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About this list:
This list was created in August 2011 to recognize exceptional original movies made with the typically smaller budgets of TV.
1. Movies made by the BBC and basic cable networks such as Lifetime are included, but I've attempted to exclude movies from premium-channel "pay extra" big-budget networks, such as HBO and Showtime. An exception to this is if the film was produced (entirely or partially) by a premium network, but originally aired on a non-premium network first or simultaneously.
2. Stage performances, theater, stand-up comedy acts, and reality TV series-based productions are excluded. Theatre-stylized productions are included, but not video recordings of actual theatrical/stage performances. Thus, movies like Ingmar Bergman's Trollflöjten, which was filmed in a theatrical style, are included on the list.
3. Each film on this list has (or had at the time it was added) a minimum rating of 7.5, with a minimum of around 100 votes. (A few movies with nearly 100 votes are included, if the film had a sufficiently high score and each additional vote to that point wouldn't lower it significantly, even if those new votes were all 1s.)
4. Two-part movies are included, but mini-series are not. The running time for list-eligible movies is thus limited to 240 minutes for a single production.
5. Movies without a running time of at least 70 minutes (minus commercials) are excluded. This means that several, but not all, children's and comedy specials which the IMDB refers to as "TV Movies" are excluded.
6. Titles included on this list should stand alone as movies. Because of this, sequels which would otherwise appear on the list are likely excluded if the movies which they're sequels of didn't make the list, for whatever reason (e.g. a viewer rating below 7.5). In this same vein, movies which introduce a TV series are included, but not vice-versa. This may preclude movies based on TV series which require knowledge of a series' characters/story arc/etc in order to be understood, or continuations of a season's story arc in "special episode" extra-long "movie" form.
7. This list goes back as far as 1950. Because this list was created to highlight original, contemporary works, screenplays based on plays or novels published prior to 1945 are excluded. Thus, many adapted versions of The 3 Musketeers, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Charles Dickens novels, Jane Austen novels, Thomas Hardy novels, Daniel Defoe novels, Shakespeare plays, etc etc are excluded. But there are exceptions to this: If a production based on a work which debuted prior to 1945 is re-imagined into an original work (e.g. classic works re-imagined as musicals, or adapted into a modern-day/future setting, or a different cultural setting, or a work intended for an adult audience is produced as an animated movie), then it's eligible for inclusion. Another exception to the pre-1945 rule is if the work is based on folk tales/folklore/unknown original authors. Thus, some versions of Cinderella are included.
8. Docudramas and mockumentaries are included, but very few documentaries; the reason being that made-for-TV movie-length "pure" documentaries aren't listed by the IMDB as "TV Movies" by "type" the way that other films here are, making such titles much more difficult to compile.
The aforementioned exclusions do not mean that the excluded movies are not to be regarded as wortwhile viewing. But they should have their own lists. E.g. "Best made-for-TV adaptations of literary classics".
It's sometimes unclear from the information available on the movie's page if the production is a play adapted for TV or just a recorded theater performance. Sometimes the run time of the film isn't listed. Sometimes I just overlook stuff. If anyone sees a title on the list which according to the aforementioned guidelines shouldn't be included, then please let me know by leaving a comment. Thanks!
Misogynistic revenge fantasy?
I believe this is the fourth or fifth film I've watched starring Min-Sik Choi, who is quite an accomplished actor. The DVD cover proclaims Happy End to be "one of the most controversial Korean films ever made!" It's not difficult to imagine why this film might cause controversy. On the one hand, shortly after the film begins, a semi-explicit sex scene takes place that seems to go on for a gratuitously long time. But nothing is shown during the sex scenes that wasn't shown in the much less controversial, more traditional Korean period piece, Chunhyang. Perhaps it is the nature of the sex taking place, that of illicit extramarital liaisons, that contributed to its controversy. But I believe the bulk of the film's controversy is due to what ultimately emerges as the film's theme.
This film could be viewed as a sadistic wet dream pandering to certain men who are disgruntled by what they feel is an emasculating and increasingly common situation of this modern age: that of the unemployed, stay-at-home husband. Except that when this unemployed husband is home, he spends most of his time watching soap operas, only occasionally lifting a finger to help with the baby. Instead of looking for work, he kills time each day crouched in the used book store, reading romance novels, to the chagrin of the store owner, whose policy regarding such patrons is less welcoming than that of Barnes & Noble. The husband is mopey, and never expresses affection towards or sexual attraction to his wife. Since he barely helps out around the house, when his wife gets home from work she ends up having to do the cleaning and the chores on top of her job, even though he has much more free time and is home much more than she is. As a companion, he is ineffectual and impotent. At one point during the final third of the film, as she's alone at home on her hands and knees scrubbing the floor, she tells herself that she has to "end it". It's unclear at the time whether she's talking about her relationship with her husband, or with her co-worker Il-bum. For the most part, she endures the imbalance in her relationship with her husband without much complaint, perhaps contritely due to a sense of guilt she possesses over the fact that she is engaged in an affair.
It's revealed that Il-Bum is actually baby Yun's father, and that they were a couple before her current husband came into her life and married her. Why would she leave her former lover to be with such a pathetic, and ultimately deranged and lethal man? There is an indication that at one time he was successful and financially more secure. But her past and present boyfriend is more attractive, more passionate, and more considerate. For reasons that aren't fully explained, she reacts negatively to his small, caring gestures. When he buys a toothbrush that she can use when she's over at his place, she lashes out. She does the same when she discovers toys that he's bought for the baby. She seems conflicted by emotions of desire, guilt, and annoyance with both the men in her life and her situation in general. There is also at least one major plot hole in this film that I could not overlook. At one point near the end of the film, she mixes a bit of sleeping medication into her baby's formula, so that she can leave her in the apartment to go confront her lover and break off their relationship. But her husband could come home at any minute, and yet she apparently doesn't stop to consider that. Perhaps the simple, though inadequate answer to the questions raised by her acts is that she just isn't a very sensible woman. But nor is she portrayed as being mentally slow. Distracted, certainly.
Inevitably, her husband comes home to find the baby there alone, and eventually discovers that he's being cheated on. He premeditates a vicious revenge, in which he terrifies her before committing brutal murder, bludgeoning her over and over with her lover's knife which he stole from the former's home, gradually slowing to pause and stare at the body for a couple moments in between stabs. He then uses the weapon to frame her lover for the murder he's committed. The last time we see Il-Bum is in custody, being pressured into giving up his right to remain silent without a lawyer. We're only left to imagine what becomes of him.
There's a misanthropic sense of self-satisfaction in the supposedly "clever" irony of the film's title. Not knowing what the filmmaker's intentions were, I'm led to wonder after watching this film if those who wrote and directed it consider the end which befell Bora and her child's true father to be a "happy" one. The superior tone of one of the previous comments here glibly indicates with a wink and a nod that she deserved to be horribly and brutally slayed by her baby's "touching motherly daddy" because SHE'D gone too far. How alarmingly vile.
Book of Rules (2003)
Better than Charlotte Sometimes
I saw this movie when it screened at the Asian Film Festival of Dallas (a screening which I just now noticed was not listed or mentioned at this movie's official website--why exactly is that, huh??). It was the penultimate film officially scheduled to be shown at the festival and the last one shown that day. It was one of the free films shown in the secondary theater, following a buffet of short films, and I expected that after watching it for about 15 minutes or less, I'd get up and go home. I wasn't enticed by the film's description in the festival brochure--basically the interrelationships of a bunch of 20-somethings, living in a California city, going through changes, at turning points in their lives, blah blah blahhhhh... I expected it to be similar to another film I'd seen at the festival (and earlier, on Sundance) called Charlotte Sometimes, which was a dreary, unimaginative, self-important, pretentious waste of time for the most part, also starring an almost entirely Asian cast of west-coast 20-somethings and revolving around what on the surface seemed to be a similar theme. But, much to my pleasure and surprise, this film gracefully captivated me from the first moments it began, due to its cinematography, and eventually, due to its directing, its script, its cast, and their performances. Just perhaps, I might be more fond of this film than it actually deserves, (I gave it a 9) possibly because I was so pleasantly surprised after expecting another Charlotte Sometimes. But at the very least, this film definitely had a genuineness and creativity that the other didn't.
It's been a couple months since I saw this film at the festival, and after I got home I looked it up here on the IMDB and was surprised that no one had rated or commented on it. Now that I check it again I see that still, no one has done so, and I wonder why. I find that surprising because at the very least, I'd expect some of the many people involved in this film to have supported it here. Odd.
Daughter from Danang (2002)
Take my mother. PLEASE!!!
At one point midway through this film, we see a chauvinistic American woman, gushing with the fervor of an evangelist or Tupperware saleslady about how wonderful the lives will be of the "Amerasian" children who are getting shipped away, and then casually coaxing a Vietnamese woman holding her child in her arms to "participate". However, little did Heidi's biological mother know that in her case, Heidi was being delivered out of the frying pan and into the fire, that fire being the hands of an emotionally and physically abusive woman. Among numerous other parenting failures, Heidi's new adoptive mother never discussed her daughter's racial background with her, and warned her not to discuss it with anyone else either. Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, this wasn't difficult because Heidi is not what I think most people would consider Asian-looking. She could easily pass for someone essentially Caucasian, with some possible Native American ancestry.
Because she left Vietnam when she was 7 years old, she still had a few memories of her life there, and undoubtedly she'd always carried a curiosity with her about her former family. But like me, she'd probably also heard of and seen happy specials on shows like Dateline, where the climax is the tearful reunion, and the denouement leads viewers to believe that all involved lived happily ever after. From the beginning of the movie, we know that contact has already been made, and so their meeting is a foregone conclusion. But it turns out that these people she was related to yet barely knew were apparently awaiting her arrival with dollar signs in their eyes, thinking "Jackpot! She's our ticket out of this sh*#hole! Who would have guessed that giving her up would have paid off after all, right Meh?" When they realize that this doesn't fly with Heidi, they shift their tone a bit to something more like "Well, if you can't take Meh off our hands, then you could at least support her (meaning us) with a monthly stipend." Her sweet but smothering mother is more understanding towards Heidi's reaction, although naturally disappointed. And not even she seems to fully comprehend that in the country where Heidi comes from, making such tremendous requests of a virtual stranger regardless of heredity would be considered totally inappropriate. I sensed though that her brother, even to more civil members of his own culture, would be thought of as ill-mannered.
Which isn't to say that her family were the only transgressors. She mentioned that all her life she'd wanted to feel like she was loved unconditionally. She was expecting to find some sort of familial bliss. But apparently she didn't study the language at all, not even a few phrases. Nor did she seem to have given any forethought to what the living conditions might be like. She walked into that situation without any considerations of preparedness, expecting ideal results. And when things didn't happen the way she'd wanted them to, she ended up turning her back on them completely.
One of the other reviewers here was offended by the presence of certain people and images in this film. I say presence, and not portrayals, because the people in the film were not random strangers picked and filmed by the director in order to manipulatively create a false sense of environment. The southerners interviewed in the film were people who had direct relationships to Heidi. The KKK parade took place in her hometown, though one of the "southerners" (who the aforementioned reviewer was apparently offended by nonetheless) said that most people didn't support them, although most of them knew people who did. As for the images of the Vietnamese, they showed the environment that Heidi's family was living in. Of course not all southerners and Vietnamese are like or live in the same kinds of conditions as those shown here. But the complaints were about something outside the context of this film, (that context being Heidi's life as well as, to a lesser extent, the lives of those directly involved in hers,) and therefore they were unreasonable.
One last thing I found noteworthy was the possible culpability of the American Vietnamese wife of the lawyer in the way the situation unfolded. If anyone had an ethical duty to advise at least *some* caution, it was her. Near the end she actually ponders aloud her possible role in how things turned out for the others involved, while at the same time showing no trace of actual guilt in the matter. Maybe part of her failure to volunteer mention of negative scenarios was that she didn't think anybody would actually be naive enough to involve themselves in such a situation without asking anybody any questions or at least wondering about such possibilities.
Ringu 2 (1999)
I watched Ring and Ring 2 back to back as a double feature, and instead of commenting on them separately I thought I'd just comment on them both at the same time. I thought Ring was good. Not great. I watched Audition (another Japanese horror film) in the theater just a couple days before and knew several of the details and therefore what to expect. Even so, that film was quite shocking and there were a couple moments that made me jump and even more that made me cringe. It also had a few moments of (somewhat twisted, off-the-wall) humor to it, which this film didn't. Going in to watch Ring 1 & 2, I knew the storyline but not as many of the details, and I was anticipating a good scare. Yet despite knowing fewer details about this film than about Audition, which scared me, this film did not. I found it intriguing but felt very little tension. The first sign that I was in for a letdown was in the beginning scenes when the two girls are home alone and one goes to use the bathroom. Meanwhile, the other who is cleaning up in the kitchen turns around and sees... something--the ghost of Sadako apparently. But all that happens is that the screen freezes on her suddenly terrified expression. I was expecting the buildup to explode in horror like the somewhat similar but much more terrifying scene with Drew Barrymore that began Scream. The buildup--the phone suddenly ringing while they're discussing the legend, then the TV coming on by itself, etc, created expectations that only resulted in disappointment, in my opinion.
Before I watched these two films, I thought, and still think, that the film's concept had great potential for being really scary. I think perhaps one major factor which detracted from this potential was that the cause of the deaths was somewhat humanized. The deaths were caused by an angry ghost. Her name was Sadako. She had a psychic mother, was murdered by her father, and dumped in a well. She kills people (apparently by simply scaring them to death) in vengeance. etc. Several people here have compared this film to Blair Witch. I found Blair Witch to be much more scary, and the reason why is because the Blair "Witch" never had an actual name, family, personal history, etc. It made the menace of that film much more unknown, un-/less human, more visceral. The Blair Witch itself was never seen, only described.
Despite my disappointment at not being thrilled, after awhile I began to appreciate this Ring in a way similar to The Sixth Sense. That is to say, in a more thoughtful and less slasher-esque way. The film climaxes in a revelation, not terror. And it had a look that created a mood. Ring 2 has the same look. However, the goings on in it seemed to me to break down into incoherence, contrived situations, and affectation. And one thing in particular that really started to bore and annoy me was that the female lead in Ring 2 was continuously playing the "panicked woman in peril", always reacting to situations as though they were vastly more terrifying than they were. It was as if she was dictating through her reactions of terror the terror that the audience was supposed to be feeling in those moments, i.e. "Look! I'm scared! That means you're supposed to be scared too! Be scared!" I got so tired of the second film that I considered leaving early. But I stuck it out because I was curious to see how it ended. Sadako crawling out of the TV screen was interesting, as was her moment in the well--which was actually a swimming pool? I'm not sure, come to think of it. I eventually began to zone out. I was surprised by the discrepancy of how much less I enjoyed part 2, since they're supposed to be two parts of the same novel, and they were directed by the same person the same year. I'd give part 1 a 6, and part 2 a 3, out of 10.
The Ellen Show (2001)
The show doesn't center around Ellen's sexual orientation
...Although from seeing some of the posts here, those unfamiliar with it might end up thinking otherwise. After reading the other comments, I felt compelled to add one of my own. Apparently there is a heterosexist double-standard going on here. When a hetero actor portrays consecutive roles in which hetero dating or intimate relations are involved, (which is most of the time,) whether in movies or on TV, people don't roll their eyes and say "oh brother, they're playing a straight person again." And the comparison between Ellen's character also being gay in this show (after all, she's gay in real life) and Bill Cosby playing another character who is the "upper middle class father of two or three kids" is a specious one. Now if Bill Cosby had another show where his new character was heterosexual (which he is in real life), people..... wouldn't bat an eyelash! Every time something gay related is involved, some people seem to take it as though Ellen is throwing her big gay ways in their faces. She mentions an ex girlfriend. "Oh, please spare us!" She has female/(lesbian!)-oriented posters in her bedroom--and an abstract painting which, one reviewer speculates, "appears" to be a vagina. That's the funny thing about abstract paintings. They "appear" to be different things to different individuals.
Apparently, because Ellen's character is gay, then in some people's minds the show must have a "cause," that because her character is gay, she must be trying to cram lesbianism down Americans' throats. Like an abstract painting, I think that attitude reveals more about the individual who holds it than it does about the subject. The "argument" in favor of this show is that it's funny. But the argument against it shouldn't be that her character is gay.
Aside from the gay issue, I think the quality of the show is improving. The writing seems to be getting better. As for the comment about the laugh track, I hadn't found it distracting, myself. For the record, though, the show is filmed before a live studio audience.
I usually don't care much for silent films, but this one impressed and touched me. There were a couple things that bugged me just a bit, like the husband's apparently dismissable propensity towards violence, but I won't go into detail about that because someone already mentioned it. The director was skillful and his sense of visual style was nice, especially in the shot from inside the barn where the husband opens the door, and beyond it, the fog is shown passing by some wooden wheels in the background outside, and also the scene where the woman describes the city as they lay in the grass, while above them, superimposed shots moving down streets are shown. The most powerful thing about this movie, however, was Janet Gaynor's performance. She was sweet, and touchingly innocent, but not in a gratuitous, annoying kind of way that tries to sloppily, unskillfully and patronizingly manipulate the emotions of the viewer. My heart ached for her as she joyfully prepared to go out boating for the day with her increasingly distant husband, not knowing what was really in store for her, and afterwards when she'd had her heart broken by the devastating realization that he had almost murdered her. The loving look on her face, slowly melting away as she began to sense something was very wrong during the scene in which her husband rows away from shore was a powerful one for me, and an example of the acting skill that won her the Best Actress Oscar.
George O'Brian's performance was good as well, especially when he was overcome with guilt. But did anyone else besides me think he moved a lot like Frankenstein's monster in certain parts? Not to say that it was any detriment to his performance however, since the movies with those stereotypical Frankenstein portrayals came later.
Tammy and the T-Rex (1994)
Yes! It's good! (Bad-good)
I was channel surfing the other night on DirectTV, and came across this movie with the wacky title. When I read the nutty plot description and noticed that it starred Ellen Dubin (from Lexx) and Denise Richards in an early role, I selected it out of curiosity. I expected to watch it for maybe five minutes and then get bored and turn to something else. I ended up, however, being really surprised by how entertaining I found this film to be. I knew I had to see what other people at IMDb thought about it. And just as I expected, almost everyone here hated it. I'm not surprised that most people don't "get" this movie. Those without any sense of camp will have no appreciation for it.
Let me explain something to everyone: This movie is bad, and the people who wrote and directed it KNEW that they were making a bad movie. Most of the characters and things that go on in it are totally, utterly ridiculous, and the filmmakers obviously reveled in this fact, to a degree of aggressive silliness. Realism and reality have little to do with this film. Basically, it's a send-up of other B-movies--romance, sci-fi, horror, etc--and a clever one at that. But apparently very few seem to have recognized it as such. Do people really think that the filmmakers were just too dumb not to realize that real-life funeral-goers would have noticed a huge T-rex watching the burial service from behind some shrubs just a few yards away? Or that the creepiness of the tender love scenes between Tammy and her grotesque dinosaur "boyfriend" was an accident? The movie's deliberate outrageousness and low-mindedness is what makes this movie fun and is the source of some of its funniest moments. For the first half of the film, I couldn't believe what I was watching, and couldn't believe that anyone would make a film like this.
And then I loved it!
Horribly disappointing due to miscasting
Apparently everyone here loved this movie, judging from the user reviews. But I, as someone who read and owned the book long before Hollywood made it into a movie, was terribly disappointed. My single biggest complaint is the casting of the atrocious, gratuitously cute Mara Wilson. Matilda's character in Roald Dahl's book was much more dignified and introspective. Mara Wilson, even if she was able to achieve these characteristics in her acting, would still have been wrong for the part because her cutesy-cute persona is distracting and annoying. I'm not usually bothered by cute child actors, but Mara Wilson just nauseates me. Another thing which gave the book a lot of charm, in my opinion, was the British dialect. The movie's creators switched the setting from England to America, and so we got American white trash, instead of British white trash, which I think would have been more entertaining to watch.
An animated movie based on Quentin Blake's illustrations for the book, and complete with British accents, would have been much more satisfying.
The Sifl & Olly Show (1998)
Makin' lotsa suckers outta girls n' boys
I used to watch this show with my grandmother when it was on. Everything about it was funny. Some of the particular parts that immediately stick out in my mind are the ones where Ollie sings about "the girl in the spooky car" (her name was Zanzibar), and the show where the robot sit-in sings "I Know What Boys Like" by the Waitresses. Precious Roy was of course a highlight because of his personality, but Calls From The Public was full of hilarious moments as well. And Chester was very cute. They really ought to revive this show, or at least show the reruns, on a network where it probably might be more appreciated and reach a wider audience, like Comedy Central.
2 Stupid Dogs (1993)
Completely different than Ren and Stimpy, and better
First of all, I find 2 Stupid Dogs to be much more visually enjoyable than Ren and Stimpy, funnier, and definitely cuter, but likeably, not annoyingly so. If one wants to succumb to making Ren and Stimpy comparisons, Cow and Chicken is a lot more similar (and is also better than Ren and Stimpy as well). The lunacy-prone personalities on that show have more in common with R&S than the 2 Stupid Dogs, who are much more easygoing, ordinary, and laid-back (except when they freak out). The scenarios are usually more innocent on 2 Stupid Dogs as well, and the humor isn't as crude. The visual style is also totally different from R&S, and looks very clean, simple, and stylish. The situations and adventures they get into are entertaining, but I'm not sure if many young children will understand some of the ironic references, like the darkly humorous name of a hair salon they visit printed on a wall sign in the background ("Curl Up and Dye").
Another thing about this show which I happen to love is the episodes featuring the updated Secret Squirrel, who used to have his own cartoons back in the 60's--you can look it up here on imdb.com. (As far as I know, reruns of those shows are also played on the Cartoon Network, but the new Secret Squirrel is a major improvement over the old one, in my opinion, and after watching a few episodes of the old one, I had no interest in watching any others.) Although I like the 2 Stupid Dogs a lot, Secret Squirrel is my favorite part. I think Morocco Mole is my favorite character--he wears a little fez and black round glasses, and he's adorably and hilariously slow-witted ("Do you remember where we first met, Morocco?" "Ummm... the gelatin store?"). The characters on the Secret Squirrel episodes are rich, numerous, and diverse, (characters they don't list in the credits for the show here are SS's female crimefighting friend whose name I don't remember, the assorted villians, and the chief may have a beautiful secretary as well, I'm not positive... but don't they usually?) and there seems to be more action and drama going on in them than on the regular 2 Stupid Dogs episodes. It's disappointing that they didn't develop it into its own series, because it would have been great.
I highly recommend this show. It's one of my favorites on the Cartoon Network, along with Cow and Chicken, and Dexter's Laboratory, the latter of which is in the same type of visual style as 2 Stupid Dogs. (Johnny Bravo and The Powerpuff Girls also share this style.)