Oscar season may be over, but maybe this is the time to catch up on the hidden gems and great TV you missed.
You’ve got the blues. You – movie-watcher, cinema-goer – you’ve got them; you’re left feeling blue by a post-Oscar schedule of films that leaves much to be desired at the cinema: Need For Speed; Captain America Something or Other; a Muppets movie; a Hercules movie. After a banner winter for film comes a summer of discontent and, despite the few films on release by notable auteurs (von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, Wes Anderson’s Grand Budapest Hotel and Darren Aronofsky’s Noah), this nevertheless remains a tepid time for film fans.
This isn’t one of those “TV as the new film” pieces, but rather a suggestion that one should replace the other, if only for a while
So what can a poor boy (or girl) do? Well, my advice, narcissist that I am, would be to follow my advice. And here it is: avoid the cinema. For now, avoid it and use this time to catch up on, or finally watch, any number of the great television shows of the past 15 years: The Sopranos, The Wire, Breaking Bad, The Office, Mad Men, Six Feet Under, Game of Thrones, Louie, State of Play et al. Chances are there’s one great series you haven’t seen, one great show you never got round to watching. And, even if you have somehow managed to watch them all, then re-watch one, take it in a second time, perform your “re-up”, as it were (that’s for The Wire fans).
No, this isn’t one of those “TV as the new film” pieces – those in themselves are reductive exercises – but rather a suggestion that one should replace the other, if only for a while, in order to prevent these perceived cinematic blues. The benefits of such viewing experiences are so very edifying, allowing for a greater understanding of some of the best art ever created. Consider Breaking Bad, that rollicking thrill-ride of a show. The stand outs are obvious – sequences and scenes that testify to the show’s aforementioned rollicking nature: Walt proclaiming he’s the one who knocks; the train heist; that Ozymandias episode, which serves as one of the finest, most perfect hours of television ever made.
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But think – or rather, look – back. There’s a tenderness to the show, an understated heart made especially apparent in the first two seasons: the intervention episode in season one, which sees Walt plead, tearfully, to be allowed to make his own decision about his cancer treatment; that flashback to Jesse and Jane (thus still technically belonging to the realm of season two) after visiting the Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, which might just be the single most affecting scene in the entire show: “Well, then why should we do anything more than once? Should I just smoke this one cigarette? Maybe we should only have sex once, if it’s the same thing… Should we just watch one sunset? Or live just one day? Because it’s new every time. Each time is a different experience.” Such scenes can be forgotten in the bombast of a show like Breaking Bad’s final episodes, so re-watching and remembering such instances becomes not only edifying, but necessary. One must see and understand both halves of the magnificent whole.
There is such a rich tapestry of creative television genius out there. Unravel it – cinema will still be waiting for you after
A further note on Breaking Bad: given the amount of OMGs it generated on twitter, and the amount of t-shirts it spawned in River Island and Topman, I found myself reluctant to give in and watch the show. I told myself I’d wait until the hype dissipated. Alas though, I gave in, and thank God I did. My point here is that if you’re looking for a way to cure the movie blues that I have so greatly exaggerated, maybe you should try and watch a show you told yourself you wouldn’t. The best shows are often the ones that surprise you the most, like the way Girls did with me, or the way The Office did the nation way back in 2001. There is such a rich tapestry of creative genius out there. Unravel it. The cinema will understand; the cinema will still be waiting for you after.
And if sprawling, epic shows aren’t your thing, and if you’re still looking to be satisfied in under two hours without having to constantly and illegally download another episode of your new favourite TV show, then why not illegally download – or buy on DVD, of course – a small, forgotten gem of cinema that perhaps went unnoticed in the last few years. Something like What Richard Did, a tiny Irish picture pointed out to me by my editor. The film packs a far greater punch than any Captain of America ever could. There are countless examples of this kind of film in recent years, so dig them out and learn not to lament this summer of cinema too much. Either that or you can just go and watch Need for Speed or The Muppets. The irony of course being that there is no need and you’re a muppet if you do.
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Featured image: Itenney1225 (via Flickr)
Inset image: AMC