Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα biography. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα biography. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Τρίτη, 1 Απριλίου 2014

Saving Mr. Banks (2013)

Director: John Lee Hancock
Writers: Kelly Marcel, Sue Smith
With: Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Annie Rose Buckley, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti, Bradley Whitford, B.J. Novak, Jason Schwartzman
Duration: 125'

Production: USA, UK, Australia

Saving Mr. Banks is a movie talking about a hard woman, a character so stiff and difficult, you might think it is all fiction. But it is not. It is the story of P.L. Travers, stage name for the acclaimed writer Helen Lyndon Goff, writer of Mary Poppins. 

Walt Disney's daughters always begged him to make the famous children's book series about the magical English nanny Mary Poppins into a movie. He was unsuccessfully trying to convince P.L. Travers to sell to him the book rights. After what seems to be 20 years and due to lack of money, Mrs Travers will eventually succumb to Disney's will to make a deal, being though immensely difficult in terms of the adaptation of her books on screen. 

What begins as a light and funny story of this extraordinary woman, who beneath this dominant attitude she in nothing more than a disappointed from life human being, soon evolves into a serious drama about the hard childhood she suffered, living in Queensland, Australia. 

Her father was a banker who above all loved to live and made everything nice and beautiful for his children. A man who found it hard to devote his whole self into work, instead he preferred playing around with his children, showing them how magnificent life is. In his long attempts to synchronize with his tough work reality, he enslaved himself to alcohol, which made him eventually lose his job. He died of influenza a couple of years later. 

All these aspects of her life we see via flash - backs in her early years, while at the same time she arrives at Los Angeles to talk through the adaptation of her book. In the movie we see that she hasn't sold the rights to Disney yet, something that really helps the plot go on, but in reality she had already done it. In what seems to be a period of some weeks, she, from a harsh, dominant personality and almost disgusted towards Disney, will eventually yield to his will to make a musical with actors and cartoons, even if she never really liked it. 

The extreme loneliness this woman felt all her life begins to unravel while she works with Disney's team through the film script. She keeps remembering the true story behind what inspired her, a story that is not funny or even a musical. Even if the direction shows in parts this tension, we still found ourselves locked into her tough past, something that helps us understand her strictness towards people. 

She never really reveals to the Disney team the real aspects of this story or for the matter the real Mary Poppins, a harsh lady that arrived one day to help her mother with the house and raise the children. A personality that seems Mrs Travers evolved to. She holds inside her the real Mary Poppins and in order to make her life less tougher than it was, she used her talent and imagination and created the character in the book. So that all this burden would finally get off her shoulders. 

P.L. Travers loses herself in her own thoughts. The people around her can see, in the course of time, that she is nothing more than a hurt little girl who just wants to be truthful to her vision of her own life and work. She remembers her drunk father as a loving man who did his best for his family, she evolved him into Mr. Banks, the character in her book. 

He was her life and inspiration for years and even till the end she refuses any changes the studio is planning to make on him. She lives her life dictated by her past, but the past she chose to remember. She made it better, nicer and even more wonderful through her books, only to be able to live through it. 

The movie doesn't really know where to stand. Is it a comedy using Travers' attitude towards people in order to be hilarious? Is it a drama about the life of this family who beneath all the sadness kept hidden the golden beautiful treasures of love and real life meaning? At the end it doesn't really matter, because "Saving Mr. Banks" talks about the life of this woman, her travel through her past and the -what it seems- settlement with her present. 

Emma Thompson seems to be the best choice, since she can perform with absolutely perfectness a role that requires both humor and depth. Even if she wasn't nominated in the Oscars after all, what I believe was extremely unfair, it doesn't really matter. Her work and depiction of the hard, strict, complainer P.L. Travers is amazing. She managed to reveal the human side of hers, her creativity, her talent and her deep love for her father. 

The relationship we see unravel in the movie between Travers and Disney was much more problematic in real life. She hated the final movie and never accepted any of the songs or cartoons participating in it. After the premiere, they never talked to each other again. 

She was devoted to her personal vision till the end of her years and never made more adaptations. However in the movie, she appears to be touched from the immense talent of the Sherman's brothers, something that needed to be screened, in order to depict how creativity is evolving as a process and how the people behind the scenes deserve more of the spotlight. 

As a viewer I would love to see more aspects of her real life, more evidence of how she became such a tough woman, of why she never had children, of how she really managed to transform her past. In this semi-biographical film, the vision and work of P.L. Travers revives in order to show us how some really hard things in life can be transformed into something so unique and beautiful. 

She will be remembered for many years to come and through "Saving Mr. Banks" so will her constant attempts to protect her family, the father she loved so much and the Mary Poppins who helped her get through it all. 


Δευτέρα, 24 Φεβρουαρίου 2014

Dallas Buyers Club (2013)

Direction: Jean-Marc Vallée
Script: Craig Borten, Melisa Wallack
With: Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner, Jared Leto
Duration: 117'
Production: USA

In 1985 Dallas, electrician and hustler Ron Woodroof works around the system to help AIDS patients get the medication they need after he is himself diagnosed with the disease.

It is so undeniable obvious how ignorant people were at that time about AIDS, stripping it out from all the shame and terror it represented. Also the pharmaceutical (disgusting) business and their deals with hospitals for new uncertified treatments in order to earn money. They put people's misery and despair into their wallets. And along with that they banned everything else that could destroy their “kingdom” of treatments.

Here comes our hero, who after the shock of being sick, he quits his job and starts a small illegal business of treating HIV patients like himself with importing medicine from Mexico and other countries. His influence is big and his business brains will prove a priceless weapon for himself and everyone around him. Drugs and alcohol didn't manage to get out of his life though and his attitude towards other people keeps being mean and arrogant (and in times hilarious).

He meets Rayon, a drug addict trans who is also sick with HIV. Even though their first encounter is not really ideal, they turned out to be close partners and friends. The truth is that the relationship between Ron and Rayon is not given the proper time to flourish on screen. We follow them around the film quite scared of how Ron would behave towards Rayon, while there is not really a connection somewhere to prove that he actually accepted his partner. We just see the ending phase of this relationship, that they have become good and truthful friends.

While the character of Mathew McConaughey tries so hard to be rude and to build a sort of “protection” wall against other people, he also provokes an embarrassing laughter while his character acts like that. So tough and straight that to our eyes looks a bit ridiculous. But the character was real and his behavior and choices where also real. Many people who were like that existed back then, especially to a city like Dallas. And they probably still exist. So it is not really funny, but mostly depressing and disappointing.

Ron changes though, through all these business and especially through the disease. Even though he has so many bad elements as a person, he is still doing everything his own way only to help himself and other people. I would love to see more about the court procedures and all the decisions taken but here obviously is not about that. Here is about people trying to make amends with their harsh reality and try to decide what to do with the remaining time. Sometimes through McConaughey's performance we feel how his character feels, we understand in a peculiar way all his motives, fears and choices, while we subconsciously console him for the impact his actions have, even though they are racist, dysfunctional and completely irrational.

This movie has many faces, has many parts that wants to narrate. But does it actually manage to say what it wanted to say from the beginning? In an extent yes it does. Clearly the director tried to fit the small romance with Garner into the film unsuccessfully, but also the relationship with Rayon. It seems that everything is about Ron and the movie cannot escape from this. It is not necessarily bad, it is just enough. You see the gradual change into Ron, but you fail to separate his relationships and distinguish their progress through the plot.

Ron doesn't want you to like him. Actually he doesn't really care if you or anyone else likes him. He is very obnoxious but at the same time what he tries, and at the end manages to do, is extraordinary. Attempting to help sick people with effective medicine, attempting to ease their pain and mostly his pain. We do see him go through many sentimental turbulences and making amends at the end with his condition. He is strong and a fighter, a magnificent characteristic that is obvious not until the very end.


Dallas Buyers Club is a bit not sure where to confine itself, whether it is his genre (drama, comedy, political, historical, biography) or its story, but at the end you can see clearly what its purpose was; through Ron's story to talk about a matter that is still a taboo in many places in the world, to show how people can deal with their very own real and harsh problems and how a surprise in your life can turn out both inspirational and truthful for you and the others around you.