Posts Tagged ‘Charles Dickens’


What Did Richard Crouse Think? It’s a weekly game played on NewsTalk 1010’s Jim Richards Show. It’s simple. Richard gives the synopsis of a new movie and Jim and others try and figure out if Richard liked it or hated it.

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Richard and CP24 anchor Nathan Downer have a look at the weekend’s new movies including “Coco,” the Vietnam reunion movie “Last Flag Flying” and the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”

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A weekly feature from from! The Crouse Review is a quick, hot take on the weekend’s biggest movies! This week Richard looks at “Coco,” the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas” and Roman J. Israel, Esq.

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Richard sits in with CTV NewsChannel anchor Marcia MacMillan to have a look at the Pixar film “Coco,” the Vietnam reunion movie “Last Flag Flying” and the festive flick “The Man Who Invented Christmas.”

Watch the whole thing HERE!


Around this time of year “A Christmas Carol” is omnipresent. The story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey of redemption, courtesy of three mysterious Christmas ghosts, runs on an endless Yuletide television loop and has been adapted as an opera, ballet, a Broadway musical, animation and even a BBC mime production starring Marcel Marceau.

A new film, “The Man Who Invented Christmas,” aims to tell the story behind the story. “Downton Abbey’s” Dan Stevens plays Charles Dickens, the Victorian writer who, when we first meet him, is out of ideas and money. “My light’s gone out,” he moans. When he devises a Christmas story, his publishers, who have gotten rich off his previous works, scoff. The holiday season isn’t a big enough deal for their readers, and it’s only six weeks away. How can he finish a novel and how can they publish it in such a short time? He perseveres and we see how real life inspiration and his imagination collide to create the self-published book that redefined Christmas celebrations for generations to come.

Using flashbacks to Dickens’s childhood in London’s workhouses and dramatic recreations of encounters with the characters—including Christopher Plummer as Scrooge—that would soon populate his book, the film attempts to show “the blessed inspiration that put such a book into the head of Charles Dickens.”

Often more literal than literate, “The Man Who Invented Christmas” is handsome film that plays like a series of “a ha” moments than a serious exploration of the creative process. What it does, however, is entertainingly paint a picture of life in Dickens’s Victorian home, and the external influences that sparked his imagination.

As Scrooge Plummer hands in a performance that makes us wish he’d play the character for real. In a very likable portrayal Stevens links Scrooge’s transformation to Dickens as he battles his own personal demons on his way to personal redemption. All bring a light touch and even when the going gets tough there is an endearing quality to the material. Even the condescending critic William Makepeace Thackery (Miles Jupp) isn’t played with malice.

“The Man Who Invented Christmas” is a festive film, a movie for the holidays that reminds us of the spirit of the season. No “Bah! Humbugs” here.

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN: 2 STARS. “could use a little more TMZ and a little less BBC.”

Ralph-Fiennes-The-Invisible-WomanAn elegant period piece about Charles Dickens and his mistress, starring and directed by Ralph Fiennes, comes with great expectations, most of which, unfortunately are not met.

When “The Invisible Woman” begins Charles Dickens (Fiennes) is the Justin Bieber of his day. He’s fabulously famous and wealthy thanks to his best selling books and stage appearances.

Married with children, his life becomes a tale of two women when a seventeen-year-old actress named Nelly Ternan (Felicity Jones) is cast in one of his plays. Infatuated with the young woman the “David Copperfield” author begins a long-running, but secret affair with her that lasted until his death.

Younger viewers might wonder why Lord Voldemort is traipsing around London in a top hat and spats but the range of his performance will strike older viewers, familiar with Fiennes’s brooding work. His physical resemblance to the writer is remarkable, but it is the arc of the character, from charismatic celebrity to love sick puppy to Victorian rascal that really impresses.

Ditto the work of Joanna Scanlan as the long-suffering Catherine Dickens. She’s the mother of Dickens’s children, and a good and loyal person who becomes one of the invisible women in the author’s life as he falls deeper in love with Nelly. She hands in a wonderfully sympathetic performance rich with pathos and sadness.

Too bad these two stand-out performances are wrapped around a terribly dull film. With none of the crackle of Fiennes’s last directorial work “Coriolanus,” it’s a wealth of period details and sure handed direction but it plays like a tedious episode of “Masterpiece Theatre” broadcast by the BBC, which in this case would stand for Boring British Channel.

The story of a life-changing love affair is presented almost completely without passion and bookended by a sidebar of Nellie as an adult, still pining for her lost lover. Or, as it is presented in the film, staring off into the distance. As a viewer you hope the Ghost of Dickens Past will appear to snap out of her endless funk.

Ultimately “The Invisible Woman” could have used a little more TMZ and a little less BBC.

Bah, Humbug! Reel Guys by Richard Crouse and Mark Breslin METRO CANADA Published: December 23, 2011

Christmas-Carol-in-London-a-christmas-carol-8917489-1484-1125Since first being published in December 1843 Charles Dickens’s story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s emotional transformation from hoarder to Ho Ho-er has been presented in many forms.  A Christmas Carol has been adapted into opera, ballet, a Broadway musical and even a mime show starring Marcel Marceau. On film there have been at least 28 versions of the story and dozens more for television. This week the Reel Guys have a look at the best big screen versions of the classic story.

Richard: Mark, there is only one must-see out of all the dozens of film and TV versions of the Charles Dickens classic and that’s the 1951 Alastair Sim version. Nearly perfect in every way, it is a tale of redemption that confirms the fundamental spiritual nature of Christmas itself. In other words, it makes us feel good. Accept no substitutes. If, however, you’ve already seen it this year or you’re allergic to black and white movies, there are alternatives.

MB: Richard, you are so right. The movie HAS to be in black and white to make us feel the spirit of Dickensian deprivation. It’s the classic. But growing up in a Jewish household, it didn’t have any importance to me as a child. I discovered it much later, and was transfixed by its narrative power and perfectly gloomy mood. May I contrast this with the Jim Carrey version? Now that’s a movie with no sense of mystery, and a buffoonish interpretation of the lead character. I feel sorry for children who grow up with this bloated, CGI-laden excuse for a classic. Richard,please don’t tell me you like it!

RC: Before I saw the Jim Carrey version of A Christmas Carol I wondered why remake a story that has been done so often and so well in the past. I’ve seen it and I’m still wondering. The weirdly lifeless animation was creepy, akin to a Christmas story performed by zombies.

MB: Let me praise Bill Murray’s version “Scrooged”. It’s far from authentic, light years away from Dickens, but it makes its points in a very modern way. Bill Murray is great in it, and the writing is sharp and satirical. Setting it in the milieu of the television industry obviously changes the mood of the original, but as long as you see the movie as an interesting and successful riff upon the original story, and not as a substitute for it, it’s a great movie for the season.

RC: I agree. It’s become a must see for me every year. Although i don’t have to see The Muppets Christmas Carol every year, it is a treat to see Michael Caine as Scrooge. I also like the musical Scrooge with Albert Finney in the lead.

MB: I’ve never seen it!  I sure hope they gave Tiny Tim a tap solo.