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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Walters’

Emily Blunt

“MARY POPPINS RETURNS” My rating: B+ (Opens wide on Dec. 19)

130 minutes | MPAA rating: PG

First, the most obvious question: Is “Mary Poppins Returns” as good as the 1965 original?

Answer: No.  But  it comes close.

Disney’s original “Poppins” is one of — if not the — greatest family films of all time. Everything about it works, from the performances to the writing, the execution, and especially the Sherman Brothers’ astounding score of instantly hummable songs.

So when director Rob Marshall (“Chicago,” “Into the Woods,” “Nine”) took on this sequel, he had a lot to live up to.

Mostly he succeeds. There are a few flat sequences and the new Music Hall-steeped score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, while perfectly serviceable and occasionally inspired (the moving “The Place Where Lost Things Go, for example), is never as catchy as the original.

But Emily Blunt makes for a slyly entertaining Mary, “Hamilton” star and creator Lin-Manuel Miranda makes a solid film debut, and several of the musical numbers  are showstoppers.  A delectable sense of childlike wonder prevails.

The plot cooked up by David Magee, John DeLuca and Marshall draws heavily from P.L. Travers’ nine “Poppins” books, and in many instances offers a sort of variation on high points from the ’65 film.

The setting has been advanced from pre World War I London to the Depression era.  Michael and Jane Banks, the kids from the original, are now adults (played by Ben Whishaw and Emily Mortimer).  Michael, the widowed father of three, still works at the bank where his father was employed; Jane, taking a cue from her suffragette mother, is a labor organizer.

Michael, who is hopeless with money, is about to lose the family home to foreclosure by his own employer (represented by two-faced exec  Colin Firth).  The family’s only hope is to find a small fortune in bank shares purchased decades earlier — but the papers have all gone missing.

Into this tense situation who should appear but Mary Poppins (Blunt), who in her own no-nonsense way organizes and entertains  the incredibly adorable kids (Pixie Davies,  Nathanael Saleh and Joel Dawson) with a series of fantastic adventures.

Our narrator through all this is a lamplighter, Jack (Miranda), who serves precisely the same function as did Dick Van Dyke’s chimneysweep Bert in the original. Introduced with the song “Lovely London Sky,” Jack is featured in “Trip a Little Light Fantastic”  featuring a host of dancing lamplighters that mirrors the “Step in Time ” extravaganza from 1965.

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Saorise Ronan

Saorise Ronan

“BROOKLYN”  My rating: A-

111 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“Brooklyn” is a wisp of a movie packing a boatload of feeling.

In this humanistic triumph from director John Crowley, little moments add up to an intimate epic.

Based on Colm Toibin‘s novel (the terrific adaptation is by Nick Hornby), this devastatingly lovely effort follows a young woman’s journey from Ireland to America, the gradual falling away of her old identity and the new one that replaces it in the land of promise.

As the film begins Eilis (a sensational Saorise Ronan…expect an Oscar nom) is a shopgirl in small-town post-war Ireland, a place of of narrow vistas, frustrated hopes and small-minded meanness.

Despite her fierce loyalty to her mother (Jane Brennan) and spinster older sister Rose (Fiona Glascott), Eilis feels smothered and concludes her future lies elsewhere.

With the sponsorship of Father Flood (Jim Broadbent), an Irish priest living in NYC, Eilis buys a cheap boat ticket and takes off for the New World.

Her first mentor is her shipboard bunkmate,  a much more sophisticated gal who introduces Eilis to rouge and mascara, the initial step in being taken seriously as an American woman.

Once settled in the Brooklyn boarding house run by the hilariously opinionated Mrs. Kehoe (Julie Walters), who presides over a dinner table of single girls like a tart-tongued mother hen, our heroine gets to work.

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