December 29 2013

2013 – Favorites

Note: This is not a “best of” list, nor is it by any means an exhaustive list of favorites. These are the things that have stuck with me this year, in no particular order of preference. Enjoy!

Raiders: The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made

The wannabe filmmaker in me loved the story of how creative and ingenious Zala and Strompolos were in getting their love letter to Indiana Jones onto film. The human being in me was moved nearly to tears by the story of how in the long run their work ultimately saved their friendship, and at least one of their lives. Above all, this story is a testament to the saving power of art.

Pacific Rim

Not the best film of the year. Some would even argue it was a flop. However, for a boy who used to run home from school every day to catch Voltron and its myriad Japanese cousins, this movie was a dream come true. Guillermo del Torro cements himself as one of my favorite visual storytellers.

 

The Good Wife

Okay, so  I’m a little late to this party. My wife started watching this on Amazon Prime while I was out of town, but I got sucked in pretty quickly. Great cast, an enviable list of guest performers, and Alan Cumming chewing scenery as only Alan Cumming can. But really, the appeal of this show comes down to the writing, and there are two things about the writing on The Good Wife that stand out:

  • Strong, three-dimensional female characters. And when I say strong, I don’t mean the usual TV “strong female” (i.e. “We write this character as a man from our male perspective, but we cast a woman! See, we’re progressive!!”), but characters who are both comfortable in their skins and stand on equal ground with their male counterparts (and sometimes above them) without having to play the “one of the boys” game.
  • You know that trope where a TV episode will start in the middle of some crisis or conflict involving the main character which leads to a cliffhanger moment, and then the screen goes to black and the words “48 hours earlier” appear? I HATE that trope! It was cute – maybe – the first time I saw it, and now every drama does it at least twice in a season. It’s a phenomenally lazy means of getting a viewer invested in what’s happening that week, and an insult to one’s intelligenceAnd The Good Wife doesn’t resort to it.They’ll draw you in by starting in media res, to be sure. But they don’t then turn around and spoon feed you the beginning (hell, they won’t always tell you they’re starting in the middle, either). They drive on with the story and trust that the interaction between characters and the little ways that they let you into the characters’ inner lives will get you the rest of the way there. See the episode “Death of a Client” to see what I’m talking about (and get the added bonus of a sublime performance from John Noble, who I still think should have received an Emmy nod for his work on Fringe).

tl;dr: This show not only doesn’t insult the viewer’s intelligence, it seems to have faith in it, which is a nice change of pace.

 

Marriage Equality

OK, so it’s not a nationwide thing yet. But, it arrived in my home state of New Mexico as an early Christmas present (I thought we were going to have to wait several more years), and then Utah – UTAH!! – quickly followed making for eighteen states where love=love. Period. This train has left the station, and I couldn’t be happier.

Happy 2014, everyone!