Historical

[9.0] Martin Scorsese directs Leonardo DiCaprio in this biopic of Howard Hughes, the billionaire aviator, filmmaker, and playboy whose considerable ambition was tragically counterbalanced by his mental illness. The Aviator opens with Hughes’ mammoth, three-year-long production of the aerial battle movie Hell’s Angels and his budding romance with Katharine Hepburn (Cate Blanchett). He makes considerable advances in the field of aviation and challenges the movie …

[7.0] Director Jean-Jacques Annaud (The Bear, The Name of the Rose) takes us on a prehistoric adventure about three cave-dwelling early humans who embark on a search for fire after an attack by animalistic Neanderthals extinguishes the flame their tribe maintained for generations. Along the way, the three men encounter cannibals, sabre-tooth tigers, and wooly mammoths. They also meet a woman from another tribe who …

[7.0] Near the end of the silent film era, Carl Theodor Dreyer (Vampyr) would deliver one of the medium’s most powerful titles — The Passion of Joan of Arc. Maria Falconetti stars as the nineteen-year-old French heroine who fought to rescue France from English domination during the Hundred Years War. But she was eventually captured by the English, and Dreyer’s film focuses on her trial …

[7.0] With all due deference to his accomplishments, Steve Jobs’ career isn’t something I thought I needed to see a movie about. Faithful biopics generally make for uneven films, and how the hell can a dork making computers make for an exciting movie? Well, leave it to eminent screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, The Social Network) and maverick director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting, Sunshine) to …

[7.0] Spencer Tracy stars as Major Richard Rogers, leader of an elite force of men who traversed the wilderness and engaged with enemies during the French and Indian War. The film is seen through the eyes of two new recruits, played by Walter Brennan and Robert Young. The first half of the film is a survival story, with the dwindling troops fighting wildlife, treacherous terrain, …

[6.0] William Wellman’s (Wings, The Ox-Bow Incident) final film is also his most autobiographical, combining his experiences as an American volunteer in the French Legion during World War I with the experiences of a friend who fell in love with a French sex worker. Lafayette Escadrille stars Tab Hunter as the pilot in love, an unruly youth who deserts the Legion and then fights to …

[6.0] Cary Grant and Claude Rains star as British officers whose paths cross time and again on the Eastern front of World War I. The two become friends after Rains saves Grant from Kurdish raiders. Grant then goes on to help Rains move a village to safety and prevent a sneak attack on British troops. The friends part for much of the second act, during …

[8.0] Don Cheadle stars as Paul Rusesabagina in the true story of a Rwandan man who saved over a thousand lives by harboring refugees in his hotel during the Hutu slaughtering of the Tutsi in 1994. Hotel Rwanda takes about ten or fifteen minutes to set itself up before it becomes a non-stop terrifying fight for life. Once the Hutu begin killing his friends and …

[5.0] George C. Scott’s charisma is the best thing Patton has going for it. The film is a pastiche of the famous (and infamous) army general’s career through World War II, including his successful invasion of Sicily, media blunders resulting in military reprimand, and his eventual aid in the fall of the Third Reich. The film initially paints Patton as a hard-ass who gets the …

[7.0] Benedict Cumberbatch and Michael Shannon star as Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse in this fascinating and fast-paced telling of the historic race to see whose electrical system would be the one showcased at the 1893 World’s Fair — and then implemented around the world. There’s a little character drama going on in The Current War, particularly with Edison’s family and the quirky nature of …

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