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.
The Christmas film is a heavily populated category. Whether Arthur Christmas will go on to become one of the stalwarts of Christmas viewing remains unclear. Nevertheless, the film is fun family entertainment, and will garner few complaints.
Santa’s yearly mission to deliver presents to children all over the world is a finely-tuned operation helmed by his eldest son Steve. Younger son Arthur meanwhile loves Christmas, and is happy responding to children’s letters in the post room. When the automated operation means a mistake is made, Arthur reluctantly leaves his comfort zone in order to rectify it and save Christmas for one child…
Arthur Christmas successfully combines humour, adventure and emotion to create a film that should please viewers young and old. The comedy in particular works well, with plenty of small asides that should amuse older audience members. Meanwhile, the film does feature some drama, but thankfully this never becomes sentimental.
Arthur Christmas focuses solely on the Claus family, which is a wise strategy. Little time is wasted on auxiliary characters, and there is sufficient development of the main players. Although the narrative requires a child character, she is definitely secondary to proceedings. The emphasis lies firmly on Arthur and his relationship with his immediate family. Arthur Christmas is a sort of coming-of-age story for its protagonist, though this is dealt with lightly.
The only real negative is that the film feels padded out at times. It seems like a shorter narrative that has been stretched to the length of a feature. Nonetheless, this does not diminish too much from the overall enjoyment. The animation in Arthur Christmas is great. 3D also works well, thanks to the quality of the animation.
Arthur Christmas features a the vocal talents of a fantastic British cast. James McAvoy’s voice is very well suited to the character of Arthur, bringing the necessary boyishness and earnestness. Hugh Laurie is also great as Steve, while Bill Nighy is a scene-stealer as Grandsanta.
Arthur Christmas is the perfect film to get viewers in the Christmas spirit. Sarah Smith’s film is unmistakably British, one that holds up well against Hollywood animation.
Hop is a fun and an unabashedly lightweight movie. The film should prove to be enjoyable youngsters and not at all painful for their parents.
Living on Easter Island, EB is reluctant to fulfill his destiny and become the next Easter Bunny, much to the dismay of his father. Similarly, Fred O’Hare in Los Angeles is kicked out by his parents, who are tired of their slacker son’s unwillingness to get a job. When Fred accidentally injures EB, he agrees to take in the talking bunny, little realising how it will change his life…
In its attempts to cultivate an Easter movie, Hop is commendable. The film makes a noble effort to elevate Easter to the same level of cultural mythologising that is afforded to Christmas. This is an acknowledged motivation, with Fred making a reference to Christmas at the very end of the movie.
Hop is refreshing in the fact that it tackles a different holiday; with the plethora of Christmas films, it is nice to see another occasion given a chance. Of course, like the majority of Christmas films, there is no religious aspect to Hop. Instead, it is the more secular aspects that are given credence in the film.
The action is a little slow to get going in Hop. However, once the film picks up the pace, it is an enjoyable ride. The film is not as consistently funny as it could be, however the humour that is present is likely to appeal to children and the young at heart. Hop references a number of other films, including Jurassic Park. The nods to such movies are cute, but not particularly innovative; numerous animated films have employed this tactic.
The animation in Hop is fantastic. It blends seamlessly with the live action, and EB in particular looks remarkably realistic. Although live action and animation have been combined in films several times before, the technology used in Hop makes it the most appropriate progeny of Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Elsewhere, the wonderful imagery of the candy production lines conjures memories of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
Voicing EB, Russell Brand brings his usual schtick to Hop. James Marsden plays the lovable slacker well; the actor seems to have a flair for this kind of light comedy. Hank Azaria and Hugh Laurie are well cast voicing their respective characters.
Hop is an entertaining film, perfectly suitable for the Easter break. It may not be outright hilarious, but the film has a certain charm that most will find endearing.