January 11, 2008

43 of My Favorite Films / TV Shows (part two)

If you missed it... (Part One)


Life is Beautiful -

I've argued with more than a few smarty-pants cinastes about the themes of this film. Regardless of what you think it all means it is a moving portrait of a father's love that is conveyed in joy. This film will make you a better person.
Favorite Scene: Guido translating Nazi War Camp instructions into the rules of a game.
Movie Moment: The last *wink* in the movie. Gets me every time.

Angels in America; Millenium Approaches

I gushed about this one several weeks ago, but I think it belongs on this list. This is probably one of the most influential plays of the last twenty years and HBO hits it out of the park with this adaptation for the small screen. Al Pacino and Meryl Streep add their heft to a talented younger cast. This film wrestles with some tough issues and connects doubts about the conservative politics of our parents with doubts about God's activity in a world filled with suffering. And yet, it's not just a big pity party. There's wonder, and life, and humor in this play/film. A must see.
Favorite Scene: The shared dream/delusion between two primary characters that have never met each other.

Serenity (feature film) / Firefly (TV series)

Firefly was a Fox show for one glorious season before the netowrk got nervous and pulled it. There was a cult following that was so vocal, that creator Joss Whedon put together a feature film. The show was fantastic, great science fiction that was more about the characters than spaceships or robots. It had some big questions that will go forever unanswered, but that show was the best thing on American television for 14 glorious episodes. The film stands as one of the best Sci-Fi pics of the last 15 years. It stands alone for those who haven't seen the show, but it makes for a moderately satisfying capstone to those who have.
Favorite Scene: Too hard to pick from the whole series.
Movie Moment (TV show moment): WASH - Little River just gets more colorful by the minute. What will she do next?
ZOE - Either blow us up or rub soup in her hair. It's a toss-up.
WASH - I hope she does the soup thing. It's always a hoot, and we don't all die from it.

The Office (UK)

There is a worse boss than Michael Scott, and his name is David Brent. The UK version of The Office is a showcase for the kind of awkward that hurts as much as it tickles. Not as bright and cheery as its American offshoot, the bleakness makes the light that much brighter. Gervais (the creator and actor behind Brent) is a creative force to be reckoned with. He and collaborator Steven Merchant have taken their talents to Extras, a show that is the best kept secret on TV today. And in truly British style they know when a show is over. The Office (UK) only ran for two seasons and had a sublime two-episode ending. Always leave them wanting more. (It's the anti-Friends)
Favorite Scene: David in the Bird Costume
Movie (TV) Moment : An example of the painful/hilarious genius of Ricky Gervais

1 comment:

jared pike said...

I'm quite enjoying reading your favorites list, even if I have been privy to parts of it in the past. Waiting for the entry on Moulin Rouge.

It's inspired me to get working on my own, justifying why these films/TV shows are important to me. I just sat through my first grad class in Cinematography, and the prof is a big believer in making those lists as well.

Regarding the UK Office, I really enjoyed it as well, and I agree that it shoots for the cringe, rather than the out-and-out laugh. For someone who has been a fan of the US version, watching the UK originals can be quite a shock... the US episodes (granted some of the best TV available), come off as more cartoony, while the UK shows shoot for the unfortunateness that is reality. Kind of like Seinfeld, which started out as a realistic conversation-based show, and ended up with George pushing a Frogger machine across the road.

My favorite bit is a subtle one. They have a stuffed-animal monkey sitting on top of the coat rack, and when David Brent brings visitors to the office, he motions over to it and smiles, saying, "We like to have fun here in the office!" A pathetic attempt to portray his workplace as a lively atmosphere, and not a deathly drudge.

Another shock: the BBC must have given a pink slip to its standards department many years ago. Prepare for 4-letter words, vibrators, inflatable phalluses, etc.