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A Review of The Personal History of David Copperfield

Before I get to the review — let me first mention the whole experience. I haven’t been to a movie in so long I can’t remember what the last one I saw was? I’ve seen several at home, on demand, streaming, etcetera etcetera etcetera but not at the theater.

They’ve been closed. Boarded up. Not open.

But now they are open again. We ventured out yesterday, Labor Day, and watched The Personal History of David Copperfield. Our party of six were the only ones in the theater, felt like a private screening. We did not buy snacks, and I kept my mask on the whole time.

I was unsure of going because I have been super cautious. Had the theater been crowded I probably would have felt differently, but with just us, there was no real danger at all. Now to the movie:


I loved it. I have to admit some of my love may have been the sheer giddiness of being in a movie theater again, but I think I am able to separate those emotions. I loved the movie.

Hugh Laurie, Dev Patel, and Tilda Swinson–DONKEYS!

David Copperfield is my favorite Dickens book, and I was very afraid they would mess it up. It is a long book filled with marvelous characters that have complicated relationships. The movie compresses a lot of this, for understandable reasons, but it perfectly captures the spirit of the book. Yes, they truncated Clara and really didn’t make Uriah Heep as awful as he was in the novel, but the feel of the book is there. Actually, none of the bad guys are as bad as they are in novel — not his stepfather, not his step-aunt Mrs. Murdstone, and not Steerforth, either. The movie softens all of those a bit. Perhaps that is because Dickens is so brutal.

My favorite part of the novel was the house with David’s Aunt, Mr. Dick, Janet, and the donkeys. I still remember laughing out loud when reading those parts and having Aunt Betsey shout, “What the Deuce?” Janet is reduced to mere ‘servant’ in the movie, but the feeling of that house is spot on. Mr. Dick, portrayed by Hugh Laurie, should be nominated for best supporting actor. He is amazing, as is Peter Capaldi as Mr. Micawber.

A decision was made to cast the movie completely multicultural regardless of part. All of those white British people being played by people of color who have white children or visa versa is refreshing. That is a choice that fits Dickens zeitgeist of social justice and calling into light the problems of the day. I adored Dev Patel’s performance as David. He seemed perfect for that role (as he seemed to be for Saroo in Lion — a movie that didn’t get proper respect, IMHO).

The movie is rated PG and is really safe for the whole family. I would like to see it nominated for best picture.

Frozen Ferrari Fred Whodunit

Other than the fact “Ferrari Fred” sounds like the name of a character in a bad Stephen King novel, what am I talking about with this crazy blog title? I WENT TO THE MOVIES, that is what I’m talking about.

Over the long Thanksgiving weekend we saw the four hot movies out right now, and they were all wonderful in their own way. No, they are not all for everyone, but they are all wonderful. I will take them in the order I saw them.

Ford v Ferrari

Everything about this movie was near perfection. The story was tight, the dialogue was crisp and memorable, the imagery was iconic, and the sound and sights of those beautiful cars was spectacular. Even if you don’t like cars, you’ll like the movie and if you like cars, you’ll love the movie. Christian Bale will get a best actor nomination and the movie will get a best picture nomination. It has some language in it, so you might want to keep the kiddos away, but there is no violence or pornographic material.

A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood

Movies usually entertain. Sometimes they inspire. Sometimes they mesmerize. This movie affirms humanity and the possibilities for making the world a better place. Shot in the same style as the old Mr. Rogers Neighborhood television show, it usher you into a different world from the very beginning. Yet this movie is not really about Mr. Rogers as much as it is the journalist covering him, but at the same time it really is. The main character, Lloyd, is changed by Mr. Rogers. Tom Hanks will get a nod for best actor and the movie should be a top contender for best picture.

As an aside, I also recommend you watch the outstanding documentary about Mr. Rogers. Click here to read what I wrote about that.

Frozen II

All four of us enjoyed it and so can your entire family. The music is very good, but the emotions are what steal the show. There is one particular moment when Anna is everyone of us — fighting to keep up hope in a lonely and dark world. I liked this movie more than the first one, probably because of the heavy Tolkien influence on the story. I’m serious. If Olaf is viewed as a happy shiny Gollum, Elsa as Gandalf, Anna as Frodo/Aragorn, Sven and Kristoff become hobbits then the journey parallels nicely.

Aside from this, it is easy to see the motif of the movie — a needed restoration and reconciliation between indigenous peoples and those who exploited and took from them. It’s a good message.

Knives Out

This one surprised me. I didn’t expect to like it so much, but man was it fun. Nothing will be nominated from this movie, and there will be no awards for it but it is fun. Here was my take away on this movie: Knives Out is the Thanksgiving movie America needed but didn’t know it needed. Besides, it’s got Captain America, James Bond, half of Miami Vice, and Captain Von Trapp, and Halloween! There is a lot of star power here, but Ana de Armas steals the show as Marta.

There is a lot of language and one particular violent moment, but no nudie bits. Perfect for adults who want to slurp soda and enjoy themselves.

CASTING SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SHACK

Who should play Papa?  That was the first question that hit me.Shackover

I saw yesterday that Willie Young’s publishers agreed to film rights through Lionsgate for the controversial bestseller The Shack.  For the record, I liked the book.  True, it has some flaws in terms of plot, conflict, and character development, but hey, don’t we all to some degree?  I mean, the last perfect novel I read was To Kill A Mockingbird.  The theology of The Shack didn’t bother me either.  Some people went crazy over the book’s portrayal of the all-to-human theophanies.  It’s fiction people, theologically informed fiction, but still fiction.  For dogma and doctrine, go to church for-crying-out-loud.

But I am not here to talk about the book.  I’m here to help cast it.  Early reports said Forest Whitaker was directing and staring in it (I presume as Mack) but now it looks like Stuart Hazeldine is the director.

There are really only four characters in the novel.  I apologize if my casting of these seems or feels racially motivated, because I don’t operate like that and it is not my intention.  However, Young is so specific in the novel about the ethnicity of the Godhead, that, well, it kind of has to be that way.

Mack–Need a thirty or forty something year old white man.  Maybe we could go with Ed Norton here.  If he could bring the edginess of his Fight Club character, that would give Mack the angry bite he needs.  If not Ed Norton, then Jeremy Renner.  It needs to be someone who broods.  If it is a no-go for Renner or Norton, then may I humbly suggest we go for insane instead of brooding, which leads us to Bradley Cooper.

Papa--Need a black motherly figure.  The obvious choice is Oprah Winfrey, but hey, that is too obvious.  It is apparent to me, and just about everyone, that Willie Young ripped his Papa character straight from The Oracle in the original The Matrix film, but she is dead.  Della Reese would work.  It would be almost the same role she had opposite Roma Downey in Touched By An Angel.  Her age might be a problem, though.  So how about Queen Latifah.  Yep.  I think we have a winner.

Jesus–Middle Eastern carpenter.  There can only be one answer.  Tony Shalhoub.

Sarayu–Asian female.  Again, pardon the type casting, but I think I got it.  We must cast Rosalind Chao in this role.  Think about it, she could almost do it the same way she played Robin William’s heavenly daughter in What Dreams May Come.  I know, brilliant, right!  Besides, Miles O’Brien would be so proud of her.  If she doesn’t want to do it, then, let’s keep the sci-fi jazz with this and go with Grace Park.

Okay, so those are my casting suggestions.  I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.