Saving Mr Banks (2013)


Saving Mr Banks tells the story of how Walt Disney managed to convince P.L. Travers to let him adapt her iconic Mary Poppins into a movie. The movie specifically focuses on Travers’ sad childhood and how it impacted her outlook on life.

I didn’t think the movie was as bad as some of the reviews I’ve read actually. It was a decent, enjoyable film that may be no masterpiece, but definitely something that I would be willing to watch to keep myself occupied on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t really have a high opinion of John Lee Hancock as a director, especially after The Blind Side, but I thought this movie was a considerable improvement from that film. Some of the dialogue can get pretty corny, especially by Tom Hanks, but I managed to accept it. It had some sentimentality that feels pretty in your face, but other than that, it managed to keep me intrigued. I mean, Disney movies have alway been all fluff and magic to me, so it’s always fascinating to find out more about what actually goes on behind the scenes. I’m not a fan of Mary Poppins (cynical me found it boring, sorry), but I was very surprised to learn about the inspiration behind her.

The only minor issue I have is pretty much the same as what most people have with the film: the flashbacks are a bit disruptive to the rhythm. To be honest, it feels like 2 different story lines running concurrently, which may have been Hancock’s intention, but whenever they go back to the flashbacks I feel that something is a bit off because the smooth flow of the present day storyline gets cut off a bit abruptly. I would rather that the storyline on Travers’ children was focused in the front part of the film, and that the key flashbacks from her past that are needed to explain her mentality/behavior in the later parts of the film be more succinct so that it doesn’t feel so disruptive to the main storyline. They could have remained as references, I feel, rather than a separate storyline altogether. And to be honest, something about the childhood scenes didn’t really click with me…I can’t really figure out exactly what it is. I think it’s partially because they’re really cliche and sentimental in a forced way, but I think it has also got to do with Collin Farrell’s performance, which I couldn’t really warm up to because the writing for his character wasn’t very strong either. I just couldn’t buy his performance as the loving father who is an alcoholic. In fact, I feel that the tragedy was more effectively communicated through Emma Thompson’s performance and emotions rather than the actual scenes themselves.

Emma Thompson gives a really good performance as P.L.Travers. To be honest, she made the movie watchable for me, and I’d even say she rose above the material that’s given. The movie seems to want to portray her as some one-note grumpy bitch throughout, but Thompson always succeeded in showing a sort of sadness in her eyes that explains her behavior. She handled the development of her character more realistically than her script, which is saying something. A lesser talent would have made the character a caricature, like a typical grumpy lady who suddenly breaks out of her past self and becomes cheerful. I feel that Thompson added many layers to her performance, and she successfully showed how she was haunted by her own past, and how much Mary Poppins really meant to her. In that way, she managed to actually make me sympathise with her character despite her being ultra dislike able.

Tom Hanks was good. He’s doing his charming American man thing AGAIN, but I must add that he managed to tone down the cheesiness by quite a lot as compared to his Forrest Gump days.

I don’t really have much to say about the film because it didn’t leave that much of an impression, but I can safely say that I liked it. It’s flawed, but watchable. I used to think that Emma Thompson was robbed of that nomination, but like I said in my Oscars post Amy Adam’s performance really grew on me. I’d still have nominated Thompson instead though.

Ok, ok…I have been thinking about the future direction of this blog. I still don’t have a plan but a part of me wants one. I’m wondering whether I should start watching more foreign films, or whether I should review Oscar best picture winners, like do a profile for all the best picture nominees for each year and a ranking. On the other hand, another part of me wants to just go by my gut and randomly select a film to watch and review…so I’m conflicted. I’ll think about it but honestly profiling sounds very troublesome haha and I’m lazy…but it’s nice to have some structure too.

Anyway! I’ve had enough of modern films for now. I’m going to head back to watching classical films and some of the other ones. Just a heads up on what are some of the performances and movies I want to review, in no particular order:

1) Brief Encounter (1946)
2) The Sin of Madelon Claudet (1931, very interested in watching more Helen Hayes movies)
3) Doctor Zhivago (1965) – About time
4) The Elephant Man (1980)
5) The Informer (1935)
6) Some Katharine Hepburn movies, especially the ones from the 30s to 40s LOL
7) More Anne Bancroft movies too…maybe like The Pumpkin Eater or ‘night, Mother
8) update: Zorba the Greek (1964)
9) Five Easy Pieces (1970)
10) Nashville (1975)

Yeah, you can see I’m exposing myself to more of David *Lean’s works.

And the unconfirmed list of films that are on my rewatch list, but highly tentative:
1) Gone With The Wind (1939)
2) Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)

Ok the rewatch is unlikely to happen, it’s just something I decided on a sudden impulse. :p


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