Discover more from Video Shop
🎬 #65 The Things You Can't Do In A Film.
This week is a bit of a cheat - it features not two films but one TV show and one Comic Book.
I wanted to highlight what other mediums can offer, film could tell the stories but they would just be quite different experiences. So by exploring mediums outside of film you can see the potential of other methods of producing engaging stories while also seeing the potential of where cinema could take us.
Both this weeks suggestions have been praised for their exceptional storytelling, unique visual styles, and innovative approaches to their respective genres, making them must-experience pieces of story-telling in their own right.
Happy choosing, happy viewing
2012- ongoing Creators Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples
I'm not someone who grew up reading comic books or was even that interested in them. The only one I saw when I was a kid was an ultra-violent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles graphic novel that my brother brought back from the US. I was a big fan of the toys and the children's animated TV show at the time, so seeing these characters covered in blood, on the verge of death, in dark, gritty New York City was a massively exciting visual storytelling experience. As I've gotten older, I've realized that a lot of my interest in cinema stemmed from that moment. Each panel was a 'shot,' and they used dialogue to move the story on or reveal more about the characters. I kept returning to the book years and years later.
Then, many years later, my friend Pete recommended Saga to me. I looked up the imagery and thought, "Nah, this is too fantasy for my tastes." But I trust his taste immensely, and that, along with the fact that Brian K. Vaughan wrote it, made me think I have to give this a try. I had been a fan of his comic book Y: The Last Man and was also an admirer of Lost - a show for which he'd written a few episodes.
So I jumped into it and was hooked. The crazy, impossible visuals - characters with TVs on their heads displaying hardcore gay pornography and at the same time are believable, emotional figures - seemed to melt my imagination. The 'silliness' and 'fantasy' of the world mixed with incredible violence, very relatable characters (even if they have horns and insect-like wings) with a propulsive narrative arc felt like a breath of fresh air - I couldn't get enough of it.
"Saga" can be described as a critically acclaimed comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, which began its run in 2012. This epic space opera tells the story of star-crossed lovers Alana and Marko, who come from warring species and must protect their newborn daughter from the dangers of a vast, interstellar conflict. The series offers a rich, imaginative universe filled with diverse characters and breathtaking artwork.
This kind of artwork would feel completely tonally different if it were a film - indeed, Vaughn repeatedly says in interviews that he wrote it as a comic exactly because he could do anything, everything that he couldn't do in film or a TV show.
Vaughan's writing is both witty and profound, tackling themes such as war, family, love, and identity, while Staples' art brings the story to life with vivid colors and striking character designs. The collaboration between them results in a cohesive, immersive experience that has garnered numerous accolades, including multiple Eisner Awards. It's this mishmash of unlikely sci-fi fantasy and grounded dialogue that really makes it so gripping for me. It's the feel of the illustrations and the pacing of the comic book experience that would make for a totally different experience if it were adapted into anything resembling a film.
Fact: Spielberg himself selected Vaughan to adapt Under the Dome into a TV show.
2014 Dir Steven Soderbergh
I feel like anytime I mention "The Knick" to anyone, they haven't even heard of it. But it's a show I've returned to and rewatched multiple times. It can be described as follows:
"The Knick" is a gripping historical drama TV series directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring Clive Owen. It premiered in 2014 and is set in the early 1900s at the Knickerbocker Hospital in New York City. The show follows the lives of Dr. John Thackery (Owen) and his colleagues as they navigate the medical, social, and personal challenges of their time. The series provides an unflinching look at the dawn of modern medicine, where the boundaries between innovation and ethical practices were often blurred.
For me, this is Clive Owen's best work. He embodies the 'god-like' Thackery with a sense of darkness and loss that seems to feed his endless energy and ambition. He's at his most bulletproof and tender here. Soderbergh handles the 'period' show not as such, but with his fresh, energetic handheld approach, sweeping camera moves that keep us on our toes, as well as more expressionistic angles that really put us in the time - and I get the feeling this is how turn-of-the-century New York would really have felt.
Soderbergh's visual approach, utilizing natural lighting, also creates a unique look and feel for the show. The series also features an unconventional electronic score by Cliff Martinez, which adds to the show's distinct atmosphere. The clash of horse and carriage with pounding electronic synth makes for one hell of an introduction to this bloody, moody, ambitious delight.
The fact is unfolds at its own pace over multiple hours is just something that would feel very different if the same story arc was condensed into 2-3 hours of cinema. The show also has one of my favourite endings of anything I’ve seen.
Available for a small rental fee on Amazon in both the US and UK.
Fact: Soderbergh had originally envisioned a multi-series run. It ended as a two-series run, but his ideas for the third and fourth seasons are gripping - season three would take place right after the Second World War, while the final season would jump into the near future.
Thanks for reading Video Shop! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.