Tag: Historical Drama

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 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 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 I have …

2009, Movies

Bright Star (2009) Jane Campion

Maybe it’s my age, but I had trouble feeling the feelings of the protagonists in this film, which dramatizes John Keats’ final love affair before his death. I feel like I have seen too many of these films which fail to connect with me – seen one historical love affair, seen them all, is how …

2005, Movies

Beowulf and Grendel (2005, Sturla Gunnarsson)

Note: I have never read anything more than a child’s abridged version of Beowulf. This appears to be an attempt to make a more “realistic” and revisionist Beowulf: Grendel is presented as humanoid, there is a lot of focus on Grendel’s reasons for terrorizing the Danes, there’s focus on the coming Christian conversion, and Beowulf …

2009, Movies

Baaria (2009, Giuseppe Tornatore)

This is one of those movies that tries to tell the story of a town/place/region/country through the lives of a character or family of characters. In this case, it’s a man and his family in a town in Sicily. There are inherent problems with this type of film and that’s evident through much of this …

1982, Movies

Austeria (1982, Jerzy Kawalerowicz)

This is a Polish neo-realist film covering the first day of World War I as it affects a community of Jews. It breaks with realist tradition by having flashbacks, but those are treated in the same way as the present. (I believe it only covers 24 hours, outside of the flashbacks.) This is pretty unexplored …

2012, Movies

Barbara (2012, Christian Petzold)

This is one of those note-perfect dramas that unfold slowly, choosing to reveal their mystery like a good novel. It doesn’t hammer us with context or plot, and let’s the characters (particularly star Nina Hoss, in a bravura performance) interact. The film subtly and patiently builds to its climax and doesn’t beat us over the …

2007, Movies

Atonement (2007, Joe Wright)

This is an ambitious adaptation of a novel that I have not read, so how it works as an adaptation, I can only guess. The film it itself is, as I have said, extremely ambitious. It jumps around in time (as, I assume, the novel does), it let’s us know fairly early on that maybe …

2007, Movies

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007, Andrew Dominik)

This is a fascinating film, one that attempts to take a novel that tells a tale as if it was written at the time and translate that to the screen. The cast is incredible and the movie is well shot. But the pacing is not great even though the film appears to take up well …

2006, Movies

Amazing Grace (2006, Michael Apted)

How like us white people to make a film commemorating the British abolition of the slave trade by focusing entirely on the efforts of a rich, white man. Yes, I understand that his efforts were important, and it’s not like slaves outside of Haiti were in a position to do much themselves, but this is …

2011, Movies

Albert Nobbs (2011, Rodrigo Garcia)

This is an interesting film centered on a bravura performance from Glenn Close. It’s not only that she plays a woman playing a man, but how she plays him. For most of the film Nobbs is all coiled up, as you might expect a woman playing a man to be. And you can feel her …

2013, Movies

Belle (2013, Amma Asante)

This would be a nice corrective if it was true. Otherwise, this is a typically stuffy period drama with the usual whispering, out-bursts and marriage-arrangements; a genre I usually cannot abide. Telling the story of a mulatto woman in this position is a nice take on it, as would telling the story of a judicial …

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 obvious something of a little more import. Anyway, it reminds me a …

2013, Movies

12 Years a Slave (2013, Steve McQueen)

This may seem a weird thing to say but I think this is McQueen’s least difficult material to date. Obviously, slavery is a difficult subject – this is not an easy film to watch – but it is not morally difficult subject, at least for most of us. Hunger may not have been morally difficult …

2013, Movies

A Field in England (2013, Ben Wheatley)

I don’t really know where to begin with this film. Experimental or avant garde cinema – whether that cinema forsakes narrative or not – rarely has a sense of humour. So I must say that it is a bit of a delight to watch an obviously “experimental” narrative film – kind of a rare thing …

2011, Movies

A Dangerous Method (2011, David Cronenberg)

This is a fictional version of the conflict between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung which caused a major fracturing in psychoanalysis, leading to the birth of a second school of thought. I think the major problem with this movie is that the filmmakers were not sure what story they were telling: the story of Freud …

2010, Movies

TIFF 10 Day 2

I couldn’t see Julia’s Eyes, a Spanish horror movie I have might have liked, because Mike was sleeping and / or couldn’t make up his mind about what movie he wanted to see. So I ended up giving up and picking a later film (because by that point Julia’s Eyes was off sale). I only …

2004, Movies

The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004, Niels Mueller)

I saw The Assassination of Richard Nixon last night. It’s a pretty bizarre story based, to some extent, on actual events. A guy tries to kill Nixon by flying a plan into the Whitehouse back in ’74 (or ’73, I don’t really remember). Sean Penn was quite good. But I don’t know if I totally …

1987, 1988, 1994, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, Movies


One of the things I did in Florida was watch a lot of movies. Because that’s what you do in Florida when it’s dark and you’ve got crazy American cable with 30+ movie channels. That’s not to say that’s all I did (though this list will give you that impression), but I definitely watched a …