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« Curio: Pre-Mades | Main | Box Office: The Secret Grudge of 47 Wolves »
Monday
Dec302013

Podcast: A Disney Double, "Frozen" and "Saving Mr Banks"

On a quiet Sunday Nathaniel & Katey get together for a Disney Double that we are surprised to realize we hadn't yet discussed as a group.

Is Saving Mr Banks a 'corporation knows best' propaganda nightmare or a rich investigation of artistic compromise or somewhere inbetween? Does the existence of Mary Poppins, automatically make Disney (Tom Hanks) the hero and P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson) the villain? We're more enthusiastic about Frozen. We see its gears and its formula and we don't necessarily love the song score but it transcends. Katey loves the message it's sending little girls.

Asides, as we do, to: Titanic, Tangled, The Hobbit, Blue Jasmine, and Meryl Streep in August: Osage County

You can listen to the podcast right here or download it on iTunes and let us know what you think of this Disney holiday double in the comments. 

Disney Double

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Reader Comments (17)

I am sensing surprises in best actress over thompson or streep.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Saving Mr. Banks, also known as Flashback: The Movie. I enjoyed Thompson a lot in it, but the movie is mediocre.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSad man

feel the same way you feel about Meryl. Don't understand the harsh reviews. She's great and gives the role all that it required. Not over the top or theatrical or whatever she's being called - just really good. I wouldn't put her in my top 5 of the year but that's because I didn't like the movie as much as I did others. But she's by far the best thing about A:OC.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermurtada

Yay Katey!!!

Why does everyone want to ignore how amazing Streep's talent is?😄

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJamie

Honestly, I wanted more about the tension between the Sherman Brothers, the animators, and the other people behind the movie against Travers. The uses of flashbacks just became a crutch for everything. Thompson works best with that tension than seeing her pensively look into her past that we are seeing but not necessarily feeling. It's just not a well-done movie with everybody feeling like a supporting character to the flashback device. I just don't get why Thompson is singled out in the Best Actress race. She may be the highlight for most but I just don't think she carries the film. Also, I wish we got more of Rachel Griffiths as the Mary Poppins inspiration. Totally agree with Katey on that.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

I just thought it was standard Thompson stuff !!!

I also don't get the ott Meryl digs,she is fa better in her film than 3 of the other predicted nominees!!!

I also don't get the Winslet bashing,yes she took one of the 2 indie girl spots but i felt she was better than Emma & Judi and to an extent Bullock.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermark

Throwing it out there, I like the Frozen score way more than I like the Wicked score. #TeamCarolineOrChange

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I really enjoyed meryl in A:OC. I didn't like the 'delirious' scenes very much, but the speech about the boots and the dinner scene were outstanding. maybe the direction and/or editing didn't help, I mean during the dinner scene with the camera constantly moving to focus on violet's reaction or her preparing to explode and attack, I kind of got the "meryl is leatherface!" (lol) criticism. the scene between the three sisters was very good, and julia roberts was indeed more interesting than she has been in ages, but I didn't totally buy her turning into her mother during that scene where she talks to ivy before the "eat the fish" deal.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered Commentermarcelo

Caroline or Change would be an amazing movie. Just keep Kushner as screenwriter and get a competent non-Rob Marshall director. As for casting, every black actress will want that part- whether they can sing or not.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Enjoyable podcast! Personally, I don't mind it when only two of you are there rather than the whole "Gang of Four." I'd rather hear some of you more often than have to wait weeks in order to get you all at once.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBill_the_Bear

Thanks so much guys! It's always a nice change when the podcast is more intimate even if I love the full team.

I have to say I totally disagree with you two re: Frozen. Like, aggressively so. :p
OK, Beauty and the Beast is probably my favorite movie but I don't think that makes me non-objective in saying that it did right what many people seem to believe Frozen was the first to do right, ie it shows personal sacrifice for a loved one that isn't a lover. Belle asked the Beast to keep her as a prisoner and let her father go. It just didn't emphasize that in the self-conratulatory (correct?) way Frozen did. And no, I didn't predict it but someone smarter (or me at another moment) could have predicted it. It was like the filmmakers thought "We're totally gonna make something original because we're cool so we'll make the audience think erotic love will be the solution but then HUH, nope, it's gonna be about family love."
And I don't see how (sorry Katey, I love you) the love for your sibling is more important than the love for your significant half. Apples and oranges.
And, again, in Beauty and the Beast the love wasn't at first sight. So, basically I think Frozen gets credit for things it only made itself look like it did first in the Disney world. Not that I think being first would have made much of a difference since it's easy to break some rules in a world that is so strict about rules (the Disney world). Sure, the execution was fine for you but for me it seemed calculated.
I love animate musicals and princesses too, but you have to give me more than just that.
I'm not an angry sad person, I promise :p
I love Princess and the Frog and I like Tangled.
And I would totally sing Let It Go at a karaoke place.

Also, Nathaniel, how could you forget that you talked with Nick about Short Term 12? That was a great podcast and I made my best friend listen to it so she could experience what smart movie talk sounds like.

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

*significant other

December 30, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJames T

Such a good podcast, I've listened to it twice already. A nice fresh change of pace with just you two.

Yes @ wanting more Rachel Griffiths in Saving Mr. Banks. I kept waiting for her to show up and was bummed she didn't have many more scenes. Whatever, at least she got to use her regular accent in a big movie (and collect a nice paycheck, surely) so I'm sure it was all cool beans with her. Also loved frazzled Ruth Wilson as Travers' poor mum in the Australian flashbacks, such a great presence and a striking face.

Judy Davis was my choice for the Meryl part in A:OC. She even looks like her Broadway counterpart for that role. A bit young but if we're going for age, when was the last time Susan Sarandon got a part that good? Sissy Spacek or Dianne Wiest as my fallbacks.

This also kinda convinced me to finally see Frozen, as I've been ~unexcited by remembering its rather horrid marketing earlier this year.

I'm excited for the next Avatar only because Cameron does sequels so well so I'm sure he's gonna inject some serious showmanship into this one in particular. And I had an incredible theatre experience with the first one and I totally wanna chase that feeling.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMark The First

Not to be that awful nitpicker (ugh, I HATE that guy) -- but Meryl is only a year younger than Violet's supposed to be.

Also, count me as a SAVING MR. BANKS defender. I agree with Nathaniel: it's a lot richer than people are giving it credit for; I like especially that instead of a real arc for Pamela, it's WE who understand PL Travers more as the movie progresses. She melts during the Kite number and sobs whenever David Tomlinson and the bank are on screen, but they're still moments that tell us more about who she is than how they wore her down. And, indeed, the movie does suggest that "Feed the Birds" and "Let's Go Fly a Kite" are the result of her demanding more emotional truth, so that she does give the film two of its most classic moments. Plus, the idea of Disney pulling out the tough childhood and the kids and gruff dad and boo-hoo-hoo, we're the same -- only to then have him turn around and screw her over? A Disney movie is depicting Walt himself as manipulative, stubborn, and not above using his family to get his way?

But, yes, the flashbacks are clunkily executed. Though I still love the fair sequence with Colin Farrell performing Fidelity Fiduciary Bank (which, sidenote, was my favorite song from the film when I was a child).

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterWalter L. Hollmann

I'm also a "Saving Mr. Banks" defender, and I'm frankly kind of astonished by the level of vitriol and misinterpretation going on by some critics. (A woman in one of the L.A. papers--maybe L.A. weekly--was especially wrong-headed and snarky in her analysis.) Anyone who is remotely paying attention at the end of the film can clearly see that Thompson/Travers isn't crying because she loves the movie so much--she clearly has very mixed feelings about it. Her emotional reaction is to seeing her valentine to her father immortalized on film, one way or another, and seeing him "alive" again. (She approached Walt Disney at the after party, and according to one biographer loudly proclaimed "It's all right, I suppose--Julie Andrews is satisfactory as Mary Poppins. But Dick Van Dyke is all wrong, and I really don't like the cartoon animals. When do we start cutting it?" Walt smile toothily at her and said, "Pam, the ship has sailed--once the film's complete, it's my property. We're not changing a thing." And that was that.)

However, a couple details only Disney fans would know that actually support Travers quite a bit: Walt Disney's versions of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Peter Pan"--both classics of English fantasy literature--were not very warmly greeted by critics in the 50's, and neither was a huge box-office smash. ("Pan" did better than "Alice," which didn't really take off until the surreal 60's and 70's when drug-induced viewings began; however, "Pan" was overshadowed by the TV version with Mary Martin for years.) "Darby O'Gill and the Little People", a beautifully made fantasy-musical, was a huge flop, but the low-budget throwaway "The Shaggy Dog" made fistfuls of money--which explains why too many live-action Disney films in the 60's and 70's were more like the latter than the former. And Disney's only other live-action musical fantasy was "Babes in Toyland" (referenced in the film), which was critically drubbed and barely made money. So Travers was absolutely right to have some qualms about what Disney's vision was, was he a good match for the tone of British fantasy, would it make money, etc. Ironically, she may have been reassured by the smashing 1962 success of "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" (one of the studio's biggest critical and commercial hits of all time), though the subsequent middling performance and tepid response to "The Sword in the Stone" probably made her nervous all over again.

The largest testimony to Travers' influence and success involving the movie lies in the studio's subsequent attempts to make lightning strike again, this time without Travers' stories or "help." Thus, the all-too obvious "Bedknobs and Broomsticks" (let's redo "Poppins" but with Angela Lansbury!), "The Gnome-Mobile" (let's put the kids from "Poppins" into a comedy version of "Darby O'Gill"), and the final "big attempt," "Pete's Dragon." (Oh, wait, everyone's still going to see that new thing called "Star Wars"?) All of those prove that no matter how annoying, rude, cruel, and abrasive Travers may have been, the spine of her stories--and her discipline, and taste--were invaluable to making "Poppins" a success. Obviously, the studio wasn't going to put these facts on a title card at the end of the movie, but it does help contextualize things a bit for casual viewers who might just see the movie as "Walt/The Corporation Is Always Right" and not realize how much the swirl of surrounding details/history played into things.

December 31, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDback

Disney's "Babes in Toyland" is horrible it looks like a tacky 1960's tv special.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJaragon

I was upset that they didn't show how much PL Travers hated the end product. I wouldn't mind the other glossovers in the rest of the movie if they had stuck to showing her mess of tears at the premiere for what they were. Also, when I saw in the podcast write-up that you would slightly talk Titanic, I thought you were going to use that as a movie that used in-movie flashforwards/flashbacks effectively; I really HATED the constant Australia flashbacks in Saving Mr. Banks.

Also, everyone and anyone should give Cameron the benefit of the doubt on Avatar 2 if not Avatar 3 and 4.

January 1, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterjtagliere

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