TV Over Movies: from Mildred Pierce and Nurse Jackie to Shameless and Justified

by Anne Thompson
April 1, 2011 6:29 AM
2 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
Reading the papers Friday morning, I realized that I'm more interested in Camelot, The Kennedys, The Borgias, Mildred Pierce and the American version of Scandinavian hit The Killing than the new movie reviews. It turns out that I can skip Camelot and The Kennedys, which earned lousy notices. And I'm already watching Todd Haynes' gorgeously-mounted HBO mini-series Mildred Pierce, which is well-acted by Kate Winslet, Melissa Leo, Guy Pearce and Mare Winningham, but judging from the draggy first two episodes, didn't need to be stretched to five installments. And David Ulin's review made me want to go back to my fave James Cain paperbacks, which I read in my 20s. Time to make a pitch to my book group.

I'm having way more fun watching (via crisp HD TiVo) Nurse Jackie, 30 Rock, Glee, American Idol, Top Chef, Shameless and Justified (which won a Peabody), than most of the screeners piling up on my coffee table. It's true. I can't wait for the return of Entourage, Project Runway and someday, Mad Men.

And HBO just sent me Game of Thrones, the next season of Treme and Cinema Verite, the story of the first reality series, An American Family, starring Diane Lane and Tim Robbins as the Louds. I'm working on a story about producer Jerry Weintraub's hugely entertaining doc His Way, which HBO launched with the best premiere party I've been to in a long time, far better than what most Hollywood studios can muster nowadays. The likes of Scott Rudin, Christine Vachon, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks, Neil Jordan and many others have long figured out that cable television is where the smart people go.

How long before the studios drive away discerning audiences from going to the movies altogether?

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More: TV, Headliners, AMC , Treme, Entourage, Mad Men, HBO

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2 Comments

  • Ryan | April 4, 2011 9:02 AMReply

    How much fun is "Glee"? I judged it before I saw it, but now I'm hooked. Film studios seem to have no interest in making a film as thoroughly enjoyable as that show.

  • Christian Lindke | April 2, 2011 6:01 AMReply

    You lost me at "screeners." Most television shows aren't filmed for the big screen, and would gain little by moving media, but movies are filmed for the big screen and do suffer for being watched on the smaller one. This is true even when the smaller one is HD and has full surround sound etc. Films like Inception are entirely different experience in different media.

    I wish that all reviewers were required to say whether they watched a film on screener or on the screen when they publish their reviews. This isn't to say that the films are good -- or better than the TV you mentioned -- just that they should be reviewed for what they are designed to be ... cinema experiences.

    It's like judging an Opera by a recording. It can be done, but it isn't quite the same.

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