And the Oscar Goes To… Not a Clue

Currently browsing the "Historical Drama" tag.

Review: The Last Duel

Historical epics are not my cup of tea, but I was drawn to The Last Duel by the all-star cast of Matt Damon, Adam Driver and Ben Affleck. They do not disappoint, nor does the female lead Jodie Comer whose character propels the 14th Century #MeToo narrative. The action is still too brutal and bloody for my taste, and the structure dictates we live through some uncomfortable scenes multiple times, but the fact that it is based on true events makes this centuries-old story a bit more accessible. It’s impossible not to view it through a modern lens and wonder how a similar scenario would play out today — you know, when duels to the death aren’t really a sanctioned thing.

Review: Radioactive

Who coined the term “radioactivity”? Who was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize? Who was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes? What husband and wife duo shared a Nobel Prize in chemistry? Who are the first mother and daughter Nobel Laureates? The answers have one common denominator: Marie Curie.

The Conspirator

Seems I am destined to watch period movies centered on wronged women. My second of the weekend is Robert Redford’s The Conspirator, which tells the true story of Mary Surratt who was accused of helping plot Lincoln’s assassination. Robin Wright (formerly Penn) plays Surratt, the only woman charged in the conspiracy along with 6 men and the first woman executed by the US government. James McAvoy plays Frederick Aiken the young lawyer who reluctantly took her case.

The Last Station

This is a wonderful film! It should be on the expanded Academy Awards list for Best Picture, but sadly it isn’t. At least both Christopher Plummer as Tolstoy and Helen Mirren as his wife Sofya are nominated in their respective acting categories. The Last Station is the story of the last years of the great Russian writer Leo Tolstoy’s life, his tempestuous relationship with this wife, his coterie of adoring sycophants who turned him into a cult figure, and a young man who became his personal secretary and family confidante.

The Young Victoria

To look at The Young Victoria for historical accuracy would be the wrong way to approach it. Screenwriter Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) admits to taking dramatic license in many places for effect. And it is effective as a coming of age love story set inside that gilded cage known as the British monarchy. The story begins with 17 year-old Victoria a heartbeat away from being crowned Queen, as her mother, the scheming Duchess of Kent (Miranda Richardson), along with her power hungry advisor (Mark Strong) attempt to set up a regency thereby taking power themselves until she is 25. (Mark Strong is also the villain in Sherlock Holmes, set in the same time period. Hmmm.) They control her every move, making someone walk her up and down the stairs, deciding what she can and cannot read, making sure that she is kept away from her uncle the King, everything designed to dominate her. But she is strong enough to resist them, though she falls instead under the control of Prime Minister Lord Melbourne.