Attention general public and blogging population! Today I bring your attention to an absolutely wonderful 1986 BBC mini-series called The Singing Detective. It's a six-part television program that isn't technically a film, but it's on the Times top 100 list, and I'm willing to consider it a film as well. If you consider is a film it's easily in my own personal top five movies of all time, and if you consider it a TV show, it's hands down the best I've seen. Make no mistake, TV show or movie or whatever you label it, The Singing Detective is absolutely brilliant.
Written by Dennis Potter, and largely considered to be autobiographical (though Potter denied this), The Singing Detective tells the story of a bedridden hospital patient reliving his pulp magazine detective stories he wrote as well as various childhood memories through various hallucinations and some very clever storytelling. It's told in a way that might be confusing to some viewers as a lot of seemingly random scenes are interspersed throughout the narrative, but as we learn more and more about the characters and their back-stories, pieces start fitting into place. It's almost like a detective story! And while viewers are left to form their own conclusions when it's all over, it becomes clear that Potter did everything very intentionally.
So, you ask, whatever did The Singing Detective do to deserve such lavish praise? It does just about everything I can think of that a film can do right... well, right. The acting is superb: Michael Gambon (you might recognize him as Dumbledore from the more recent Harry Potter movies) gives an amazing performance and has some of the best dialogue I've heard. His character is bitter and cynical and completely nasty, but I also found him extremely likable. All the other actors and very good as well and there's definitely some top-notch acting going on here.
I won't goon much longer other than to reiterate that you watch this as soon as you can. It's masterful. It's art. It's cinema perfected as far as I'm concerned. Thank you Times for introduction me to this wonderful piece of work.
Also, there's awesome 1940s crooner music and characters occasionally bursting into song!