35 minutes ago
Wednesday, 4 December 2013
Film: 'SAVING MR BANKS'
To prepare myself for this I re-read 'Mary Poppins' so as to be better informed on the subject matter, though my first read was only a comparatively recent 12 years ago.
This film tells of Walt Disney's personal tussle with authoress P.L.Travers in order for him to acquire the film rights to her book, and her direct and obstructive interventions to prevent his and his team's depictions of book and title character straying from the way she'd envisaged them. Her displeasure at discovering that the film is to be not only a musical, but is also to feature scenes of animation, are well and amusingly conveyed. It's a most interesting story which I did know just a little about, though my scant knowledge was further filled in by a rather engrossing BBC TV programme a few evenings ago about the real Travers.
Emma Thompson, though looking nothing like the real-life person she portrays, does a marvellous job, conveying Travers' querulousness and obstinacy to perfection. I've yet to see Thompson fail to give a stand-out performance, and here she does it again. (Incidentally, during the close of the final credits an audio tape extract is played of the real Travers arguing with the film team about her demands for the look of the film - and it's clear that Thompson doesn't exaggerate her manner one jot).
Tom Hanks, despite the make-up team's best efforts, still looks like Tom Hanks, but he does put real flesh onto someone whom, to those of my generation, always seemed a somewhat aloof, rather sketchy figure, and even just a bit questionable in his motives, though there was nothing we knew then or now to suggest that there was really anything shady going on - at least that what I felt even before we had Michael Jackson taking troupes of young kids to Disneyland.
Colin Farrell, in regular flashbacks by Travers to her childhood in Australia, plays her wavy-haired, very affectionate father whom she adores, even though she's aware of his drink problem. I don't think I've seen Farrell play such a kindly, soft-hearted character before, and he does it quite convincingly.
It's a very entertaining film (directed by John Lee Hancock), alternately comic and profoundly moving. It attempts to show us what made Travers 'tick' and from whence her Poppins character was derived. There may well be over-simplifications in the way this is explained but I can accept that as being part of the liberties taken as 'film-speak'. Besides, it's intended to amuse and/or involve its viewers and it does that admirably.
By the way, those familiar with the book will know that Bert (as played by Dick Van Dyke in the 1964 film) is only a marginal character who appears for about 8 pages - and he's not a sweep anyway! Likewise, Mr and Mrs Banks, the former of which is very prominent in the film, are even more peripheral in the book.
When I first saw the Poppins film nearly (goodness me!) fifty years ago, although I did like it I wasn't really as overly enthusiastic as most of my contemporaries were. I thought it seemed to date rapidly on screen, and when another Sherman brothers product, 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang' came out four years later (also, of course, with Dick Van Dyke, though this time not from Disney) I rated it as being the superior of the two. Even now it looks quite fresh. It must, however, be said that for songs and music, 'Poppins' was the Shermans' real triumph. It's a brilliant score with very strong songs throughout. However, in spite of that and even despite these same brothers' songs for 'Jungle Book', I'd still make a claim that the score of 'Chitty' is pretty damn good.
But that's all beside the point for now. Not having seen 'Poppins' for something like thirty years it's more than high time for a re-viewing - and possibly for a re-appraisal, which could see my opinion being revised upwards - just like a kite!
For originality, fun, deep emotion and very fine acting I award 'Saving Mr Banks' a robustly healthy.............8.
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I do want to see this, mostly because of Emma Thompson; I agree with you about her talent.ReplyDelete
But Colin is in the film?
That's a hot little bonus!
C.F. can be guaranteed to turn my head too, Bob, though in this his hair makes him look so different that, because I'd forgotten he was in it, I didn't recognise him for a couple of minutes. But even without his sizzling presence this film would be a certain recommendation. Do go.Delete
I am such an Emma fan.... She can do no wrong in my opinion......ReplyDelete
This will be right up your street, J.G. If you don't enjoy it, sue me!Delete
A 'robustly healthy 8" for this one and an '8' for "Philomena." I thought I knew what film would be your No. 1 on your end-of-the-year list, but now I'm not so sure. But I'll bet on "Philomena."ReplyDelete
I saw the trailer for this one and Thompson looks perfect.. Tom Hanks is Tom Hanks, and some part of him will always overtake the character he is playing. Think "Cloud Atlas" - you could always spot him.
I will definitely be seeing this, although it doesn't open until Dec. 20. Meanwhile, I've ordered the 50 anniversary special DVD of "Mary" and will be all set for this.
Paul, 2013 has been a year of rich pickings. If I were to make my list of favourites now I think I already know which would come out top, though it could have been any one of a generous handful of goodies, such has been the competition. But it'll have to wait another fortnight or so. (The period around Xmas itself is usually a stagnant time here when it comes to new features appearing.)Delete
I don't have M.P. on video or DVD, or anything at all. (I still can't play DVDs anyway) so I'll just have to wait for it to be on the telly again in order to give it another shot, which it is sure to be sometime this month. I'm now looking forward to seeing it again.
this film has not been released here; we have to wait another 2-3 weeks. I saw a preview yesterday and it looks good. I have never read the book, and it's been forever since I saw the disney movie.ReplyDelete
thanks for the review, lovey; spouse and I do plan on seeing this one!
I very much look forward to reading your review, A.M. - or maybe you'll be leaving it to the hubby to provide a full one. Whatever, I'm banking on you liking this. (Oops, pardon the word - 'BANKing' - it just slipped out!)Delete
Now, the morning after, what is uppermost in my mind is some of the bleaker moments of Travers' childhood, involving her father, which does illustrate the expanse of emotions the film conveys. So be prepared for a little harshness among the pleasures, and you'll love it.
Thanks for the review! Very well done. Easy to read, concise, and interesting. Roger Ebert could have learned something from you. I'll see this movie and let you know what I think.
Thanks for that cherished compliment, Ron. I tend to get exasperated if I read a review where you've got to really penetrate the writing to find out what the reviewer actually thought - and even then sometimes you're not absolutely sure whether s/he liked it or not. So I prefer to lay my cards on the table from the start - and if the reader doesn't care for reading my verdict up front, or just what it is, then not bothering with the rest is a valid option which saves everyone time.Delete
I'll take delight in reading your opinion. It'll be extra-valuable it'll be as you don't talk much about films in your blogs. I don't think you'll regret making the effort to catch this one.
on my list! who lives at 17 cherry tree lane? Mr Banks of course!!!!ReplyDelete
It's one of those which should be on the list of everyone who enjoys cinema, Sol, and also for many of those who don't. But there won't be many around who are not familiar with the film of Mary Poppins so that alone ought to give it an initial boost, even though none is really needed.Delete
I hope this film plays here. These seldom do. Saw Original at Radio City when it opened. Liked the film aspect, Andrews, and Johns. Hated Van Dyke. His accent, and over-acting annoyed me no end.ReplyDelete
I found this article a few weeks ago. You may like it.
That really is a VERY interesting article, Cajun. Thank you.Delete
I'd love to have known what Disney's daughters thought of the film. They pestered their father to make it yet when it appeared it was so far removed from the book - even the book's spirit - that the film must have come as something as a surprise. (I think that rather than the film being 'based on 'M.P.' it would have been more accurately described as being 'suggested by....') I wonder if his daughters able to see the film on its own terms rather than what they were expecting? I suspect that they probably could, but maybe only after a little mental adjusting.
I saw Richard Sherman's name in the closing credits but hadn't realised he'd been there throughout the shoot, so there's a further claim for its near-authenticity as a kind of 'historical document'.
From what is said in the article it now seems to me that Emma Thompson's portrayal of Travers was, if anything, too kind. She sounds like she was decidedly a monster!
Yes, I agree that Dick Van Dyke's presence in the film grates on a number of levels but I suppose the justification for his presence was that at the time they needed a big name to carry the film - and Andrews up to then was still virtually unknown, at least outside the theatre world.
I'll be very surprised indeed if the film doesn't get a screening somewhere near you, if only because it's sure to pick up some award nominations - and besides, it's got a pretty starry cast too. I do hope you manage to see it on a big screen.
Hey there Ray, just checking in on you to make sure you are safe and not evacuated.ReplyDelete
couple of sticks and a small branch down in the garden, no further damage.
Apart from cold winds, which weren't especially strong, there was nothing exceptional about the weather here, Sol - nor any noteworthy tide heights. Of course one can't help but having been concerned about those on the east and some west coasts, so we did escape lightly. Sounds like your own few scattered twigs turned out also to be something of a non-event.Thanks very much for asking, though.Delete
I want to see this !ReplyDelete
Mary Poppins was my first movie. I hear tell she did not like Mr. Disney's version.
If 'M.P.' was the first film you ever saw, Dr Spo, then although it was a fine start for a youngster it must have meant that for a while the subsequent films you watched must have been an anti-climax.Delete
I can't recall which was my actual first one ever, but one of the first would definitely have been 'Bambi', another Disney made-for-children film - one that marked me for life, and not positively! (It still upsets me just to think about it.)
I hear your tongue in your cheek in your final sentence. It's true that Travers never did live down her allowing Disney to make that film. Right to the end of her life she could never let it go. It's pretty clear she'd never have agreed had it not been for that juicy cut of the film's considerable takings being dangled before her.
Good background on the author. I was not aware of all the drama associated with getting the rights prior to seeing the trailer for this film.ReplyDelete
I'm looking forward to it. Plus anytime Harper's Other Dad is interested in seeing something that isn't animated or 90% CGI one must take action.
I was aware of the tug-of-war between authoress and Disney, H.K., but not to the extent of the details that this film very usefully fills in.Delete
To tell the truth as the film was playing the thought did drop into my mind that here at last is one which contains nothing to which H.O.D. might take exception. With the slight warning that the episodes of Travers as a girl with her father are at a more serious level than the rest of the film is pitched I have no hesitation in recommending this to any and everyone. Please go with H.O.D. - and you might even consider taking Harper herself!
Poor Someone - saddled with me and my oh so limited tastes in movies.Delete
My tastes are also limited, Dr Spo, though in a slightly different way. One class of film I will not see is where animals appear as one of the film's main characters or just one of its features. And if I know an animal is depicted as suffering in any way whatsoever, even though I know it hasn't been so in reality, then that's one big 'no-no'. But we all have our own areas into which we prefer not to venture - like so many men 'brag' that they won't watch musicals. Well that's their prerogative. But I'd expect your own preferences to be considerably more rational than that sort of blanket prejudice, thereby being worthy of more respect..Delete