Friday, June 8, 2007

The Silver Screen Made Small

I love movies. That has obviously been established. But lately, I've found a great love for television too. So, I thought maybe I should throw in a couple of blogs dedicated to the small screen. This blog is going to be about great made-for-TV movies and miniseries. I was trying to make the list just about made-fors, but since the best thing to ever air on television can't be left off this list, I had to include it. More on that later...a lot more if I know myself at all.

Because I have trouble putting things in any sort of order, I've decided to put these in chronological order. I know, I know, it's a cop out, but it's my blog, so I can do what I want. OK, enough lead in, time to get to the list.

Roots (1977) Originally aired on ABC
The ultimate classic in made-for-TV productions. Roots is a must see. Most people may forever remember Levar Burton as Geordi LeForge, but his mind-blowing performance as Kunta Kinte should not be forgotten. If you haven't seen this miniseries, check out the new DVD box set.

Stephen King's It (1990) Originally aired on ABC
This was a great movie to me. It was about kids (because I was 11 at the time). It was based on a Stephen King novel, and it scared the crap out of me. Honestly, one of my favorite adaptations of a Stephen King novel. Granted, the first half with the kids is better than the second half with the adults, but you need both halves for the movie to work.

And the Band Played On (1993) Originally aired on HBO
I was 14. My mother had just subscribed to HBO, and this was the first movie I ever watched on the channel. I watched it four more times after the first go around. And the Band Played On tells the story of the discovery of AIDS and the political/scientific fight that ensued in its early days. An all star cast--Matthew Modine, Alan Alda, Anjelica Houston, Lily Tomlin, Steve Martin, Ian McKellen--turn in excellent performances, and not until Philadelphia did I see a better movie about AIDS and its victims.

If These Walls Could Talk (1996) Originally aired on HBO
Does anyone see a pattern forming? Slavery, AIDS, murder...and now abortion. I'm a morbid person it seems. But hey, made-fors are usually heavy on the drama. This one is no exception. Spanning three decades--1950s, 1970s, and 1990s--this movie is really three short films wrapped into one. Each short piece is about the a woman who's struggling with an unwanted pregnancy. No matter what side of the fence you're on, these stories were meant to tug on your heart strings...and they do a good job of it.

Band of Brothers (2001) Originally aired on HBO
Remember in the opening comments when I said I must include miniseries on my list? Well, this is why. Band of Brothers is hands down the best thing I've ever watched on television. That's a lot for me, an obsessed fan of Lost, to say about something. But I will not shrink away from my love of this miniseries. I happened to catch a short marathon on HBO one day, and I was hooked. I recored all 11 hours of it (10 episodes at an hour+ a piece). Watched it once when it aired, twice on video. Then I bought the DVD set, and I've seen it three more times since then. It's a sickness, I know. My husband won't let me watch one episode on the History Channel because I'll have to watch them all. If you are a war buff, see this show. My favorite episodes are the first two which most people don't like because there are no battles, but without the opening episodes, you would never know where the men of Easy Company came from.

Boycott (2001)
Originally aired on HBO
Have you ever stepped back and realized that there's never been a theatrical biopic about Martin Luther King, Jr.? Kind of interesting, don't you think? Well, HBO filled a large void in 2001 with this movie. What's wonderful about Boycott is that it's not really a MLK biopic. It's the story of the Montgomery bus boycott that was first spark of the Civil Rights Movement. Martin Luther King is at the center of the story, but he's just showing hints of the strong leader he will become. Jeffrey Wright, an amazing actor in my opinion, plays the man with incredible grace.

See Jane Date (2003) Originally aired on ABC Family
Because I am a girl, there must be at least one chick flick. And since I don't watch Lifetime or Oh!, it's hard to find them on TV. But I love this movie! Charisma Carpenter plays Jane, a woman whose mother is pressuring her to find a man, but she just has the worst luck (as most women in these kinds of movies). The refreshing thing is that she doesn't meet Prince Charming until two minutes before the credits roll, so the movie is literally about a woman dealing with the dating scene. Yes, it's cheesy, but it's so cute I just don't care.

Iron Jawed Angels (2004) Originally aired on HBO
Hilary Swank is one hell of an actress. With the exception of The Karate Kid III and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the woman never misses (ok, I didn't see The Reaping). In Iron Jawed Angels, she leads an amazing cast of women in a movie that every woman should see. I am an avid voter. I believe that my right to vote shouldn't be wasted or ignored. This movie instilled that idea two-fold in my head. Seeing the portrayal of these women struggle through the suffrage movement made me proud to be an American woman who will forever thank those women for allowing me the right to vote.

Something the Lord Made (2004)
Originally aired on HBO
I'll step down from my political pride high horse to talk about the last movie on my list. With sepia tones and subtle storytelling, Something the Lord Made reminds me of Cider House Rules. Mos Def plays Vivien Thomas, a carpenter with high hopes of going to medical school. When the Depression hits, his dreams are dashed, but he ends up becoming a technical assistant for Alfred Blalock (Alan Rickman), the chief of surgery at Johns Hopkins. Together, the two men make amazing discoveries in heart medicine but must also deal with racial prejudices. HBO knows how to make a heart-wrenching story (as if you couldn't tell by my list), and this one is no different. For those skeptics who think rappers can't act, watch Mos Def and get back to me.

Wow. That was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Looking back at the list, I seem to be a big fan of HBO. There's probably a reason they have so many Emmys! Let me know what made-for-TV movies you love. (Maybe you'll get me watching some other channels.) Have you seen any that appear on my list?

1 comment:

Mandi said...

I absolutely agree with your list...well, at least the ones on it that I've seen.

Something the Lord Made was my absolute favorite movie of 2004 (mainly because there was no LOTR out that year...ha ha), and it was because of this movie that I learned of Mos Def. I had seen him in movies before this (Italian Job), but this was the one in which he shined.

One series you should check out is The Forsythe Saga (2002). Un-freaking-believable. Damian Lewis is no less than brilliant in this series. He makes you hate him and feel sorry for him. Every minute you spend with this family is worth it. It's just an amazing piece of work...and that's coming from someone who HATES period pieces.