Each of us at Frock Flicks HQ have access to Netflix, Amazon Prime, broadcast TV (including Turner Movie Classics), and some, ehem, other sources to watch historical costume movies and TV shows. Hey, we can even see movies at the old-fashioned theater with live people ‘n stuff! So we spend a lot of time in front of a screen, attempting to watch our backlogged queue. Alas, not every flick set in the past is worth our time (though for ones we DO review, use the search box or menus to peruse the archives!).
Here’s a little behind-the-scenes info: There are a lot of crappy historical costume movies and TV shows out there! We’re not talking Snark Week-worthy travesties — we LURVE watching those. But some stuff is just weak tea. These are boring movies, the dull shows, the ones with mediocre costumes and stories that can’t even rise up to the level of camp entertainment. Or the ones that are mildly entertaining, maybe have ‘good-enough’ costuming, or are moderately snark-worthy, but we can’t be arsed to work up a sweat about it.
Thus, this is an occasional series with our one-line reviews of things we’ve tried to watch but just don’t care enough about to write a whole blog post or podcast. Your mileage may vary!
The Agony and the Ecstasy (1965)
This is what Google does to you — At some point, searching around online, I saw a photo of a really cool, authentic-looking women’s Italian renaissance costume that was labeled as from the movie The Agony and the Ecstasy. I thought, dayum, I need to see that flick! Super Meh. If that costume was in the movie, I missed it because I fell asleep. And now I can’t find the original photo. Fucking Google. — Trystan
The Devil’s Violinist (2013)
Does he not own a comb? — Kendra
Stringy hair is symbolic of man’s inhumanity to man. — Trystan
Gangs of New York (2002)
Daniel Day Lewis is awesome and stuff. Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t totally annoy me for once. Cameron Diaz is inexplicably in this movie, and I can’t figure out why. Beyond that, it looks like Sam Peckinpah filmed a weekend at the Dickens Fair. — Sarah
Endless meat cleavers in people’s heads. — Kendra
The Good Shepherd (2006)
It’s nothing against this movie, which has a spectacular cast and a great plot, but there is pretty much zilch here to discuss costume-wise. Just because a movie is set in a historical period, doesn’t mean it has interesting costumes. — Sarah
The King’s Thief (1955)
Proof that not all swashbuckling historical romances with costumes by Walter Plunkett are a good time. Set in Charles II’s England, there’s the requisite sword-fighting and fancy dresses, but it’s dull as bricks. — Trystan
The Man in the Iron Mask (1998)
This movie is like fondant — really gorgeous to look at, but leaves a weird, sticky, plasticky taste in your mouth. Leonardo DiCaprio dials it in as King Louis and his twin bro, while a bunch of incredibly talented actors (Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerald Depardieu, Gabriel Byrne) are totally useless, as are the beautiful 17th-century costumes by James Acheson. — Trystan
Marco Polo (2014-)
I wrote about this as an upcoming feature because there was so much buzz, and I wanted to give it a chance. And while the first episode was totally elaborate thanks to a massive budget, the story felt pretty unoriginal. Buh-bye. — Trystan
Murdoch Mysteries / The Artful Detective (2008-)
You guys love this one, I know. You’ve suggested it countless times here and on social media. I watched one episode, but I just don’t have anything to say about it because a) it’s a murder-mystery and that’s not my thing, and b) the costumes, while fine for the period, didn’t capture my attention. A thousand apologies! Surely there’s a Murdoch fan blogger out there who can satisfy you. — Trystan
Sherlock Holmes (2009) and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows (2011)
I know that this franchise’s fans are legion. I, too, love the shit out of a good Robert Downey, Jr. flick. And, to be honest, I enjoyed these quite a bit. But they veers too close to steampunk which is SO NOT MY THING. — Sarah
This photo shows the best costume in this movie, FWIW. — Trystan
Do you love one of these movies or TV shows? What other stuff should we remove from our queue? Have you searched our site recently to see if we’ve already reviewed your faves?