Entries Tagged 'Drama' ↓


Another Jane Campion film, this time her directorial debut, with the story of the dysfunctional relationship between two sisters. Sweetie is the obsessive, demanding, and coddled sister who is the catalyst for all family dynamics, but the story is really about how the other characters deal and interact with her. Quirky and offbeat, this film shows the beginnings of Campion’s immense talent. [nz, 1989]

angel at my table

Jane Campion’s film is based on the true story of New Zealand’s most famous poet Janet Frame. As a child the awkward, shy, yet insightful Janet didn’t fit in which lead her to being misdiagnosed as schizophrenic, and committed to a psychiatric hospital where she endured electric shock “therapy.” However, Janet endured, was finally released and began winning poetry awards and international acclaim. Although ultimately uplifting this film is quite heavy in places, and is quite long since it was originally a television series. Make sure you’re prepared to spend the time and emotional effort when you see it. [nz, 1990]

secrets and lies

The gritty story of a successful black adoptee who tracks down her birth mother only to discover mom is not only psychologically unstable and barely educated, but also white. Add a couple battling infertility, and an unforgettable family reunion, and you have skeletons tumbling out of the closet. Raw, painful, and hilarious, Mike Leigh’s film is the most powerful exploration of the fallout of closed adoption records to date. [uk, 1996]

when the cat’s away

When the solitary Chole loses her adored cat, she is forced to get to know her Parisian neighbourhood. During her search (the beginning of her personal awakening), she meets a self-centered drummer; a dim-witted man who devotes himself to the search; a network of eccentric, gossipy old ladies full of life despite rapidly changing storefronts and threats of eviction; and finally the prospect of love. Slight, charming and unusually ordinary. [france, 1997]

career girls

Eons away from the perky babes of Friends come two very real English misfits, warts and all. As the two working girls reminisce on their time together as students, each reveals her hurts, disappointments, vanquished dreams and plans for a sunnier future. Leigh exposes the insecurities, self-consciousness, and meanness of early adulthood so jarringly, it’s amazing to think any of us survived, let alone are able to laugh at the absurdity of it all. [uk, 1997]

the piano

Jane Campion proves she’s one of the decade’s premiere directors in her literate and richly layered movie about cultural conflict, repression, art, and, the role of women in the 19th century. Holly Hunter plays a mute Scotswoman, piano player, and mail-order bride who finds herself repelled by her stolid husband but intensely attracted to the Maori wilderness in which she finds herself. Her expressive face more than makes up for her lack of words, and Anna Paquin, as her on-the brink of adolescence daughter is a real find. [nz, 1993]

babette’s feast

A group of religious zealots living in an aging and isolated community discovers a lesson of love and forgiveness when a quiet maid prepares a lavish and extravagant feast for them. The stark, barren landscape, and puritan houses provide bas relief to Babette’s earthy and sensual banquet. 1987 Academy Award winner for best foreign film. [denmark, 1987]

eight women

See the grande dames of French cinema let loose in this cheeky homage to vintage thrillers, musicals, and soap operas. Of note are Catherine Deneuve and Danielle Darrieux as the matriarchs, Emmanuelle Bйart as the maid, Fanny Ardant as the outsider, and Isabelle Huppert as an absurdly uptight aunt. When the patriarch of the home is mysteriously murdered, the octet find themselves trapped in a country house suspecting each other of the deed. Features dark secrets, glamorous outfits, bitchy backstabbing, lesbian subtext, and campy song-and-dance numbers. [france, 2002]

sunset boulevard

This classic tale of Norma Desmond, darling of the silent screen, who clings to the idea of a comeback, features the classic line “I’m ready for my close-up Mr. DeMille.” Gloria Swanson made this picture her own, portraying the fine line between beloved star and pitiful has-been. This film is fascinating for its contrast of the possibilities for men and women in the film industry—De Mille (played by himself) is the most powerful man in Hollywood while well into his seventies, while Norma is a washed up pariah while only in her fifties because she doesn’t want to fade into the woodwork. And don’t get us started on William Holden’s character… [us, 1950]

corrina, corrina

Whoopi Goldberg stars in this quiet story of a university-educated 1950′s housekeeper who falls in love with her employer and his young daughter. Issues of race are dealt with not as monumental social events but as they pertain to the leads. Ultimately, relationships and family are more important than “what the neighbours think.” This occasionally slow moving film, is always good-hearted and although she’s considerably toned-down, Goldberg is amusing. [us, 1994]