Tag Archives: Charles Dickens

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

A Christmas Carol is the progenitor of every Christmas story has been published since 1843.  The Charles Dickens novel has not only become synonymous with the holiday, but also with the idea of being kind to our fellow mortals.

The new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, stars Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens. With the recent success of Oliver Twist,  Dickens is under pressure to write his next novel. But with the creative well running dry and his bank account running equally as dry, he has to do something. Soon the idea for his next novel will start flowing, but so will the tension with his wife, Kate  (Morfydd Clark) and his father, John (Jonathan Price). He must also contend with the characters that are talking to him, including the man who will soon be known to the world as Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) and face his own past.

 

As a writer, it is always fascinating to see how other writers go on their creative journey to create their work. As an audience member, for me at least, it is fascinating to watch how a screenwriter can expand not just upon the myth, but on the everyday human struggles of their characters, especially ones that are as well known as Charles Dickens.

I recommend it.

The Man Who Invented Christmas is presently in theaters. 

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Fingersmith Book Review

The best stories, regardless of the genre and era that they are set in, always have a twist or two. If the writer has done their job, then the audience or reader may need a moment or two to take in the out of left field plot twist.

In 2002 book, Fingersmith, by Sarah Waters, Sue Trinder is a product of London’s slums during the Victorian era. Raised by a woman named Mrs. Sucksby, Sue is used to the sight of less than genteel folk roaming about. Enter a man whom she only knows as “Gentleman”. He has a proposal for her. Maud Lilly is the wealthy niece of a country landowner who has been raised far from the dirty and crowded streets of London that Sue calls home. Sue is to present herself as Maud’s new lady’s maid. A short time after Sue starts working, Gentlemen will visit Maud and her uncle and convince Maud to run away with him. Once Sue and Gentleman have Maud’s fortune, they will throw Maud into the madhouse.

Sue starts out with the best of intentions, to use the money to repay back the only family she has ever known. Then things get complicated when Sue begins to feel for Maud as more than just the victim…..

This is not the ordinary Victorian novel. At first read, it sounds more like a Charles Dickens novel than a novel by a modern writer set in Victorian England. But in that, lies the beauty of the story. On the surface, Maud and Sue seems like clear-cut and predictable characters. But as the reader goes deeper, they will discover that Maud and Sue are far from what they initially seem to be. While it was a little long in certain sections, I can safely say that the ending is worth the wait.

I recommend it.

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Late Flashback Friday- Christmas Edition Part II: A Diva’s Christmas Carol (2000)

Among Christmas stories, there are few that are on par with Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. There is a reason why the story of an old miser who learns the true meaning of the season has resonated with audiences since 1843.

It’s easy to see why the story has been adapted many times over since then.

In 2000, A Diva’s Christmas Carol hit the small screen. Ebony Scrooge (Vanessa Williams) is a diva with a capitol D. While her career has been soaring, she treats her band and her manager like sh*t. Just before a performance in New York, Ebony is visited by the spirit of her late band member Marli Jacob (Chilli of TLC fame). Marli warns of the impending visit of three spirits. If Ebony does not heed the warning of the spirits, the consequences could be dire.

This version of A Christmas Carol is cute. There is nothing really intellectually stimulating about this tv movie, but it’s not completely horrible either.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday-Christmas Edition- Jingle All The Way (1996) & Scrooged (1988)

It’s that time of year again: Christmas. When Christmas comes, the Christmas movies follow. Some are good, some are bad and some well, let’s not venture into the arena of those Christmas movies that are not worth our time.

That being said, this post will examine two different Christmas movies to see if they live up to the standards of the holiday.

In Jingle All The Way (1996), the hottest and must have toy is Turbo Man. Every kid has to have a Turbo Man waiting for them under the tree. The problem is, like every toy that becomes the must have toy for the season, the supply does not equal the demand. Jamie Langston (Jake Lloyd) is one of those kids who is aching for a Turbo Man of his own. His father, Howard Langston, a workaholic who spends more time at the office than with his family, (Arnold Schwarzengger) is doing everything he can to get his son a Turbo Man. With Christmas fast approaching, Howard has to compete with the other parents to find his son the toy he is wishing for. That includes fighting for the last toy in town with Myron Larabee (Sinbad), who is also looking for the same toy.

What I like about this movie is that it is art imitating life. Every year, there is the hottest and must have toy that must be waiting for the children on Christmas day. The problem, that the movie perfectly represents, is that Christmas, instead of being about family, tradition and togetherness, has become a materialistic holiday. The crux of the movie, from my perspective is the importance of family and making memories will last much longer than the hot toy of the season.

Scrooged (1988), is an updated reboot of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. Frank Cross (Bill Murray) is a television executive whose station will be broadcasting a live adaptation of A Christmas Carol. With a less than ideal childhood, it’s easy to understand why Frank is unable to enjoy Christmas. Then he is visited by three ghosts who remind him of why Christmas is important.

What I like about this movie is that it is funky late 1980’s version of the book many of us know so well. Bill Murray was perfectly cast as a cynical, slightly bitter man who needs a reminder of not only the love that others can provide, but a reminder that how we treat others comes back to us.

I recommend both.

To all who celebrate, Have A Merry Christmas.

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Flashback Friday-Great Expectations (2011)

Great Expectations is one of those books. If we did not read it at some point during our school days, we read it as adults. It’s no wonder that the book has been adapted for the screen many times over.

In 2011, Great Expectations was made into a TV movie starring Douglas Booth as Pip, the poor boy whose life is forever changed by a mysterious benefactor, Vanessa Kirby as Estella, the girl Pip has loved since boyhood and Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham, Estella’s eccentric adopted mother.

As an adaptation, it’s not that bad. What I liked about this adaptation is that, like all good stories, there are certain narratives and experiences that are timeless. The book and this adaptation also reflect the changing world that the industrial revolution created.

I recommend it.

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Vaccination

Earlier this week, a measles outbreak was occurring in California.

Such diseases used to be a thing of the past or the subject of a Charles Dickens novel. It was not uncommon in previous centuries for parents to watch one or more children die from diseases such as measles.

Since the 1950’s vaccinations has become the norm. But some parents do not vaccinate their children for a variety of reasons.

Before I go any further, I need to state that I do not have any children.  But I believe that unless there is a specific reason that a child should not be vaccinated, there no reason that a child should not be vaccinated. If not for the sake of the individual child or their immediate family, but for the sake of the surrounding community. Please vaccinate your child, you could be saving more than their life.

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Daniel Deronda (Book and Movie Review)

Daniel Deronda is George Eliot‘s (born Mary Ann Evans) final novel.  Published in 1876, it blends two different stories with one central character.

Gwendolen Haroleth is down on her luck. Gambling the last of her money away at casino in Germany, she meets Daniel Deronda, a young man who saves Gwendolen by returning to her a necklace she had gambled away the night before.  There the story breaks off into two different stories: Daniel’s and Gwendolen’s.

Gwendolen’s mother has recently become a widow for the second time. She takes her children and moves in with her brother. Knowing that she has to marry and marry well, Gwendolen meets Henleigh Grandcourt, an older man with a mistress, several illegitimate children and a less than warm personality. He proposes marriage to Gwendolen and she accepts him, despite knowing that her marriage will disinherit his children and break previously made promises to his mistress.

Daniel has been raised by Sir Hugo Mallinger, a man he believes to  be his father. But his heritage and his true parents are a mystery. As he is boating on the Thames, he prevents Mirah Lapidoth, a young Jewish singer from killing herself. Mirah is looking for her family. Daniel through meeting Mirah, begins to connect to London’s Jewish community and answer some questions about his unknown past.

In 2002, Daniel Deronda was made into a miniseries with Romola Garai as Gwendolen, Hugh Bonneville as Grandcourt, Hugh Dancy as Daniel and Jodhi May as Mirah.

I enjoy the book and the movie. In a literary era when the only Jewish character is Fagin from Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Mirah and her brother Mordechai are drawn as fully formed human beings, with good and bad qualities.  The movie has an excellent cast with as much taken from the book as any adaptation from novel to the screen can be taken.

I recommend both.

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