MARY POPPINS RETURNS (Rob Marshall, 2018)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Mary Poppins Returns:

1. One of the highlights of Saving Mr. Banks (a great companion piece to this film) was the scene where an uptight P.L. Travers (played by the superb Emma Thompson) unexpectedly lowered her guard and started dancing along to Let’s Go Fly a Kite. It was a touching moment especially since the author notoriously hated the Disneyfication of her novels (“Responstible is not a word!!”), particularly Mary Poppins.

I wonder how she would have felt with this one given that it lacked an LSS-worthy melody that the original had in abundance. Can You Imagine That? and Trip a Little Light Fantastic were fun and frothy, but they just weren’t as memorable as Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (an exercise in spelling and enunciation) or A Spoonful of Sugar.

For the record, my favorite tune from the 1964 classic was Oscar winner Chim Chim Cher-ee. Fun online fact: If you scratch “-2 – 2 + =“ on your pillow, it would sound very much like this song. Aren’t the interwebs wonderful?

2. Although billed as a sequel (with the Banks children all grown up), this still felt very much like a remake (seriously, why did they even bother?). If anything, I was happy that they kept the 2D animation during some of the fantasy sequences because it perfectly captured the old school magic of films.

3. I really thought it would be hard to match the wonderful performance of Julie Andrews (whose stern but loving version of the magical nanny reminded me of her stern but loving grandma slash Queen of Genovia in The Princess Diaries), but Emily Blunt completely owned the role (not a trace of imitation!) while paying homage to a well-loved Dame. At least she had a fun moment in the bathtub for a change.

4. It was sad to see Lin-Manuel Miranda sticking out like a sore thumb among the mostly English (and incredibly good) supporting cast. Although this was a musical where people actually floated while holding on to balloons, there was just something off with his over-the-top (read: theater-ready) acting.

Julie Walters was a hilarious scene-stealer as always, but I was more pleasantly surprised by Ben Whishaw. In one scene, he was clutching on to his dead wife’s pearl necklace while singing that he needed a few suggestions on how to brush their daughter’s hair and I was trying my best not to burst into tears.

As for the kids, they were fine enough, although I was wishing one of them could be like a young Freddie Highmore in Finding Neverland.

5. Been a fan of Rob Marshall’s impressive choreography since Chicago and it was in full display here. When the Banks’ house got rattled by an exploding cannon, the siblings caught the falling furniture (a few lamps, an heirloom clock) like they were in a ballet. I also liked the (intentional?) nod to Velma Kelly in the A Cover is Not a Book production.

6. I understood the decision of making this version of Mary closer to her disposition in the books, but it was also the reason why I thought that this sequel needed a bit more heart. Like I wanted to be a puddle of sobbing mess when she would leave the children in the end and it didn’t happen. I had more of an emotional attachment with Sam in Wanted: Perfect Mother.

7. Why did Mary let the poor leeries climb all the way up the clock tower when she could have done it in the first place pala? Did everything have to be a teachable moment?

8. “Cleaning is not a spectator sport” sounded like something Marie Kondo would say. Yes, this movie gave me a tiny spark of joy.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

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BROOKLYN (John Crowley, 2015)

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SPOILER ALERT!!

My notes on Brooklyn:

1. One nice character gave this friendly advice to our heroine, “Nothing fancy, you wouldn’t want to look like a tart”, and that line perfectly captured the essence of this old-fashioned and formulaic but ultimately lovely and well-told film.

2. The said character also gave a checklist of do’s and don’ts in Immigration (“Think like an American”, “Whatever you do, do not cough”) and it brought out my weird fears passing through the same lines whenever I visited another country. There would always be this voice warning me that the officer would find something anomalous in my passport or discover an error in the system and that I would immediately get sent back home. It always felt like I was entering the gates of heaven as soon as I got cleared from the Immigration counter. Best part of my trip every time.

3. I have great admiration for people that work abroad or completely migrate to another country. It takes a lot of courage not only to start a new life in a different world but also to leave the place that you call home. Just the thought of being away from my bed for a week triggers a nervous breakdown. Father Flood (Jim Broadbent) mentioned in the movie that “Homesickness is like most sicknesses. It will pass”, but that definitely wouldn’t apply to me. Living miles away from my bathroom will be the death of me. (Again, a salute to our hard-working and fearless OFWs!!)

4. I’ve never tried riding a ship to travel (the closest experiences would be the SuperCat we took from Cebu to Bohol and the TurboJet from Hong Kong to Macau) and based on these ship stories (including Titanic), it might never even happen. This film was set in the 50’s and I’m sure the conditions have changed since then but that scene where Eilis (a terrific Saoirse Ronan) took a dump in a pail because of seasickness will forever haunt my dreams.

5. Julie Walters as the snappish boardinghouse owner Mrs. Kehoe was so delightful that I was surprised she didn’t get an Oscar nomination for this role. I loved the entire conversation regarding Eilis’ greasy skin that ended with Mrs. Kehoe asking if the Bible stated what brand of soap is best to use. When she mentioned that “Giddiness is the eighth deadly sin”, I actually believed her. Her character was the direct opposite of that haughty store owner slash town gossip Miss Kelly who berated a customer for buying shoe polish on a Sunday. These old women were really something.

6. Were you also curious to know how the cashier tubes worked? I actually imagined an underground room full of goblins similar to the Gringotts in Harry Potter.

7. Eilis wore these really gorgeous ensembles (usually a dress and cardigan combo) that wouldn’t be out of place in Jessica Day’s closet. It’s time to plan a 50’s theme party.

8. I first saw Emory Cohen in Smash as the annoying mopey son of Debra Messing and I was surprised to see him bring a natural zest in the role of Italian-American lover turned husband of Eilis. I giggled a bit though in the scene where Eilis tried to rest her head on his shoulder because Saoirse with heels was about an inch or two taller than Emory. Such a cute couple (and not in a Tom Cruise-Nicole Kidman way).

9. The audience was obviously affected by Eilis’ every move. They let out a loud collective gasp in the scene where she simply hid the letters of her husband without reading them. Even I was so engrossed that my mind kept screaming “Malandi! Haliparot! Kerengkeng!” when she started to fall for another man (Domnhall Gleeson, or Dumble Gleeson if you’re Leonardo DiCaprio).

10. Was I the only one bothered that the ultimate reason for her decision was because she got caught by the town gossip? Did she really need a wake-up call to remind her of her married status? My ultra-conservative side wanted her to swim all the way back to Brooklyn as penance. Ang perfect ko kasi!!

Rating: ★★★★☆