The Man Who Invented Christmas (Movie 2017)

the-man-who-invented-christmas-poster4 Kernels

I cannot count how many versions I’ve watched of A Christmas Carol on film.  This movie puts a whole new magical spin to the story penned by Charles Dickens that might make you sniffle at the end.  At the moment it’s 79% rated by the critics on Rotten Tomatoes with 89% audience score.  You can count me in the accolades as this was a delightful film.

Meet the younger Charles Dickens, who has four children and one on the way (apparently he had 10 altogether). He’s just had two flops, isn’t making any money and bills are due, and the most dreadful thing has happened – writer’s block.  (Been there myself.)  The story is basically his attempt to come up with a new piece in a short period of time, which he publishes himself because his publishers aren’t too keen on the story.  (See, even the literary geniuses can get it wrong.)

As Dickens starts to collect names in his little book that he carries around, he jots down Marley. The city and its residents are his inspiration as he begins to build the story after meeting a man who thinks the world would be better off without the poor.  As bits and pieces of the tale come together so do his characters.  As an author, I absolutely adored the scenes.  When he finally creates Scrooge in his mind, none other than Christopher Plummer shows up and becomes his muse of a sidekick and Dicken’s own personal tormentor throughout the creation of A Christmas Carol.

The film has its lighthearted moments, mostly from the oneliners that Scrooge throws at Dickens. In addition, as he develops characters, more of them come alive and continue to haunt his every move – from Marley to the ghosts of past, present, and future.  However, as Dickens delves into the complex character of Scrooge, he finds himself faced with his own demons regarding his childhood and his father who was sent to debtor’s prison.  Apparently, true to Dicken’s life, he did work in a factory as a child of 12 years of age and suffered the life of poverty while his father, mother, and siblings were doing time.

I found the film a delightful and fanciful filled story.  The Victorian London comes alive in the streets, houses, and costumes.  Dan Stevens is an absolute joy to watch as Dickens, putting his best acting in this eccentric writer haunted by the characters he creates. Christopher Plummer is an absolute gem as Scrooge and even more believable than some of the actors who have played the role in the story itself.

What I enjoyed about this movie the best, is that it has taken a well-known story and spun it with a new twist. It allows us to see how perhaps the creative mind of Dickens worked and the inspirational muse that often drives writers to become a bit wonky, isolated, and neurotic.  Even Dickens, as portrayed in this movie, dwells on his inadequacies and fears of not being able to produce another great work.

If you’re suffering from the Scrooge mentality, this movie may get you in the mood for Christmas.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! (Charles Dickens)

A Christmas Prince (Netflix 2017)

a-christmas-prince-2017-poster2 Kernels

The newest in Christmas season movies – A Christmas Prince – not to be confused with A Prince for Christmas, or A Crown for Christmas, or A Princess for Christmas.

The writers have officially run out of unique stories, and they are definitely doing the recycle gig. It reminds me of wrapping a used Christmas present and giving it to someone else.

A Christmas Prince isn’t that bad, but certainly is a rehash of the same old storyline. First, it’s the non-royal who ends up at the palace one way or the other. In this case, it’s the prince about to become king, and the journalist who takes on the guise of being his sister’s tutor to get a good story. It appears the prince isn’t too sure if he wants the crown after the death of his father since he’s next in line to the throne.

Once again, there are the stinky aristocrats who attempt to reveal the worthless nobody in order to either win the prince’s heart or the throne. Of course, we always have to have the scene where the heroine of the story arrives at the Christmas ball, dressed to impress, and gains the loving approval of the prince who has fallen head over heels in love with a commoner.

peles-castle-close-upThe story was filmed in the exact same location as A Princess for Christmas with the young Sam Heughan at Peleş Castle in Romania. There is even a similar scene of archery being shot on the very same terrace. In addition, the town scene is identical as well, which frankly surprises me that they would do a repeat location for the same type of movie. It indicates the continued lack of originality in these Christmas prince and princess films.

It is worth the watch? Sure, if you like male eye candy in the form of Ben Lam who plays the prince about to become king.  (Having noticed on Twitter that he owns a cat, he’s a man after my own heart.)  Other than that, I must admit that I hit the fast-forward button a few times to get through to the end. Why? The Same rehashed storyline, including the king returning to find the love of his life in the states. It’s a Christmas proposal of epic kissing in the snow where the commoner is captured by the handsome king and taken to his make-believe kingdom of Andovia to become his queen.

Okay, ’tis the season for Christmas movies. Next, please.

Outlander Continues…(insert snore)

Oh, dear heaven above!  I thought it was just me.  There are times I am picky, moody, and downright cranky at my age.  However, the last few episodes of Outlander have not held my attention.

After looking inwardly to see if some hormonal imbalance had affected my judgment, I visited the Period Drama Appreciation group on Facebook.  Alas, lass, I’m not alone!  It’s filled with complaints such as slow, dragging, boring story, not my favorite book, the excitement is gone, it’s disappointing, and just plain boring since the reunion at the print shop.

It appears the hot and sexy duo of Claire and Jaimie are bewitched by new writers and Ronald Moore not being involved as much as in the earlier seasons.  Perhaps Jamaica will heat things up a bit because even the latest romp in the ship’s cabin was a quicky.

Okay, I feel justified in my thoughts in spite of thinking I was watching a few stolen scenes from Master and Commander (2003 Movie with Russel Crowe). The lack of wind, the growing discontent of the crew, and the focus upon one person as a scapegoat was a bit too close not to be noticed.  Thought that a bit strange.

Back to Poldark this Sunday, and don’t get me started on evil George Warleggan or that stubborn Ross Poldark!  They both need a good slap.

 

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