Rachel Griffiths - 2015 G'DAY USA Gala featuring the AACTA International Awards presented by Qantas at Hollywood Palladium - Arrivals at Hollywood Palladium - Los Angeles, California, United States - Saturday 31st January 2015
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
P.L. Travers was an Australian author who, in the early sixties, went into negotiations with Walt Disney over the rights of her novels surrounding the character Mary Poppins. It was eventually released on the big screen and won five Oscars, though its production was not without its conflicts. Travers' initial aversion to Hollywood didn't help matters, and she was unnerved by the idea that Disney might turn her beloved character into a prancing, dancing, twinkling fairy godmother. However, when Disney began to understand that Mary Poppins' place in the story was less about the children and more about their father - and, in effect, her own father on whom she based him on - the pair began to bond better and Travers was finally willing to unleash her story onto the world.
'Saving Mr. Banks' is the story of how 'Mary Poppins' was put to film in 1964 by Walt Disney, thirty years after P.L. Travers began writing about her. It is about the conflicts between Travers and Disney and Travers own struggles with her personal life when we discover just how true to life the story really was. It has been directed by John Lee Hancock ('Snow White and the Huntsman', 'A Perfect World', 'The Blind Side') and written by Kelly Marcel ('Terra Nova') and Sue Smith ('My Brother Jack', 'Peaches') and it is set to hit UK cinemas on January 17th 2014.
After staying away for 20 years, Ned (Mendelsohn) drives his young financee (Dermody) into the middle of nowhere to meet his family. She's clearly out of place in such a rural environment, and being reunited with his younger sister (Griffiths) and wheezy dad (Brown) isn't exactly comfortable for Ned, as skeletons come tumbling from the closet. As a boy (Gill then O'Donnell in flashback), he was unnaturally close to his twin sister Kate (Burner then Lowe), whose early death is also entangled with the death of his older brother (Binks then McFarlane).
Yes, this is a fairly heavy and bleak story, but actress-turned-filmmaker Ward gives it a raw beauty that keeps us gripped, darting back and forth in time to fill in key details as Ned dredges ever deeper into his memory. Ward shoots and edits the flashback scenes with particular skill, really getting into the mind of this confused boy as his closeness to Kate takes an inappropriate turn. And the moods and attitudes are razor sharp.
Meanwhile, the cast members create vivid characters that are utterly consistent even with two or three actors in various eras of each role. All of them have a haunted quality that draws us in, although as the story gets increasingly intense our ability to identify with the characters diminishes. As Kate, Lowe haunts the film beautifully, rather like she haunts everyone's memories.
Continue reading: Beautiful Kate Review
We meet Angel in the apartment of Nicole (Rachel Griffiths) and her husband Henry (Denis O'Hare). It isn't quite clear what the relationship between Angel and the couple is, but we know he's been invited to sleep over. Only later do we realize that Nicole is Angel's generous social worker, and he has nowhere else to go. Henry is not pleased by the arrangement but tries to engage Angel, with little success. They're from different planets.
Continue reading: Angel Rodriguez Review
Our three heroes are brother convicts sprung from prison because of their ability to pull off their capers with dispatch and safety. As the one who comes up with the clever strategies, ringleader Dale Twentyman (Guy Pearce) has certain standards, and one of them is his insistence that "no one gets hurt." His bothers Mal (Damien Richardson), a sweet and perhaps a bit retarded master chef (as far as the prison population is concerned), and Shane (Joel Edgerton), the sometimes raging, creepy, close-to-the-edge schizophrenic who likes to be called "Muscles," are perfectly willing to go along with Dale's insistence on carrying unloaded guns so long as he comes up with plans that work.
Continue reading: The Hard Word Review
Muriel's Wedding uses the songs of the Swedish supergroup as a clever link to the thoughts and feelings of Muriel, a young Australian woman obsessed with becoming married as soon as possible. Muriel (Toni Collette) lives with her go-nowhere family in the town of Porpoise Spit, where she spends most of her time in her room, listening to ABBA when her father isn't giving her grief.
Continue reading: Muriel's Wedding Review
The primary shortcoming of the film is that it takes three or four separate stories and loosely strings them together, while leaving out perhaps the most interesting story of all. Granted, the centerpiece of the film is how a high school science teacher makes his way to the major leagues, but this story seems rushed and almost an afterthought by the time we get to it. Instead, the filmmakers take up too much time early on relaying a tenuously related fable about nuns and the origins of baseball in Jim's rural Texas town, and then mill around in Morris's childhood, focusing on his strained relationship with the stern father that did not support his dream.
Continue reading: The Rookie Review