April 22, 2013 |
Sundance Channel's "Rectify" is the first and possibly only television show one can imagine Flannery O'Connor blogging about. It isn't just good TV, it's revelatory TV. The genre's biggest potential game changer since AMC debuted the one-two punch of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad. " "Television can do that?" we asked in wonder as Don Draper squinted in cultural allegory over his Scotch on the rocks. Yes it can, and now, thanks to creator Ray McKinnon and the cast of "Rectify," television can also immerse the viewer in a gloriously rich and careful study of how endurance and faith, strength and surrender, fear and serenity balance to form the essential nature of humanity.
April 18, 2013 |
"The Island President" (PBS, Monday, 10 p.m.). Comprising 2,000 pancake-flat islands in the Indian Ocean, with a mean elevation of about five feet above sea level, the Maldives will be the first nation to go, literally, when the oceans rise. Jon Shenk's documentary follows then-president Mohamed Nasheed on a mission to save his country, his people and maybe the world. A frequently jailed activist who once spent 18 months in solitary confinement in a corrugated iron shed, Nasheed hits the road to make his quixotic case for environmental responsibility.
March 18, 2013 |
"Top of the Lake" is the first miniseries from filmmaker Jane Campion of New Zealand ("The Piano," "Bright Star"). I have seen only the first three of its seven parts, which begin Monday with two episodes on Sundance Channel, and though I suppose there is some chance it all will go off the rails, early signs suggest it will bend toward something even more mysterious, beautiful, unsettling and satisfying than the mysterious, beautiful, unsettling, satisfying...
March 17, 2013 |
It's a sun-soaked afternoon in Los Angeles, but Elisabeth Moss is shivering. Sitting in the back room at the Pikey on Sunset Boulevard, Moss recalls how cold the water was in New Zealand, where she filmed "Top of the Lake," a miniseries created by Jane Campion that premieres Monday on the Sundance Channel. "The lake is the same temperature all year round: freezing," says Moss, wearing a loose white cotton dress, her short brown hair tucked neatly behind one ear. "My makeup artist had this black plastic bucket and they would fill it with hot water and I would go sit in it fully clothed to warm up. " It's an odd detail, but it's in keeping with the making of the moody crime drama, filmed over a five-month period against a staggeringly beautiful natural backdrop of soaring mountains, rugged bush and the omnipresent lake.
December 7, 2012 |
For a nation bewitched by period dramas in which men wear hats and sip whiskey while making eyes at crimson-lipped women who smoke an endless succession of unfiltered cigarettes, the Sundance Channel miniseries "Restless" offers all that and more. Adapted by William Boyd from his novel of the same name, the miniseries, which premieres Friday, centers on a secret British intelligence agency attempting to draw the reluctant United States into World War II. Which means in addition to the fabulous clothes, there's a fabulous British cast, not to mention the endlessly fascinating world of espionage and a bit of revelatory World War II history.
August 12, 2012 |
It is odd, though perhaps not surprising, that just as one sub-genre of reality television revels in bad behavior - conspicuous consumption, the petty rivalries of wives and friends and parents - another attempts to chronicle the various paths to personal transformation, perhaps even redemption. Like its evil twin, this subset tends to operate in primary colors, deconstructing the problems and solutions into TV-accessible narrative arcs in a way that is often irritating and sometimes dangerous - as soon as they made it "Celebrity Rehab," it was clear the emphasis would not be on recovery.