Which films would work best on TV? An EW film critic tackles watching movies on TV, indie directors crossing over, and great movie cliches

By Lisa Schwarzbaum
Updated March 26, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST
Credit: Ask the Critic Illustration by Michael Witte

Which films would work best on TV?

Are there any movies that benefit from being viewed on TV rather than in a movie theater? — Kevin Hall

Honestly, Kevin, very few, although I’m obviously grateful for the technology that lets me watch in my living room. I guess my rule of thumb is that the bigger the ”spectacle,” the more is lost on a small screen — by which standard ”The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, the ”Matrix” trilogy, and even ”Finding Nemo” are sapped of grandeur at home, while ”Mystic River,” ”Elf,” and ”Freaky Friday” are more transportable. Exceptions to my rule: Anything with the word ”Pokémon” in the title or starring Rob Schneider benefits from being viewed on a wristwatch.

Which indie director ought to make a big-budget Hollywood movie, and which big-budget helmer ought to direct an indie? — Daniel Cooper

What’s significant about this question is its plausibility, something that wouldn’t have been so a dozen years ago, when indies and big studio productions — can we call them stoodies? — never crossed aesthetic paths. It’s a rare event when a stoodie filmmaker goes indie; I urge (or is it dare?) Michael Bay to try. But now indie directors cross over all the time, à la Steven Soderbergh. I sometimes wish newcomers would hold off, staking their indie tent pegs deeper in the sand before hotfooting it to the luxury Hollywood hotel across the highway. But I do look forward to seeing what ”All the Real Girls” director David Gordon Green will do with a real budget. And, surely, it’s Sofia Coppola’s destiny to one day translate her indie language into a big story.

Most movie clichés are unbearable, but is there one you wish would live on forever? — Niko Moore

You know that moment when the hero is racing toward a climax, and external distractions fall away and all we hear is heartbeat, and suddenly the guy is racing very, very slowly? I love all that ”Chariots of Fire” jazz — bring on the synthesized Vangelis anthem!

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