Saving Mr. Banks reviews

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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby ksrymy » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:20 pm

Greg wrote:
Big Magilla wrote:But then what is My Fair Lady with fewer songs? Can we say Pygmalion? Good luck in re-writing Shaw.


A Pygmalion updated to the Internet era might be worth a try.

Eliza speaking chatspeak would make it interesting. "Flwrs, flwrs 4 sale."
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Greg » Fri Jan 03, 2014 1:10 pm

Big Magilla wrote:But then what is My Fair Lady with fewer songs? Can we say Pygmalion? Good luck in re-writing Shaw.


A Pygmalion updated to the Internet era might be worth a try.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Big Magilla » Thu Jan 02, 2014 5:03 pm

Per Emma on her re-write of My Fair Lady: '(The original is) incredibly long. The audience can expect less songs.'

As a writer, she should know the proper adjective is "fewer", not "less". But then what is My Fair Lady with fewer songs? Can we say Pygmalion? Good luck in re-writing Shaw.

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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Uri » Thu Jan 02, 2014 4:45 pm


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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Eric » Fri Dec 27, 2013 8:19 am

Sonic Youth wrote:There's nothing to say about it.

This. No one gives a good performance, and the movie has nothing to say.

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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:09 am

Hanks hasn't been cited yet for his work in the film. I don't think he has a chance. As for Farrell, I agree that he gives one of his best performances, but he's a pretty boy and for the Oscars, pretty boys aren't very successful.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby ksrymy » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:57 pm

flipp525 wrote:How can people possibly be talking about Tom Hanks as a potential supporting nominee[?]

Because he's playing Walt Disney aka the man with the most Oscars.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby flipp525 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:25 pm

How can people possibly be talking about Tom Hanks as a potential supporting nominee for this movie when Colin Farrell's fantastic work is there for consideration? Easily the best work I've seen him do.

Sonic Youth, I disagree with you about Emma Thompson's performance in this. She literally saves the film from becoming a hopeless piece of schmaltz.
Last edited by flipp525 on Fri Dec 27, 2013 12:00 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:36 pm

There's nothing to say about it. It's just very insignificant, shamelessly weepy, and for a period piece its full of 21st century screenwriting and directing clichés. And Emma Thompson gives the sort of performance people accuse Judi Dench of giving.

But it's unfair of me to say any more, because I missed most of the first forty-five minutes. We had a screener copy, but I only started watching in the middle. My wife and two family members enjoyed it, FWIW.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby ksrymy » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:29 pm

I guess I'll be another who says Thompson is great. Yes, there is quite a bit of brow-furrowing, but, as has been stated, this is a Disneyfied film - Thompson has to be grumpy throughout. I mean, what it boils down to, in the film, is that P.L. Travers (excuse me, Mrs. Travers) wants to do her father justice. If someone wanted to come in and, to you, slander your father's name, would you not be peeved?

What nobody is talking about, but should be, is the turn Colin Farrell gives; it's easily the best performance of the film and his best ever save for In Bruges.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby OscarGuy » Thu Dec 26, 2013 11:44 am

I think she's fantastic in it. I enjoyed the film, but I was bothered by the revisionism of its history. Just like Disney's animated films, they are Disneyfied versions of real (or fictional) events.
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby flipp525 » Thu Dec 26, 2013 10:39 am

Sonic Youth wrote:So.... that happened....

Alternate title: Emma Furrows her Brow.

Aw. I adore Emma Thompson. She's not good in it?
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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Sonic Youth » Wed Dec 25, 2013 10:59 pm

So.... that happened....

Alternate title: Emma Furrows her Brow.
"What the hell?"

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Re: Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:35 pm

Variety

Scott Foundas
Chief Film Critic@foundasonfilm

Somewhere, Uncle Walt is smiling. The Mouse House impresario’s protracted courtship of novelist P.L. Travers to secure the film rights to her “Mary Poppins” has all the makings of an irresistible backstage tale, and it’s been brought to the screen with a surplus of old-fashioned Disney showmanship in “Saving Mr. Banks.” Thick with affection for Hollywood’s most literal “dream factory” and wry in its depiction of the studio filmmaking process, director John Lee Hancock’s “Sunset Blvd.” lite (which opens Dec. 13 after London and AFI festival berths) should earn far more than tuppence from holiday audiences — and from awards voters who can scarcely resist this sort of mash note to the magic of movies (e.g., “Argo,” “The Artist”).

Given its now-classic status among several generations of moviegoers, it’s easy to forget that “Mary Poppins” seemed far from a sure bet when it first appeared in 1964, given Disney’s spotty record as a producer of live-action fare. And one can easily imagine a fascinating film of its own devoted to the production of “Poppins,” from the canny casting of Julie Andrews (after she’d been passed over for the concurrent film version of “My Fair Lady”) to the creation of the film’s backlot, matte-painted London and the pioneering visual effects of Peter Ellenshaw. But “Saving Mr. Banks” has a somewhat different story to tell, about the ways in which life influences fiction, the ownership writers feel over their creations, and the conflicts and compromises responsible for bringing some of the most iconic Hollywood movies into existence.

The film opens on images of blue skies and palm trees that suggest L.A. or Beverly Hills. But in fact, we’re in rural Australia circa 1906, where the young Travers (nee Helen Goff, played by newcomer Annie Rose) comes of age as one of three daughters of a harried mother (Ruth Wilson) and a loving but manic father (an excellent Colin Farrell) given to drink and more adept at inventing tall tales than at navigating the world of grown-up responsibility. This sets up the primary structural device of Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s screenplay, which continues to move back and forth between Travers’ formative years and her Disney (mis)adventures, gradually revealing the people and events from the author’s past whose aura can be felt in her most famous literary creation (including a stern aunt played by Rachel Griffiths in proto-Poppins mode).

With her sharp, clipped diction and a wrought-iron upper lip, Travers (Emma Thompson, superb) has been steadily pursued by Disney (Tom Hanks) for 20 years by the time she finally agrees to meet him in L.A. — a decision prompted more by financial need than by any real desire to see her work brought to the screen. So beyond the carefully manicured hedgerows of Disney’s art-deco Burbank studios (where much of the pic was shot) we go, as a game of inches ensues: the willful author, who’s never so much as laid eyes on a screenplay, resisting even the slightest change to her vision; and the canny family-entertainment magnate gently nudging the project toward the movie he knows the public will want to see.

Much of “Saving Mr. Banks” unfolds in a small rehearsal studio where Travers sits, stoic and unimpressed, as three of the movie’s principal architects give her their best pitch: Veteran Disney animator and “Poppins” co-screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and longtime studio songwriters Richard and Robert Sherman (warmly played in spot-on characterizations by Jason Schwartzman and B.J. Novak). Considering that Travers arrives steadfast in her belief that a “Poppins” films should include no musical numbers or animated sequences, they have their work cut out for them. (Though “Saving Mr. Banks” builds towards a cathartic happy ending, in real life Travers, then well into her 90s, authorized producer Cameron Mackintosh’s stage version of “Poppins” only on the condition that no one from the film version, including the Shermans, be involved.)

Hancock, who cut his own directorial teeth at the studio (on the inspirational baseball drama “The Rookie” and the underrated “The Alamo”) is sometimes a bit too on-the-nose with his parallel storytelling, too heavy with Thomas Newman’s bouncy score, and too eager to pluck at our heartstrings (at which he nevertheless succeeds). But if 2007’s “Enchanted” remains undisputed as the great, impish, postmodern riff on Disney iconography, “Saving Mr. Banks” is the unapologetically retro valentine Disney himself might have made. It’s a bit square, never particularly surprising, yet very rich in its sense of creative people and their spirit of self-reinvention — the Outback girl refashioned as a prim and proper British lady, the Missouri farm boy who turned himself into a cross between Peter Pan and the Wizard of Oz.

And if someone had to play Disney in a movie, a better candidate than Hanks, himself a gleaming icon of wholesome American entertainment, is hard to imagine. The actor doesn’t try for the real Disney’s distinctive Midwestern voice (probably for the best, given his hither-and-yon Boston accent in “Captain Phillips”), but he captures all of his folksy charisma and canny powers of persuasion — at once father, confessor and the shrewdest of businessmen.

A couple of anachronistic touches (like a modern-day MGM logo glimpsed in an early airport scene) notwithstanding, production designer Michael Corenblith does a highly impressive job of creating sun-scorched, turn-of-the-century Australia as well as early-‘60s L.A., helped by the fact that both the Disney studio and Disneyland itself haven’t changed all that much in the half-century since. John Schwartzman’s warm widescreen lensing and costume designer Daniel Orlandi’s Kennedy-era costumes lend further polish to a uniformly solid craft roster.

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Saving Mr. Banks reviews

Postby Mister Tee » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:33 pm

For some inexplicable reason, bloggers who should now better have been touting this as a potential best picture game-changer. (Jeff Wells flew to London this weekend to, essentially, say "First!") Apparently they missed the credit that said Directed by John Lee Hancock.

Hollywood Reporter

Saving Mr. Banks: London Review

2:59 PM PDT 10/20/2013 by Leslie Felperin

The Bottom Line
An affecting if somewhat soft-soaped comedy drama, elevated by excellent performances.

According to this based-on-a-true-story account of the making of Mary Poppins, when Walt Disney offered to buy the rights to P.L. Travers’ book, the author insisted on just two things: that she would retain script approval and that there would be no animation. History records that she didn’t exactly get her way, at least as far as the animation was concerned. But dancing penguins aside, Saving Mr. Banks suggests that Travers put up a good fight, going sturdy pump-to-brogue with Disney, then one of the most powerful studio heads in the business.

Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith’s ingenious script, which famously featured on Franklin Leonard’s Black List, adroitly builds layers on top of this central conflict, using flashbacks to reveal how bleak events in Pamela Lyndon Travers’ childhood nourished the cheerful story of Mary Poppins, making her so protective of her work. The finished product, directed by John Lee Hancock, is a cunningly effective, if rather on-the-nose study of the transformation of pain into art, marbled with moments of high comedy.

Some contrarians will balk at the highly sympathetic depiction of Walt Disney himself (played by Tom Hanks), hardly a surprise given that the logo of the company he founded opens the credits. However, audiences will swallow this tasty spoonful of sugar without complaint. A most delightful box-office result should be expected when it opens in the U.S. Dec. 13 (two weeks after Britain), a frame well chosen to maximize the family market and position the film in the awards-season calendar.

In a part once mooted for Meryl Streep, Emma Thompson takes charge of the central role of the waspish P.L. Travers with an authority that makes you wonder how anybody else could ever have been considered. Firing off withering, perfectly timed put downs in a musical Received Pronunciation accent (disguising the character’s Australian origins), with the confident stride of a governess tidying up the nursery, she’s a fearsome figure of feminine steeliness. There’s an echo here of Sandra Bullock’s tiger-mom in Hancock’s The Blind Side, except that Travers is considerably less maternal, despite being a children’s writer. When a woman with a babe-in-arms on the plane to Los Angeles offers to move her own hand luggage to make room for Travers’ bag, she offers no thanks, and only asks if, “the child will be a nuisance” on the flight.

Only a glancing allusion in the script betrays that the real Travers did in fact have an adopted child, but then there’s quite a lot else about her, presumably in the interests of making the character more accessible, that scribes Marcel and Smith have declined to incorporate. Apparently there were also rumored affairs with women and an interest in mysticism and the occult, though there is a shot here of her reading a book by guru George Gurdjieff. The end credits thank author Valerie Lawson for inspiration from her respected biography Mary Poppins, She Wrote: The Life of P.L. Travers, but a warts-and-all portrait was never going to happen on a film with this much budget and visibility at stake.

That goes double or more for the portrait drawn of Walt Disney. The twinkly-eyed, avuncular figure incarnated by a mustachioed Hanks -- who only for a fleeting moment shows off a glower worthy of a mafia crime boss ordering a hit -- couldn’t be further from the negative analyses of Disney depicted in, say, Richard Schickel’s scathing biography The Disney Version or the recent Philip Glass opera The Perfect American.

Some will no doubt call this a whitewash, but looked at from the viewpoint of the studio and the estate of Walt Disney, Saving Mr. Banks presents a grittier version of Disney than one might have expected 10 or even five years ago. Okay, so there’s no mention here of strike breaking or informing on suspected Communists to the FBI, but at least it’s conceded that not everyone was enchanted by Walt’s magic kingdom, and that there were murky shadows in his own biography, like an abusive father. Heck, they even show him smoking, and that’s way worse than being an FBI informant these days.

Taken strictly on its own terms, Saving Mr. Banks works exceedingly well as mainstream entertainment. At first a classic fish out of water, with her haughty Old World ways when she lands in laid back informal 1961 Hollywood, Mrs. Travers (as she insists she should be called) is gradually won round by Walt and staff. Three men in particular are tasked with coaxing her script approval and trust: writer Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), composer Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and his lyricist brother Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). The last two really have their work cut out for them given Travers is only mildly less resistant to having songs in the film than she is to animation.

As they slug it out in the rehearsal room over the script (she even quibbles over the wording of the scene headings), golden-hued flashbacks to Travers’ own Australian childhood uncover the scars that her writing of Mary Poppins would try to heal. Like Mr. Banks in the book, Pamela’s father Travers Goff (Colin Farrell, doing his best work for some time) was a bank manager who had a temper at times, but there the parallels end. An alcoholic whose irresponsibility pulled his family down the social scale, he’s seen as a child-man always eager to participate in their games. Clearly, Mary Poppins the character inherited something from him, as she did from Pamela’s aunt (Rachel Griffiths), who shows up with a carpetbag full of wonders just when the family most needs help. Ultimately, Mary Poppins turns out to be an idealized version of Pamela Travers, nee Helen Goff, herself, and it’s only when Disney figures out how to lift the veil over her own backstory that he can persuade her to let go of her creation.

The scene where Disney plays amateur shrink to secure the signature he needs is the script’s clumsiest, most irritating misstep, despite the laudable efforts of Hanks and Thompson to save it. Profoundly anachronistic with its smattering of psychobabble notions, it represents a shameless bit of self-flattery aimed at the industry and, no doubt, awards bodies with lines like, “It's what we storytellers do: we restore order with imagination.” Likewise, more anachronism in the service of sappiness is deployed elsewhere when Travers presents her chauffeur (Paul Giamatti, otherwise endearing) with a list of famous people -- Albert Einstein, Frida Kahlo, etc. -- with disabilities to provide inspiration for his wheelchair-bound daughter. Oh come on, barely anyone outside Mexico or France and a few art buffs knew who Frida Kahlo was in 1961.

However, these are faults most mainstream viewers probably won’t notice or even mind, especially if they read Saving Mr. Banks as a charming work of fiction, not that much more fantastical than stories about nannies that fly. Folks will swallow anything if it’s done well enough, a point charmingly made near the end when Travers attends the premiere at Grauman’s Chinese Theater. For the most part, the camera holds on Travers face, bathed in the reflected bluish light from the screen, as she cries at the parts we’ve learned meant the most to her, smiles at the jokes and winces during the dancing penguins.

As well as the outstanding performances by the leads and supporting cast, sturdy craft contributions from all departments add polish, while the use of what looks like the real Disney Burbank facility, adds veracity. (The Australian locales, however, are far less convincing-looking.) The picture gets an extra lift from the extensive use of the cracking original songs written by the Sherman Brothers for Mary Poppins, which mesh nicely with Thomas Newman's newly composed score. They're inventively woven into the story and used for dramatic counterpoint, making this on one level a musical in itself, but with borrowed songs. Presumably, the producers of Saving Mr. Banks had no trouble clearing the rights.


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