This true story only barely avoids becoming sloppily sentimental, thanks to a solid cast and a final act that generates honest emotion. Awash with the Disney spirit, the film breaks free of the marketing machine to recount events that are lively and often very funny, but also manage to be sharply moving. It's the kind of crowd-pleaser that deserves to do well both at the box office and in awards ceremonies.
Set in 1961, it's the story of how Walt Disney (Hanks) finally lures PL Travers (Thompson) to Hollywood to woo her into signing over the film rights to Mary Poppins after some 20 years of pestering. She is equally determined to protect her creation, which is very close to her heart. But she agrees to work with the screenwriter (Whitford) and composers (Schwartzman and Novak) as long as she has veto power. Her demands are crazy ("I don't want the colour red anywhere in the movie!"), but everyone tries to win her over. Eventually Walt realises that he needs to find out exactly why Mary Poppins is so important to her. And that the story is more about Mary's affect on the family's father, Mr Banks, than the children.
Indeed, in parallel flashbacks we see Travers' childhood in rural 1906 Australia, where she lives as a young girl (Buckley) with her lively father (Farrell) and shattered mother (Wilson). Her dad's alcoholism is the driving force of these scenes, which feel like a completely separate film intercut with sunny 1960s Hollywood. But they add weight to Thompson's remarkably detailed performance, which is marvellously withering and hilarious, and also subtly emotional. Her interaction with the buoyant Hanks is sharp and jagged, and the film's nicest scenes are between Travers and her driver, sensitively played by Giamatti.
Continue reading: Saving Mr. Banks Review
Alison Owen - Producer Alison Owen attends the premiere of "Saving Mr. Banks" at the Odeon Leicester Square. Screened at the closing of the 57th BFI London Film Festival. - London, United Kingdom - Sunday 20th October 2013
After being orphaned as a child, Jane (Clarkson) is sent by her selfish aunt (Hawkins) to a grisly boarding school where she's falsely scorned as a liar.
When she leaves at age 18 (now Wasikowska), she works as a governess for the ward (Moore) of the mercurial Rochester (Fassbender), finding friendship with the housekeeper (Dench) and, surprisingly, romance with Rochester. Alas, this doesn't go well, and when she flees she finds solace with rural parson Rivers (Bell) and his sisters (Grainger and Merchant). Surely she deserves some good news.
Continue reading: Jane Eyre Review
William (Johnson) is a troubled rich kid in North London who strains against the success of his novelist mother (Dodds). Obsessed with suicide, he spends his hours in online chatrooms, creating one that attracts four members: equally bored rich kid Eva (Poots), shy and lonely Jim (Beard), needy Emily (Murray) and Mo (Kaluuya), who struggles with unwanted urges. But it soon becomes clear that William is a predator who's out to unsettle and derail everyone around him. Will they catch on soon enough to stop his nefarious plan?
Continue reading: Chatroom Review
Bestselling author Nicholas (Allam) and his efficient wife Beth (Greig) use their Dorset farm as a writer's retreat, while the goings on in the nearby village provide plenty of inspiration. Especially when notorious journalist Tamara (Arterton) returns to town. Her childhood boyfriend (Evans) is stunned when she falls for posing rocker Ben (Cooper), who's the object of obsession for two local 15-year-old girls (Barden and Christie). Meanwhile, Beth's patience with Nicholas' straying eye is being sorely tested just as a visiting writer (Camp) starts paying her some attention.
Continue reading: Tamara Drewe Review
With his Queen unable to bear him a son, Henry VIII (Eric Bana) seeks solace in the beds of local noblewomen. When the Duke of Norfolk (David Morrissey) learns of this proclivity, he attempts to exploit it for his family's benefit. Calling on brother Sir Thomas Boleyn (Mark Rylance) and his wife, Lady Elizabeth (Kristin Scott Thomas), they come up with a devious plan. They will invite the King to their estate, and then parade daughter Anne (Natalie Portman) before him. Of course, his Majesty has his own designs, and after a hunting accident, he takes a fancy to the fairer, more compassionate Boleyn girl Mary (Scarlett Johansson). Immediately becoming his concubine, the entire family is whisked off to court. But Anne will not be vanquished, and will do anything to claim her royal reward.
Continue reading: The Other Boleyn Girl Review
Directed by Christine Jeffs, whose Rain was a poignant look at a young girl starting to realize her own form of beauty, Sylvia takes us through the tempestuous relationship between Sylvia Plath (Paltrow) and Ted Hughes (Daniel Craig). They meet, quickly mate, his philandering tendencies are revealed, he leaves, she kills herself. The end. Of course, all of this is public knowledge already, so the details of the travails would be what makes or breaks the film, and unfortunately more stock is put into getting the facts right than in creating much interest in them.
Continue reading: Sylvia Review
450 years ago, no one would've thought a thing about a little intern boinking. Today, that's obviously big news, and it should have made the sexual, political, and religious escapades of Elizabeth all the more thrilling.
Continue reading: Elizabeth Review
Pete Postlethwaite stars as Guinness-swilling Everyman Hubert, who, for no apparent reason, suddenly turns into a large white rat (he was a white man, they say, so it would be ridiculous for him to turn into a black rat!). That's not the point of the film, though -- the point is that no one seems to care very much about Hubert's predicament, staging a series of mundane problems around Hubert's dilemma. The local reporter wants to write a book about Hubert. Hubert gets tossed into a washing machine. Hubert bites his wife's finger. By the time Hubert suddenly turns back into a man again, we've utterly forgotten why we should care about him in the first place.
Continue reading: Rat Review
Familiarity with Auburn's stage presentation may breed contempt for this version, which feels distinctly off-kilter from its first frames. Mysteries that held water longer in the theater instead land like Doc Marten's on a flimsy piece of plywood here. Director John Madden samples a chatty, analytical approach to his literal translation but gets swept up in stagy, awkward, and all-too-deliberate line readings. Much like last year's ill-conceived Phantom of the Opera, this movie has few cinematic qualities that elevate it above a tedious and emotionless play rehearsal shot on location.
Continue reading: Proof (2005) Review