The Man Who Invented Christmas (PG)

Starring Dan Stevens (Beauty and the Beast) and Christopher Plummer (If you have not seen Remember (2015), I seriously recommend you do so.), and inspired by the work of Charles Dickens, The Man Who Invented Christmas tells the story of how Dickens challenged himself to write and put the much beloved classic, A Christmas Carol, into print just six weeks before Christmas. Dickens’s story, published just days before Christmas in 1843, popularized the Christmas holiday in Europe.

There are (at least) five versions of A Christmas Carol from 1938, 1951, 1984, 1999 and 2009, along with A Muppets Christmas Carol, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, the animated Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (one of my personal favorites), and many, many other variations of the story. I would only be guessing, but I would be willing to bet that A Christmas Carol is one of the most often told and/or reinterpreted stories of all time. (Apologies. I don’t have time to google that right now.)

The Man Who Invented Christmas is a welcome addition to this group of films, as it focuses on Dickens as he conceptualizes A Christmas Carol, and turns the events surrounding the inspiration for the characters into its very own Christmas tale. This movie pays great homage to the original by drawing parallels between the life of Dickens and, perhaps his most infamous character, Ebenezer Scrooge. This is a must see for anyone who has read the book, or enjoys any of the older movies.

Brilliantly written by Les Standiford (book) and Susan Coyne (her first movie screenplay), we learn a lot about Dickens’s life and morality, his family and his writing process. His writing process actually becomes a main character. Anyone who has every suffered from writers block will enjoy the ways Dickens finds inspiration in everyday life, names and develops characters, awakens from sleep in the middle of the night with ideas running through his head that must be written out immediately, works out the direction of the story, etc. The story is mostly light-hearted, mostly energetically told and quite humorous at times. The writers found the perfect balance between a Dickens biopic and the fairy tale qualities of A Christmas Carol, as the characters and story come to life in his head and he becomes consumed by it all.

The acting is solid. Christopher Plummer has a lot of Scrooges to compete with, and he doesn’t disappoint. He is the penny pinching, mean old man we love to hate, until he changes his heart, and then we don’t hate him any longer. Dan Stevens as Dickens gives a stellar, endearing performance of a man who is under unbelievable pressure to produce a masterpiece on a deadline. You will feel his inspirational moments and root for him to succeed even though you already know what happened.

The score, set design, cinematography, costumes, hair and makeup, all come together to complete the execution of a beautifully told story.  I found myself smiling for at least 25 minutes of the last half hour as I was transported back to my childhood watching Reginald Owen (1938 version) and Alastair Sim (1951 version) as Scrooge. To see these characters brought to life felt magical, which is a rare cinematic experience these days.

The Man Who Invented Christmas earned 9 out of 10 bloops. It isn’t easy to take such an old, often told story and make it fresh but this team really pulled it off in excellent fashion. It joins the ranks of great holiday classics and I will absolutely watch it again.  It is a charming family movie to kick off the holiday season properly. If you belong to that family that likes to go to movies on Thanksgiving or if you get a chance over the weekend, go see it and enjoy.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review!

 Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

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 What I’m seeing next…

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wonder
Roman J. Israel, Esq.

Previous Reviews

Victoria and Abdul
Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

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Victoria and Abdul

Starring Judy Dench and Ali Fazal, Victoria and Abdul is based on the true story of the unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria and Abdul Karim. Abdul was a clerk working at a jail in India who was fatefully summoned to sail from India to England to present Her Majesty with a gift from his native land, simply because he was the tallest guy around. Karim was to present the gift, leave the palace and return to India almost immediately, but became Victoria’s teacher and royal advisor, living on the palace grounds as Victoria’s curious companion. Around Abdul, Victoria could relax, be herself and suspend all protocol.

This story is beautiful. It is more of what we need at this historically tumultuous turning point in time. (Just read the comments under almost any post on Facebook and you will see we have a huge problem with ethnicity/classism/racism and a whole lot more in this country, if you don’t believe me.) Two people separated by caste with gender/social/economic/cultural/geographic and religious differences managed to befriend one another. Despite their many differences, they connected, reached out to one another, talked to and listened to each other, and more importantly, they respected and learned from one another. Rather than focus on their differences, as the Queen’s advisors and relatives would have had her do, and as royal protocol dictated, these two focused on the things they had in common to build a unique, rich and mutually meaningful friendship.

In 2017 all we seem to do is talk “at” each other via social media, and I for one find it tiring. The level of immaturity in our communications astounds me daily.  Silly, childish, sometimes mean-spirited name calling and rehearsed, regurgitated b.s. has replaced independent thought, listening and debate. People seem hell-bent and happy to stick to their beliefs – no matter how antiquated, logical or illogical those beliefs may be. Basic communication, talking and listening to one another, seem to be becoming a dying art.  Isn’t it ironic, that something that we were originally so excited about, with the thought that it would help bring people closer together, is the very tool being used to divide and drive us apart in so many ways? (Leave it to humans to muck up something great and twist it into something ugly… We should have known better.) Victoria and Abdul reminds us of what we could accomplish if we would express ourselves respectfully and thoughtfully listen to one another.  Thinking about the contrast between what we call communication today and the way these two people communicated makes Victoria and Abdul a bitter-sweet movie.

Judy Dench’s career spans nearly sixty years.  This woman hasn’t been around this long for no reason.  She is effortless with her acting – always. And if Judy Dench portrays herself as the Queen, then Judy Dench is the Queen. Period. Ali Fazal is bound to go on and do great things. He’s easy on the eyes and talented. The chemistry between Dench and Fazal seems genuine and this chemistry is what draws you into the story. The supporting cast does a great job.  Some are endearing and others you will despise, but everyone hits their intended mark.

Unfortunately, the bigotry which exists today is rooted in bigotry of the past and all records of this exceptional relationship between Victoria and Abdul were deliberately destroyed almost immediately following Victoria’s death.  Fortunately, Abdul wrote letters which were discovered years later, documenting the relationship, and the story was brought back to life.

Victoria and Abdul earned 8.5 out of 10 bloops. It is a great, mostly feel good movie that is worth seeing for its historical content, acting – oh and I nearly failed to mention, it is also beautifully shot and features brilliant costume design. It is smartly written, well directed, timely, and reminds us all of a great lesson. The truly sad part about this movie is that such a “lesson” stills seems necessary to remind people how we should treat one another.  When will we ever learn?

Go see it. And if you can’t catch it on the big screen (it’s still playing at the AMC Loews 19th Street theater in NYC) make sure to stream it when it becomes available.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review!

 Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing next…

*Honestly, this year, I have to tell you, I haven’t seen much that I’m super excited about outside of these franchise super hero movies. That’s crazy to me, because a couple of years ago you couldn’t drag me into one of those comic book things! I want to see art, originality, and creativity in acting and storytelling! But I have learned a super hero movie is a nice distraction from reality. I’m working on reviews for some movies that have been out for a few weeks because I got a little bit lazy with my writing and because I haven’t seen anything that I’m passionate about and we are near mid-November here! Where are the Oscar contenders? I do not know. I’m waiting…  By this time last year I was gushing about Queen of Katwe, Hell or High Water, Sully, Miss Sharon Jones, Arrival, Loving, Moonlight, Moonlight and Moonlight! So … I don’t get it. At any rate I’ll keep plugging at it until I come across the gems.  Whatever is going on here, here’s what I’m seeing next:

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Wonder
Justice League

 Previous Reviews

Thor: Ragnarok
Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster

Thor: Ragnarok

Starring Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Cate Blanchett and many more, Thor: Ragnarok arrived in theaters today.  In this installment, Thor battles for his life and races against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home civilization (Asgard).

I have never seen a Thor movie before. I didn’t have a blog when the two previous movies were released and I honestly had zero interest in seeing them otherwise. I only saw this one to review it, and I’m glad I did. I didn’t check the time the entire 2 hours and 10 minutes the movie played and I only shifted in my seat to let people out and back into the row. (For the love of Pete, please stop by the restroom before any movie so you don’t have to disrupt the viewing enjoyment of others; especially when a movie is 2 hours and 10 minutes long and sold out to a packed house.  Thank you.) It’s a movie that stands on its own. There are many references to other Avengers movies that are easy to pick up on (at least they were easy for me to pick up on), if you’ve seen enough of them. If you’ve seen none of the Marvel movies, you’ll be just fine. This is the one to see. I would imagine that anyone who has seen every one of these movies would enjoy Thor: Ragnarok even more.

Visually and technically, this movie is beautiful. It looks rich, in line with its $180 million budget. The set design, makeup, costumes, props, camerawork, cinematography and everything about the technical aspects of this movie pull you into the story and whatever world or universe the characters are in.  The technical beauty reminded me of watching Saturday morning cartoons or reading my older brothers’ comic books when I was a kid, at times.  Not all the time, but the realistic look of live action animation was captured enough of the time to make it worth while.  Thor: Ragnarok is also humorous. I laughed along with the rest of the audience (except for one guy sitting next to me who laughed at very little – I think he was busy studying the movie, rather than just enjoying it) from start to finish. It’s more a parody of a superhero movie than a superhero movie, and I didn’t mind; up to a point. After a long time, the kitsch of it all got a bit old. If you loved the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, I believe Thor: Ragnarok will be right up your alley.

This movie is full of stars, so the acting is strong, with the exception of a couple of weak links who aren’t worth calling out because the rest of the cast was so stellar. The writing for each character is very deliberate. There is great comedic timing, some hilarious dialogue, and a few speeches which help to move the story along while explain what is going on in the present and what happened in the past. The action is entertaining and the fight scenes are well choreographed and well executed. Chris Hemsworth appears to be having the time of his life in this movie playing the hero, the joker and the joke; which only adds to the fun of it all.

Thor: Ragnarok earned 8 out of 10 bloops.  It’s a great movie worth seeing on the big screen.  If you can afford to, you can take the entire family to see it and they all should really enjoy it. I saw it in the regular format (no more 3D and 4XD for this girl for a while) and it was fine. Just remember, it is rated PG-13 instead of PG due to a couple of bad words; but it’s all said and fun and there is nothing too, too terrible. The bigger problem for smaller children is the length of the movie, so be mindful of how long your little one can sit still and be attentive. Lastly, I have to give a great deal of thanks to the days-old infant some lovely couple showed up with who didn’t make one sound during the entire film, God bless her little heart.

Thank you for reading. You can scroll down, enter your email address to subscribe to bloopbymimi, and never miss a review!

 Bloops:

1   =   worst ever, avoid at all cost
2   =   very bad, forget about it!
3   =   poor movie, not recommended
4   =   not good, even for free – NO!
5   =   so-so, worth it if you don’t have to pay
6   =   not bad, could have been better
7   =   good movie, worth seeing
8   =   great movie, don’t miss it!
9   =   excellent movie, a must see!
10 =   a masterpiece, go see it now!

Welcome message

What I’m seeing next…

I’ve got a bunch of reviews to get out for The Killing of a Sacred DeerMarshall, The Foreigner, Happy Death Day, etc. that will be up very soon.

The Jade Pendant
1945
Murder on the Orient Express

Previous Reviews

Kingsman: The Golden Circle
Mother!
It
Good Time
Atomic Blonde
Dunkirk
Girls Trip
Spider-Man: Homecoming
The Big Sick
Baby Driver
All Eyez on Me 
It Comes at Night 
The Wedding Plan 
Wonder Woman
Everything, everything
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword
Raw

Kong: Skull Island
Logan
The Girl with All the Gifts
A Cure for Wellness 
Get Out

Hidden Figures
Fences
Moonlight
Hell or High Water
Loving
La La Land
Lion
Manchester by the Sea
Arrival
Hacksaw Ridge
Nocturnal Animals
Captain Fantastic
Elle
Jackie
I Am Not Your Negro
The Lobster