'The Sopranos,' 'Larry Sanders' & more: 20 great shows from 40 years of HBO
Great dramas, comedies, concert specials and more illustrate the pay cable channel's sweep
"And the Band Played On" (1993)
HBO films by and large tended to tackle the big issues, like this look at the rise of the AIDS epidemic through the eyes of Matthew Modine's noble but frustrated CDC researcher. A sprawling project that seems to bring in a new famous actor every five minutes (Hey, it's Richard Gere! Ian McKellen! Phil Collins?) it is, despite the despairing subject matter, compulsively rewatchable (I must have seen it at least a dozen times), which is a testament to the work director Roger Spottiswoode and writer Arnold Schulman did in adapting Randy Shilts' enormous non-fiction book. Where HBO's other big AIDS film (more on that in a bit) shifted back and forth between Heaven and Earth, "And the Band Played On" is a film about science, and the ways that human emotions like greed and arrogance and prejudice can get in the way of the clear, hard facts. An amazing, devastating film.