Thursday, 6 February 2014

Film Review: "Saving Mr. Banks" (2013).

"Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can't put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what's to happen / All happened before.” Which is what you’ll happily expect in Saving Mr. Banks. This American-Australian-British historical comedy-drama film is directed by John Lee Hancock from a screenplay written by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith. Centered on author P.L. Travers who reflects on her childhood after reluctantly meeting with Walt Disney, who seeks to adapt her Mary Poppins books for the big screen and the development of the famous 1964 Walt Disney Studios film. Taking its title from the father in Travers' story, the film depicts the author's fortnight-long briefing in 1961 Los Angeles as she is persuaded by Disney, in his attempts to obtain the screen rights to her novels.

Essential Media Entertainment and BBC Films initially developed Saving Mr. Banks as an independent production until 2011, when producer Alison Owen approached Walt Disney Pictures for permission to use copyrighted elements. The film's subject matter piqued Disney's interest, leading the studio to acquire the screenplay and produce the film. Principal photography commenced the following year in September before wrapping in November 2012; the film was shot entirely in the Southern California area, primarily at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, where a majority of the film's narrative takes place.
The film stars Emma Thompson as author P. L. Travers and Tom Hanks as filmmaker Walt Disney, with supporting roles from Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, B. J. Novak, and Colin Farrell. The performances in the film were all superbly portrayed, especially the two leads. Thompson was impeccable, She takes charge of the central role of P. L. Travers with an authority that makes you wonder how anybody else could ever have been considered. Thompson dances her way through Travers's conflicting emotions, giving us a fully rounded portrait of a person who is hard to like but impossible not to love. Thompson's the show. Each withering put-down, every jaundiced utterance, lands with a little ping. It is her best since Sense and Sensibility (1995) and she makes the Australian-born British transplant a curmudgeonly delight. Emma Thompson prepared for her role by listening to Travers's own recordings conducted during the development of Mary Poppins, and also styled her natural hair after Travers', due to the actress's disdain of wigs. Hanks's portrayal captured Walt Disney's folksy charisma and canny powers of persuasion — at once father, confessor and the shrewdest of businessmen. Hanks as Disney, despite its brevity, the film would have been largely bland without it. To accurately convey Walt Disney's Midwestern dialect, Tom Hanks listened to archival recordings of Disney in his car and practiced the voice while reading newspapers. Hanks also grew his own mustache for the role, which underwent heavy scrutiny—with the filmmakers going so far as to matching the same dimensions as Disney's.

Saving Mr. Banks is so well made, so much fun and so wonderful that it would make Mr. Disney proud. It's a serious contender for Best Picture, lead actor, lead actress, director, screenplay and music. It’s clever and witty; the making of Mary Poppins is depicted in detail without seeing a single frame of the completed movie. Ultimately, the film lives and breathes through Hanks and Thompson. It is one of the best films Disney has ever produced!

Simon says Saving Mr. Banks receives:

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