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FLICKS: The Star & The Man Who Invented Christmas

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave

http://cinemadave.livejournal.com

As I slowly awoke Thanksgiving Day morning, I watched NBC’s broadcast of the Macy’s Day Parade, but grew weary of the Peacock network’s self promotion. Feeling nostalgic, I said, “March of the Wooden Soldiers,” and this Christmas classic appeared on my television screen. I was thrilled. As Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy and Mickey Mouse prepared to overthrow the villainous Barnaby Silas and the Boogey Men, the CW Channel saw fit to interrupt Victor Herbert’s soaring climatic musical score for viewers to stay tuned for five hours of a Friends marathon … nostalgia interruptus …

With a smaller marketing mix than last week’s champion, Coco, The Star is another animated motion picture that opened. This film is a religious movie that is not preachy. It is the story about Mary’s pregnancy and how she was guided by a bright star. The story of Mary’s nine months is seen through the eyes of a donkey named Bo and a mouse who is a witnesses.

The story is simple, but entertaining. Traditional Christmas carols are given modern update without sounding intrusive. Despite having a light touch, The Star has many tender moments about faith, hope, redemption, forgiveness and salvation. Patricia Heaton, Kris Kristofferson and Oprah Winfrey voice a cow, a mule and a camel, respectively; as Herod, Christopher Plummer’s voice is perfectly typecast.

Plummer is also delightfully typecast as Scrooge in The Man Who Invented Christmas. Plummer does not actually portray Ebenezer Scrooge, as the character is a figment of Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens). Based on the book written by Les Standiford, The Man Who Invented Christmas details Dickens’ personal demons and inspirations that inspired his classic work, A Christmas Carol: Being a Ghost Story of Christmas.

The film opens with Dickens on a successful world-wide tour to promote his acclaimed book, The Adventures of Oliver Twist. The film fast forwards three years and Dickens has written three bombs. While outwardly being optimistic, Dickens sees creeping debt with his housing expenditures.

With his back against the wall, Dickens strikes a deal with his publisher to produce a Christmas/ghost story in a mere six weeks. Holing up in his office and play acting each role, Dickens works feverishly on his novella. Unfortunately, family interruptions keep impinging on his craft, especially from his father (Jonathan Pryce), who unwittingly becomes the personification of Ebenezer Scrooge.

The Star, The Man Who Invented Christmas and Coco are three good family movies on the big screen these days. While The Star and Coco may induce the most tears and laughter, The Man Who Invented Christmas is thought-provoking about family, craft and charitable inspiration.

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