Is Television better than Film?



Vanity Fair's James Wolcott had a piece the other month on Television's quality compared to that of the movies these days. Which got me to start thinking about the state of cinema as we speak. Is there anything as good as Breaking Bad out there right now? I don't really think so. Vince Gilligan's series is so breathtaking and intense that I just wish there was a film half as good as it out there. Name me one great American movie you've seen in 2012. Yeah, that's what I thought and we are almost halfway through the year. 21 Jump Street was funny but really just funny and The Hunger Games had a bite that was lacking throughout its running time. Breaking Bad on the other hand is incendiary stuff. It chronicles Chem teacher/turned meth maker Walt White and the nervous breakdown he gets once he learns that he has lung cancer. It's a jumpy, flashy, exuberantly alive series that deservedly won Emmy's for Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. It's precisely what cinema has been missing for the past 5 months.

Want comedy? Larry David's Curb Your Enthusiasm is as snappy and comic as any movie out there. Having just completed its 9th season in 2011 and about to debut its 10th this August, Curb continues the ironic humor David started with Seinfeld in the 90's. The series hit its peak in an episode called "The Palestinian Chicken" in which Larry has to choose between a sexy Palestinian chicken restaurant owner or his neurotic Jewish friends. Sadly the cinema can't replicate the political incorrectness David does on HBO. It's as if movies are too scared to think outside the box whereas its cousin -Television- is no holds barred and ready to take on anything.This is the Golden Age of television and Hollywood is watching it carefully. Yet one thing Wolcott forgot when writing his article is the fact that the year's best movies still triumph over the year's best TV shows.

Maverick directors such as Terrence Malick, Nicolas Winding Refn, David Fincher and Darren Aronofsky are not on TV, they are in cinema and they are there to stay for now. If ever directors such as these make the leap to Television then maybe we can start  comparing more seriously the artistic merits of both mediums. However, for now it is too early to compare. Yes, Breaking Bad is mesmerizing stuff and the best show on TV but it can't achieve the cinematic nature of a masterpiece such as last year's The Tree Of Life or the year before with Black Swan. Those films took leaps and risks that I have not yet seen on any TV show. Their cinematic languages are as strong as anything on HBO or AMC. It's as simple as that. Although for the time being I'm more hooked on watching HBO's new series Girls - a Judd Apatow created treat that brings you into the lives of 4 new york city girls. The show isn't afraid to show these girls and all their flaws, it's a scathing, penetrating look at a subject that might be too taboo for Hollywood. Go for the ride.

Archive