Thursday, 10 April 2014

"Saving Mr. Banks" on BLU RAY – A Review Of The 2013 Film….

Here is a link to Amazon UK to get this BLU RAY at the best price:

"…I Have Final Say!" – Saving Mr. Banks on BLU RAY

It’s 1906 in the beautiful and affluent city of Maryborough in Australia. Travers and Margaret Goff are leaving with their two daughters – Ginty and Dolly. Like Pied Piper their jokey father is leading his family to a new home, a new town, a new job in a bank for him and supposedly – a new and happier life. But the nanny who watches them leave yet another nice home and wife Margaret with an infant in her arms seems not so sure. And on the train to a remote place called Allora in Queensland (the last stop on the line) – Margaret watches with concern as her husband Travers sips slyly from a hip flask filled with whiskey. So while Ginty may adore her story-telling Dad who fills her with magic thoughts – she just stands on the back of the train dreamily watching everything she’s ever known disappear into the distance because of Daddy’s "ways"…

Now its April 1961 in London and the child Ginty is grown up into the frightfully prim and prig Pamela L. Travers – author of "Mary Poppins" – sat alone at her desk meditating (as per the works of George I. Gurdjieff). A ring at the front door brings in her literary agent Diarmuid Russell (Ronan Vibert) who informs her that the royalties have dried up and because she refuses to write anything new - soon even her beloved Bloomsbury home will go unless she procures money. But still she’s staggeringly prickly. Russell who has tread lightly long enough rages that Walt Disney - who has pursued her for twenty years to get the film rights to "Mary Poppins" - has even agreed to her excessive demands - no animation and full script approval. But she lives in terror that Hollywood will turn her beloved creation into pap.

But needs must – so - soon she’s on a BOAC jet to Los Angeles being rude to air hostesses, mothers with children and even the driver who picks her up at the other end – Ralph (a fabulous show by Paul Giamatti). "It smells like chlorine and sweat!" she says as Ralph tells her the scent in the Californian air is Jasmine. He buckles up – it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Mrs. Travers then throws pears out of her hotel window, growls at the writers in the Disney studios, whinges about piddly details like numbers on doors and moustaches and says "No! No! No!" absolutely all of the time. She’s even truculent in the face of the legendary Walt Disney and his considerable charm.

“Saving Mr. Banks” uses the technique of running Ginty’s 1906 childhood in Australia alongside her 1961 Californian battle with Disney and his people – so we slowly get to see why the dreamy hopeful child grows into a woman who would pen such a prig and proper character. Key to all of this is her relationship with the man she worshipped – Travers – her father. His daily battle with drink made his wife attempt suicide in a lake - lost him his job and health (consumption) – and eventually saw the kids farmed out to a visiting matriarch - Aunt Ellie. And with her starched almost churchlike garments, large carpetbag, face-shaped umbrella and 'no nonsense' practicality in the face of a crisis – Aunt Ellie would of course become the character "Mary Poppins". But is Mary Poppins about her saving the children - or is it really about Ginty saving her father through fiction? 

The superb cast includes Ruth Wilson as Margaret Travers, BJ Novak and Jason Schwartzman as the composing brothers Robert and Richard Sherman and Bradley Whitford as Disney man Don DaGradi. But the movie belongs to the leads… Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson.

There’s a strong body of evidence (“Castaway”, “Charlie Wilson’s War”, “Cloud Atlas” and “Captain Phillips”) that Tom Hanks may indeed be up there with De Niro, Al Pacino, Liam Neeson, Paul Giamatti, Philip Seymour Hoffman and other greats in terms of being the best actor who’s ever lived. So it takes serious boots to outshine him as Walt Disney. Up steps such a force of nature - Engerland’s Emma Thompson – giving her hateful bully lady a beating heart and gradually unfolding the real reasons for her guarded and prickly nature. Thompson gives a performance of true brilliance - an embattled woman who is hurting so deeply that you literally ache for her – cherishing dreams she cannot have sullied by commerce and gaudiness. The dances between her and Hanks are fabulous – but even better is her work with Giamatti – the humble limousine driver who touches her heart and makes her offer up a rare morsel of kindness when he reveals he has a special needs daughter ("Tell your daughter she can do anything she puts her mind too…").

Credit also has to go Colin Farrell who is magnificent and measured as the troubled yet adoring father Travers. The scenes between him and Annie Rose Buckley as young Ginty are beautiful and immensely moving. Childlike and wondrous himself – he instils in his little girl the qualities that would make her such a great writer later on. But he also crippled her mind with images of innocence betrayed – and a helpless descent into loss that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Thomas Newman’s perfectly complimentary music and the presence of those wonderfully uplifting movie songs that are lingering in the back of our consciousness give the whole film warmth that’s tangible. But what really gets you over and over again - is the astonishing and truly immersive attention to period detail. The look of the bank Travers works in Allora, the huge wooden house on a hill in the middle of nowhere, the fun-fair day where he makes a fool of himself in front of his family because he’s drunk…  Then there’s the Beverly Hills Hotel where Pamela stays in 1961 – the Disney gift hampers she encounters in her room – even the stationery that Giamatti is holding when he meets her at the airport – all of it is period and absolutely spot on. There’s a scene where Walt takes Travers to Disneyland in an effort to soften her up – the stalls outside the theme park gates – the public crowds walking by the attractions and the carousel that ends up in the movie – huge set pieces - and all of it perfect.

The BLU RAY print is glorious throughout - a big Hollywood production and the picture quality reflects that. It’s defaulted to 2.34:1 so there are bars top and bottom – but even extended to Full Aspect – the print is gorgeous. This film is a real looker on the format.

Audio is English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio with English 2.0.
Subtitles are English for The Hard Of Hearing, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish and Finnish
Extras include "Deleted Scenes", "The Walt Disney Studios: From Poppins To The Present” and "Let’s Go Fly A Kite".

And on it goes to P. L. Travers finally sat in a cinema with tears rolling down her face as Walt Disney gives her Mister Banks the joy he so lacked all those years ago in Australia. Even Dick Van Dyke’s awful accent is forgiven as the joy of the songs and the film transcends everything. 

"Wind's in the east…mist coming in…like something is brewing…about to begin…"

"Saving Mr. Banks" is beautifully crafted cinema – superbly written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith and Directed by John Lee Hancock.

Do your heart and yourself a favour and spend Tuppence on this quality movie…

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