Barton Fink, Rear Window, Columbo: Season Four

Kirsten Elms

As a writer on strike and having just seen No Country for Old Men -- I'm drawn to another Coens' film -- Barton Fink -- about a writer in Hollywood. I love the way they keep things happening offstage. They don't over-explain. I love the special features for Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window -- behind the scenes of how they built the set, "Miss Torso" giving an interview, the screenwriter on adapting it. It's a perfect movie. So simple. I use it as a model for great storytelling because it's so contained. All the subplots come together well. They parallel the emotional ups and downs of the main storyline.

I am the biggest Peter Falk fan, and I love Columbo: Season Four . It has an episode with Gena Rowlands, which is interesting because of the great work Falk did with John Cassavetes. Plus, there's an episode with Dick Van Dyke as a murderer. Fascinating!

Barton Fink
(USA) 1991, Twentieth Century Fox

Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (112 Minutes. Full Length. James Stewart, Grace Kelly)
(USA) 1954, Universal

Columbo - The Complete Fourth Season
(USA) 1975-76, Universal

Farzad Nikbakht
Education Coordinator, Media Arts Center San Diego

The success of Infernal Affairs in Hong Kong led to a prequel, sequel, and the timid yet acclaimed U.S. adaptation The Departed . Infernal Affairs III, the final installment of the trilogy, begins where the first leaves off. Through flash-forwards, flashbacks, and quotations from the first film, Infernal Affairs III effectively explores issues of memory and identity that will intrigue fans of the series. Yet, while it has an interesting narrative structure, it lacks the tension and creativity that made the first film a phenomenon. The Prestige has an even more layered narrative structure as it moves back/forward in time and uses multiple narrators to tell the same story from varying perspectives. DVD extras such as Tesla: The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century are not only enlightening, but also provide an informative context. Building on his earlier films ( Following , Memento ), Christopher Nolan continues to construct innovative narratives, exploring unique ways to use film as an effective storytelling medium.

Infernal Affairs 3 (Special Collector's Edition)
(Hong Kong) 2003, Weinstein Company

The Prestige
(USA) 2006, Touchstone

Michelle Osorio
Director of the geek Web series, ./shutdown, http://www.shutdowntv.com

If you haven't watched the short-lived TV sensation Firefly , do it now. Find out why in only ten episodes (until Fox canned it), Joss Whedon's "western in space" captured the hearts of fanboys and fangirls worldwide. Whedon, creator of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, gives an amazing commentary. You'll also find an Easter egg of Adam Baldwin singing The Man They Call Jayne. Staying on the Firefly theme, Serenity is the critically acclaimed movie follow-up. It's like a children's Japanese cartoon...on drugs. Look for a great featurette on how the show attracted enough of a cult following to make the movie possible.

To finish off the trilogy, check out the fanmade documentary that screened at San Diego Comic-Con -- Done the Impossible. It chronicles the rise and fall of the TV show and interviews fans about why the show's so compelling. Proceeds go to Whedon's favorite charity, Equality Now.

Firefly - The Complete Series
(USA) 2002, Twentieth Century Fox

Serenity (Collector's Edition)
(USA) 2005, Universal

Done The Impossible: The Fans' Tale of Firefly & Serenity
(USA) 2006, http:www.donetheimpossible.com

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