Moviegoers have a seemingly insatiable appetite for meticulously detailed period drama, which is why we’ve rounded up the beautifully dressed Prized Period Pieces film collection for your viewing pleasure on SBS On Demand. Here’s a sample of what’s in the collection:
A girl with an earring
Colin Firth, the king of costume drama himself, stars as beloved Dutch Golden Age painter Johannes Vermeer in this lush film named after his famous gloriously Baroque work from 1665. Scarlett Johansson joins as as maid, Griet, who poses for the portrait wearing a gold dress, her hair tied back with a blue scarf that accentuates the price of the sparkling oyster she is carrying. Working from a screenplay adapting Tracy Chevalier’s novel, director Peter Webber, who began his career with a short film The zebra manexcels in detail detailing the true nature of their unfolding relationship.
A girl with an earring is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
If Beale St could talk
Barry Jenkins delivered stardust with his intricately drawn queer triptych Moonlight, then traveled back in time from contemporary Florida to recreate the New York neighborhood of Harlem in the 70s for this sequel based on James Baldwin’s heartbreaking novel. Swoonsomely lyrical, thanks to Baldwin’s sultry and sensual use of language, it presents KiKi Layne and Stephan James as lovers torn apart by cruel circumstances, with racist police brutality never far from their doorstep. If you’re a big fan of sleek cardigans, boxy flannel jackets, printed blouses and bright skirts, then Caroline Eselin’s costume design is dreamy.
If Beale St could talk is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
Reign of the Assassins
Everything everywhere all at once star Michelle Yeoh also kicks ass in this slice and dice of martial arts mayhem from co-directors Su Chao-Pin and Front/Off Master John Woo. Set in Ming dynasty China, it actually shares a bit in common with the movie Nic Cage vs John Travolta in that Yeoh plays Drizzle, an assassin hunted by his ex-colleagues who goes for an extreme facelift at the ‘Ancient. (surreal) insects to hide in plain sight (Kelly Lin plays Drizzle pre-munch). Working the wild wire and swordplay you expect from this type of fight club, costume designer Emi Wada also delivers divine silk robes.
Reign of the Assassins is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
On Chesil Beach
Atonement author Ian McEwan adapted his short story On Chesil Beach for the big screen under Dominic Cooke, who already had form in period dramas, having previously handled Shakespeare’s history plays in miniseries The hollow crown. In a not-so-swing 60s version, brooklyn star Saoirse Ronan (who also appeared in Atonement) plays Florence, a young bride who can’t stand going to bed with her husband Edward (Billy Howle, who played a petty officer in Dunkirk). A rare look at asexuality on the big screen, it also beautifully captures the heyday of British seaside holidays.
On Chesil Beach is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
One thing you’ll never get in a Takashi Miike movie is boredom. The ridiculously prolific Japanese director still delivers a wild ride that’s sure to look lavish even when the blood starts to pump (which he always does, a lot). This chaotic masterpiece rushes us (and many, a lot heads lost) in a fiercely stylish supernatural samurai showdown adapted from Hiroaki Samura’s manga series. Takuya Kimura plays the cursed undead warrior who must kill 1,000 men to breathe again. You may struggle to make out the fabulous details of the mid-Tokugawa shogunate period because of the dismembered bodies heaped together.
Immortal’s Blade is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
An ideal husband
Writer/director Oliver Parker has a thing for Oscar Wilde’s mischievous social commentary, immediately following this delightfully wicked Victorian-era romantic comedy starring The importance of being serious. Both feature the inimitable Rupert Everett, an actor who excels in period dramas and who really should have gotten more of those gigs. Here he plays Lord Goring, a dashingly dressed Wildean playboy bachelor who frustrates his father to no end. A politically charged backstabbing and blackmailing story, it’s an absolute hoot that looks the part and also stars Julianne Moore and our own Cate Blanchett in gorgeous dresses.
An ideal husband is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
India prides itself on delivering epic Romantic period dramas on a grand scale, and Bollywood master Sanjay Leela Bhansali (Devdas) does not disappoint with this jaw-dropping adaptation of the Marathi-language novel by Nagnath S. Inamdar Rau. Located in the court of Maratha Emperor Chhatrapati Shahu (Mahesh Manjrekar) in the early 18th century, it again combines its dish Ram Leela megastar leads Ranveer Singh and Deepika Padukone. He plays a faithless warlord who cheats on his wife (Priyanka Chopra) for the warrior princess of Padukone and soon learns a lesson when he thinks he can get away with the ghost. It’s gloriously OTT, spun much the same as old Hollywood gold, and the epitome of glamour.
Bajirao Mastani is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
Sally Hawkins is no stranger to costume drama, having racked up the likes of Charlotte Brontë Jane Eyre and Charles Dickens great expectationsplus naughty lesbian period pieces Rock the velvet and finger cot. Irish director Aisling Walsh guides her through a skillful interpretation of the isolated life of Canadian painter Maud Lewis in the 1930s. Maudie worked through arthritis in her fingers throughout her life to deliver her brilliant visions of art folk. Ethan Hawke plays against type as true villain Everett Lewis, who took advantage of his poverty to hire her as a housekeeper, and also married her. It’s a harsh, but also incredibly tender portrait of a remarkable woman who, set in the wilderness of Nova Scotia, seems almost timeless.
Maudie is now streaming on SBS On Demand.
For more prized vintage pieces, browse the full collection on SBS On Demand.
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