There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave cynical audiences annoyed. But for those who leave their bah-humbug attitudes at home, it's a wonderfully entertaining take on a classic. In 1843, when Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol, the holiday was a fairly low-key religious festival. But the book helped create a cultural phenomenon that is still growing. And this enjoyable film recounts how it was written in six short weeks.
At the time, Dickens (Legion's Dan Stevens) was Britain's most famous author. But his last three novels failed to sell. Desperate for a hit due to financial pressures, he decides to write a Christmas book, something that had never really been done. But he's distracted by the fact that his wife Kate (Morfydd Clark) is pregnant and his parents (Jonathan Pryce and Ger Ryan) have dropped in for a noisy visit. As he plans this new book, the central figure of Scrooge (Christopher Plummer) is inspired by someone he meets, as are the rest of the story's characters and settings. But he's struggling to complete the tale, and time is running short.
The film basically proves the resilience of Dickens' iconic novella, because it has remarkable power even when turned inside-out by this script. Director Bharat Nalluri (Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day) gives the film a twinkly, often comical tone but doesn't shy away from the darker corners or some strongly emotional moments. And the script includes quite a bit of biographical detail about Dickens' life without making it too melodramatic. With his book, Dickens wanted to address Britain's harsh labour practices and the greediness of capitalism, urging people to be kinder to each other. So he reinvented Christmas as a time of year to reach out to those less fortunate.
Continue reading: The Man Who Invented Christmas Review
Charles Dickens might be one of the most legendary authors in history, but it wasn't always plain sailing for him. In fact, ahead of the release of his 1843 novella 'A Christmas Carol', his career was already suffering. Dan Stevens plays the author in 'The Man Who Invented Christmas'; a tale all about how he went from failing writer to a festive miracle.
It's the early 1840s and London author Charles Dickens (Dan Stevens) is suffering a bad case of writer's block. His last three books have been total flops, and the pressure to write a magical new story to grip the public has never been so high.
Before long, however, his new tale begins to develop in his head; a Christmas story about a miser named Ebenezer Scrooge (personified by Christopher Plummer) who is challenged by a series of mysterious apparitions. The characters develop beautifully, but before long he starts to hit another roadblock when he can't work out how to finish it.
Continue: The Man Who Invented Christmas Trailer
Season Five of 'Game of Thrones' has wrapped up, but with such a good series overall, we had to take a look at our favourite moments from the season.
With the stunning and shocking season finale for 'Game Of Thrones' Season Five having taking audiences by storm, it's time to take a look back over the season and discuss what we thought were the best moments from one of the best rated seasons of one most critically acclaimed shows of all time. While there were plenty of twists and turns this season (in addition to boat rides), these are our top five:
Kit Harington's Jon Snow seems to have bitten the dust
Cersei's Arrest: Lena Headey has put in a great performance from the start, making the incestuous, alcoholic and power-hungry Cersei Lannister both a compelling and hated character since the show's first episode. That said, seeing her chickens coming home to roost when Jonathan Pryce's High Sparrow took the power she had given him, and threw her in prison for her various crimes.
Continue reading: The Top Five Moments From 'Game Of Thrones' Season Five [Spoilers]
Philip Lewis Friedman is a very successful writer, though not the most likeable of people. He has no shame in bragging and expressing his genius, but his persistent self-involvement starts to put quite a strain on his relationship with girlfriend Ashley. Not only that, but while the people around him are suffocating in his endless egoism, he's also finding the humdrum world of life at home particularly difficult to stomach - even without his romance issues. Soon, though, he is offered some solace when he meets his all-time favourite author Ike Zimmerman who invites him to stay with him at his country retreat and reassess his life, love and career. Will he learn to realise and appreciate the truly important things in his life? And will they even be around anymore once he has?
'Listen Up Philip' is a comedy drama which made its premiere at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. It has been directed and written by Alex Ross Perry ('The Color Wheel', 'Impolex'), and has already landed several awards at a handful of other film festivals such as Locarno International and Philadelphia Film Festival. It is set to be released in cinemas in the UK on June 5th 2015.
Just when you thought no one could come up with a fresh take on the Western, the Danes arrive with this astonishingly earthy and inventive film, shot in South Africa no less. Director Kristian Levring uses all of the usual elements without ever resorting to cliches, which makes the film strikingly involving. Not only are the characters people we can identify with, but their moral dilemmas are strikingly provocative. Especially as the violence escalates.
The story opens in 1871, as Danish immigrant Jon (Mads Mikkelsen) welcomes his wife (Nanna Oland Fabricius) and young son to the American prairie where he has worked for seven years. But on the way home from the station, they are ambushed by outlaws. After a desperate struggle, Jon manages to kill them, but this puts him on the wrong side of the local boss Delarue (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), who enforces cooperation from the town's mayor-undertaker (Jonathan Pryce) and sheriff-priest (Douglas Hensall). So aside from his brother Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), Jon has nowhere to turn. His only hope of justice is to deliver it himself.
Adding an intriguing layer is the fact that Jon and Peter are veterans of Denmark's civil war, just as the locals are survivors of America's. So everyone has war in their blood. The Danish brothers have vowed to turn their backs on violence and build a lawful society, so the flurry of clashes, kidnappings and killings with Delarue's goons (including Eric Cantona) are tinged with regretfulness. And the script never lets the audience off lightly: in the Wild West, no one is safe. Civilisation has only begun to arrive in this isolated place, but the discovery of oil has replaced old world values with pure, unfiltered greed. Yes, there's a lot more going on here than the usual swaggering Western machismo. And the casting has as much to do with that as the script.
Continue reading: The Salvation Review
This fascinating true story is strong enough to hold up against the formulaic Hollywood treatment, boosted by another riveting performance from Helen Mirren. She adds some badly needed prickly humour to the film, which continually resorts to unsophisticated sentimentality as it traces a remarkable series of real events. And it helps that the story has some intriguing things to say about both art and history.
It opens in 1998 Los Angeles, where Maria Altmann (Mirren) has discovered some documents in her late sister's belongings that refer to a beloved portrait of their Aunt Adele (Antje Traue in flashbacks). The problem is that the painting is Gustav Klimt's Woman in Gold, which is regarded as the "Mona Lisa of Austria" and held in pride of place in the national gallery. Since Austria has begun restoring art stolen from its citizens by the Nazis, Maria hires novice family-friend lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), who quickly realises the futility of the case. But they travel to Vienna to begin the process, getting some help navigating the system from local journalist Hubertus (Daniel Bruhl). Sure enough, the Austrian government fights Maria at every step of the way.
The compelling argument in this film is that if Austria acknowledges that this national treasure was stolen, it implicates the government and the population in complicity with the Nazis. And that's something no one is willing to do. There's also of course the issue of greed, since Woman in Gold is worth $100 million. But Maria's simple question is why the painting's value or status matter when its true ownership is so clear. Director Simon Curtis and writer Alexi Kaye Campbell wisely dash through the series of hearings, court cases and appeals, while emphasising this undeniable fact of the case. Although this also simplifies most scenes into little more than "Nazis bad, Jews good". While the flashbacks to Maria's past are moving and informative, Randy's sideplots feel irrelevant and undercooked, featuring his pregnant wife (Katie Holmes) and sardonic boss (Charles Dance).
Continue reading: Woman In Gold Review
When the Nazis took over Vienna prior to the Second World War, they stole countless, priceless artefacts. One of these artefacts was the Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, and an Austrian Holocaust survivor has the perfect claim to it. Maria Altmann (Helen Mirren) hires Randol Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), a lawyer of Austrian decent, to help her become once again acquainted with the famous painting of her aunt. The problem is, that the painting is held in a Vienna art gallery, and the Austrian government are adamant in keeping the national treasure. Altmann, on the other hand, is desperate to get back what is rightfully hers.
Continue: Woman In Gold - Trailer And Clips
In the 1870s, Danish settlers travelled to the US following a brutal war with Germany. One of these people was Jon (Mads Mikkelsen), who travels to America to start a new life with his family. But, having travelled from the frying pan to the fire, Jon's world is ready to be rocked to its very core. When his family is murdered, Jon puts his military training to use, and hunts down and deals out western justice to his families killers. The problem is, one of the men his kills was the brother of a feared outlaw, who proceeds to terrorise a local town as revenge. Jon will be called upon to end the feud he started - but with nothing left, why should he?
Continue: The Salvation Trailer
The waiting is over for Game of Thrones fans: the casting for new characters in season 5 has been announced.
Whilst the series won't return to television screens until next year, casting for the new characters to be introduced in season 5 of the fantasy series has been rumoured for months. However at San Diego Comic-Con, HBO finally announced which nine actors would be joining the ensemble cast for 2015.
Who will be joining Cersei Lannister in Westeros next season?
Sudanese-English actor Alexander Siddig was announced as Doran Martell, ruling lord of Dorne and elder brother to Prince Oberyn Martell, who fans will know came to a grisly end last season. Siddig is best known for his role as Doctor Julian Bashir in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' but has also starred in Syriana alongside George Clooney and action film Kingdom of Heaven.
Continue reading: Meet The Stars Of Game Of Thrones Season 5
By ignoring everything that made 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a hugely entertaining guilty pleasure, the all-new writers and director of this sequel have made one of the most abrasively annoying action movies in recent memory. And even worse, they have indulged in exactly the same over-serious idiocy that the first film was gently lampooning. Instead, this is just a bombastic, incoherent, offensive mess.
Since the US President (Pryce) has been replaced by an evil doppelganger from the villainous Cobra organisation, he now sets about destroying his enemies, the elite G.I. Joe force. Led by Duke (Tatum), they're sent to collect some rogue nukes in Pakistan, and everything goes wrong. Now it's up to three off-the-grid Joes - meatlead leader Roadblock (Johnson), shy muscle-boy Flint (Cotrona) and tough-sexy Jaye (Palicki) - to stop Cobra's nefarious plan, whatever that might be. Their key opponents are Cobra goon Firefly (Stevenson) and ninja Storm Shadow (Lee), who's more complex than he looks. And the Joes have secret allies in Asian pals Jinx (Yung) and Snake Eyes (Park), as well as the original Joe himself (Willis).
The main problem here is that producer di Bonaventura forgot that it takes a lot of skill to make a stupid movie that's actually entertaining. Instead, this film is predictable and inane, with action scenes that stretch the limits even of stupid-movie plausibility (such as a ludicrous Spidey-style aerial battle in the Himalayas). And the fist-fights are impossible to see because they are confusingly directed, jarringly edited and then converted into unnecessary 3D. When everything explodes in every single chase scene, it becomes a bit boring really. And while there are gadgets everywhere, none of them are very cool.
Continue reading: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review
There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...
Charles Dickens might be one of the most legendary authors in history, but it wasn't...
Philip Lewis Friedman is a very successful writer, though not the most likeable of people....
This fascinating true story is strong enough to hold up against the formulaic Hollywood treatment,...
When the Nazis took over Vienna prior to the Second World War, they stole countless,...
In the 1870s, Danish settlers travelled to the US following a brutal war with Germany....
By ignoring everything that made 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a hugely entertaining...
There's probably a fascinating, complex story behind the invention of the vibrator in 19th century...
After the events of the first film, which saw them take on an organisation called...