Here at Frock Flicks HQ we have access to Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, 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 sometimes! 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 Catcher Was a Spy (2018)
A perfectly decent airplane watch, but I don’t know that I’d go out of your way to see it otherwise. Paul Rudd plays real-life baseball player and World War II spy, Moe Berg, who clearly lived a fascinating life. Unfortunately, the film doesn’t delve too deeply into his inner workings — for example, Berg is presented as being bisexual (or gay?) and conflicted about it, but no clarity is ever achieved about this aspect of his life. Sienna Miller gets some nice slinky 1940s-wear, but otherwise, it’s not terribly shiny. — Kendra
Holmes & Watson (2018)
Guys, I tried. I have a soft spot for Will Ferrell — I’ve never laughed as hard as I did while watching Old School — and similar boy-riffic comedies. I was trapped on a plane for eleven hours, and I fired this up … and I Just Couldn’t. I think I made it about 20 minutes in before the ass-puckeringly unfunny comedy killed my will to live. It’s too bad, because aside from some overly-low necklines, Beatrix Aruna Pasztor‘s (Vanity Fair) bustle gowns were really well done. — Kendra
On the Basis of Sex (2018)
I admit to not having (yet) watched the (notorious) Ruth Bader Ginsburg documentary, which I’ve heard is great [Trystan’s Note: IT IS SO GOOD, WATCH IT, DAMMIT!], so I decided to make up for it by watching this biopic about the Supreme Court justice back when she was a lawyer fighting for women’s rights. Overall, I enjoyed the film, it wasn’t TOO biopic-y, and Felicity Jones played the lead role well. Jones as Ginsburg had some nice 1950s suits, but otherwise, there’s really nothing interesting, costume-wise, to review. — Kendra
Operation Finale (2018)
A really interesting movie about the capture of Adolph Eichmann by Israeli intelligence officers, with My Current Boyfriend(TM) Oscar Isaac as the lead agent and Ben Kingsley as Eichmann. However, there’s absolutely zero costume content. Check it out if the topic sounds interesting (it sent me on a rabbit hole of watching holocaust trial documentaries!) and/or because of my boyfriend. — Kendra
Ordeal by Innocence (2018)
The BBC keeps churning out these one-off miniseries adaptation of Agatha Christie novels, and I’ll keep watching them! This one is set in 1954, and is basically centered around one very messed up family. Mrs. Argyll (
Duckface Anna Chancellor) was murdered and one of her adopted children was accused, but a stranger turns up to cast doubt as to the identity of the murderer. Bill Nighy is the patriarch, Eleanor Tomlinson the eldest daughter who could never be good enough, and Matthew Goode her disaffected/paralyzed husband (THANK YOU BABY JESUS for the first shot of him, shirtless and working out). Nicely dark and creepy, with well done but unremarkable costumes by Star Wars costume designer Trisha Biggar! — Kendra
Saving Mr. Banks (2013)
True confession: I am a sucker for a Tom Hanks movie. I’ve loved him ever since Bosom Buddies. So him playing Walt Disney is awesome! I also adore Emma Thompson, and seeing her play an irascible character is great fun. The story is almost complete hogwash, except that the real P.L. Travers, author of Mary Poppins, did hate what Disney did to her book. But it’s a fun movie none-the-less. — Trystan
The Seagull (2018)
Minus: Adaption of a Chekov play, set in 1904 Russia, with all the baggage that implies. Pros: Nice enough 1910s costuming and Annette Bening and Elizabeth Moss are pretty awesome in their weird familial and romantic entanglements. But you have to suffer through Saoirse Ronan being cute, plus a lot of predictable strum un drang. — Trystan
Kenneth Branagh goes down under, waaaaay down under. This is a fascinating story of the incredibly inept early 20th-century Antarctic explorer Sir Edmund Shackleton. Lots of ice, fur coats, shaggy beards, and rugged heroism, but fairly historically accurate and worth watching if you want a real adventure tale. — Trystan
I knew going in that this wouldn’t be a good historical movie. But I’m sad to say it wasn’t even a good horror movie. Not atmospheric enough to really be spooky and definitely not scary. It was just boring! Poor Helen Mirren, such a waste of your talents. I hope you got paid well for this crap. — 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?