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Saturday
Jan262013

Sundance: Campion Takes On The Miniseries

Michael C. here. Just as I was calming down over the too-good-to-be-true Before Midnight buzz, news of the Sundance premiere of Jane Campion's Top of the Lake hit me and now I run the risk of anticipation overload. The Inside Llewyn Davis trailer didn't help either. 

Campion's six-hour miniseries premiered to strong reviews at the film festival this week on its way to a March run on the Sundance Channel. With Fincher’s House of Cards set to drop on Netflix February 1st  that makes two of our most important directors in as many months abandoning theaters in favor of the small screen. No longer is major Hollywood talent helming a miniseries limited to Mike Nichols Broadway adaptations and Tom Hanks indulging his twin obsessions of NASA and World War II. For now though, any lengthy trend pieces take a back seat to the headline that Top of the Lake sounds amazing. A must-see, especially for Campion fans. 

Perfect Oscar Happenings: when all three women of The Piano won OscarsIf the director reuniting with her The Piano star Holly Hunter isn't enough to get you excited she is also returning to film in her native New Zealand. Furthermore, the story of a detective returning home to investigate the disappearance of a child offers Elisabeth Moss the substantial leading role she richly deserves after being an ensemble MVP in everything from Mad Men to West Wing to a recent cameo in On the Road. Campion has a knack for getting career best work out of actresses, so this sounds like a very promising move for Moss. Peter Mullan, the fearsome star of Tyrannosaur, is also on hand.

We will see if the blurring of the lines between big screen and small turns out to be one of the overriding narratives of the film year. Whatever the case, between Campion and Fincher I expect that come year’s end many film critics will be trying to justify wedging a miniseries onto their top 10 lists.

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Reader Comments (10)

my squeal of delight for this is so high pitched only dogs can hear it.

i wish it weren't a murder mystery procedural type thing (snooze) but otherwise CAMPION + MOSS + HUNTER + SIX HOURS + NEW ZEALAND is all kinds of thrilling news.

January 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Easily and by far my most anticipated release from Sundance. So much Campion all at once!

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

TB -- wasn't angel at my table originally in miniseries format too? like 4 hours long?

January 26, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

I neglected to mention Soderbergh's Liberace flick as part of the big director migration to TV. Duh.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Let me just correct the record that Elisabeth Moss literally could not be less of an "MVP" on The West Wing. I could rattle off thirty stronger characters and performances on that show (huge cast) without being even slightly hyperbolic.

And a lot of West Wing fans think Moss is distractingly bad as Zooey. I actually can't off-hand think of any such moderately prominent character who would be a shoo-in for a "Weakest Link" honor.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHayden W

Speaking as a genuine West Wing fanatic (I've got the box set that looks like an attaché case) I've never had an issue with Moss. Maybe I was careless to use the term MVP but I wouldn't hesitate to classify her as a VP.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

I read that also Lucy Lawless appears in the miniseries, but I'm afraid her role is quite small, since in the reviews she hasn't mentioned so often...

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMirko

@Nathaniel R: Yup, An Angel At My Table was initially conceived as a miniseries. Just think, in 1990 a film at 158 minutes was considered too long to be a regular movie, whereas now there are three Best Picture nominees that yawn on for over 150 minutes, largely without complaint from audiences or critics.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

As a bona fide West Wing fanatic (I've got the box set that looks like an attaché case) I can say I never had an issue with Moss's work on that show. Maybe I was careless with words when I said she was an MVP but for me she was definitely a VP.

January 26, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMichael C.

Does Moss adopt a New Zealand accent? As a New Zealander, there is nothing worse than hearing an overplayed New Zealand accent. Like nails on a blackboard.

I'd also like to add that I enjoyed Moss in the West Wing. I'd put in her behind quite a few others but definitely a big positive.

January 27, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpondandbucket

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