"Mary Poppins" is not the film I thought it was.
Growing up, I saw the film many times, and I always enjoyed it. It's hard not to enjoy the film. A passion project for Walt Disney, it was lavished with every bit of tender loving care he could muster, and director Robert Stevenson did a wonderful job of creating this eccentric, artificial version of London and filling it with strange and memorable characters. I loved the songs by the Sherman Brothers, and I thought Mary Poppins herself was, as she says, practically perfect in every way.
Seeing this as a kid, I thought it was a film about two kids who are so bad that they can't keep a nanny, until they finally get a magical nanny, and she turns them into good kids. It's not a film I spent a lot of time watching over the last quarter-century, despite my affection for it, so my misunderstanding of the film became sort of ossified and like many films, my opinions and attitudes about it were shaped at a time when I had a very different perspective on most things than I do now.
In particular, I was not a parent the last time I saw the movie.
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"Mary Poppins" is not the film I thought it was.
With apologies for yesterday's non-delivery.
The director: Andrew Dominik (Australian, 44 years old)
The talent: Ever heard of a guy called Brad Pitt? He's going places, I tell you. The star has, of course, worked with Dominik before. In 2007, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" won Pitt the Best Actor prize at Venice and effectively started a new, more studious chapter in his career: two leading Oscar nominations and the career peak of 2011 later, it'll be interesting to see what this reunion brings for him. (As he did on "Jesse James," Pitt also takes a producer credit here.) The supporting cast, meanwhile, could hardly be tastier, blending trustily weathered character actors like Sam Shepard, Richard Jenkins and James Gandolfini, more ragged, unpredictable talents like Ray Liotta, Garret Dillahunt, a bristly relative newcomer in Scoot McNairy ("Monsters") and, most excitingly of all, Dominik's compatriot Ben Mendelsohn, who recently killed in "Animal Kingdom." Not a lot of room for the ladies here, mind.
A quick review of Thursday night's "30 Rock" live show coming up just as soon as I go viral and take medicine for it...
Going solo apparently suits Jack White well. The former White Stripe and Raconteur is poised to score his first No. 1 album on the Billboard 200 next week with his first solo album, “Blunderbuss.”
That means Lionel Richie’s two-week run at No. 1 with “Tuskegee” ends, but Richie only slips to No. 3, with Adele’s “21” rising 3-2, according to Hits Daily Double.
White is one of four likely new titles in the top 10: Country singer Lee Brice’s “Hard 2 Love” is in a dead heat for No. 6, vying with Jason Mraz’s “Love is a Four-Letter Word” and fellow country artist Kip Moore’s “Up All Night.” With two days left until the chart closes, they are all slated to sell between 35,000-40,000. The last new entry will be The Wanted’s self-titled EP at No. 10.
For those aware of album titles, Moore’s entry means that there will be two albums in the Top 10 next week with the same title: Moore’s set and One Direction’s “Up All Night,” which will probably be No. 4.
Rounding out the top 10, Nicki Minaj’s former No. 1, “ Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded” will be at No. 5 and Gotye’s “Making Mirrors” at No. 9.
You've got a lot of options for what to watch and how, and we want to help you plan your weekend with a new column where we'll highlight three things you can see in theaters, three things you'll find streaming, and three titles new to home video. Appropriately enough, we call this The Weekend Watch.
Does the summer movie season really start next week? Wow. This year is flying by, and I guess it feels like it really just raced up on us this year. Still, there's plenty of good stuff to see in theaters this weekend, so it's not like you have to wait. Besides, it's good to get in a few more small titles before the onslaught of wanna-be blockbusters begins.
We've also got a few winners you should check out at home, whether you like your movies streaming or on DVD or Blu-ray, and I hope at least one thing off this list ends up as part of your weekend.
Most of Tony Bennett’s family, Lady Gaga’s parents, Amy Winehouse’s parents and even Harry Belafonte were on hand for the premiere of “The Zen of Bennett” on Monday night, making a one-show-only bow at the Tribeca Film Festival. It was a temperate all-ages event, but it's fine if it wasn't too flashy: “Conceived, created, and produced by his son,” the documentary was what Danny Bennett described as a “love letter” to his 85-year-old father.
It is unusual to actually learn something about a performer on a set visit, but I had a moment of pure clarity when I went to San Francisco to watch some of the production of "The Five-Year Engagement."
It was at the very end of the schedule, but it was for the first scene in the film. We spent most of the night on top of a building right by the water, watching Jason Segel propose to Emily Blunt repeatedly, and as I watched them shoot the scene, it was interesting to see how the dynamic between them played out.
In the first master shot, Segel was playing the comedy in the moment. It was a very funny version of the scene, and Blunt played it the same way. When Stoller moved in for close-ups, though, he shot Blunt's first, and she played the real emotion of the moment. It was still funny, but there was also something else going on underneath, something real and sweet. When the crew reversed the set-up for Segel's close-up, he adjusted his performance, playing it as real as Blunt did, turning up the emotion.
In the just-released trailer for Judd Apatow's Christmas release this year, "This Is 40," they directly acknowledge the unusual DNA of the movie, referring to it as a "sort-of-sequel to 'Knocked Up.'"
I can't really think of any equivalent follow-up to a mainstream hit, where supporting characters just sort of take over the second movie and the original lead characters don't return at all. When I spoke to Apatow about the origins of the film on the set last year, he said his first impulse wasn't to do a sequel, but that as he started exploring the idea of doing a film about turning 40 and dealing with the issues that raises for people, he realized that he would essentially have to create a new Pete and Debbie, and why bother when he already had a Pete and Debbie that he knew audiences liked.
This is a nice introductory trailer, and it's interesting how much of the movie it doesn't even remotely suggest at this point. For example, we'll meet Pete and Debbie's parents in this movie, and we'll see Albert Brooks and John Lithgow show up as their fathers. We'll also see Debbie's business, a clothing boutique, where Megan Fox and Charlene Yi both work.
Pack your bags, we’re riding shotgun on a road trip with John Mayer. In the video for “Shadow Days,” he takes us on a triptych across the West and Southwest-- from California to Idaho and Arizona and beyond. He’s traveling solo, but there are stops along the way: a diner, a convenience story, a guitar shop.
The shaggy-haired Mayer is sporting a hat much like the kind producer Don Was, who helmed Mayer's new album, “Born & Raised,” sports, as well as a few days’ scruff so we’re thinking Was definitely rubbed off on him not only musically, but fashion-wise. And he certainly got a beautifully nuanced guitar performance out of him on "Shadow Days."
[More after the jump...]
This weekend the science-fiction meditation on faith, time travel and the human desire to subjugate oneself to something “greater,” Zal Batmanglij's “Sound of My Voice,” opens in theaters. And the film is in part the result of actress Brit Marling’s (“Another Earth”) desire to create interesting roles for herself.
Marling found that the types of characters she wanted to play simply were not available to her, and so she and Batmanglij, a college friend and long-time creative collaborator, chose to invent one. The film follows a Los Angeles couple, Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) as they attempt to uncover the truth about a cult leader (Marling) who claims to be from the future.
Those are the broad strokes of the plot. But what the film is really looking at is faith, a culture in which a sense of community has become painfully fragmented and the seductive and potentially dangerous power of a person who purports to have the answers so many are seeking.