Tag Archive | "The Man who Invented Christmas"

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FLICKS: The Star & The Man Who Invented Christmas

Posted on 30 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


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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FLICKS: Coco & The Man who Invented Christmas opens this weekend

Posted on 22 November 2017 by LeslieM

By “Cinema” Dave


Was he a good boy?” David Eller asked my mother while lunching at Duffy’s. Fortunately for me, Mom answered in the affirmative.

This exchange symbolizes my almost two decade professional relationship with my publisher and boss. Like my Grandfather, Dave G. Watson, Mr. Eller held positions of responsibility, yet he made a point of reaching out to his employees and celebrating their accomplishments. David Eller’s southern charm, loyalty to his employees and commitment to community philanthropy will be his legacy for many years. [See story about Mr. Eller on Pg. 1].

Opening this Thanksgiving weekend, Coco is a family friendly movie about memory and mourning. Despite what the mass marketing has revealed about a kid playing a cool looking guitar, this Disney/Pixar animated movie has much heart with an emotional roller coaster ride from tears to laughter.

When the opening credits roll, we learn about a man who runs away from his wife and child to pursue a musical career. For many generations, the family bans music from the household. As the generations pass through time, the great grandson Miguel feels the lure of music and keeps a guitar hidden.

When El Dia de Muertos approaches, Miguel is expected to participate in the annual family rituals. Instead Miguel tries to sneak off and enter a talent contest. The matriarch gets upset and smashes Miguel’s guitar. Angered, Miguel runs away from home and tries to enter the talent contest without his guitar. Told that he needs an instrument, Miguel sneaks into the tomb of the musical legend Ernesto de la Cruz and borrows his unique guitar. This theft causes a shift in the fabric of the universe and Miguel enters the land of the dead.

While this transition to the land of the dead provides the scariest portion of Coco, this film is full of beautiful amber, orange and gold imagery, which enhances this excellent story. The conflicts which drive the character motivation follow a logical progression, though with many surprises and character revelations. The character of Coco has limited screen time, but is the heart and soul of the movie.

Being a Disney/Pixar movie, Coco is filled with many visual details reminiscent of the award-winning Up. As Brave promoted Scottish folklore, Coco celebrates Mexican culture. The song, “Remember Me,” will be heard frequently during the awards season. The holiday cinema season is off to a fine start with the opening of Coco this season.

Based on Les Standiford’s book, The Man who Invented Christmas also opens this weekend. Starring Beauty and the Beast’s Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens, the story details the author’s inspiration to write A Christmas Carol. Christopher Plummer portrays the curmudgeon who inspired Ebenezer Scrooge. The buzz is good for this film and if you cannot get a ticket for Coco, then The Man who Invented Christmas could be a fine substitute. Happy Thanksgiving!

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