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queue tips

Written by: Rob Christopher
Published by: Huron Street Press

The other day driving back to work from lunch my friend pointed to an empty Hollywood Video and remarked how sad it was that his kids would never know the joy of wandering up and down the aisles of a video store with a couple of friends and picking out a movie or two. As susceptible to nostalgia as I am I couldn’t agree. I don’t have any fond memories of video stores. All I can remember is roaming around and thinking, no, no, seen it, no, no, no, seen it, seen it, no, no. But, come to think of it things haven’t changed much. I find myself doing the same thing today it’s just on Netflix, Vudu, or Amazon Prime. If anything the problem is worse now.

The problem of course is choice, as much as it galls to admit it. How do you choose. Rob Christopher wants to help, so he wrote a book. Queue Tips isn’t a book about movies, or cleaning your ears (you didn’t really think I’m strong enough to resist that setup did you), it’s about choosing movies. Which sounds rather silly at first, but the more I read the more I remembered those long walks in the video store; no, no, seen it, no, no, and decided maybe a book about picking out movies might not be such a silly idea after all.

So what does a book about picking a movie look like? It’s short, nonthreatening, and has a bowl of popcorn on the cover. Inside it’s divided up into twenty four chapters, each chapter a list of movies, or a queue of movies if you will. Christopher’s idea is to impose some organization on the seemingly endless selection of movies out there. He’s not talking about dividing things up as comedies, dramas, action movies, but as splitting movies up into some more interesting categories. Some of the lists or categories are predictable, Ten Movies About Movies, Nine Westerns That Aren’t Westerns, Fabulous Films For Young Adults or Ten Movies So Bad They’re Good. But, even those lists have some interesting choices. For every Ten Movies About Movies though there is a Seven Reasons To Love Nicolas Cage, Flops That Actually Aren’t That Bad, or Man Hearts Sheep, Teen Hearts 1958 Plymouth Fury and Seven Other Unusual Romances.

You don’t have to just take Christopher’s word for it, he’s gotten plenty of help. Half the chapters are written by guest authors, which ensures there is a good bit of diversity in the movies suggested. Bill Ott the editor and publisher of Booklist pens a list of movies that are better than the book, including Blade Runner, To Have and Have Not and Harvey (strangely he left out The Hunt For Red October). Ken Vandermark composer and jazz musician suggests a list of movies like Apocalypse Now and The Good The Bad And The Ugly that make a fantastic use of sound. Jeff Berry named by Imbibe magazine as one of the 25 Most Influential Cocktail Personalities of the Past Century mixes up a list of films that feature drinks with little umbrellas in them. Movies like Donovan’s Reef and Back to the Beach. You might quibble about some of the entries on the lists but they all provide a different, interesting way to categorize movies other than the standard worn out labels. Beyond that it’s fun getting confirmation when you see one of your favorites in a list and reading what someone else thought about it. I started out skeptical of the entire concept behind Queue Tips but wading a couple of chapters in convinced me that Christopher is on to something.