Tuesday, August 16, 2022

historical movies

B. signed us up for Netflix so that we could watch The Sandman. She's watched most of The Sandman already; I haven't started yet, because I've spent all of what little time I have for that medium on two movies that were on my "watch these if I ever get Neflix or if they ever get off it" list. Time has been further extended by their being simultaneously interesting enough and wincingly bad enough that I keep turning them off and walking away, coming back and continuing a day or two later.

Both are of a genre of movie I have a weakness for: dramatizations of modern historical events. (I have my standards, though. For one thing I don't like anything in which the characters go around telling each other things they already know so that the audience can catch up, which is one of several reasons I stopped watching The Crown after half an episode.)

Operation Mincemeat. This one I know all about. I've read the books about it, including Montagu's; I've even seen the previous movie. That was partly why this movie wasn't saved by some good dramatizations of particular scenes and some excellent acting. (Colin Firth, now: he's made so many movies in which he plays a repressed man with a strong sense of duty that he's virtually typecast.) The imaginary subplots they added to the story, however, just ruined it. In real life the period after they sent Major Martin off to war consisted of a lot of suspenseful waiting with a slowly dunning sense that the plot worked, that they'd pulled it off. In the movie they run around in a panic over various glitches. It just gives a bad taste to the whole thing. And that's just one of the many, many awful things the adapters did to the story.

The Dig. This one I didn't know much about. I knew about the Sutton Hoo ship burial; I've seen both the treasure in the British Museum and the original site in Suffolk, on which sheep may now safely graze. But I didn't know whose land it had been, how the burial was discovered, or who dug it up. This movie was less inaccurate than the other, so I learned a lot, but it does tend to get fanciful in the same way as Op.M. towards the end. Acting was good: Ralph Fiennes should play more honest countrymen and fewer conniving ex-public school boys. Oh, and the official archaeologist who shows up halfway through? Notice the actor's unusually bulbous nose? So it shouldn't surprise you at all to learn that he played one of the dwarves in The Hobbit.

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