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A Christmas Carol (1999)
An excellent stage version put on film
There are spoilers here that will gave away differences that set this review apart from others. I urge you to look at the rating and not read this review if you have not seen it. This version of "A Christmas Carol" is currently the one I look for every year, and well worth watching.
As adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" go, this one stands above most. There is extra detail given to the custom of Christmas in Dickens' time period, and choices I have not seen in any other version. One of my favorite moments was Scrooge concealing himself behind a door, ashamed of the judgment of the happy, friendly people who's hospitality he is intruding upon.
Another was the utter shame and humility with which he presents himself to his nephew's wife. Scrooge could not have simply played nice and won her over, so as far as believability, this is the best take I have ever seen.
The only weak moments I can recall in the movie revolve around Patrick Stewart's Scrooge and dialog from the book sounding too much like a stage production (and lacking the grace and subtlety of film). An example is Scrooge's first hearty laugh in years, on Christmas morning. Stewart makes a kind of choking gasp that struck me as a bit much.
As with Royal theater, the acting is large, stage acting, and while the lines have conviction and Stewart is very charismatic, it lacks the realism the other choices had-- it's difficult to believe a man speaking to a deathly ghost showing him his own death would do so in a steady stage voice. (I'd really love to see a version where the later lines came out like mad rambling or perhaps a whisper to himself.) Theater fans who longed to see Stewart's one-man-show version of "A Christmas Carol" will really appreciate this, but so much love and detail was given to the realism in this version that I found his performance distracting.
For the rest of this movie, I can say that it's spot on. Richard E. Grant makes an excellent Bob Cratchitt, and the reaction to Scrooge's change after Christmas was excellent, as was Stewart's Scrooge in that scene.
A very funny satire of the British music industry...
This was my favorite of the "Comic Strip Presents" movies (as I didn't grow up with the Famous Five and didn't understand that episode until very recently).
A toilet paper deliveryman/con-man stumbles upon the break-up of a rather horrible band (the mastermind of which is played by the hilarious Rik Mayall).
Taking the discarded master tapes of their last recording, he presents himself as a band manager and, with no one in place to argue against the marketing machine of a British record label and the British music press, the band skyrockets to success... causing our anti-hero to do some very quick-stepping to avoid crazed fans.
It was funny and a bit biting, and so worth the time. This aired on MTV after the Young Ones has exhausted its audience, and I remember it fondly as one of the funnier bits of post-Monty Python Brit comedy.
Buffy meets Superman-- but we get neither Clark nor Supes
This was a great idea for a show. Clark Kent grows up in a modern day Smallville, investigating weird paranormal occurrences tied to his arrival from the destruction of Krypton. The formula of superparnormal hero with unavailable love interest, friend destined to become his worst enemy, and brainy best friend should have been perfect. Like many adaptations of comic book heroes, Smallville missed a crucial point: Clark wore glasses. In Tom Welling, they found a great young Superman, but physically, the wrong Clark Kent. The show can never reveal Clark becoming Superman, and it cannot go back to Clark appearing as nondescript and plain. So it's stuck forever between the two extremes that make it possible for Kent to hide his identity. The casting has been phenomenal, extraordinary, and some of the stories have been excellent. The only problem it suffers is that it mines from the DC history for the excellent stuff while juggling with things they changed to make the story more contemporary. In trying to sell Superman attractively to a young female audience, the essentials that make Clark human and enjoyable were lost in the shuffle.