘s The Netflix Plays are aiming to fill the hyper-specific categories that populate your queue. Inspired by the latest Ars Nova production, a collection of original short plays and live music based on the popular DVD/streaming movie website’s recommendation categories, we asked the playwrights to take us on a tour of their Netflix queues.

Next up in the series (read part I here and part II here) are playwrights A. Zell Williams (Emotional Foreign Father-Daughter Films: The Foreign Affair) and Dipika Guha (Because You Watched Downton Abbey: Violently Overstated British Period Drama for ages 19-100).

Here are the movies it takes to generate hyper-specific categories like “Films That Answer the Question ‘What Happened to Selma Hayek?'”

A. Zell Williams
A. Zell Williams

A. Zell Williams

In the queue:

Killer Joe

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Because You Support Playwrights in the Film Biz

I lived in Chicago for a few years. It’s my favorite city in the U.S. and the theater there is outstanding. The first show I saw when I got to town was the original run of Tracy Letts’ August: Osage County, so I’m a big fan of his work. [Ed note: Letts wrote both the play and the screen adaptation of Killer Joe]


Hyper-specific Netflix category: Films that Answer the Question “What happened to Selma Hayek?”

One of the earliest crushes I’d ever had was on Selma Hayek in From Dusk ‘til Dawn, so I’ve missed her. Anything that brings her back into my life must be a good thing.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Because You Didn’t Lose Your Virginity in High School

Batman: DKR is one of the most insightful takes on the character ever written. We get to visit Bruce Wayne as an old man confronting his legacy and limitations. DC’s done an incredible job of transposing the spirit of their comics into a series of animated features.


Hyper-specific Netflix category: Because if Joe-Go Love is Wrong, You Don’t Wanna Be Right

My old college roommate forced me to check out … Brick written by Rian Johnson [Ed note: Rian Johnson wrote and directed Looper] and starring Joesph Gordon-Levitt. We didn’t share the same taste in films, so I was hesitant. It was one of the best movie-going experiences I had that summer.

Premium Rush

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Dual Listing: Films Where the Badass Michael Shannon’s Being A Badass & See above category.

Again, Chi-Town stand-up! Michael Shannon’s one of the most captivating actors I’ve seen. I used to work in the lobby of the Goodman Theatre and once saw him walking through on his way to see a show. He just MOVES in a more interesting way than anyone else. My favorite theater experience of 2011 was seeing him in Mistakes Were Made at Barrow Street. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt brings the charm there, as well.

Dipika Guha
Dipika Guha

Dipika Guha

Full disclosure note from Dipika: My Netflix queue has honest to goodness vanished. Consider this my reincarnated queue dredged up from my memory (which may or may not be more reliable than the internet and may or may not be a work of fiction).

In the queue:

Pan’s Labyrinth

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Critically Acclaimed Fantasy

Because everyone said it was amazing but watching pure fantasy feels a bit like work to me.

Don’t Look Now

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Mortally Affecting Horror Films with a Dead Female Lead

Because everyone says it’s worth watching but I’m deeply impressionable and worried about inducing indelible terror.

Leap of Faith

Hyper-specific Netflix category: A Steve Martin Comedy

I had completely forgotten about this film until the musical opened. In a flash I remembered seeing it as a kid and absolutely loving it. This one I really want to re-watch.

The Golden Bowl

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Emotional Period Pieces Featuring a Strong (Living) Female Lead

In the hope that maybe THIS is the one Henry James screen adaptation that might be good. It went into the queue because of the apprehension that it may not be.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Hyper-specific Netflix category: Quirky, Witty-Independent-Heartfelt-Visually-Striking-Adventure-Action-Comedy-Written-y-the-Cohen-Nrothers

I last saw this film ten years ago and loved it. I mean to revisit Cohen brothers films as much as possible.

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The Netflix Plays

Closed: February 9, 2013