Emma Thompson

Olivia Crocicchia in Men Women and Children

If you watch the first trailer for Jason Reitman‘s Men, Women & Children, the one without dialogue and scored with The Plantains’ dreary cover of “I Feel Loved,” you don’t need to see the rest. The trailer doesn’t so much spoil the movie as the movie has nothing to say that isn’t succinctly stated in that two-minute video. We’re all on our internet devices a lot, we’re a disconnected society, we’re all sad, yada yada. The two-hour cut of the drama does little else with the characters and situations introduced in the trailer nor with the themes and obvious, well-established points about the digital age. You don’t need to see these elements come to their predictable climaxes and conclusions, and you certainly don’t need narration from Emma Thompson overstating what’s going on. That voiceover starts the movie as we’re told about the Voyager 1 probe (which we’ve been watching portrayed during the opening credits) and how it’s just made its way beyond our solar system. Thompson has an upbeat tone to her speech, eventually revealed to be in stark contrast with the rest of the movie, and the way she goes on with such broad expositional contexts as the universe and our place in it, there’s a kind of Douglas Adams drollness to it. But the wit is absent — is this even supposed to be comedic? — and soon the narration is mainly just telling us details about characters as we’re meeting them, a bit of shorthand for actually letting us get to know these people, […]

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Emma Thompson 2014 Golden Globes

Another Golden Globes is behind us, and what have we learned? The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is full of surprises. Do they really think Jon Voight is great in Ray Donovan, or will they simply always love him for making Angelina Jolie? Speaking of whom, she and husband Brad Pitt were very much missed this year, even with Pitt getting the last shoutout of the night in appreciation for all he did for getting 12 Years a Slave produced — didn’t the show basically end like the awards ceremony equivalent of that controversial Italian poster for the movie? I may have done really embarrassingly awful with my predictions this year — 11 out of 15 total, 6 out of 14 for movies and 5 out 11 for television — so we’ll see if I’m allowed to do that again next year. Hopefully my live-tweeting was more successful. Give me some feedback, positive or scathing. And also see if you agree with my picks for the best parts of this year’s ceremony and telecast below.

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Mary Poppins author DL Travers with Walt Disney and Julie Andrews

There’s a scene late in John Lee Hancock’s Saving Mr. Banks in which author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) barges into Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) office, livid about the fact that the company’s proposed adaptation of her intellectual property “Mary Poppins” may contain a moment of animation integrated into live action, which Disney promised her would not occur. Travers catches Disney putting a cigarette out into an ashtray, blindsided that she caught him in this uncouth moment. Disney says something out loud about not wanting to be seen with a cigarette in his hand, and the scene moves on. We never see the cigarette touch Disney’s lips. There is no still image that exists of Hanks-as-Disney smoking. Yet the Disney-produced film acknowledges that Disney himself smoked and hid that fact from the public eye during the 1960s. Saving Mr. Banks admits openly that there is a distance between the man and the myth, the everyday Walt Disney and his heavily regulated public image. The film makes a gesture of transparency in this direction, yet not enough to actually show the contradiction between the myth and the man. We never see that cigarette hit his mouth. This moment isn’t really all that important on its own, but it is in terms of what it represents: that Saving Mr. Banks is a film which acknowledges the negotiations and compromises that go into making and reinforcing the image of “Disney,” while also exercising careful maintenance of the identity of the Disney brand.

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Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison has never been one to mince words, and thankfully he’s not about to start now at the age of 79. The legendary writer and notoriously cantankerous personality recently attended a hoity-toity Los Angeles dinner party at the home of some friends of a friend, and the evening included a screening of Saving Mr. Banks. Ellison’s response to the film is a bit, shall we say, lukewarm. Variety may or may not have passed on the opportunity to print his review, so Ellison has taken to his YouTube channel to offer up his verbal appreciation. The video starts off pleasant enough with the famous and infamous author reminding us that he’s both of those things, sharing some kind words for his hosts, and complimenting this “well made movie” and its stars. Emma Thompson in particular “is absolutely breathtakingly brilliant… blows everybody off the screen,” and Tom Hanks “is equally as good.” And then Ellison calls the film “a refurbishing of Walt Disney’s godlike image which he spent his entire life creating, and it is so fucking manipulative.” Lend Mr. Ellison your ear for ten minutes and watch his whole video below.

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banks

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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banks

Director John Lee Hancock won the hearts of much of North America with 2009’s The Blind Side. Whether the movie was enjoyable or not, there’s no denying the impact it had that year. Come December there’s a chance Hancock’s newest film, Saving Mr. Banks, will strike the same chord with audiences. It’s certainly deserving of that same success. Author P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson), the woman behind Mary Poppins, has been turning down Walt Disney’s (Tom Hanks) advances for over twenty years. It’s the book rights he’s interested in, but she’s afraid he’ll turn it into another one of his goofy animated movies instead of appreciating the personal story Travers wrote it as. After discovering that she’s running out of money, Travers begins to change her tune. From that point on, we see plenty of back and forth between her and Walt, screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and the two men behind the picture’s music, Richard Sherman (Jason Schwartzman) and Robert Sherman (B.J. Novak). The scenes with Travers, the Sherman brothers, and DaGradi sum up the movie. During their creative meetings with Travers, they have to win her over with costume designs, songs, and every nut and bolt of the script. All of their scenes are in a small contained room, and each one of them is a delight. They’re funny and sharp. There’s nothing grand about these moments but they’re naturally charismatic, thanks to the actors’ collective charm.

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Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

Everyone knows Mary Poppins, but it’s unlikely that everyone knows the story of its long and bumpy road into production. It seems Disney plans to rectify that with Saving Mr. Banks, the upcoming drama that stars Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as ‘Mary Poppins’ author P.L. Travers. Walt Disney tried to adapt ‘Mary Poppins’ for the screen as early as 1938, but it took more than twenty years for its reluctant author to finally relent. The film follows Disney’s journey in obtaining the rights and bringing Mary Poppins to life (with lots of resistance from Travers in both cases), as well as a look back into Travers’ childhood.

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Tom Hanks as Walt Disney

TIME has debuted the first official image from Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, an upcoming live action film starring Emma Thompson and America’s Dad, Tom Hanks. Hanks steps into Walt Disney’s shoes (because seriously, who else would play Disney?) to tell the surprisingly complicated story about getting Mary Poppins made.

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Even when it just had a director and two principal actors in place, Disney’s upcoming Saving Mr. Banks already seemed like it was the perfect storm of mainstream appeal. Take director John Lee Hancock, who made mountains of money and received boatloads of acclaim for his sugary sweet The Blind Side, give him two of the most universally loved actors working in Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, and put them to work on subject matter involving one of the biggest legends in entertainment history, Walt Disney, and one of the most enduring children’s stories of all time, “Mary Poppins,” and you have to imagine this film’s potential for box office dollars and warmed hearts is unprecedented. It turns out Saving Mr. Banks isn’t just content to get our attention and then sit back and coast on a winning formula though. Variety has a new report that a trio of actors have just signed on to the film in supporting roles, and they’re three of the best supporting players studio dollars can buy. Joining Tom Hanks as Walt Disney and Emma Thompson as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers will be Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, and Ruth Wilson.

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It’s not impossible for lauded animation house Pixar to make a mistake (or two, in the case of Cars, which does still pull in great affection from the younger set), and setting up their first film led by a female protagonist and with a brand new fairy tale as plot backbone in no way sounded like a mistake from conception. But despite a checklist of elements that should mark Brave as a bold new classic for both Pixar and Disney, the film instead diverges spectacularly –  it is both a middling example of Pixar innovation and wit and a beautiful introduction to one of Disney’s most compelling Princesses yet. Simply put, Brave is a poor Pixar feature, but it’s a wonderful Disney Princess film. What Brave has to offer is twofold: a bold new Princess and an exciting new world for her to live and play in. Still better, it appears as if Disney, Pixar, writers and directors Brenda Chapman, Mark Andrews, Steve Purcell, and additional writer Irene Mecchi set out to accomplish those exact aims when crafting Brave. That sort of praise might not exactly seem like the kind worth singing, but when it comes to Brave, a film that was conceived of and written by Chapman before she was eventually ousted as the director in 2010, it’s important to note. The aims of Brave are true, but its methodology in getting in there doesn’t quite hit the mark.

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Saving Mr. Banks is a Kelly Marcel-penned Black List script that details the 14 years it took Walt Disney to convince author P.L. Travers to give him the movie rights to her Mary Poppins character. The result of the lengthy courtship was, of course, the Julie Andrews-starring 1964 Disney film Mary Poppins. That movie has made Disney a whole lot of money over the years, so it makes sense that they would be looking to produce any sort of acclaimed script that manages to cash in on Poppins’ mainstream name recognition; especially one that features their company’s founder, Walt Disney, as the main character. To that end, Disney has acquired Marvel’s script and hired The Blind Side helmer John Lee Hancock to direct. That’s all old news though. The new news about this project is that casting has started, and they’re looking at some pretty huge names to play Disney and Travers. According to Variety, Hancock and company are talking to none other than Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson to fill the roles. Just let that sink in for a moment — Tom Hanks may play Walt Disney in a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. Have you ever heard of anything that will make a more violent grab for the hearts and wallets of everyone’s parents and grandparents than that?

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Countdown to the End: Love Actually

The Mayans, the wise race of ancients who created hot cocoa, set December 21st, 2012 as the end date of their Calendar, which the intelligent and logical amongst us know signifies the day the world will end, presumably at 12:21:12am, Mountain Time. From now until zero date, we will explore the 50 films you need to watch before the entire world perishes. We don’t have much time, so be content, be prepared, be entertained. The Film: Love Actually (2003) The Plot: Love Actually marked one of the first multi-plot story line films (that actually worked) which explored the different stages, phases and versions of love set against the magical background of Christmas time in London. From the young love of Sam (Thomas Sangster) and Joanna (Olivia Olson) to the forbidden love of David (Hugh Grant) and Natalie (Martine McCutcheon) to Daniel (Liam Neeson) dealing with heartbreak, Mark’s (Andrew Lincoln) unrequited love for Juliet (Keira Knightley) and the blossoming relationship between John (Martin Freeman) and Judy (Joanna Page), each relationship depicted a different side and aspect of that crazy emotion that seems to drive and link us all. Love Actually showed audiences that in the end, all you need is love (despite the pain, anguish and complications that can come with it) and did so in a way that was sweet, humorous and touching.

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Pixar is a company that has developed a very focused vision. They put creators first, they put human drama over visual spectacle, and then they knock the visuals out of the park anyway. For a while I’d been following along with all their releases in a state of near delight, enjoying each film they put out more than the one before it, and I started to think that they were as close to infallible as a movie studio could get. But then they put out Cars 2, which was kind of an overlong mess of juvenile humor set in a pun driven, unrelatable world. This wasn’t the Pixar I loved, this was for kids! But with Brave they seem to be getting back to the basics of what makes them great; stories that can be appreciated by kids and adults alike. Here we have a young girl who is different than everybody else, who doesn’t want to be what the rest of the world tells her a young girl should be. She’s driving at something that everybody is telling her she can’t do. She’s in danger, must rely on herself, and she must rise up and become something she never thought she could if she’s going to survive a great adventure. That’s more like it. That sounds like a prototypical Pixar movie, to a tee. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The film adaptation of Claire Messud’s gorgeous novel The Emperor’s Children has faced an unfairly bumpy trip to the screen. Back in 2009, Ron Howard was slated to direct the film from a script by Noah Baumbach. Then the project seemingly fell dead, with no news until March of 2010, when Howard left the project entirely, leaving both writing and directing duties to Baumbach. At that time, a list of attached cast members was announced (including Keira Knightley, Eric Bana, and Richard Gere, with buzz about some other names like Michelle Williams). Production was supposed to start last summer, but of course, it didn’t, and know Baumbach appears to be back out of the director’s chair, with Crazy Heart helmer Scott Cooper stepping in to direct from Baumbach’s script (according to an insider report from Twitch). Cooper burst on to the scene with his Jeff Bridges-starring Crazy Heart back in 2009, a directorial debut so lovely and assured that it earned its star his first Oscar (after being nominated no less than six times). Since then, Cooper has had his own fair share of project whiplash, with rumors that he was on the shortlist for Gangster Squad, news that he was developing his own take on The Hatfields and the McCoys, and attachments to the Carancho remake, Empire of the Summer, and Black Listed The Low Dweller. Which is all a nice way of saying that, just like The Emperor’s Children, there’s been a lot of talk about Cooper, but no […]

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Will Smith may have passed on Django Unchained, but he’s making a return to movie work nonetheless after a hiatus to build the careers of his children. This is, of course, the first step to the creation of the Smith Dynasty that will dominate filmmaking of the future – a goal that will make the “Ha ha!” etched into Will Smith’s tombstone have two meanings. His next goal is to let his daughter Willow whip her hair as Annie in a remake of the little, curly-haired adventure through poverty and extreme wealth. Now, Vulture is reporting that they want Emma Thompson to write the script for the reboot. Thompsons is a solid choice because of her experience as a writer, her emotional intelligence as an actor that shines through on the page, and her ability to create fun, energetic children’s films. Vulture even, smartly, points out that there’s a drunken mess of a role in the show for Thompson (played by the genius Carol Burnett in the 1982 film). The film will be updated of course, and it’ll most likely feature music from Jay-Z (who is also producing). There’s also something to be said about a character that’s been extremely Caucasian for decades being acted by a black actress in what will most likely be a movie aimed at a large, mainstream audience, but it’s for people smarter than I am who have real opinions about it. It seems culturally significant, but I have no idea why. Regardless, Thompson would […]

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Pixar’s great, wonderful, incredible, stellar, etc. That goes without saying but must be said in every post about Pixar ever, because them’s the rules. However, one of the things Pixar has been lacking is a sole female lead to go on an adventure and win the day while learning a lesson. They’ve definitely distanced themselves from the Disney princess aesthetic, and it’s time for them to come a little closer. Brave is the story of a young Scottish princess named Merida who is skilled with a bow and with defying mystical, sacrosanct acts that bring down terrible fates on her people. So, she sets out to make things right with a sage older character, a magical wish, and some comic relief. The cast here is fantastic. Kelly MacDonald will voice Merida. Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, and Robbie Coltrane are all on board as well. That’s a strong list right there. Plus, EW has some pictures that show off the view point and computerized beauty of their fictional Highlands (and what looks like painstaking concept art):

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It seems like there’s no reason to remake My Fair Lady, but if there’s going to eventually be a re-telling of the rags to vocal riches story, then it might as well feature Carey Mulligan. The casting is far from being a done deal, but the actress recently expressed interest in the project and praised the script written by Emma Thompson. Mulligan proved her singing abilities by appearing on a track by Belle and Sebastian, but the remake project – now in the hands of Shakespeare in Love director and part-time football commentator John Madden – won’t be happening anytime soon. At least not this year. In other words, it gives the audience a chance to see the original at least one and a half times before production starts. [Worst Previews]

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This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr dives into Spring Break at Lake Victoria, or at least that’s how it felt in 3D. He examined how similar Piranha 3D is to Eat Pray Love because piranhas eat their prey and all the bare boobies can inspire such self love. Then Kevin is chided by an ugly Emma Thompson for misbehaving, and suddenly she becomes a hottie. Finally, Kevin tries to determine whether vampires suck or if it’s just Vampires Suck that sucks.

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Carey Mulligan

The last time we reported on My Fair Lady, the remake of the 1964 film directed by George Cukor and starring Audrey Hepburn as Eliza Doolittle, Keira Knightley was in the running for the female lead. That was June of 2008. Much has changed since then.

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an_education_trailer

Another trailer for An Education is online daring people to rebel in a polite sort of British way. Between the difficult and boring, and the easy and fun – which do you choose?

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published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C
published: 11.18.2014
B+
published: 11.14.2014
B+


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