Thursday Movie Picks: Period Dramas

This week's theme at Wandering Through the Shelves is the ever divisive Period Dramas. Some love them, some hate them. I have plenty that I enjoy, but I gave myself a rule to not repeat the ones I chose for this theme last year. So here are three more period dramas I enjoy. In fact, let's do a little theme within a theme with the queen of period dramas herself; Keira Knightley. And I won't even use Atonement like you're probably expecting me to.

1) A Dangerous Method

This film about the relationship between Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung isn't talked about very much anymore. I think it's a fine film. Knightley, Viggo Mortensen, Michael Fassbender and Vincent Cassel were all very good. 

2) Anna Karenina

I think this movie is gorgeous. I loved the costumes so much, though I've never read the book so I don't know how it compares. 

3) Pride & Prejudice 

I'm not big into Jane Austen. I currently own about 6 of her books that I promised myself last year I was going to read, this being one of them, but I haven't finished yet. But for someone who hadn't read it, I really enjoyed this adaptation of it. It's one I'd like to watch again, especially how that I realized Darcy is Tom from Succession. Yes, I know how embarrassing it is that I just noticed that.

Comments

  1. I do love a theme within the theme and Keira Knightley is a great subject for one!

    I love Jane Austen's stories but her books at least for me are difficult reads because of the style-it took me months to get through P&P! I listened to Sense & Sensibility on audio but even there I really had to listen very closely to follow the skein of the narrative. With that said this is by far my favorite version of Pride & Prejudice. Every role is cast spot on and it feels lived in rather than a group of actors in fancy clothes.

    Wish I could say the same for your other two.

    A Dangerous Method was a struggle for me and I have very little memory of it now.

    I agree this version of Anna Karenina is gorgeous to look at but the nearly wholesale revamping of the text did little for me. There are many, many takes on the book, my favorite is a television version from the mid-80's with Jacqueline Bisset as Anna and Paul Scofield as her husband and Christopher Reeve her lover, but all are more literal takes on the material than this. The Garbo version from the 30's is good, there's also one with Vivien Leigh made in the 50's though it's rather dry-she's very good however.

    I decided to beat a different path this week. I know when I hear period picture I think Victorian or Edwardian England and I do LOVE those films but I chose to go with another period-Roman.

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1966)-Inspired by the farces of the ancient Roman playwright Plautus this hilariously tells the bawdy story of slave Pseudolus (a great Zero Mostel) "the lyingest, cheatingest, sloppiest slave in all of Rome" as he attempts to win his freedom by helping his young master woo the girl next door. Based on the stage play of the same name this has terrific songs and an excellent cast (including Buster Keaton in his last role) but it’s Mostel repeating his Tony winning performance who makes it so special.

    Julius Caesar (1953)-Adaptation of the Shakespearean play based on actual events. Brutus (James Mason) convinced by a group of Roman senators led by Caius Cassius (John Gielgud), that friend Julius Caesar (Louis Calhern) intends to dissolve the republic to install himself as monarch joins a conspiracy to assassinate him. Once done he defends his actions but Mark Antony (Marlon Brando) responds with a speech that plays upon the crowd's love for their fallen leader and a battle for power begins. High quality film with an impressive cast including Greer Garson, Deborah Kerr and Edmond O’Brien aside from those mentioned with Brando, forsaking his method mumbling for straight verse strong as Mark Antony.

    The Last Days of Pompeii (1935)-Pegs a fictitious story onto the big blow. Blacksmith Marcus (Preston Foster) consumed with bitterness upon the death of his wife and child becomes a gladiator and Pontius Pilate's (Basil Rathbone) partner before finding Christ in the days leading up to the Vesuvius eruption. Some impressive, for its day special effects when the mountain finally ruptures.

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    1. I've heard that complaint a lot with Anna Karenina, so in this case I'm happy not to be familiar with the source material so I could enjoy it more.

      Of your picks Julius Caesar is the only one I'm semi familiar with. I think one of my teachers showed us clips of it, but I've never watched the whole thing. I'll have to check it out for that cast.

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  2. I’m so glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels that way about Austen! It took me forever to read Pride and Prejudice and I’m currently struggling to finish Emma. I think I liked the film though (I’m not even sure I watched it to be honest). Dangerous Method I struggled to finish. I’ll rewatch it soon for Michael and Viggo though 😏

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    1. I'm struggling with Emma too. I think they work better in film version for me because they have less time to be boring lol.

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    2. Haha I finally finished to read the book and watched the movie and they were both dreadful.

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  3. Jane Austen never struck me as someone I felt inclined to pursue. I remember a couple years ago seeing one adaptation of a book by her (Love and Friendship) and mostly being confused and having no idea what was going on, though that may have been poor execution by the filmmakers rather than any fault of Austen herself.

    I can't believe I didn't notice Keira Knightley's habit of doing period pieces. I don't know, when I think Keira Knightley the first thing that comes to mind is her role in Pirates of the Caribbean.

    Anna Karenina, now THAT was a stylistically ambitious film. Kind of a weird but interesting choice to have the whole elaborate story be filmed in different parts of the same theater to tell a story that doesn't take place in a theater. I don't really know the source material either, but fortunately my Mom does which helped make a bit more sense of the plot when I saw it.

    I forgot about A Dangerous Method. It's been a few years but I remember thinking Keira Knightley was the best part of that film.

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    1. Knightley used to get so much shit for it lol. I've liked the modern films she's done too.

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  4. Have to admit Jane Austen doesn't do it for me. The books I've read bored me and the films generally do the same. So, of this group I've only seen Pride and Prejudice aaaaannnd, I like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies much better, lol. Yeah, I'm kinda uncultured that way.

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    1. lol I always meant to watch the zombie one and never got around to it. I should.

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  5. I for got about the Anna Karenina TV version with Jacqueline Bisset but Joel is right...it is excellent and I would love to see this again. I have yet to see your version of Anna Karenina and I wonder if Keira is up to the task. I heard it was done differently so I would have to see if this would work for me. I have read the book and, I am still trying to figure out why it is named after her when I felt the bigger character was a man working his farm with major references going to the Marxist theories of the times. To be honest, in the book Anna Karenina got on my nerves. I still need to see this version of Pride and Prejudice as well. I am so glad you did not use Aborement(being a brat here...hahaha)

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    1. That's interesting, based on the film I never would've imagined a bigger POV than her in the novel.

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  6. I like this take though I didn't like Anna Karenina mainly because I felt it was a total mess and that the narrative tried to make Jude Law's character as the bad guy when he was really the most sensible one in the film.

    A Dangerous Method is a film I do like as I think it's one of Cronenberg's finest films though it's a shame he's not likely to do anymore films not just because of financial reasons but also personal reasons as his sister Denise, who is also his costume designer, had just died. Pride & Prejudice, how can I say no to that film? I will always love that little moment where Lydia owned Elizabeth about her own love affairs and then takes a sip of wine. That is why Jena Malone is.... THE BEST IN THE WORLD!!!!

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    1. I love Jena Malone! So underrated.

      I didn't know he recently lost his sister. That's awful

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  7. I love Pride & Prejudice. This is my favorite adaptation.

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    1. It seems to be a lot of people's favorites. I haven't seen the other ones to compare it too, and I'm fine with that because I enjoyed this one so much.

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  8. I've seen all.
    A Dangerous Method was interesting but I didn't enjoy it.
    Not that a fan of Anna Karenina either but the way it was presented which was like a stage play was pretty amazing.
    I love Pride and Prejudice and this was a well done adaptation.

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    1. I want to re-watch Anna Karenina now after reminiscing over how beautiful it was.

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