biopics - which ones are good?

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john ford's young mr lincoln, without a doubt.

any others?

J.D. (Justyn Dillingham), Tuesday, 12 April 2005 06:44 (nineteen years ago) link

Well, define your terms. I think of biopic as being a 'birth-to-death' thing in the Dickie Attenborough style, and these are almost never better than mediocre.

Young Mr Lincoln is a fine film, but it 1) basically covers one of Abe's cases and 2) is 99% fiction. I don't think of it as a biopic anymore than My Darling Clementine is one of Wyatt Earp.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 12 April 2005 12:36 (nineteen years ago) link

Lawrence of Arabia

Jimmy Mod Knows You Eat Your Own Farts (ModJ), Tuesday, 12 April 2005 19:48 (nineteen years ago) link

I liked Coalminer's Daughter!

Remy (x Jeremy), Tuesday, 12 April 2005 20:54 (nineteen years ago) link

morbius that's a pretty restrictive definition of a bio-pic dont you think?

ryan (ryan), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 00:04 (nineteen years ago) link

I'm ignoring that part, Ryan.

Remy (x Jeremy), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 00:40 (nineteen years ago) link

Before Night Falls was a bio-pic, yes?

Mil (Mil), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 04:04 (nineteen years ago) link

Mommie Dearest because it's phagocytotic. It eats its own source. It is Joan Crawford's life as filtered through a Joan Crawford movie.

Eric von H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 06:59 (nineteen years ago) link

No, I don't think it's restrictive. Otherwise any purported based-on-fact story covering a few months or years in an actual person's life (Erin Brockovich, Silkwood, Shakespeare friggin' in Love) qualifies. So I'd say Abe Lincoln in Illinois is a biopic, Young Mr Lincoln is a mythologic miniature.

Andrei Rublev (See, this is where I have problems with the word. Too imaginative to be called a biopic. ditto on Bonnie & Clyde)
The Mystery of Kaspar Hauser

Not necessarily on the "good" list:

Those endless Hollywood bios of scientists/lit figures in the '30s (usu starring Paul Muni or someone who could be mistaken for him) or of pop songwriters/vaudevillians in the '40s and '50s (for which Yankee Doodle Dandy is the template -- and again, usu wholly fictional, ie Cary Grant as a hetero Cole Porter)

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 13:38 (nineteen years ago) link

Not necessarily on the "good" list: Those endless Hollywood bios of scientists/lit figures in the '30s
I tend to agree, although I enjoyed the one about Mark Twain with Fredric March. I don't know how accurate it is, but FM's performance is very good.

Ken L (Ken L), Wednesday, 13 April 2005 13:55 (nineteen years ago) link

I enjoyed "Tucker: A Man and His Dream". I'm looking forward to seeing Haynes' new Dylan biopic.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Thursday, 14 April 2005 02:19 (nineteen years ago) link

Pollock, Sid and Nancy, Thirty Two Short Films about Glenn Gould (but overrated), Malcolm X (in spite of Spike Lee), My Left Foot, The Jolson Story, Life of Emile Zola (weird as sin).

Remy (x Jeremy), Friday, 15 April 2005 06:56 (nineteen years ago) link

Malcolm X (in spite of Spike Lee)

Malcolm X (in spite of Malcolm X)

Ok, not really, but I think it would be amusing to ponder biopics that are sabotaged by their own source.

Eric von H. (Eric H.), Friday, 15 April 2005 08:25 (nineteen years ago) link

I was pretty disappointed by Pollock.

jay blanchard (jay blanchard), Friday, 15 April 2005 11:52 (nineteen years ago) link

Well, the Great Artist biopic is a whole other subdivision, which inevitably contains an "AHA!" moment where the hero discovers his style. Vincente Minnelli's Lust for Life looks great but has typical tin-eared dialogue.

Malcolm X fits in pretty well with the school of Attenboroughesque high-school filmstrips (save for Spike's usual camera jazz flourishes).

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Friday, 15 April 2005 13:31 (nineteen years ago) link

I recently watched Ghandi and really enjoyed it.

Caenis (Caenis), Friday, 15 April 2005 20:43 (nineteen years ago) link

>Well, the Great Artist biopic is a whole other subdivision, which
>inevitably contains an "AHA!" moment where the hero discovers his

there's an edvard munch biopic that played here some months ago--produced for norwegian television in the 70's or 80's i think?--and it was actually quite good. lots of repetition of images to formally conjure the claustrophobic feel of munch's canvases, and period oslo (er, christiania) was evoked in the same kind of muted colors. overlong, maybe.

a spectator bird (a spectator bird), Friday, 15 April 2005 20:48 (nineteen years ago) link

What about the two Korda biopics starring Charles Laughton- The Private Life of Henry VIII and Rembrandt?

Ken L (Ken L), Saturday, 16 April 2005 00:04 (nineteen years ago) link

Vincent & Theo

Jay Vee (Manon_70), Saturday, 16 April 2005 00:37 (nineteen years ago) link

Malcolm X was a distorted version of an already distorted autobiography (read Bruce Perry's biography for a breakdown), but at least Malcolm's book was a good story and a bit more honest and self-effacing. The movie's scenes before, and of, the assasination are great, and the rest just feels fraudulent.

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 19 April 2005 00:11 (nineteen years ago) link

Definitions are tricky. Does Schindler's List count? Sometimes, a film seems to be more about what passed through the life than the life itself.

I'd second Coalminer's Daughter and Vincent & Theo and add:

The Pianist
The Straight Story
Raging Bull
The Night of the Shooting Stars
A World Apart
Purple Rain
The Right Stuff
Shattered Glass
In the Name of the Father
Ed Wood
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

(just going off the last three decades)

Pete Scholtes, Tuesday, 19 April 2005 00:36 (nineteen years ago) link

>The Straight Story

See, I think the subject has to be famous *already*... and too short a period. That's just Based On A True Story.

>Purple Rain

No, fictionalized self-mythology is disqualified.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 19 April 2005 18:01 (nineteen years ago) link

so no all that jazz, then?

joseph (joseph), Wednesday, 20 April 2005 01:47 (nineteen years ago) link

Confessions of a Dangerous Mind

Wait a minute. You're telling me that Malcolm X feels fraudulent?!

Eric von H. (Eric H.), Wednesday, 20 April 2005 02:14 (nineteen years ago) link

Nope, ATJ and COADM aren't remotely biopix, c'mon. Anymore than Clint as Huston in that hugely underappreciated African Queen riff.

Dr Morbius (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 20 April 2005 12:17 (nineteen years ago) link

eight years pass...

Bette Midler, pushing 70, to play Mae West in her 30s and 40s under the direction of William Friedkin:

The age doesn't bother me as much as that it's fucking Bette Midler.

eclectic husbandry (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 10 December 2013 20:31 (ten years ago) link

Oh this will be good.

Alfre, Lord Woodard (Eric H.), Wednesday, 11 December 2013 00:05 (ten years ago) link

one year passes...

this is a p good, relevant column

These sorts of movies are popular for the same reason that fat tomes of historical fiction by the likes of James Clavell, James A. Michener, and Leon Uris used to be the only fiction that you’d find in houses otherwise devoid of books: there is a significant segment of the American public that thinks this business of making characters and stories up out of thin air is a little suspicious and possibly effeminate. Backers gravitate towards True Story film properties because, like superhero movies, franchise reboots, and genre work, they utilize recognizable icons and known quantities—though, unlike all of those examples, true-life stories of famous people triumphing over honest-to-God hardships are widely and erroneously considered to belong to a higher category of morally improving works...

touch of a love-starved cobra (Dr Morbius), Friday, 9 January 2015 15:27 (nine years ago) link

Yeah, like I think I said on the other thread, biopics let their subjects' obvious prominence do all the heavy lifting.

Eric H., Friday, 9 January 2015 15:36 (nine years ago) link

Heavy, masculine, non-effeminate lifting.

Eric H., Friday, 9 January 2015 15:36 (nine years ago) link

Hawking biopic excepted, obvs.

Eric H., Friday, 9 January 2015 15:36 (nine years ago) link

one year passes...

Chadwick Boseman cast as Thurgood Marshall, en route to playing Every Famous Black Man Ever

we can be heroes just for about 3.6 seconds (Dr Morbius), Monday, 18 January 2016 11:17 (eight years ago) link

two years pass...
six months pass...

Nico 1988 - possibly the best film that is also a rock biopic that I've seen. Recommend highly.

everything, Monday, 27 August 2018 22:52 (five years ago) link

six months pass...
five months pass...

I guess it's only fair after Ray Kroc that the Flamin' Hot Cheetos guy get one

Eva Longoria To Direct Cheetos Movie ‘Flamin’ Hot’ For Fox Searchlight & Franklin Entertainment

— Deadline Hollywood (@DEADLINE) August 27, 2019

(I have never heard of Flamin' Hot Cheetos before today)

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Tuesday, 27 August 2019 16:40 (four years ago) link

two years pass...
eight months pass...

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