Film Review: MARY POPPINS RETURNS (USA 2018) ***** Top 10

Mary Poppins Returns Poster
Trailer

Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.

Director:

Rob Marshall

Writers:

David Magee (screenplay by), David Magee (screen story by) | 3 more credits »

MARY POPPINS RETURNS begins with a song-and-dance number in the early morning of London where the fog is still on the ground.  A street lamplighter named Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wore the music for HAMILTON) brings the audience into the spirit of things.

Set in 1930s London, which is the time period of the original novels by P. L. Travers, the story follows Michael (Ben Whishaw) and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), who are now grown up.  Michael is living with his three children (Pixie Davies, Nathanael Saleh, and Joel Dawson) and housekeeper Ellen (Julie Walters), in the house on Cherry Tree Lane.   After Michael has a personal loss, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) comes back into the lives of the Banks family.   No details on how Michael lost his wife.

The songs are ok for the first half and turns lively and catchy in the second half.  The Sherman Brothers who wrote the songs for the original POPPINS have music credits in this one.  None of the songs in the original are sung in this one, but a few chords of “For a Spoonful  of Sugar”, “Feed the Bird” and ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite” can be heard on the soundtrack.  A song “Trip a Little Light-fantastic’ reminds on of “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.  The musical number with the lamp-lights runs similar to the musical number performed by the chimney sweeps on the rooftops in the original.

A few magical segments brighten up the story.  The three children go on wild adventures like into the bathtub with Mary or into rotating ornament.  The grownups disbelieve and the children point to Mary Poppins.  “Mary Poppins never explains.”  These are the same words uttered in both movies.

A bit of romance is inserted in the story between Jack and Jane – not too much, just a hint for artistic purposes.

Emily Mortimer was the special guest present at the special screening.  She praised director Rob Marshall forms vision and one can see his vision realized in the picture – from the imaginative musical numbers to the impressive magical adventures.

The film contains three super cameos.  The first is Meryl Streep playing a Mary Poppin’s cousin, Topsy. With a thick Eastern European accent with coloured hair, bright rags and pearls and necklaces, her musical number is one lively inspiration that turns the film at its midpoint from mediocre to excellent fare.  After Streep’s appearance, the film goes uphill right to the heights of the floating balloons at the film’s end, the balloons given by Angela Lansbury, the balloon lady breaking out in song.  Lansbury has been in a magical musical Poppins type hit years back, the memorable BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS.  But the best cameo of all is Dick Van Dyke, aged masterfully playing Mr. Dawes Jr., the son of Mr. Dawes Sr., who he played in the first film.  Julie Andrews turned down the offer of a cameo.

MARY POPPINS RETURNS arrives 54 years after the original Julie Andrews musical.  It is a long but worthwhile wait.  It is indeed good to feel like a child again.  

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3jsfXDZLIY

Advertisements

Movie Review: ADAPTATION, 2002, Directed by Spike Jonze

ADAPTATION,      MOVIE POSTERADAPTATION, 2002
Movie Reviews

Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring: Nicholas Cage, Meryl Streep, Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, Tilda Swinton, Maggie Gyllenhall
Review by Russell Wray

SYNOPSIS:

Charlie Kaufman writes the way he lives… With Great Difficulty. His Twin Brother Donald Lives the way he writes… with foolish abandon. Susan writes about life… But can’t live it. John’s life is a book… Waiting to be adapted. One story… Four Lives… A million ways it can end.

REVIEW:

“Nothing happens in life. Life is boring.” writer Charlie Kaufman (Nicholas Cage) declares to screen writing wiz Robert Mckee (played by Brian Cox) whilst at one of his writing seminars. To this Robert Mckee fiercely replies “Nothing happens in life? Are you mad? People find love. People lose it. Everyday someone makes a conscious decision to destroy someone else”. With these two characters there is a strong summary of all of Charlie Kaufman’s work which is finding the interesting and extraordinary in everyday life. Adaptation is a great example of this because Kaufman tries to answer this question through his characters as oppose to his usual device of creating surreal scenarios to attempt to answer this question.

Writer Charlie Kaufman is given the task of adapting a book about orchids into a movie. He struggles to find a story in the book. He has to make one up. He cleverly decides to make the movie about himself and his struggle to write the movie. With the help of his twin brother Donald (also played by Nicholas Cage) he follows the writer and the subject of the book to find out who these people really are. In the same way that Kaufman has become fascinated with his subjects, the writer of the book, Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) has become obsessed with her subject John Laroche (Chris Cox). Susan lives a seemingly ordinary suburban life and seeks to escape this with flower thief Laroche. Laroche is no stranger to tragedy and leads a different life to Susan. He poaches orchids in Florida, runs an internet porn site, and is missing his front teeth.”

The most interesting area of this film is Kaufman’s struggle to write the movie. Kaufman uses the film as a tool to discuss writing conventions. Kaufman himself declares that he does not want to make a fantastical film about car chases, guns or characters faced by obstacles that they must overcome. He simply wants to make a film about flowers. As the film shows this is no easy task. The contrast between the neurotic Charlie Kaufman with twin brother Donald Kaufman works brilliantly. Donald Kaufman has followed his brother’s footsteps and begins to write a screenplay of his own. Donald attends regular screenwriting workshops and generally writes with conventions and stereotypes. Kaufman shows his cleverness here by showing the audience these conventions to enhance his more complex style of writing.

In Kaufman’s quest to find adventure in naturalism he still creates a line in the film where fact and fiction meet. The problem is trying to find where that line is. Even to the extent of his characters it is unclear how accurate they are. In this auto-biographical piece it is not clear what Kaufman has contrived to drive plot and what he has kept close to real life. Charlie Kaufman shows bravery in creating himself as a timid weak person and yet does not hint to the audience that his character is merely a representation and not his real persona. The heart pumping close of the film leaves the audience wondering about these small details. This is a different approach for Kaufman as the audience usually leaves the film wondering what the hell they just saw. This once again sticks to Kaufman’s new deconstructive approach to writing and it clear that Kaufman is attempting to master a much more subtle style of writing.

Spike Jonze’s direction doesn’t stand out but that is a good thing. It is obvious that the director has a great respect and love for Kaufman’s writing since they worked together on Being John Malkovich. Jonzes does not try anything too absurd. He works very much as a silent director and lets the characters live out the story. This is not to say that Jonze does not construct some brilliant pieces. When Laroche’s past story is revealed, Jonze’s works very simply but effectively to create a very cold but extremely naturalistic scene which will definitely shock any audience member.

Nicholas Cage puts in one of his best performances in recent memory. No offence meant to Mr. Cage but he does portray paranoia and insecurity brilliantly. He never goes over the top with his performance. He also shines as the brother Donald who is confident yet naïve. The chance to play two roles which show an actor’s range so strongly must have been a challenge for Cage but he fully leaps in and created one of his best pieces of work here. Chris Cooper won an Academy Award in 2003 for his performance in this film and rightly so. Laroche is an interesting character from a less privileged world to the other characters. Cooper plays the tragedy and emotions of the character on such a subtle level that the audience believe this character to be flesh and blood. Streep is excellent as always in portraying the naturalistic tone that Jonze creates. Some of the smaller roles in this film really stand out, especially Brian Cox as screenwriter Robert Mckee whose bite is not as bad as his bark but you would still not like to see his bite.

Adaptation is definitely not a film to be missed. It is another landmark in screenwriting from Charlie Kaufman. Even if it does not include the surreal and absurd moments that audiences loved in Being John Malkovich it works as a much more subtle and sensitive piece of cinema which drags all of the excitement out of ordinary life as best as it can.

Film Review: THE POST (USA 2017) ****

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

The Post Poster
Trailer

A cover-up that spanned four U.S. Presidents pushed the country’s first female newspaper publisher and a hard-driving editor to join an unprecedented battle between journalist and government.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

An ideal time for a picture such as THE POST to be released is this day and time when the majority of Americans are dissatisfied with the Trump Presidency.  No matter how much President Trump tries to make it right or criticize media, he is still made fun of every night on the talk shows, and especially on SNL by Alec Baldwin.  

The timing is also relevant for two reasons.  The film is Meryl Streep’s comeback at Trump after he made the remark of her being the most over-rated actress.  he demonstrates her acting prowess at taking down the Nixon Presidency or any other Presidency for that matter.  The second is the banding of critics and other publications to take down Disney when the studio decided to ban the L.A. Times in retaliation for a scathing article written against them. 

Spielberg, director of 50 or so films as of date, goes for theatrics, clearly from the start of the film to the end.  Meryl Streep is given the grand theatrical entrance in the bedroom scene where she coughs and papers get thrown on the floor.  The camera concentrates on the performances on both Hanks and Streep, as if it were begging them to be noticed for Oscar nods.  The actual crime, the incidents of the coverups of the four governments are only briefly mentioned, with hardly any details.  The opening sequence of one failure attack in Vietnam is supposed to do the trick.  

THE POST is the drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents.

The script goes on to push all the right buttons to give the audience a feel-good feeling of elation.  “The Government has lied about the Vietnam War for 30 years.  The way they lied has tone brought out into the open.” says  Bradley. The government is then pursuing the security breach.  The announcement of the result of the court as to whether the Washington Post would be acquitted is grandly staged.  Even the words of the judge are quoted as coming from there American fore-fathers.

It is interesting to compare Spielberg’s other political entry on American Presidents – LINCOLN.  In that film, President Abraham Lincoln was treated with respect and grandeur while in THE POST Nixon is considered nothing more than two-faced rat.  Nixon invites no Washington Post press for his daughter’s wedding as a result apart incident and later bans the Post from the White House showing him not only guilty of being a sore-loser but one craving for revenge.  His revenge is shown at the closing of the film as he Watergate scandal begins, as everyone knows.  But the scene is still a satisfying one.

THE POST and the upcoming THE GREATEST SHOWMAN are 20th Century Fox’s Oscar hopefuls, both opening at Christmas.  Both are crowd pleasers and it will be interesting to see what happens.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrXlY6gzTTM

 

 

 

Submit your Screenplay to the Festival TODAY

Happy Birthday: Meryl Streep

merylstreep.jpgHappy Birthday actor Meryl Streep

Born: June 22, 1949 in Summit, New Jersey, USA

Married: Don Gummer (30 September 1978 – present) (4 children)

 

 

 

THE DEER HUNTERThe Deer Hunter
1978
dir. Michael Cimino
starring
Robert DeNiro
Streep
KRAMER VS KRAMERKramer vs Kramer
1979
dir. Robert Benton
Starring
Dustin Hoffman
Meryl Streep
OUT OF AFRICAOut of Africa
1985
dir. Sydney Pollack
Starring
Meryl Streep
Robert Redford
DEATH BECOMES HERDeath Becomes Her
1992
dir. Zemeckis
Starring
Streep
Bruce Willis
Goldie Hawn
A RIVER WILDA River Wild
1994
dir. Curtis Hanson
Starring
Streep
Kevin Bacon
THE HOURSThe Hours
2002
dir. Stephen Daldry
Cast
Nicole Kidman
Meryl Streep
Adaptation
2002
dir. Spike Jonze
Starring
Nicholas Cage
Streep
Chris Cooper
SydneyWhiteLions for Lambs
2007
Directed by Robert Redford
Starring
Robert Redford
Tom Cruise
Mamma MiaMamma Mia
2008
Directed by Phyllida Lloyd
Starring
Pierce Bronson
Amanda Seyfried
DOUBTDoubt
2008
dir. John Patrick Shanley
Starring
Amy Adams
Philip Seymour Hoffman
JULIE AND JULIA Movie PosterJulie and Julia
dir. Nora Ephron
Starring
Amy Adams
Streep
FANTASTIC MR. FOX Movie PosterFantastic Mr. Fox
dir. Wes Anderson
Stars:
George Clooney
Meryl Streep
Bill Murray
IT'S COMPLICATED Movie PosterIt’s Complicated
dir. Nancy Meyers
Stars:
Meryl Streep
Steve Martin
Alec Baldwin
MOVIE POSTERTHE IRON LADY
dir. Phyllida Lloyd
Stars:
Meryl Streep
Jim Broadbent
MOVIE POSTERHOPE SPRINGS
2012
dir. David Frankel
Stars:
Meryl Streep
Tommy Lee Jones
MOVIE POSTERMANHATTAN
1979
dir. Woody Allen
Stars:
Woody Allen
Dianne Keaton
MOVIE POSTERAUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY
2013
dir. John Wells
Stars:
Meryl Streep
Julia Roberts
MOVIE POSTERTHE ANT BULLY
2006
dir. John A Davis
Stars:
Paul Giamatti
Nicolas Cage
MOVIE POSTERTHE DEVIL WEARS PRADA
2006
dir. David Frankel
Stars:
Anne Hathaway
Meryl Streep
MOVIE POSTERMARVIN’S ROOM
1996
dir. Jerry Zaks
Stars:
Leonardo DiCaprio
Meryl Streep
MOVIE POSTERTHE GIVER
2014
dir. Phillip Noyce
Stars:
Brenton Thwaites
Jeff Bridges
MOVIE POSTERA PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION
2006
dir. Robin Altman
Stars:
Meryl Streep
Lily Tomlin
SEE TOP 100 MERYL STREEP PHOTOS
1960s
1970s
1980s
1990s
2011
and Al Pacino
and Alec Baldwin
and Amanda Seyfried
and Amy Adams
and Anne Hathaway
and Bruce Willis
and Cher
and Clint Eastwood
and Diane Keaton
and Don Gummer
and Dustin Hoffman
and Emma Thompson
and Gleen Close
and Goldie Hawn
and her children
and husband
and Jack Nicholson
and Jane Lynch
and Jim Carrey
and John Cazale
and Julia Roberts
and Kate Winslet
and Kate Bacon
and Kevin Kline
and Leonardo DiCaprio
and Lily Tomlin
and Lindsay Lohan
and Mamie Gummar
and Penelope Cruz
and Philip Seymour Hoffman
and Pierce Brosnan
and Renee Zellweger
and Robert DeNiro
and Robert Redford
and Roy Scheider
and Sandra Bullock
and Stanley Tucci
and Steve Martin
and Tim Robbins
and Uma Thurman
and Viola Davis
and Wes Anderson
and Woody Allen
Art
as a Nun
as Aunt Josephine
as Julia Child
as Lindy Chamberlain
as Mamma Mia
as Margaret Thatcher
as Matthew Vasser
as Miranda Priestly
as the Iron Lady
Background
Beautiful
Before and After
Blue Fairy
Caricature
Casual
Chris March
Close up
Collage
Cosmopolitan
Devil
Ear Cuff
Entertainment Weekly
Face
Fashion
Feet
Glasses
High School
Jewelry
Ladies Journal
Makeup
Model
Oscar Dress
Parada
People
Photo Shoot
Pose
Poster
Red Carpet
Red Dress
Rolling Stone
Teeth
The Simpsons
Time
Vanity Fair
Vogue
W Magazine
Walk of Fame
Wallpaper
Without Makeup
Yale
Young