Saving Mr. Banks

Joseph Gordon Levitt in MYSTERIOUS SKIN

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! If you see something you like, click on the title to buy it from Amazon. Mysterious Skin Neil (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Brian (Brady Corbet) played Little League together when they were kids, but they were never really friends. They drifted even further apart as they grew up, and a decade later they’re complete strangers. The two do share a secret though, one that has shaped them into the troubled young men they’ve become. I’ve meant to watch Gregg Araki‘s acclaimed film for years now, and now that I finally have I’m happy to say my expectations have been exceeded. It’s a haunting tale of innocence lost that delivers a powerful emotional punch as their two stories unfold. It’s not a matter of mystery as to what exactly transpires, but seeing the two deal with their past in such varied and self-damaging ways is frequently heartbreaking. [Blu-ray/DVD extras: Interviews, gallery, commentary, deleted scenes, audition tapes, trailer]

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Oscar Predictions 2014: Original Score

Unlike a singular song, a film’s score stays with a narrative from beginning to end, helping to reinforce the emotions on screen and round out the overall feeling and impression of a film. It is a delicate balance and it is the scores which are able to make an impression, without distracting from the film itself, that rise to the top to become the scores that are remembered long after a film ends. The nominees for Best Original Score this year are a combination of familiar names (John Williams, Alexandre Desplat, Thomas Newman) along with some new ones (Steven Price, William Butler, Owen Pallett). The five films these scores are nominated from are powerful stories about people dealing with extraordinary situations from fighting for love, family, stories, even one’s own life. The music in each of these films is an incredibly important element as it helps give each story the weight it deserves. Williams, Desplat, and Newman are distinguished talents who have proven their staying power over the years and helped elevate their respective films thanks to their music whereas the scores from Price, Butler, and Pallett are not only from newer voices, they are attached to two films that pushed the envelope when it came to visual style and narrative approach. We review the five nominees and predict who we think will win in red…

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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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SAVING MR. BANKS

There’s plenty of heartwarming to be had with John Lee Hancock‘s Saving Mr. Banks. Tom Hanks‘s smile alone tugs at the heart strings, but underneath the picture’s cuddly side there’s a darkness to be found in the flashbacks to P.L. Travers’ (Emma Thomspon) childhood. Playing her father, Travers Goff, is Colin Farrell. Goff is an alcoholic who often hides his pain through storytelling. The parallel for Travers is obvious, but it’s also true in the case of Walt Disney, at least when it comes to the film’s take on Disney. The young Travers informs the older Travers, and the same goes for Goff. It’s a performance we haven’t seen from Farrell before, but ever since Tigerland — Joel Schumacher’s best movie — you could say that for most of his roles. He’s not an actor who repeats himself often or falls back on certain crutches, and that’s likely because, as he tells us, he tries to find roles that push him as an actor. Saving Mr. Banks certainly does just that. Here’s what Colin Farrell had to say about his wonderful time on the film, wanting his experience dictated to him, and, of course, Miami Vice:

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SAVING MR. BANKS

Clint Eastwood’s influence on John Lee Hancock’s work is pretty clear. Hancock wrote one of Eastwood’s best movies, A Perfect World , and one of his lesser pictures, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Since then Hancock has gone on to direct The Rookie, The Blindside, The Alamo, and Saving Mr. Banks. All of his movies have a workmanlike approach. The camerawork is never showy, always with its focus on character and story. The same goes for Eastwood’s films, so it’s no surprise that Hancock learned a few lessons from working with him. One important takeaway for Hancock was to keep a calm set. Saving Mr. Banks shows a very heated creative process, and when we asked Hancock what’s the best way to deal with those conditions, he discussed a lesson from the zen daddy himself, Mr. Eastwood: “Clint Eastwood was my film school. I didn’t go to film school. I was a lawyer and a writer, but I started to get movies made. I did two movies with Clint Eastwood, and he is the zen daddy. I’m not saying I’ve done it successfully, but I like that model of trying to stay as zen as possible, being upbeat, and enjoying the work. You want a creative workspace like that where everyone can do their best work. I don’t like a lot of yelling or running. There are some directors who like chaos and want to be the eye of the storm, but that just confuses me.”

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2013review_music

This year brought moviegoers an array of music that ranged from uplifting (About Time “How Long Will I Love You”) to depressing (The Great Gatsby‘s “Young and Beautiful”) to catchy (Inside Llewyn Davis‘ “Please Mr. Kennedy”) to nostalgic (Saving Mr. Banks‘ “Let’s Go Fly a Kite”) to just plain out there (Spring Breakers‘ “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites”). Whether it was a film about throwing (or attending) the best party of your life or one about intense family drama, the music pushed stories to new heights, whether it was an Alien rapping on the beach or two mothers pushing their children to the breaking point. Film music is no longer just orchestration and catchy pop songs – it is dubstep and bands you would normally hear on the radio taking to the conductor’s stand. Simply put – it is an exciting time for music in film because there are no rules. Now it’s time to relive some of the best music moments from this past year with scores from composers new to the scene and those continuing to churn out groundbreaking music, as well as soundtracks that featured songs from bands and artists who discovered new talents while collaborating.

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2013.moviedoppelgangers

Every year, there seem to be unintended themes emerging from movie releases. It’s almost as if the studios called each other to coordinate projects like friends in high school planning to wear matching outfits on a Friday. Sometimes this effect is unintentional, like when an emerging movie star manages to have multiple films comes out the same year (see Melissa McCarthy below); other times, it’s a result of executives switching studios and developing similar projects (like the infamous Disney and DreamWorks 1998 double-header grudge match of A Bug’s Life vs. Antz and Armageddon vs. Deep Impact). This year is no different, producing a slew of movie doppelgangers. For the sake of creativity, I left the painfully obvious off. Still, who can forget offerings like Olympus Has Fallen up against White House Down as well as This Is the End paired with The World’s End? And, if you really hate yourself, you can watch a terrible trippleganger of A Haunted House, Scary Movie 5 and 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity with the Devil Inside the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Whether it’s similar themes, the same actor in noticeably similar roles, or parallel stand-out moments in two films, this list of 13 movie pairings can provide a nice selection of companion pieces for your viewing pleasure.

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banks

Shooting one quaint room with only four inhabitants doesn’t exactly scream “cinematic,” at least not in the conventional sense of the word. For a considerable portion of Saving Mr. Banks, we’re watching creative sessions involving P.L. Travers (Emma Thomspon), screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford), and songwriters Richard (Jason Schwartzman) and Bob Sherman (B.J. Novak) attempting to adapt Mary Poppins. Generally absent from those scenes is Tom Hanks, an actor with no shortage of charisma. Not having Hanks’s Walt Disney participating is fine though as the others happily match his charm. Director John Lee Hancock (The Blindside) cast these roles based on the energy needs of that room. Discussing those scenes with Hancock, it’s apparent how much those moments standout for him as well:

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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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2013 Performer of the Year

When it came time to pick our 2013 Performer of the Year it would have been easy enough to use last year’s entry as a template and simply give it to Matthew McConaughey again. His tremendous 2012 rolled seamlessly into an equally fantastic 2013 with a stand-out lead performance in Dallas Buyers Club, an equally impressive supporting role in Mud, and a scene-stealing turn in The Wolf of Wall Street. The acclaim is likely to continue through 2014 with Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar and HBO’s True Detective series both ready to thrill fans and critics alike. But we’re not in the business of being easy, so we decided to go a bit more obscure with our pick. Our 2013 Performer of the Year is a five-time Academy Award nominee and two-time winner whose films have grossed over $8.5 billion worldwide, and his name is Tom Hanks. (I don’t actually know what “obscure” means.) Hanks had two films released this year, Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks, and after more than a decade out of Oscar’s limelight he’s back in a big way. Not only is he winning accolades for his performances, but he’s also seen his first live-action film to pass the $100 million mark at the box-office in over four years (eleven years if you ignore Dan Brown adaptations). The number one reason we’ve chosen him, though, is that regardless of awards or box office, Hanks’ performance in the final ten minutes of Captain Phillips is as good as acting gets […]

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The Hobbit The Desolation of Smaug

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

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Kelly Marcel

Fifty Shades of Grey? Sure, whatever. I wouldn’t care at all about the mainstream NC-17 attempt if it weren’t for screenwriter Kelly Marcel. She’s undoubtedly a rising star, and it’s absolutely fascinating that she’ll end up with an S&M buffet on screen within a year of the story of Walt Disney getting Mary Poppins made. If you have to ask what the connection is, you aren’t ready to know. But you might be ready to know about sex. That damned thing is going to be all over Fifty Shades of Grey. Wallowing in it. Thus, it’s lucky that Marcel can so thoroughly and accurately explain it (and it gives us a bit of insight into how she’s approached the element for the film).When asked by Scott Myers at Go Into the Story about how she approached the hot stuff, she had this to say:

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The Wolf of Wall Street

After years of anticipation, the wait is nearly over. Worry no longer: 47 Ronin is finally coming to theaters. The Keanu Reeves vs. CG monsters movie somehow wound up with a Christmas release, and it’s one of the most bizarre Christmas releases in recent history. Universal either has immense confidence in the film or is blatantly dumping the mega-expensive picture into a snow-covered grave. Thankfully, 47 Ronin isn’t the only movie you can see this wonderful Holiday season. If it turns out to be a dud, you can watch 47 Ronin director Carl Rinsch‘s collection of fantastic commercials and short films online for free instead, and if that still doesn’t do it for you, then there are nine other films for your must-see list this month.

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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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Smoking is bad. Chances are, you’re already aware of this fact. If you’ve spent time in the civilized world, you’ve doubtless seen at least one billboard, TV commercial, or warning label announcing this very fact. The reasons are obvious, of course; cigarette smoking is known to cause lung cancer, birth defects and, in rare cases, dangerously funky bad breath. So add this article to the ever-expanding list of products that contain a warning about the dangers of smoking. One product not on the list, however, is Saving Mr. Banks. Odd, considering that Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks in the film), was a lifelong chain smoker and passed away from lung cancer in 1966. But Disney (the company, that is) and their ironclad policies on cigarette smoking have dissipated the thick grey fumes that were the Mickey Mouse creator’s constant companion. After a screening of the film at the 2013, Napa Valley Film Festival, director John Lee Hancock and producer Alison Owen spoke about the restrictions the House of Mouse placed on Saving Mr. Banks. The two anticipated a lengthy set of guidelines for the first major portrayal of Walt Disney in a mainstream film, but in the end, the media giant asked only one thing of the filmmakers. Says Owen, “They told us there could be no smoking.”

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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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reject recap 071313

This week I could have upped the number of stories to 20. It’s been that full of big news and hot trending topics and great original content. It helped that this week FSR brought two excellent new newswriters into the fold, Samantha Wilson and Adam Bellotto (who isn’t quoted this week but surely will be found on the Recap soon enough). It also helped that we’re a week away from Comic-Con and relevant teases and revelations are already trickling out. Plus we were excited about finally seeing Pacific Rim, suddenly excited about the idea of Sharknado and feeling good about movies again with the first looks at the Oldboy remake, the latest (scary again) sequel to Child’s Play and the Tom Hanks as Walt Disney portrayal of Saving Mr. Banks. Oh and the whole Grown Ups 2 not being too terrible thing. Wait, no, nobody feels good about (or believes) that. We’ve also gotten some great coverage of the 2013 New York Asian Film Festival from Rob. And not to ignore television ever, we posted on Bar Rescue, joke-machine sitcoms and a newbie’s viewing of The Sopranos. With all this stuff packing the pages of FSR the past seven days, you likely missed one or two posts and are in need of catching up with the following week in review. Start your weekend right after the jump.

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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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So, what are you guys doing on, oh, say November 6, 2015? Not booked yet? Your iCal is empty? Your day planner doesn’t go up that far? Well, we’ve got plans for you now. In one of the most innocuous press releases ever crafted, Disney has today sent around a listing of some new and updated release dates for some of their most anticipated features, sandwiching in Edgar Wright‘s Ant-Man release date (yup, it’s that November 2015 one listed above) between stuff like like “Disney Animation Untitled” and “Pixar Animation Untitled.” Oh, and also? Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World will both be in 3D. Dimensions and money and stuff! After the break, check out the full listing of new and updated dates for ten new Disney features (including, admittedly, some details we’ve long known). And, never fear, you’ll also soon learn the release date of that Phineas and Ferb feature we’ve all been dying for.

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