Tag Archives: ben whishaw

MARY POPPINS RETURNS (2018) – My rating: 8.5/10

Mary Poppins Returns is a musical fantasy directed by Rob Marshall, screenplay written by David Magee and story by Magee Marshall, and John DeLuca. Mary Poppins Returns is based on the book series, Mary Poppins by P. L. Travers.  The film is a sequel to the 1964 original film, Mary Poppins and was released in the United States on December 19, 2018, making it one of the longest gaps between film sequels in cinematic history at 54 years.  While I always got Nanny McPhee mixed up with Mary Poppins, I now know the absolute difference, thanks to the sequel.  I didn’t particularly want to see MPR but I’m glad I did — it’s truly a fun, feel good movie.

Mary Poppins Returns, (MPR) is set in the 1930s London, twenty-five years after the original film. Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt), the former nanny of Jane and Michael Banks, returns to the Bank’s household after a family tragedy:  In 1935 London, Michael Banks (Ben Whishaw) lives in the home where he grew up and married Kate and now has three children, Annabel Banks (Pixie Davies), John Banks (Nathanael Saleh), and Georgie Banks (Joel Dawson). Tragady befell Michael and the children when his wife, Kate died a year ago. Ellen (Julie Walters), the house keeper  and Jane Banks (Emily Mortimer), Michael’s sister are helping him to raise the children. However, Michael has taken a loan from the Fidelity Fiduciary Bank where his father formerly was a partner before passing, to cover their living expenses.

William “Weatherall” Wilkins (Colin Firth) sends his associates to warn him that his house will be repossessed if the loan is not repaid in full by Friday. Michael and Jane remember their father left them shares in the bank that can cover the loan, so they searched the house for the certificate proving their ownership of the shares. During the search, Michael finds a kite for which he finds as worthless and puts it out in the trash.  While the children were off to purchase a few groceries for dinner, Annabel, John and Georgie, having taken the park route, separates from Georgie who finds the kite and tries flying it. He ends up being pulled into the sky, but then comes down with Mary Poppins, who decides to take care of the three children as their nanny and starts off by drawing them a bath, which magically leads them down to an oceanic world. Of course, Mary Poppins denied anything fantastical happened.

Michael goes to the bank to see if he can find proof of his father’s shares, but Wilkins denies there are any records of the shares. As Michael leaves the office, Wilkins tears the record of proof out of the official ledger and burns it in the fireplace. That evening, Annabel and John decide to sell their mother’s “priceless” bowl to pay off the debt. Georgie tries to stop them, and the bowl ends up damaged while the three were fighting over it. Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda), an official Cockney Lamplighter, greets Mary Poppins and joins her and the kids on a trip inside the painting on the side of the bowl. The group meets the talking animals drawn on the bowl, and Mary Poppins creates the Royal Doulton Music Hall. However, Georgie is kidnapped by a gang consisting of a wolf, a weasel and a badger, causing Annabel and John to try and rescue him . They successfully do so, but end up going out of the painting and later wake up in their beds, thinking their experience was a dream.

The next day, Mary Poppins and the children go to see Mary’s cousin Topsy/Tatikana Antanasia Cositori Topotrepolovsky (Meryl Streep) to get the bowl fixed only to find out the bowl has little monetary value. They then go to the bank to give Michael his briefcase that he left home earlier that morning. When the children get to Wilkins’ office, hoping  to ask him for help, they overhear Wilkins planning to take away their house. Georgie started to see parallels between Wilkins and his associates and the animal gang who kidnapped him, so he interrupts the banker’s meeting. When Michael arrives, he does not believe the children and becomes angry with them for putting the house and his job at risk, as Michael worked part time at the bank. Mary Poppins takes the children home. They are guided by Jack and his fellow lamplighters. Without the shares and no hope for an extension on the loan, the Banks family make preparations to move out of their house.

How the Bank’s family and Mary Poppins resolve the loan issue is very exciting.  The family, Jack and all of Mary Poppins fantasy characters share in exposing the truth about Mr. Wilkins.  There are many more magical characters and adventures to come in this highly appraised sequel.  Right to the very end, there is magic in the air. Mary Poppins Returns received generally positive reviews from critics, who praised its acting (particularly Blunt’s performance), direction, musical score, musical numbers, costume design, production values, visuals, and sense of nostalgia. It was chosen by both the National Board of Review and American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2018 and received numerous award nominations, including four at the 76th Golden Globe Awards. Children will love it and as an adult, I loved it too. The performances were outstanding, I particularly liked the character Jack, who was just simply marvelous.  You can’t go wrong with this one — Check It Out!

[Mary Poppins Returns is Oscar nominated for Best: Production Design, Costume Design, Original Score and Original Song]

 

THE LOBSTER (2015) – MY RATING: 5.5/10

thelobsterThe Lobster is a very dark futuristic comedy that I think of as eccentric. I found The Lobster hard to stay focused on and extremely strange. David (Colin Farrell) discovers that his wife has left him for another man and is escorted to a hotel. The hotel manager, (Olivia Colman) reveals that singles have 45 days to find a partner, or they will be transformed into an animal like David’s brother who is a dog. David chooses a lobster, due to their life cycle and his love of the sea. David makes acquaintances with Robert (John C. Reilly), a man with a lisp, and John (Ben Whishaw), a man with a limp, who become David’s quasi-friends. John explains that he was injured in an attempt to reconnect with his mother, who had been transformed into a wolf.  YOU CAN ALREADY SEE HOW WEIRD THIS HAS BECOME!

The hotel has many rules and rituals: masturbation is banned, but sexual stimulation by the hotel maid is mandatory, and guests attend dances and watch propaganda extolling advantages of partnership.

When Robert is caught masturbating, the hotel manager burns his fingers in a toaster. Relationships require partners to have a distinguishing trait in common. John is told a woman has arrived with a limp, but he says she limps from an injury that will heal and is not a suitable match.

Residents can extend their deadline by tranquilizing single people in the forest; each captured “loner” earns them a day. On one such hunt, a woman with a fondness for biscuits offers David sexual favors, which he declines. She tells him that if she fails to find a mate, she will kill herself by jumping from a hotel window.

The remainder of The Lobster is even crazier, so I’ll leave it to you to watch if you dare.  Obviously, I didn’t like it and I don’t recommend it.  The Lobster was a little too weird and convoluted for me, however it’s now on DVD/Blu-Ray for those of you who would like to see how it ends.

[THE LOBSTER is nominated for Original Screenplay]

Save

SPECTRE (2015) – My rating: 8.3/10

SpectreSpectre is one of the most expensive movies ever made.  With a budget of $245M, it has brought in approximately $176M over the last 4 weekends here in the US and grossed $750M worldwide.  After all is said and done, Spectre needed to gross $640M to break even.  A reported $34M was spent just on the destruction of expensive cars during the making of this 24th James Bond movie.  Add Daniel’s salary of $24M, making him the highest paid Bond (which doesn’t include endorsements), in the history of the 007 franchise.  Now add  around $100M for promotions, plus with all the other staff, actors and employee salaries, one can see how the price tag escalated so high. 

So with that said, lets talk about the movie.  The plot features James Bond’s first encounter with the global criminal organization called Spectre.  Also, several characters, including M, Q and Eve Moneypenny return, with the new additions of Léa Seydoux as Dr. Madeleine Swann, Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx, Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh and Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra.   Spectre opens in Mexico City with 007 on an unofficial mission ordered by the former M (Judy Dench).  Eventually, Bond ends up in Rome where he learns about Spectre.  Things get pretty complicated and very dangerous as Bond finds himself without backup, as his division has been dissolved by the current M’s new boss, C, because he deems “00” section outdated.  In the meanwhile, Spectre turns out to be a sinister organization headed up by the ultimate villain, Ernst Stavro Brofeld, played by Christoph Waltz.  The story is complex, the action is intense and the cast is brilliant.  However, I found Spectre to be quite different from most of the Bond stories.  It seemed like something was missing.  Somehow I think the absence of Judy Dench and her nurturing personality made Bond seem noticeably alone and a little uncertain of himself — not the overall confident ladies man I’m use to seeing.  Pierce Brosnan expressed that this Bond film seemed weak and lack luster.  While I thought the story was solid, I have to agree with Pierces’ opinion.  Check it out, it’s an endless challenge of surprises, twist and turns.  It will keep you entertained all the way to the end. 

 [SPECTRE is nominated for Original Song]