Tag: Historical Drama

2019, Movies

Ford v Ferrari (2019, James Mangold)

The funniest thing about this movie – aside from the fight between Bale and Damon, which is genuinely good physical comedy – is that they had to title it one thing in ‘Merica and another in the rest of the world. That’s because the film execs think Americans don’t know what Le Mans is. Maybe …

1991, Movies

Da hong denglong gaogao gua [Raise the Red Lantern] (1991, Yimou Zhang)

This is a mostly exceptional story of the fourth wife of a rich man in 1920s China. It is one of those films with such a distinct look it really doesn’t look like anything else.

2022, Movies

The 2022 Toronto International Film Festival

This was my first time attending TIFF in person in 3 years. It was a little exhausting, given how far out of downtown we now live but, once I got the hang of it, I fell back into the rhythm of it and thoroughly enjoyed myself. It also helped that, after a few movies that …

2022, Movies

Chevalier (2022, Stephen Williams)

This film purports to tell the story of the first major black composer. But it’s a fantasy, not a real biography, and it spends much of its runtime obsessing about a made up love triangle and focusing on the friendships of the composer that are likely also made up. It’s a ridiculous movie. SPOILERS

2022, Movies

Emily (2022, Frances O’Connor)

I normally hate when biopics deviate wildly from the historical record but, in this case, it really doesn’t bother me as much. And I think that’s because the director essentially admitted it was all made up in her introduction. I have more time for these historical inaccuracies if only because I know it’s fantasy. Mild …

2022

The Cold War Part 1 (part of The Village of Small Huts) Live at Video Cabaret on May 13, 2022

This was my third Village of Small Huts/Video Cabaret experience and it was a reminder of how distinct their performances are and how much underknown I think the whole thing is. As a reminder: Video Cabaret is a theatre troupe that incorporates audio and visual elements into their productions. The Village of Small Huts is …

1965, 1966, 1967

War and Peace [Voyna I Mir] (1965, Sergey Bondarchuk)

This is an epic, 7 and a half hour adaptation of War and Peace, sort of on the scale of The Human Condition, but not nearly as long and far more ambitious. Apparently made in response to the Hollywood version, this film (or series of films) mostly realizes the promise of Peak TV decades earlier …

1959, 1961, Movies

The Human Condition (1959, 1961, Masaki Kobayashi)

This is an epic film, released as a series, that adapts an epic novel. Taken as a whole film, it is one of the longest narrative films ever – by my count the 8th or 9th longest ever, and probably the longest ever made at the time of its release. But it was released as …

2011, Movies

Moneyball (2011, Bennett Miller)

This is an enjoyable dramatization of the Oakland As’ 2002 season, from the perspective of their General Manager, who was trying to win games with the lowest budget in baseball. I say dramatization because there is a lot of poetic license here, and because the most important players on that team are barely even acknowledged.

2017, TV

Alias Grace (2017, Mary Harron)

This is a Canadian mini series with great pedigree, a Margaret Atwood novel adapted by Sarah Polley and directed by Mary Harron. I’m not sure Canadian television gets much more prestigious than this. (Also, Paul Gross is in it. But of course he is.) Those are some weighty expectations which, fortunately, I was not really …

2019, Movies

The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Once again I only saw 5 movies this year. As with previous years, the reason for that will become apparent in a month or so. But, as usual, we managed to do a pretty good job picking movies and only saw movie I wouldn’t recommend seeing, which is a pretty good ratio.

2019, Movies

Lyrebird (2019, Dan Friedkin)

Do you ever watch a film with high production values and, from the opening scenes, you’re thinking, ‘this is is not going to be good’? Well, Lyrebird is such a movie. It’s the kind of movie you spend wondering if it’s the director’s first film (it is) because nothing works like it’s supposed to. SPOILERS …

1954, Movies

Chikamatsu monogatari (1954, Kenji Mizoguchi)

Aka The Crucified Lovers aka A Story by Chikamatsu This is one of those Japanese tragedies where two lovers are prevented from living happily ever after by the strictures of society. Yes, this is a universal story, but the Japanese have a lot of these stories and there is a particular tenor to the Japanese …

2008, Movies

Che (2008, Steven Soderbergh)

So the first thing that must be said is that this is an incredibly ambitious project – rarely is a biographical film this detailed and this long. Only in TV now could you get this level of depth into a the subject of a person’s life. The fact that the film exists is an accomplishment …

2008, Movies

Ce qu’il faut pour vivre (2008, Benoit Pilon)

This is an affecting but amusing film about an Inuit man taken to Quebec City for tuberculosis treatment in the 1950s. Though it is a simple film – and arguably a variation on a story that has been told many times – its unique perspective is a needed one, and it’s worth your time.

1991, Movies

Daughters of the Dust (1991, Julie Dash)

This is a landmark film to my knowledge – the first wide release directed by an African American woman. That in and of itself makes it notable and it is a testament to the nature of the film industry that it both took until 1991 for this to happen and that most of us still …

2013, Movies

Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013, Lee Daniels)

Yes, seriously, Lee Daniels’ The Butler is the name of this movie. Even though this movie is ostensibly “based on a true story,” the director is responsible for it. The title is actually a clue: the filmmakers have so altered the story as to completely alter it. This is, in effect, the Black Forrest Gump.

2007, Movies

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (2007, Yves Simoneau)

My country was founded in genocide, as was our neighbour to the south. This is a fact that we still haven’t dealt with as evidenced by how many Canadians and Americans would find my initial statement controversial – even offensive – despite its truth. I was born in the last fifth of the 20th century …

2013, Movies, TV

Horici ker [Burning Bush] (2013, Agnieszka Holland)

Burning Bush is a 21st century version of those unaccountably good European TV mini series which are released in North America as films (often in abridged form). Though we have been living in a golden age of television in North America since right before the beginning of this century, it wasn’t always like that here. …

2017, Movies

Tiff 2017: The Death of Stalin (2017, Armando Iannucci)

Iannucci’s new film is, as I understand it, a bit of a left turn for him: it’s an adaptation of a graphic novel based upon the real event of the title. Though I had no such fears, one could be understandably trepidacious about Iannucci turning his satirical eye to something historically accurate.

2014, Movies

The Monuments Men (2014, George Clooney)

This is a reasonably entertaining, but oddly paced and very traditional film that dramatizes the efforts the US went to in order to rescue the art that the Nazis stole in World War II. As far as I can tell, it is very, very, very loosely based on the true story.

1988, 2017, Theatre

Confederation Part II: Canadian Pacific Scandal and The Saskatchewan Rebellion (part of The History of the Village of Small Huts) Live at Soulpepper Thursday July 27

We liked Part I of this section of The History of the Village of Small Huts so much that we went back for more.

2017, Theatre

Confederation Part I: Confederation and Riel (part of The History of the Village of Small Huts) Live at Soulpepper Tuesday July 11, 2017

This production is the second staging of a 1988 set of two 1-act plays which are part of the 21 1-act play cycle, The History of the Village of Small Huts, performed by Video Cabaret, a troupe that uses tableau and total darkness to give essentially soundbite snippets of Canadian history. I can honestly say …

2012, Movies

Zero Dark Thirty (2012, Kathryn Bigelow)

Much like Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker, this is a film that, at least in part, seems to aim to tell the “human” story – or the “ground truth” – of a particular conflict the US is involved in. In this case though, it’s obviously something of a little more import.