When I suggest a movie or series, I try hard to match the person’s tastes so they like the suggestion. I take pride if the person likes what I suggest and feel badly if they don’t. These are some of the things I personally think are great. However, without knowing you, mileage may vary.
For me, this is the best constructed series of all time. The main plot is about the city Baltimore, MD. The characters are beautifully developed, but the prime character is the city, Baltimore, itself. There are not many “good guys” or “bad guys”. Every character is a fully realized human being with good and bad aspects.
They break the series into seasonal themes, which I love including:
- The Ports
There are many points where a small detail in a scene will ripple out for several years. They also create amazing parallels to help tell the story better.
To this day when someone is an idiot, I just tell my son that he is a “Herc”.
The cinematography starts off a little rough and then gets better and better every season. The final episode has one sequence of complete silence that I think is the finest television I have ever seen.
Breaking Bad / Better Call Saul
Speaking of cinematography, Vince Gilligan is a master craftsman. The writing is excellent, but it is the photography and camera work that make this series so mesmerizing. The story (for anyone who didn’t know) is about a high school chemistry teacher who gets cancer and decides to start cooking/selling meth. The show is a series of decisions that lead down a dark well of evil and sadness. I love the way the series keeps you thinking deeply.
Better Call Saul is a prequel that takes place a few years before Breaking Bad. It follows the lawyer Jimmy McGill (original name of Saul Goodman). This series is the same, but different in several important ways. I actually like watching Saul more than Breaking Bad. I think the reason is that the characters are more lovable. Walter White was smart, but clearly a jerk. Saul acts like a jerk, but has a true heart underneath. His relationship with his brother is heart-rending. The final season is airing now.
Firefly / Serenity
One season and a movie is all we get. Sometimes, less is more. The characters and their chemistry are some of the best I’ve seen. Somehow, Joss Whedon found the perfect balance of love, action, humanity, and fantasy. Although I wish I could have seen more seasons, maybe this is a case where the it would have been a disappointment if there was. Often a show takes time to find its voice. Maybe Firefly would have changed or lost its way. Either way, the one season is perfectly executed and the movie does a perfect job of closing all the loose ends and giving closure. I would describe it as an “Asian Western in Space”.
Flight of the Conchords
I love Flight of the Conchords. The music, the silliness, the truth of it. There is something so heartfelt and true about their personalities and situation. I love how earnest they are, even though they are completely broke and failing. I don’t think they ever laugh on the show even though the situations are funny.
If you like Bo Burnham’s musical, witty, social, phycological humor, you will love Bret and Germaine.
Movies / Specials
Bo Burham: Inside
Speaking of Bo Burnham, I love all of his specials. Inside is something new, something I have not seen before. It’s like the “Making of” or “Behind the Scenes” and also the actual content all rolled into one. He shows you how lighting works, what it looks like behind the camera, how messy it all is, how many times you have to do the same thing to get it right.
Inside is a look at our Covid year (2020) when we were all trapped inside. It’s also a look inside Bo’s own head. The brilliant thing to me is how he filmed it over the course of the year and you can see his beard getting longer and longer as you watch the show. The song “Goodbye” is so brilliant to me. He starts it nearly clean-shaven and ends it full beard. Inside is not for everyone and you may end up feeling like he is having a nervous breakdown, but I believe it is worth the emotional trip.
Written and Directed by Taika Waititi, JoJo Rabbit is a story about a little kid who happens to grow up during the fall of Nazi Germany. This is another movie that has many facets including humor, action, humanity, coming of age, drama, anger, and silliness. I thought the cinematography was excellent, as well as the acting.
There is one scene (you will know it) when my heart broke out of my chest. It was possibly the single most moving 2 minutes of film I have ever seen. Highly recommended.
What I look for in art
I want to feel something. Even if it is a negative emotion. Catharsis is an important part of life and art is supposed to fill that void. These movies and series do it for me. What does it for you?