TIFF19 REVIEW: The Personal History of David Copperfield [2020]

Digs for joy, that boy. Finds it too. David Copperfield (Dev Patel) has a story to tell. It begins with his cute, precocious little self (Jairaj Varsani) making Mom laugh and nanny Mrs. Peggotty (Daisy May Cooper) laugh even harder. He’s a headstrong boy with dreams of joy thanks to the overflowing love shown to him by everyone but his aunt (Tilda Swinton‘s Betsey Trotwood) … for now. Like most widowed women of thirty with an estate in the Victorian Era, however, remarrying is a foregone conclusion for Ms. Copperfield.…

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REVIEW: The Muppet Christmas Carol [1992]

“Heeeeyyy. You’re not Charles Dickens.” Not having seen The Muppet Christmas Carol in over a decade made me forget how effective an adaptation it is of Charles Dickens‘ classic tale. It helps that I’ve seen other iterations in the meantime, especially the one from 1951 starring Alastair Sim which Brian Henson‘s version works hard to closely mimic. There are obvious excisions such as Ebenezer Scrooge’s sister and additions like manufacturing Jacob Marley a brother named Robert so Statler and Waldorf can both get in on the fun, but for the…

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TIFF15 REVIEW: O sinaleiro [The Signalman] [2015]

“The train was on time” Writer/director Daniel Augusto definitely cultivates a dark tone for his short film O Sinaleiro [The Signalman]. Between the quiet isolation of the titular character (played by Fernando Teixeira) and the almost supernatural occurrences surrounding him, you can’t help but conjure ideas of some spectral evil looming at his door. The monotony of his job—logging an on-time train as just that—places him on a path towards psychological upheaval, transforming what we see into nightmarish hallucination as easily as believing it to be reality. Abstract and devoid…

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REVIEW: Scrooged [1988]

“Cupid’s arrow, right between the eyes” While there have been countless iterations of Charles Dickens‘ seminal novel A Christmas Carol—with the 1951 Alastair Sim starrer proving the best and modernized retreads like Ghosts of Girlfriends Past supplying the worst—one sometimes overlooked comedic gem from 1988 has always been this writer’s personal favorite. Titled Scrooged, screenwriters Mitch Glazer and Michael O’Donoghue went meta with the concept of its ubiquity by telling us a tale of a man who is quite literally “scrooged” while producing a legitimate adaptation of the real story…

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REVIEW: Nancy, Please [2013]

“I want you to be on my side” We know we’ve reached the crucial moment of Andrew Semans’ Nancy, Please when a distraught Paul (Will Rogers) finds himself at ex-roommate Nancy’s (Eleonore Hendricks) door in the hope his copy of Charles Dickens’ Little Dorsitt is on the other side. Panicked, paranoid, and needy in an emotionally damaged way, he has begun to believe two years of labor have been rendered moot at the eleventh hour because he forgot the book—who’s annotations are key to writing his graduate thesis—while moving out.…

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TIFF11 REVIEW: Twixt [2012]

“Keeping track of time around here is pointless” After a stellar career directing some of cinema’s greats—The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, The Conversation—you can’t blame Francis Ford Coppola for deciding to film smaller passion projects in his twilight. After the self-financed Tetro and Youth Without Youth, he returns with a story from an unusual origin. With an alcohol-induced dream in Istanbul, a vivid conversation with Edgar Allen Poe while a murder mystery happens as a backdrop, the impetus behind Twixt was born. Awoken before its end, Coppola scribbled down what he…

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FILM MARATHON: Movie Musicals #5: Oliver! [1968]

“Who will buy my sweet red roses?” While I’m reasonably sure I have never seen Carol Reed’s Oscar winning Oliver!, I do recall attending a live performance of it during elementary school. If you asked me two and a half hours ago to give a summation or describe my favorite moments, I would have returned the question with a blank stare of ignorance. I couldn’t even really fake it since my only connection to the source material—I never had to read Dickens in school—is Roman Polanski’s successful adaptation from a…

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REVIEW: A Christmas Carol [2009]

“Know me better man” What to say about a film based on a novel of great importance that doesn’t quite live up? You can’t go wrong with Charles Dickens’ essential A Christmas Carol, especially when it is done accurately. One thing that director Robert Zemeckis cannot be faulted for is his staying faithful to the tale and bringing it to a new generation of the masses. The Alastair Sim version from 1951 will always be, to me, the best adaptation, but the entries that spring boarded in their own directions…

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REVIEW: Scrooge [A Christmas Carol] [1951]

“God bless us, everyone” Being that my only previous knowledge of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol came from a rendition done by the muppets and a Bill Murray comedic vehicle, I was quite looking forward to checking out, what many call, the definitive version from 1951. I have never read the book, however, a friend of mine said he had just finished reading it again before our viewing, and that this movie was as close as can be without alienating the audience with archaic language. While the title at beginning…

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