Charles Dickens

Great Expectations Trailer

Call it “lowered expectations” or a “great mistake” or just answer that titular question with a big “it already happened, and just last month” – but yes, Mike Newell, Helena Bonham Carter, and Ralph Fiennes made a movie and none of you bothered to see it. That’s perhaps a bit hyperbolic as some people saw it, but the odds that you, the one reading this right now, didn’t see it are exceedingly high. And no, I’m not getting high and mighty on this one – even I didn’t see the film, and that’s entirely the point here. It was called (or, well, still is called, I guess) Great Expectations, and no one cared to see it when it finally hit the American box office in November. Guess the high schoolers haven’t hit that part of their syllabus yet. Earlier this year, I examined whether or not the modern box office (or, at the very least, this season’s box office) was in need of both a new Romeo and Juliet and a new Great Expectations. Curiously, I determined that, sure, a new Great Expectations could be okay (bonus – Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham) and that Romeo and Juliet was a nonstarter. That determination was wrong, at least as it applies to audience turnout.

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Celebrity seems to be the same no matter what century we’re in. Be you Charles Dickens, Elvis Presley, or Miley Cyrus, you’ll be mobbed by regular folk just wanting to say “hi” or to shake your hand or to steal a lock of your hair for some secret voodoo shrine. The opening moments of The Invisible Woman‘s trailer sum this up neatly – Dickens may have died over 140 years ago, but even he lived his life almost entirely in the public eye. Yet from there, The Invisible Woman seems to follow a pretty standard course. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, boy risks his life and reputation for girl, boy slowly spirals into madness to the sound of foreboding classical music. Title cards proclaiming “He was the greatest writer in the world,” and “His greatest story was the one he could never tell” aren’t winning any novelty points anytime soon. But judging by the strength of Ralph Fiennes as an actor (and now, director) and considering that The Invisible Woman will likely see Fiennes reciting a whole lot of Dickens in fancy Shakespearean tones, expect to be wowed (or at least suitably entertained) by The Invisible Woman. The one drawback? No actual invisible women. That’s flagrant false advertising. Go ahead and watch the trailer below:

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Great Expectations Trailer

Seeing as we already got a version of Charles Dickens’ assigned-to-you-freshman-year-of-high-school classic “Great Expectations” that was adapted by a Harry Potter director (Alfonso Cuarón) back in 1998, some might be under the impression that we don’t need another. But Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire director Mike Newell would beg to differ, so he’s put together his own film version of the much-loved-except-by-high-school-freshmen story, and he’s challenged Cuarón to a secret benefactor showdown. For those of you (us) who slept through your high school English classes, Great Expectations centers on the character of Pip (War Horse’s Jeremy Irvine), a young boy of meager means who nevertheless befriends a creepy old rich lady named Miss Havisham (Helena Bonham Carter), falls in love with her beautiful but twisted young ward Estella (Holliday Grainger), and eventually becomes a young gentleman with a bursting pocketbook and a wealth of potential due to the generosity of an anonymous benefactor (identity withheld). How does this all hash out in regards to Newell’s new film? If its new UK trailer [via Empire] is any indication, it gives Newell the chance to distance himself from the miserable failure that was his last film, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, re-embrace the spooky mood-building that made him a good fit for the Harry Potter franchise, and work with respected actors like Ralph Fiennes, Robbie Coltrane, and Sally Hawkins.

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Great Expectations Trailer

Oh, thank goodness! Today we finally get our first look at a film that most of us have forgotten was even being made (mainly, because it doesn’t need to be)! If nothing else, Mike Newell‘s take on “Great Expectations” exists for one reason – to allow Helena Bonham Carter the role she was born to play, the culmination of every terribly-clad madwoman she’s ever portrayed on screen – Charles Dickens‘ irrepressible Miss Havisham! As ever, Great Expectations focuses on the impoverished orphan Pip (Jeremy Irvine), the convict who changes his life (Ralph Fiennes), the crazed rich lady who also changes his life (Carter, of course), and her wickedly beautiful and wickedly cold niece (Holliday Granger) who inflicts on him the emotional equivalent of a wrecking ball’s best work. The film also features Robbie Coltrane, so it’s possible that such a talented cast will make up for an over-adapted source from a screenwriter who can’t even accurately adapt his own novels to the screen (sorry, David Nicholls, but you missed the boat on One Day in a big way). Check out the film’s first (appropriately overwrought) trailer after the break.

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A Tale of Two Cities Movie

Look, everyone. Let’s be honest. From here on out it’s going to be all The Dark Knight Rises, all the time. A few foreign films might slip into the mix, and some sort of Asian Film Festival in New York might end up on the radar, but for the most part everyone will be writing about Christopher Nolan’s forthcoming trilogy cap forever and ever and ever for the next two weeks. That being said, Wired has crafted a must-read article on how Nolan’s vision has been brought to masterful life. It features Nolan, co-writer Jonathan Nolan, and the stars of the film weighing in on various aspects of production, but the most interesting note might be where the story was really born from: Dickensian England. Jonathan Nolan claims that the goal was to see Gotham truly destroyed, and the best place to look for a story of total. shocking destruction in a modern city was the classic you were forced to read in high school, “A Tale of Two Cities.” 

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The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: The Phantom Carriage (1921) It’s New Year’s Eve and in the story of this film’s mythos it is said that the last human being to die on the stroke of midnight of the new year is to take on the responsibility of reaping the souls of the dead for the next 365 days. In the lifespan of Death a minute’s worth of the human clock is like a lifetime, filled with the torture of bearing the endless task of taking the essence of a person into the next realm of existence. They will feel the regrets until their time is done and the next will be forced to endure the suffering. On the brink of death is Edith, a woman whose last wish on her deathbed is to speak with the community’s local brigand David Holm to tell him something she has been keeping to herself since she first met him. Edith is, in every sense of the word to the local community, a saint with the purest of kind hearts. Why she wants to speak […]

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It would be easy to mock the idea of a parkour Oliver Twist. It could certainly be seen by the cynical as the perversion of a classic, one that will most certainly shove modern hipness into a story meant to be a serious microscope into poverty and the ethical impossibilities it presents. But what’s the fun in that? Instead, let’s celebrate the prospect of parkour flipping pickpockets all hopped up on Red Bull. According to Variety, the energy drink company is pairing with Pure Grass Films and the Salt Co. to create Twist – a currently-set take on the classic novel from Charles Dickens. Is there any chance it won’t be in 3D? Of course not. This shit is going to be sailing into your eye balls in as many dimensions as possible.

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While hunting around in the archive, British Film Institute Silent Film Curator Bryony Dixon stumbled upon a short film called The Death of Poor Joe from director G.A. Smith which was released early in 1901 – making it the oldest movie featuring a Charles Dickens character. Smith’s career began in 1897, and he managed nearly 100 shorts in 13 years. His most famous work might be A Kiss In the Tunnel (which featured a man and woman stealing some time on a tunnel-darkened train for some romance), but the new recognition here might propel the minute-long Poor Joe to the top of the list. This is especially good timing because, as The Hollywood Reporter points out, because of this year’s celebration of Dickens’s work on the 200th anniversary of his birth. The movie itself features a small crossing sweeper child from the novel “Bleak House,” and it looks appropriately destitute.

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No, no, it’s not a remake of that Chevy Chase movie with a new female star, and it’s not a reimagining of Ralph Ellison’s seminal novel, but Felicity Jones has snapped up an intriguing role in Ralph Fiennes‘ The Invisible Woman. Baz Bamigboye and The Playlist are reporting that Jones has just signed on for the role of Nelly Ternan in the film, mistress of Charles Dickens, which Fiennes will next direct on the heels of his most recent project, Coriolanus. The film is an adaptation of Claire Tomalin‘s non-fiction book of the same name, with a script by tremendously talented Shame and The Iron Lady screenwriter Abi Morgan. The book centers on the real life romance of young Nelly (who was just eighteen when she took up with Dickens) and the writer (who was forty-five and married). Escandalo! Jones reportedly beat out the latest version of the in-consideration shortlist of up-and-coming young actresses, including Carey Mulligan, Abbie Cornish (who continues to appear on these types of lists, and has yet to land a plum role besides the already critically-maligned W.E., which is a damn shame), and Imogen Poots. While Fiennes was once looking to take on the Dickens role, he has since decided to cast someone else, so that should be the next bit of casting information to hit the ‘net.

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If you’re the kind of person who loves the classics and believes they should be left unspoilt, maybe just go get a sandwich or something. Step outside for a moment. Write a letter to a loved one or throw some darts in your garage. Just don’t read this news post. Because according to Variety, Twilight-er Ashley Greene will make the jump to leading lady in Olivia Twisted, a – you got it – modern take on Dickens’s “Oliver Twist.” There will be a few changes, but the nitty gritty is that Olivia will be 1) female (obviously) 2) the leader of a group of criminals in a 3) street turf battle and 4) not a child. This wouldn’t be the first futzing with that the character has seen. It most famously got music to sing along with in Oliver! but fans might simply appreciate that Greene hasn’t been cast as an anthropomorphic orange cat. On the other hand, it’s tough to understand what is exactly Twistian about this adaptation since it changes the character considerably. Oddly enough, the Swedish television mini-series Olivia Twist already saw the main character changed into a young girl (and featured Michael Nyquist from the Dragon Tattoo movies), but Olivia Twisted sounds like something with vodka product tie-ins and Hot Topic t-shirts ready for print. But look on the bright side! I’m sure it will be as subtly clever and politically acute as Dickens intended! Now someone go grab everyone who went out for a sandwich […]

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Amidst the many things from stage to screen keeping him busy, Ralph Fiennes will be cuddling up to Charles Dickens for two film projects. According to The Daily Mail, he’ll be taking a second shot at directing with The Invisible Woman – a film telling the story of the author’s affair with an 18-year-old girl (when he was at the ripe young age of 45). He’s been meeting with actresses like Imogen Poots, Abbie Cornish and Felicity Jones, but the entire project is still in its earliest phases. There’s always the possibility that he’ll act while directing (like he did with Coriolanus), but at this stage it’s unlikely that he’ll star as Dickens. While he’s aiming to shoot that next Spring or Summer, he’ll be facing Dickens first this Fall as he plays Abel Magwitch in Mike Newell’s adaptation of Great Expectations. More Fiennes is never a bad thing, and if he can deliver on the directing front with the same power he did in his first outing, he may start hearing his name up for awards for work behind the camera as well as in front of it. In the short term, though, it looks like he’ll be responsible for a new resurgence in Dickensian work. Apparently Voldemort is extremely well-read.

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christmascarol-header

Will Disney’s A Christmas Carol worm it’s way into your hearts and homes and become as much of a holiday staple as rum balls and spotted dick are now? Rob Hunter answers this and more…

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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