Tag Archives: Dan Stevens

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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Filed under Books, History, Life, Movie Review, Movies, Writing

Beauty and The Beast Movie Review

For a generation, the 1991 animated adaptation of Beauty and the Beast has defined how modern audiences view fairy tales.

This past weekend, the live action Beauty And The Beast hit theaters. Based off of the original story written by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve Belle (Emma Watson) is a young lady living in a small rural town in 18th century France. The odd girl out in her town, she dreams of seeing the world and escaping the attention of Gaston (Luke Evans). Gaston cannot understand why Belle won’t marry him and doggedly pursues her.

When Maurice (Kevin Kline), Belle’s father does not return home from a short trip, she goes searching for him and finds him locked away in dark and scary looking castle. The master of the castle, simply known as Beast (Dan Stevens) is a cursed prince in beastly form. The curse is simple: if he cannot forgo his selfish ways, love another and be loved by them in return, he will forever be a beast. Belle makes a deal with the Beast: she will take her father’s place. The Beast’s servants (who have been cursed into household objects) are overjoyed that Belle has walked into their lives and there is a chance that they all will return to their former human selves. But Belle and the Beast don’t exactly get off on the right foot and it seems like the curse is here to stay.

How do I love this movie? Let me the count the ways: it is brilliant, funny, romantic, human and it reminds me why we all fell in love with the original film 26 years ago. Building upon the affection that we as the audience have for the 1991 film, this film is the definitive Beauty And The Beast for this generation. If I had to choose one quality that made this the best film of 2017 (so far), I would say that the writers smartly filled in the minor gaps in character and narrative that left a few questions open from the 1991 film.

I absolutely recommend it.

Before I end this review, I have to bring up the gay rumors. The moments that are getting some up in arms are so quick that it’s really nothing with nothing. I could go on, but I will let Randy Rainbow speak further about this topic.

Beauty And The Beast is presently in theaters.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Books, Fairy Tales, History, Movie Review, Movies

Beauty And The Beast Trailer

The trailer for Beauty And The Beast is out and well, the internet is buzzing.

I’ve read and heard that the narrative and the characters have been expanded from the animated film. The Beast’s back story will be given more screen time and Belle, on top of the bookworm we all know and love, is also an inventor.

I can only hope that this film is not only as good as it promises to be, but also lives up to reputation of its predecessor.

Only time will tell, but hopefully the reviews and box office receipts in March will be glowing.

Happy Tuesday.

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Something There Between Dan Stevens And Emma Watson?

In movie news that makes me incredibly happy, a new live action Beauty And The Beast will soon be in the process of being filmed.

In the title roles will be Emma Watson (Harry Potter) and Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey). Playing Belle’s unwanted and obnoxious suitor , Gaston, is Luke Evans (Dracula Untold).

This movie is only in pre-production, but I am so excited about this movie.

In other Beauty And The Beast news, a French language Beauty And The Beast was released last year. As far as I know, it has yet to be released in the states either in theaters or on DVD.

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Filed under Beauty And The Beast, Downton Abbey, Movies

Sense And Sensibility 1995 Vs Sense And Sensibility 2008

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published novel. Writing under the pseudonym of “a lady”, Sense and Sensibility is the story of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood. When their father passes away, their elder brother inherits the family estate, Norland Park. Knowing that Norland Park is no longer their home, Elinor and Marianne, with their mother and younger sister Margaret are forced to find a new home and make a new life elsewhere.

As I did with the other novels, I’m going to compare and contrast the most recent adaptations.

1995

Cast: Elinor (Emma Thompson), Marianne (Kate Winslet), Colonel Brandon (Alan Rickman), Edward Ferrars (Hugh Grant) and John Willoughby (Greg Wise) .

  • Pro’s: Directed by Ang Lee, with a screenplay by Emma Thompson, the 1995 movie retains Austen’s voice as a writer.  It is a charming movie, for both the general movie fan and the ardent Janeite. Greg Wise looks awful good in breeches.
  • Cons: Let’s face it, as good as an actress and a screenwriter Emma Thompson is, she was far from 19 when this movie was made.  Elinor is still a teenager, regardless of the actress stepping into her shoes.

2008

Cast: Elinor (Hattie Morahan), Marianne (Charity Wakefield), Colonel Brandon (David Morrisey), Edward Ferrars (Dan Stevens)  and John Willoughby (Dominic Cooper).

  • Pro’s: With a screenplay written by Andrew Davies and the younger characters played by a whose who of  young British actors, this adaptation has a lot going for it. Davies fleshes out secondary story lines that that makes the primary story line vibrant and alive.  I also like is that the cast is age appropriate.
  • Con’s: None.

And the winner is….. I can’t decide.

 

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

My Favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

Adapting a book into a performable format is complicated. It has to be true to the original novel and please the fans while appealing to the entire audience, not just the hard core fan base.

I am a Janeite. As one might be able to guess my personal library and DVD collection contains a fair amount of Jane Austen related materials.

I would to share my top three favorite Jane Austen adaptations and why these three films should be viewed as templates for any writer or filmmaker looking to adapt a book.

My criteria is the following:

1. The actors have to look the part. The chemistry has to be there. Otherwise it all falls apart. (Yes, I am looking at you, 1996 Jane Eyre. William Hurt was too old for the part of Edward Rochester and had zero chemistry with Charlotte Gainsbourg).

2. The set has to look right. Every reader has their own idea of what the setting looks like, but it has to like right.

3.  It MUST follow the book as much as possible.

That being said, here my favorite Jane Austen Adaptations

3. 1995 Sense and Sensibility

Directed by Ang Lee and written by Emma Thompson  (who also played the lead role of Elinor Dashwood), this adaptation is beautiful.

Joining Emma Thompson is Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood, Hugh Grant as Edward Ferrars and Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon.

Putting aside the fact that Emma Thompson was a generation older than her character and played Elinor as if she was in her late 20’s, I have no complaints about this adaptation. I’ve read that some people didn’t think that Hugh Grant was the right actor to play Edward, but Edward Ferrars is a bit of a controversial character within Jane Austen fiction. I personally think that Dan Stevens was a better Edward, but to each their own.

2. 1995 Persuasion 

Persuasion is the last of Austen’s completed novels. It has an Autumnal feeling, sad and sweet. As if she knew deep down that this would be her last completed work.

Amanda Root and Ciaran Hinds play the two leads, Anne Elliot and Captain Frederick Wentworth. The chemistry between them is palpable.  They are both age appropriate and look like they have experienced a bit of life.

It’s lush, it’s beautiful and as with the novel, when you think that second chances don’t happen, they do happen. So does the happiness that you thought was lost forever.

1. 1995 Pride And Prejudice

You knew this was obvious. This is the one where Colin Firth in clingy pants strips down to his knickers and white shirt and dives into the lake.

Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle have some of the best on screen chemistry that I have ever seen. While I am sure they both would like the audience to look at their entire body of work and  not just this particular performance, there is no denying that whatever it is that make actors look good together on screen, they have it.

The supporting cast works. The filmmakers crossed their t’s and dotted their eyes with this production.  I still get shivers when I hear the theme song.

I recommend any of these films for any viewer or Janeite, whether they be a newbie or old fan.

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Filed under Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Vamps Review

Vamps is the story of two female vampires in present day NYC.

The cast is led by Alicia Silverstone, Krysten Ritter and Dan Stevens. The movie was written and directed by Amy Heckerling.

I wanted to see this movie based on the strength of this cast and the fact that Amy Heckerling wrote and directed Clueless, one of my favorite movies of all time.

I am sorry to say that this movie is beneath both the writer/director and her actors.

The premise of the movie is not well thought out. When I keep asking myself when the movie will end, I know its not good.

If you want to see this movie, dont waste your money buying the DVD. Dont even use redbox. Just go to your local library.

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The Heiress- Well Worth It

Tonight I had the pleasure of seeing the latest Broadway revival of The Heiress, a theatrical reboot of the Henry James novel, Washington Square.

The story revovles around Catherine Sloper (Jessica Chastain), her father, Dr. Austin Sloper (David Straitharn) and Morris Townsend (Dan Stevens), the man who Catherine wishes to marry against her father’s wishes.

Dr. Sloper lost his wife decades ago, but still blames Catherine for his wife’s death and constantly puts her down. He believes that Morris only loves his daughter for her fortune and openly dissaproves of their marriage.

The casting of the main three characters was impeccable. Jessica Chastain plays Catherine as an intelligent young woman, stifled by her emotionally distant and demanding father. David Straitharn as Dr. Sloper is a man who loves his daughter the best way he can.  Dan Stevens plays Morris Townsend as a man who is intelligent and charming, but may have ulterior motives.

The play was riveting, I was unsure until the end if Catherine would stay with Morris or send him packing.

See it while you can.

 

 

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Filed under Broadway Play Review, Reviews