Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield is a love letter to storytelling. The film is endearing and entertaining.
David Copperfield tells the story of his life, from his birth to adulthood. Along the way, he meets a cast of interesting characters, as he charts his highs and his lows…
Directed and co-written by Armando Iannucci with Simon Blackwell, The Personal History of David Copperfield is very much an ode to Charles Dickens and his wonderful storytelling. Iannucci’s affection for the author is well publicised. With this film, the director pays homage to Dickens in a way that is sincere and enjoyable.
Condensing a lengthy tome into just under two hours is quite the undertaking. Yet Iannucci is assured in tackling the adaptation, focusing on the key moments in David’s timeline. The film is bursting with memorable characters, and moves at a good pace. The device of David narrating and sometimes writing the story works well. The film balances brisk storytelling with giving the various characters enough time to shine.
The Personal History of David Copperfield blends humour with adventure in a way that feels completely natural. Iannucci highlights the humour in Dickens’ work; there is plenty to amuse in the film. The film shifts tone with ease, offering heartfelt moments amongst the laughs.
The use of colourblind casting is definitely a plus, allowing the very best actors for the roles regardless of race. Dev Patel makes a great protagonist; he is convincing and sympathetic in his performance. There is a great cast present, with memorable turns from Tilda Swinton, Huh Laurie, and Ben Whishaw.
With The Personal History of David Copperfield, Armando Iannucci does his literary hero justice. A warm, amusing, and enjoyable adaptation.
The Personal History of David Copperfield is opening the BFI London Film Festival on 2nd October 2019.
This morning saw the launch of the BFI London Film Festival 2019. In its 63rd year, the festival is screening 229 feature films, including 28 world premieres. Here are some highlights from the festival programme…
The opening and closing films for the BFI London Film Festival 2019 had already been announced. The festival opens with the European premiere of Armando Iannucci’s The Personal History of David Copperfield. An adaptation of the Dickens’ classic, the film stars Dev Patel, Tilda Swinton, and Hugh Laurie. Martin Scorsese‘s hotly-anticipated The Irishman closes the festival. There is an embarrassment of riches among the other headline galas, including Rian Johnson’s Knives Out, Marielle Heller’s (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, and Michael Winterbottom’s Greed, starring Steve Coogan and Isla Fisher.
Strand Galas and Special Presentations
This year, films screening as part of the Strand Galas include Robert Eggers’ (The Witch) The Lighthouse, starring Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson. The Dare Gala is Mirrah Folks’ debut feature Judy & Punch, a fairy tale starring Mia Wasikowska. Among the Special Presentations are Takashi Miike’s First Love, and Bombay Rose, a hand-drawn animated feature from Gitanjali Rao.
Among the ten features in Official Competition at the London Film Festival 2019 are Haifaa Al-Mansour’s (Wadjda) The Perfect Candidate, about a young doctor who challenges Saudi Arabia’s strict social codes. Thomas Clay’s Fanny Lye Deliver’d stars Maxine Peake and Charles Dance, and is about a woman living with her puritanical husband in 17th century Shropshire. The Documentary Competition features Rubika Shah’s White Riot, about the Rock Against Racism movement, and Lauren Greenfield The Kingmaker, which focuses on Imelda Marcos. The First Feature Competition includes Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Shannon Murphy’s Babyteeth, a drama starring Eliza Scanlon and Ben Mendelsohn.
The eleven thematic programme strands are back once more at the London Film Festival 2019. The Love strand includes La Belle Époque, Nicolas Bedos’ drama about an illustrator who uses technology to replay the past, and Ga-young Jeong’s Heart. The Debate strand is particularly strong this year with Citizen K (Alex Gibney‘s documentary on Mikhail Khodorkovsky), Chinonye Chukwu’s Sundance winner Clemency, Terrence Malick’s A Hidden Life, and Scott Z Burns’ The Report, starring Adam Driver. Comedies in the Laugh strand includes Billie Piper’s directorial debut Rare Beasts, whilst Wash Westmoreland’s Earthquake Bird in the Thrill strand stars Alicia Vikander in an 1980s Tokyo-set thriller. Cannes winner The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão is among the films in the Journey category.
The Dare strand features animated coming-of-age tale I Lost My Body and Václav Marhoul’s The Painted Bird, about a Jewish boy on a journey home during wartime. The Cult strand includes Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s The Lodge and Lorcan Finnegan’s Vivarium, with Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots. Also in this category is Richard Stanley’s Color Out of Space, a HP Lovecraft adaptation starring Nicolas Cage and Joely Richardson. The Experimenta strand includes Brad Butler and Noorafshan Mizra’s Ruptures, whilst Create includes Midge Costin’s documentary Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound. Two highlights of the Family strand are Edmunds Jansons’ Jacob, Mimmi and the Talking Dogs and Lorenzo Mattotti’s The Bears’ Famous Invasion. Finally, classics that are showing as part of the Treasures programme include David Lynch’s The Elephant Man and Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, starring Vincent Price.
The BFI London Film Festival 2019 runs from 2nd-13th October. The full programme can be viewed here.
Garth Davis’ Lion is a genuinely emotional drama with great performances from its cast.
After becoming separated from his older brother, Saroo finds himself alone on the streets of Calcutta. Dodging the danger all around him, Saroo is eventually adopted by an Australian couple. Years later, Saroo hopes to track down the family he was separated from…
Based on Saroo Brierley’s book about his experiences, Lion is formidable drama. Director Garth Davis handles his subject deftly. The film does not fall into the trap of sentimental, TV-movie style melodrama. Given the narrative, this could easily have happened. Instead, Davis gives Saroo’s story the weight and passion that it deserves.
Lion does not jump to Saroo as an adult, after a brief introduction. Instead, the film fully explores what Saroo goes through as a lost child. These events are given the time they deserve, and emphasise what a difficult journey he goes through. In a wider scale, these sequences uncover the perilous realities of street children in India.
Scenes later in the film exhibit the comfortable life Saroo lives as an adult. These serve as a stark contrast to his early experiences. Lion exhibits Saroo’s discomfort with his privilege, when considering his early years. His adoptive brother Mantosh functions to reveal the other side of international adoption. This character immediately struggles, and ultimately leads a troubled life. His ticks hark back to what is seen in the classroom, hinting at a sad underlying cause.
Saroo’s relationship with his girlfriend and family is impacted by his strong desire to find his home. The journey of the protagonist is depicted with thoughtfulness. Lion is emotional with good reason; it never feels overwrought. The film is beautifully shot, and the score complements the visuals well. Dev Patel offers a endearing performance as Saroo, whilst Sunny Pawar is appealing as the young version of the character. Nicole Kidman reminds viewers why she is such a successful actress with one scene in particular.
Lion is an affirming story which does not shy away from some harsh realities. A fantastic watch.
Lion is being screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2016.
This week we have plenty of clips and trailers for next year’s releases, including Inherent Vice, Jupiter Ascending and A Little Chaos…
A Little Chaos
Period drama A Little Chaos is about the unlikely landscape architect of the Palace of Versailles. Directed, co-writtend and starring Alan Rickman, the film focuses on Kate Winslet’s Madame Sabine de Barra. A Little Chaos is out in cinemas on 17th April 2015.
Here is a brief clip from the upcoming Inherent Vice. Paul Thomas Anderson’s film stars Joaquin Phoenix, Josh Brolin, and Reese Witherspoon among others. Inherent Vice is released in UK cinemas on 30th January 2015.
Mad Max: Fury Road
This Mad Max: Fury Road trailer caused quite a storm when it was unleashed last week. From the trailer at least, the film is striking on a visual level. Starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult, Mad Max: Fury Road hits the big screen on 15th May 2015.
Hot Tub Time Machine 2
Craig Robinson, Rob Corddry and Clark Duke return for time-travelling comedy sequel Hot Tub Time Machine 2. After the success of the first film, the group venture into the future, as well as the distant past in this instalment. Hot Tub Time Machine 2 is released in UK cinemas on 10th April 2015.
Here is an extended V spot for upcoming science fiction blockbuster Jupiter Ascending. I can’t get over Channing Tatum’s ears. Also starring Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne, Jupiter Ascending hits UK screens on 6th February 2015.
The Last Five Years
Based on the theatre show, The Last Five Years is a musical which tells the story of a five-year relationship. Anna Kendrick once again shows off her vocal skills, following Pitch Perfect and the upcoming Into The Woods. The Last Five Years is scheduled for release in Spring 2015.
The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Sequel The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel sees the cast from the first film reunited, along with newcomer Richard Gere. This follow-up sees Dev Patel’s Sonny open a second hotel. The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is set for release on 26th February 2015.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a comedy drama that should satisfy the audience it is aimed at. The film is sufficiently enjoyable, although below the surface some of the depictions are troubling.
Following her husband’s death, Evelyn needs to sell her flat to clear her husband’s debts. Muriel needs an operation but the will have to wait six months unless she travels abroad for the procedure. These two ladies form part of a group that travel to India’s Best Marigold Hotel, where everything is not quite how it was advertised…
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel features a fairly predictable chain of events. The opening sequence successfully introduces the main characters succinctly, as well as their reason for travelling. Good performances by the solid cast and sympathetic characters make the film enjoyable.
The problem with John Madden’s film is that the film relies too much on stereotypes and archetypal characters. A few of the main characters appear to adhere to some rigid functions. Furthermore, some of the characters change too much in what is a short space of time, which renders them inauthentic. The turn around of Sonny’s mother, for example, occurs very suddenly, which suggests a failure in plotting.
The depiction of the Indian supporting characters highlight the use of stereotypes. India is portrayed as a country which respects the elderly, which is clearly in keeping with the theme. Nevertheless, the glee with which the Asian characters serve and acquiesce to their English guests leaves a sour taste. Although a spectrum of social classes is depicted in the film, it seems like a sanitised view of the country where the poor are grateful to be acknowledged by the English visitor and the city is brimmed solely with colour and bustle.
Judi Dench offers a good performance as Evelyn. Bill Nighy is cast in a more serious role than he is usually associated with, but the actor does well. Maggie Smith is as strong as ever, while Dev Patel hams it up perfectly as the irrepressible Sonny. Some of the film’s narration is a little bit sanctimonious, but the overall tone is fine.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is an entertaining enough film, but would have been better without the disquieting stereotypes.