“Let me try and be as direct as I possibly can with you on this. There was no relationship to repair. I didn’t intend for Harvey to buy and release The Immigrant – I thought it was a terrible idea. And I didn’t think he would want the film, and I didn’t think he would like the film. He bought the film without me knowing! He bought it from the equity people who raised the money for me in the States. And I told them it was a terrible idea, but I had no say over the matter. So they sold it to him without my say-so, and with me thinking it was a terrible idea. I was completely correct, but I couldn’t do anything about it. It was not my preference, it was not my choice, I did not want that to happen, I have no relationship with Harvey. So, it’s not like I repaired some relationship, then he screwed me again, and I’m an idiot for trusting him twice! Like I say, you try to distance yourself as much as possible from the immediate response to a movie. With The Immigrant I had final cut. So he knew he couldn’t make me change it. But he applied all the pressure he could, including shelving the film.”
~ James Gray
By Noah Forrest Forrest@moviecitynews.com
I’ve written about this subject several times over the past few years, but now it seems like it’s gaining steam more and more: television is a much more interesting landscape than film these days. That is not to say that I think all TV shows are better than all movies, but that I think television is an inherently more fascinating medium for character-based narratives. In a film, we get maybe three hours to see a character develop and grow and change; in television, we could have upwards of a hundred hours. Great film actors like Daniel Day-Lewis are able craft a persona and give us an idea of the depth of a character in something like There Will Be Blood, but how do I compare that greatness to, say, Jon Hamm’s creation of Don Draper on Mad Men. It’s almost impossible to compare the two, but when all is said and done, I will probably feel like I know Don Draper and his motivations better than Daniel Plainview.
I was realizing just that point when I was watching Mad Men this past Sunday. I’ve gotten to know Don Draper so well at this point that I feel like I can guess what he may or may not to do in any given situation. That might make it sound really boring, like it would take the fun and excitement out of it, but instead it made me feel comfortable with the fact that I’ve spent almost four seasons getting to know this person (upwards of 40 hours) and now I know his tics. And that’s a testament to the acting of Jon Hamm, that he’s able to convey the feelings that I know Don is having, but without having to state it as such. Every furrow of the brow, every hesitation of an inhalation of cigarette, every faux-tender kiss on a woman’s mouth…we know what Don is feeling as he lies to the world.
It’s not just on Mad Men either. All across the television landscape, there are shows and characters that are just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done with the medium. No longer do we have stand-alone episodes of every show where we follow one character as they solve a mystery. No, now we have mysteries and narratives that last for the entire length of a show’s run and characters that fall believably in and out of love.
Look, I will always love movies with all my heart – it’s my primary passion. But even I can’t deny that television is kicking some serious ass right now. It’s starting to feel more and more like film is the equivalent of a short story while TV shows are novels. That’s not a knock on films at all, as some of the best stories are short ones. But, I’ve got it on pretty good authority that Boardwalk Empire is going to kick all of our asses when it debuts on HBO in a couple weeks. And, you know, it’s gotta say something when even Scorsese is noticing what television can offer these days.