Category Archives: films

Just How Did Dickens Write “A Christmas Carol”?

According to a new film, he did not just sit down at his desk and churn it out. He had the dreaded writers’ block. And he was under great pressure. And he needed to get out of himself and into character.

And then … he needed visitations form his characters.

And he got it all!

In fact, Dickens did write dialogue by acting out the roles of his characters in front of a mirror. We know that from his daughter who watched him do it in his studio.

So perhaps this charming film adaptation is not so far from the truth? Check out the link for more, and for some insights from Dan Stevens, who does the honors playing the great man at work.

Enjoy! and HO! HO! HO! Here is the trailer

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Film: Infinity Wars are Coming! No Really!

The superhero movie genre is not dead yet!. Those who make these films are still ambitiously pushing special effects and fantasy boundaries. And we will see these in Marvel’s next whopper Avengers Series film, Infinity Wars.

Wired offers a preview with the trailer.

I will probably check it out,. At the same time, I wonder whether it is time to move on from this genre. Superheroes are more entertaining when the real world is under control. Then we can open our minds to things other than what to do about reality. But these days, reality is anything but under control. And if we are to get any control back, we need to be more tuned into why our realities are at risk.

So, yes, this is a call for a different type of film hero. A hero who shows us the ability to cope with the type of reality that we face these days. A reality where our distractions and need for thrills lessens our capacity to build a better future for our kids.  Superman, Batman, Captain America, and yes you  too Hulk can’t do that.

Put it this way. We have a president in the White House who cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. Moreover, he thinks of himself as a sort of superhero, when he is in reality just a blow hard. Stuffing media full of even more fantasies about superheroes seems to be more of the problem here, not a solution to that particular problem.

What do you think?

11 Movies for the Weekend!

Thanksgiving and Christmas are great times to catch up on great films from earlier times,, and Wired offers 11 great streaming options.

There are some very fun films on the list. I would go for 2Grumpy Old Men”. Here is why

There will never be another actor like Walter Matthau. Somehow, a gangly hangdog managed to harness the anything-goes weirdness of the ’60s and ’70s to star in rom-coms (Cactus Flower) and neo-noirs (Charley Varrick) alike. By the time he reunited with his Odd Couple counterpart Jack Lemmon for this crusty, crabby goofball, though the only thing Gen-Xers really knew him for was The Bad News Bears—meaning the cool crowd dismissed it like it was a credulous reporter calling Sub Pop. Regardless, I defy you to watch this and not howl for 104 minutes. Walter Matthau is a goddamn treasure. This movie is also one. Get over yourself and enjoy them both. —Peter RubinWhere to stream it: HBO Go

I love Mathau’s candid outtake at the end of the trailer

If I had known there would be a nude scene in this picture, I would have asked for another million.

David Cassidy, Meet November

David Cassidy passed on, which gives me a chance to reflect on what he represented for many people. He was a pop star, and perhaps the only major one during a time when pop played second fiddle to rock. Cassidy was in fact, the most famous pop start of that period, the 1970’s.

What was pop all about? It was light entertainment. Just serious enough to claim innocent sincerity, but not too much. It was positive, invigorating, fun. Vox has more to say about Cassidy and pop, but you get the idea.

This year, we saw the release of a very different sort of artistic expression. A film by the name of November. It is based on a book called Rehepapp by Estonian writer Andrus Kivirähk. I would argue that if anything is the opposite of pop, this is it.

… the filmmakers say, “both mythologies look for a miracle; for an ancient force that gives one a soul. This film is about souls – longing for a soul, selling your soul and living without a soul.”

Innocence is lost. Something else takes the stage. It is more serious and more dangerous. My question — does this tell us something about where we are headed?

Here is the trailer

Films: Gary Oldman as Churchill

Full Disclosure: I have been, for many years, a Churchill fan. I recognize the dude’s weaknesses – especially his overly romantic view of empire – and I admire his strength of character.

We have yet another of those films where a famous actor impersonates a historical figure. Sir Winston Churchill, of course, is one of the most difficult to impersonate. Hardy did a passable job. Now we get Oldman. in a new film “The Darkest Hour”. The film dramatizes Churchill’s most dramatic moments in public life – when he took over as prime minister in the early days of the war, when all seemed lost.

And we get the usual problem. In order to add drama to the story, the movie fudges what really happened.  It is not a huge fudge. Just a made up scene or two or three. But aren’t we a bit weary of made up facts these days?

Ah well. There is an odd parallel dimension to this problem. Churchill himself was not above fudging the facts when needed. For example, that dreadful bungling of the Norwegian escapade. You see, Churchill had a tendancy to micro-manage. And that was not a very endearing quality. It worked for him, however, when he got the top job and could intrude where he pleased.

Here is the trailer

Films: A Wrinkle in Time

Back in 1962, Madeleine L’Engle tried to get her science fiction book entitled “A Wrinkle in Time” published. It was not easy. 26 publishers rejected it. Why?

… too complicated, too adult, and no one reads books with young female leads.

Ooops! Mr. Farrar of Farrar, Straus & Giroux liked the book and went with it. A Wrinkle in Time then went on to become a classic children’s book. BTW, I love the Farrar, Straus & Giroux house. They have done so many great things!

Image result for A Wrinkle in Time Dillon

In the late 1970’s it came out with illustrations by Diane and Leo Dillan

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And FINALLY it is being made int a feature film (there was an earlier TV version). That film will be released next spring, so mark your calendars. All we have now is a trailer — and if the film sustains the level that you find in the trailer, it might be worth watching.

If you live in a state where pot is legal, this film is for you! And BTW, this is the first book of a trilogy.