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Tag Archive: Jonathan Pryce


This one looks like it could be the next holiday classic.

Although he’s had theatrical roles in 2013’s The Fifth Estate, 2014’s A Walk Among the Tombstones, 2016’s Colossal, and this year’s Beauty and the Beast remake, Dan Stevens is better known for his British TV roles like Matthew Crawley throughout the run of Downton Abbey.  But the genre world really took notice of Stevens this year when he headlined a new X-Men TV series, playing David Haller, a crazed wielder of superpowers on FX’s new series Legion.  His next role takes him back to jolly old England and a character that can’t possibly be more classic and British: Charles Dickens himself.

Although the last time we saw someone play the part of Charles Dickens in a major film it was Gonzo in The Muppet Christmas Carol, Stevens’ off-kilter, frenetic kinetic sense, and quizzical expressions make for an intriguing take on Dickens in the first preview for The Man Who Invented Christmas.  Stevens looks like he’s channeling Gene Wilder from Young Frankenstein in one scene from the movie’s first trailer.

And we get to see Academy Award-winning actor and Shakespearean great Christopher Plummer (Twelve Monkeys, Up, Wolf, Dragnet, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, Somewhere in Time, Return of the Pink Panther, The Sound of Music) join the likes of Alastair Sim, Albert Finney, Michael Caine, Patrick Stewart, and Bill Murray as Ebenezer Scrooge.  This take on Scrooge focuses on Dickens writing the novel A Christmas Carol and getting a spell of writer’s block.  And speaking of Finney, the view of the film in the preview looks like a mash-up of style from the comedies Tom Jones and Shakespeare in Love

Here’s a fun preview for The Man Who Invented Christmas:

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More frequently we in the States see British television series via either Masterpiece on public television or BBC America.  The new eight-part TV series Taboo is being featured on cable channel FX, no doubt for its level of R-rated language, nudity, and violence.  The historical drama airs Tuesdays and stars Tom Hardy as James Delaney, a son believed by everyone but his father to be dead who returns to England from Africa.  But he arrives too late–his father is dead, and he sets about discovering who murdered him.  Along the way his path is interwoven with an underworld of the strange and supernatural, and the intrigue of a vile early 19th century England, a dark, dirty, loathsome world where powerful leaders of the East India Company are in conflict with the shipping company Delaney is now inheriting.  The unexpected arrival of Delaney circumvents the inheritance by a sister, played by Oona Chaplin, who the East India Company had been negotiating with for the ownership of a segment of land in Canada.  In the first episode we learn that she and Delaney have their own dark secret.

Where is the series heading, and what is the nature of the “taboo” of the series’ title?  What is Delaney and his sister hiding?  And what did Delaney bury upon returning to England?  The first episode, airing this week, leaves too many hints and clues to be able to speculate just yet where the series is heading.

Programme Name: Taboo - TX: n/a - Episode: Taboo - Generic (No. Generic) - Picture Shows: Zilpha Geary (OONA CHAPLIN) Zilpha Geary (OONA CHAPLIN) - (C) FX Networks - Photographer: Courtesy of FX Networks

The brainchild of Steven Knight, Tom Hardy and his father Edward Hardy, Taboo is also produced by Ridley Scott.  What stands out most of all in the series is the talent of the actors.  Hardy, known best for his lead action roles in Mad Max: Fury Road, Star Trek: Nemesis, Inception, and The Dark Knight Returns, is equally known for the quality of his work in The Revenant, Layer Cake, Black Hawk Down, and Band of Brothers.  He was also the best actor in what was an all-star cast in the remake of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.  Co-star Oona Chaplin, raised in the dramatic world of mother Geraldine Chaplin, grandfather Charlie Chaplin, and great-grandfather Eugene O’Neill, is a brilliant actress in her own right, owning every scene she appears in no matter the production.  Her work includes The Hour, Quantum of Solace, Sherlock, and Game of Thrones. 

Here is a preview of the series Taboo:

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The Pirates of the Caribbean series is a rare franchise in Hollywood.  Any other film based on a game or something like an amusement park ride would have died after the initial movie.  But Pirates has withstood critical acclaim, and Jack Sparrow, the lead in each adventure, gave Johnny Depp one of several well-deserved Academy Award nominations.  The fifth installment in the series, Dead Men Tell No Tales, is coming next year, and we have the first trailer for the film, a brilliantly moody clip where we meet the new undead antagonist Captain Salazar played by Javier Bardem.  Call them ghost pirates or pirate ghosts, the inhabitants of this fantasy world continue to excite fans of a good adventure story.  Thank Sir Walter Scott and later Robert Louis Stevenson for getting generations excited about a good pirate story.  Add in a ghost story and just tell us the time and place to show up and we’ll be there.

The last Pirates entry, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, was such a visually stunning production with–more importantly–an interesting story, that it could be the franchise may just be hitting its stride.  On Stranger Tides kicked up the film’s action compared to the prior two films, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End.  Check out my review here.  It was almost as good as The Curse of the Black Pearl, which made my Top 10 fantasy movie list.

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We just can’t get enough of Johnny Depp and the roles he takes on, especially with this character–a character he has been able to develop over a 14-year span.  Depp and Ethan Hawke, who we discussed here at borg.com last week in our review of The Magnificent Seven, are the best actors of their generation.  It’s hard to beat Depp continuing on with a recurring role like this.  And just look at the guest stars of this series:  Jonathan Pryce, Bill Nighy, Naomie Harris, Stellan Skarsgaard, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, and Keith Richards?   Geoffrey Rush is back as Barbossa in Dead Men Tell No Tales, and its rumored David Wenham and Paul McCartney will appear.

So check out this preview for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales:

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Half animated film come to life, half martial arts movie, in G.I. Joe: Retaliation look for one of the best action sequences ever to hit the big screen.  Darker and more grounded in the realities of today’s terrorism themed movies as opposed to the days of action war pictures centered on the Cold War, the sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra is only slightly less fun than the first live-action look at the action figure-turned-animated show and comic book-turned-action figure again franchise.  Whereas Rise of Cobra was steeped in toy references and faithful action figure costume re-creations, Retaliation has a plot that could have been pulled from the 1980s animated series.

G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

After a disaster caused by a conspiracy between Zartan and the evil shadow organization called Cobra wipes out literally every active G.I. Joe but three, it’s up to new top ranking officer Roadblock, played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to lead the charge to unravel the conspiracy and save the world.  He’s joined in a superbly created, fast-thinking survival maneuver by Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who must then find their way out of a deep water well.  Despite being developed characters from G.I. Joe incarnations past, Flint comes off a bit like Hawkeye in The Avengers and Lady Jaye as the token female Joe in an era you’d think would be long past relying on jokes about women in the service.  Still, they both make the best of it and the trio, along with Duke (Channing Tatum), the squad leader of the Joes in Rise of Cobra, they share some good chemistry and laugh out loud moments in the film.  If there is any fault in Retaliation it is why the producers thought the plot required eliminating such a pantheon of other great Joe characters who were featured in Rise of Cobra, like Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Baroness (Sierra Miller), Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), or General Hawk (Dennis Quaid).  It’s also a bit disappointing Bruce Willis’s General Joe Colton didn’t have a few more scenes.  Willis, transitioning from action role to the wise general role, steals every scene and a partnership with Dwayne Johnson in another film, G.I. Joe or not, would be a fun thing to see.

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