Sunday, May 26, 2013

Great Movies are Out There

Recently the media has been reporting on the fate of various television programs for the coming season. As the networks analyze which shows to begin, which to renew and which ones will be passed over, it appears as though the viewers are supposed to anguish over these pending executive decisions.

It's all rather pathetic.

I doubt that viewers care very much. Network programming has reached an all time low. With the TV offers up a menu of mostly so-called reality shows, many viewers would rather otherwise occupy themselves. After all, how many episodes of re-hashed garbage can anyone consume?

Fear not. There are a few bright spots being offered, largely consisting of original programming. These are imaginative series, usually offered in short runs of 10 or 15 weeks. These stories bring a breath of fresh air to a stale entertainment venue. My recent favorite among these was a Fox program entitled The Following, which aired from January 21 to April 29, 2013. It starred Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent tracking after and interacting with a serial killer and his devoted followers. The show was occasionally gory, somewhat intense but never boring. However, it wasn't for every viewer. Since the show ended last month, Fox has announced that The Following has been renewed for an additional 15 episodes to air next year.

My heart remains committed to watching movies -- good, entertaining, engrossing, thought-provoking movies.

I have to sing the praises of channels which predominantly show movies. In recent weeks, I have been allowed to enter the world of The Sundance Channel, as the result of a newly available area provider. The films offered on Sundance, and even some original programming, are delightful. Among its schedule, Sundance offers a number of films which may not have had wide distribution or have not made it to general television viewing for one reason or another. For film buffs like me who live a long way from a big city, watching these films is a treat. They are gems that we may have missed but which are well worth our attention.

Among those films recently enjoyed on the Sundance Channel are the following:

Babel (2006) - Starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette. In a contemporary setting, the director weaves together three various tales from international locations. Intriguing story line, great scenery and a story that will stay with the viewer. A truly remarkable film.

Control (2007) - Starring Sam Riley and Samantha Morton. Set in 1970s Britain, this black and white biopic explores the life and suicide of rocker Ian Curtis of the band Joy Division. Beset by personal, marital and health issues, Ian Curtis committed suicide at age 23, just as his band's future seemed promising. I found the film so compelling that I had to learn more about Curtis' life.

Orlando (1992) - Starring Tilda Swinton and Billy Zane. An epic production with subtle underlying social comment, this film is based on a work by English writer Virginia Woolf and spans four centuries. A rather complex story line explores sexual identity and social structure. It is thought provoking and will leave the viewer reflecting on what happened and why.

Everything is Illuminated (2005) - Starring Elijah Wood. Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, this story follows a young American's journey to learn more about his family roots in the Ukraine. The story begins with a certain naivete but soon morphs into something far deeper as the journey continues. A truly touching story.

The reason I selected these particular films is that I found them incredibly captivating. Unfortunately the exposure provided when they debuted was less than other films which included drinking and vomiting and car chases. Some of these lesser known films were international productions and may have had restrictions/limitations regarding their release. Some apparently failed to draw the audience. The result is that these movies have been overlooked, to the detriment of the audience.

For any movie fan or anyone who appreciates the "diamonds in the rough" that may have been overlooked, it is reassuring to know that someone like The Sundance Channel is making these gems available for us. If you are looking for an alternative to the programming available on TV, you might consider looking for a provider who offers The Sundance Channel in your area. Or seek out some of these terrific little movies on DVD.

Quality entertainment is worth seeking out.





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