Saving Mr Banks

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by ShyViolet » September 10th, 2013, 12:17 pm

"That’s right, folks, it’s gonna be a Meg episode, stick around for the fun.
Here’s the clicker...no one’d blame ya.”

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by ShyViolet » October 3rd, 2013, 2:53 pm

Oscar buzz plus new pic:
(Scroll down)

http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/new-pictur ... scar-buzz/
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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by EricJ » October 5th, 2013, 6:17 am

Everything has "Oscar buzz" in October. And only the Golden Globes believes it. :roll:
(And nowadays, the Oscars believe the Golden Globes.)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Bill1978 » October 5th, 2013, 6:57 am

To be fair, this movie is your typical Oscar bait movie. So it would naturally come with buzz until it premieres somewhere.

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by ShyViolet » October 9th, 2013, 6:17 pm

"That’s right, folks, it’s gonna be a Meg episode, stick around for the fun.
Here’s the clicker...no one’d blame ya.”

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by ShyViolet » October 17th, 2013, 9:50 am

An imperfect Walt even though film was made by Disney:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/10/17/mo ... mr%20banks
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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Ben » October 22nd, 2013, 12:05 pm

All reviews are pretty positive so far, and I'm thrilled that we Brits get this a couple of weeks early (Nov 29, Dec 13 in the US). :)

Interesting on the script front there: Kelly Marcell is actually the sister of a friend of mine's ex-wife...and we had no idea where she was headed with this movie! All of a sudden she's in Hollywood making a movie about Walt Disney...funny old world! :)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Ben » December 5th, 2013, 2:09 pm

So...Saving Mr Banks...

Without spoiling things, I was hoping to write up a full review but time is my enemy and James will no doubt cover this for the front page (I will wait until the BD later down the line).

But I did see this the other night and wanted to share some views on the movie which, from the opening logo (a very nice but odd retro-melding of the 1980s blue castle Disney logo with the text from a 1940s cartoon title card...!) is clear has been made by fans and as a love letter to not only Poppins but Walt as well.

However, just as the Anthony Hopkins Hitchcock film was really more about Mrs Hitchcock and how making Psycho affected *her* life during the shoot (and should have rightfully been called Mrs Hitchcock), Saving Mr Banks is just if not more concerned with highlighting the early, formative years of PL Travers' life than just the making of Disney's screen version. The film continuously (and sometimes too repetitively) cuts between Travers' journey to LA to meet Walt and her early life in Australia, where alcoholic Dad Colin Farrell (doing his best work in ages) descends into an unemployable mess. While these scenes work dramatically, they're also a little heavy handed in setting up how supposed elements would later emerge in the Poppins books (or, rather more, the movie).

So various characters say things or hint at phrases that will later show up in the film, implying that Travers really did use a lot of this in her books (which I haven't read) or that the Disney story crew were mind-readers. There's quite a bit of connecting some dots in this kind of cute fashion to tie things all together neatly, but it does work even if it does all feel a little light and frothy. Bringing some gravitas is Emma Thompson as Travers, who isn't nearly as short, plump or plain looking as the real author, although after a while I did find her performance to be a little one-note and, even when her steely demeanor breaks towards the end, it wasn't quite as emotional as I thought it could have been played.

The many flashbacks to her early life are interwoven variously either very well (with clever staging and editing) or not so good, with one or two seemingly placed slightly against the wrong scene. Sometimes what happens in the flashback mirrors or informs what Travers is going through in the film's 1961 present, and these edits can be very smart, if cute, but at other times it does feel like either the flashback or the present scene could have been shifted in each other's place to a slightly better effect.

Speaking of 1961, the retro setting is nicely achieved by way of costumes, sets and VFX. I have already spoken about the reversionist entrance to Walt Disney Productions as seen in the trailer, and again here, as a much more nicely designed frontage than the studios had back then (the basic black WDP upon the side of a building *is* also seen, but when Travers arrives in California she passes a lovely brick-designed logo signage that's based on the much more recent 1980s Walt Disney Studios entrance wall).

That one is more than forgivable if one wants to assume the filmmakers wanted to "welcome" Travers to Disney's with a bit of self-importance (something she believes Walt is full of), but slightly more of a no-no is when she is shown to her hotel room, strewn with Disney plush figures by way of a welcome. It's played for, and gets, a big laugh...and the toys are largely and very appreciatively depicted as being how they would have been in the 60s in that they aren't as well made or rounded as today's plush dolls....

...BUT...buried within them is one of the film's bigger anachronisms (another one *possibly* being a poster for a Disney film that didn't come out much, much later), and one I really wished they'd stayed away from. For amongst the toys is clearly a fluffy Winnie The Pooh bear, a character that wouldn't make his Disney screen debut for another five years (in 1966's Honey Tree featurette). As the camera pans across the room I silently prayed that this Pooh plush might be glimpsed in one wide shot and that would be it...something that could just about be overlooked. However, Travers focuses on it, picks it up, and laments what Walt has done to AA Milne's character...

I won't spoil the line here, but the bottom line is that Travers wouldn't have known what Walt might have done with Pooh. We're in 1961, Honey Tree didn't come out until '66, and there's no way the public would have known how any development was going (if it was indeed even quite up and running at that point), let alone the suggestion that Walt would have already had soft-toys of the characters manufactured and out five years before an intended picture was due to be released.

Now...I get why this was done. I can understand that from either a writing or directing point of view, the filmmakers need to get across that Travers is fearful of what Disney will do to her creation. It's clearly a shorthand line, for Travers to make a comment about another British author's "treatment" at the American animator's hand, and Pooh is an easy visual metaphor for this, as well as being of a similar timeframe. But with Alice In Wonderland and Peter Pan already released some years before - and therefore being something that Travers may well have seen and been familiar with as well as a modern audience - I wonder why a Disney consultant (or at least one doing their job properly) couldn't have suggested a Pan or Alice figure...?

Each would have been a better and more authentic choice, highlighted the same point and could have possibly added more insight and depth to the moment: pick a Captain Hook plush and it might have also been indicative of Travers about to be "hooked" in under Disney's charm...pick the Cheshire Cat and there might have been a hint of Travers about to disappear down the rabbit hole into the crazy world of Walt's Wonderland... Most audiences won't notice this, but for a film that otherwise strived to perfect its depicted era and wanted to be as authentic and true as possible, this seemed a strange oversight to me.

Moving on...and the majority of the rest of the film is pretty much as seen in the trailers. It's light and frothy and passes along without too much depth. Travers' own unfortunate relationship with an adopted child isn't mentioned (except for one kinda-referencing line) when it could have made for a further interesting parent/child angle, and although the 20-year struggle for Walt to get the Poppins rights is touched on in dialogue, you never see any early backstory from his side, which could have been nice.

As Walt, Hanks is in supporting role mode, taking a back seat to the Poppins crew, including Jason Schwartzman as Richard Sherman, who is pretty darn fine here. I wasn't quite so hot on the guy playing his brother Robert, but this was more from a physical aspect as I found him too angular in the face (his performance, on the other hand, is just a spot on). Also good as Travers' LA driver is Paul Giamatti, whose character is there to fill in some gaps and somewhat be the audiences' guide, helping to mellow out Travers as a presumably fictional character that crops up from time to time for her to bounce off.

Personally, I couldn't get past Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Hanks portrays the old Mousetro well, and he certainly captures the essence of the role and even manages to grasp that unmistakable drawl occasionally, but for me the film is more about two powerhouse performances that almost rival the two significantly imposing people they are portraying onscreen. Thompson is probably the more successful, and her Travers isn't really that much of a stretch past other things she has done, with Hanks rightfully being promoted as a supporting actor. Slightly too young looking for the age Walt was, this is more Tom Hanks slicking his hair back, growing a moustache and drawling his voice out a bit rather than him really inhabiting his character, and his eyes, to me, never quite said "Walt" even though what he does he does very well, *especially* when his efforts to secure the Poppins rights have failed and he makes one final plea to Travers (the genius of the film - and Walt - was that when Disneyland didn't work its magic, he was able to convince her on her own ground), which is a moment worth seeing the movie for on its own.

However, by the film's end it somewhat concedes that it can't beat the real thing, and falls back into showcasing some scenes and emotional beats borrowed from Poppins itself. The film isn't about the "making of Mary Poppins" at all...Saving Mr Banks is all set before a frame was shot or the cast was even set. It then jumps to the Poppins premiere (which Travers invited herself to), where some Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke lookielikes (the pair are never seen otherwise, apart from in the Poppins film sequences) pop up for a shot. The Andrews double is pretty good, but this is before we see the real thing just seconds later and one realizes she looks nothing like her, while the Van Dyke double is more like a younger Mickey Rooney: my feeling is that with the real things about to be seen the premiere might have been better off just continuing to focusing on Travers' bemusement at the whole thing.

At the end, the film scenes from Poppins are a little hit and miss. It's a bit of a cheat to rest back on them in a "new" movie, while at the same time they celebrate the original film and champion this new one's reason for being all-too-well. It's a double-edged sword that perhaps shows too much Poppins, but then doesn't really show enough of the film's sublime subplot to make the point that Saving Mr Banks' title really alludes to.

In all, Saving Mr Banks is a decent film that, while possibly a little overlong as all films are these days, doesn't actually outstay its welcome and certainly works as a typically Disneyfied fluffy version of events. Thompson and Hanks are both good, even if I didn't think they truly inhabited their characters apart from two or three moments each, and the film may have too light a touch to really win over Oscar voters (Travers' early life looks hard, but it's not traumatic enough; Travers in LA is depicted in comedic fish out of water fashion; Disney is portrayed as a smoker, but that's about as dark as he gets).

Fans will know what is coming, and will appreciate many little "easter eggs" peppered throughout just as much as they will cringe at some things that aren't quite true or spot-on. The end is very good, and certainly the audience I saw it with appreciated the film and, a rarity, sat for the end credits which are worth sticking around for as they play some of the real Travers/Sherman tapes. Here we hear a little more about what Poppins means to Travers, but I might have preferred to hear the real versions of some of the more surprising lines in the movie, if they were indeed ever muttered: one has to remember this is ultimately a fictional account. But those tape snippets are authentic to hear, and remind us that however the movie has been fashioned, Travers' trip to Disney's did happen.

I'll be interested to see how Saving Mr Banks does in release. It's a much better and more authentic film than Hitchcock, and although it's been sold as the making of Poppins I don't think too many will be put off by the actuality that this is a film that truly supports its title. It's about the saving of Mr Banks, of Travers' father in her mind, and the redemption that this figure goes through from real life to her written page and through Disney's screen incarnation. It's a film that, while it may not be "heavy" enough to warrant awards in major categories, is well researched and written and mostly very well directed, managing to turn a series of events into an entertaining and strangely nostalgic picture.

It's been a fair few recent times that I've watched Mary Poppins and figured out that she was there all along to save the children's father, but Saving Mr Banks not only makes that whole aspect clear, but does so by way of creating a unique angle of its own. By using the Travers' backstory as a hook, it becomes more than just a TV-movie styled docudrama that could fill a gap as a DVD extra and stands both separately *and* as a lovely companion to a true screen masterpiece.

Let me know what you thought...! :)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Randall » December 5th, 2013, 11:39 pm

Gee, too bad you didn't have time to write a full review... :roll:

;)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Ben » December 6th, 2013, 7:36 am

I think a "full" review would have been shorter!! ;)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by James » December 9th, 2013, 11:05 am

That's probably true! One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes is: "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

I read the first two paragraphs then jumped to the end to ask about spoilers before I read the rest!

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by Ben » December 9th, 2013, 6:48 pm

I did avoid spoilers (in so far that we know PL Travers goes to see Walt Disney and he eventually makes a film out of her book, Mary Poppins!) ;)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by James » December 10th, 2013, 9:34 am

Ben wrote:So...Saving Mr Banks...

Without spoiling things, I was hoping to write up a full review but time is my enemy and James will no doubt cover this for the front page...
There is no way I'm reviewing this now! You've already done it! Nice. Not expecting a history lesson but looking forward to seeing a taste of my favorite film back on the big screen.

:)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by EricJ » December 11th, 2013, 2:19 am

Best Buy is reportedly offering a free ticket with the Mary Poppins Blu-ray, and since, well, buying the Blu is a given... :)

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Re: Saving Mr Banks

Post by James » December 11th, 2013, 8:07 am

I bought mine there. The packaging says it comes with a free ticket. I assume it is through DMR but haven't checked yet.

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