Life of Riley
When it comes to my final countdown of this years’ best and brightest movies, at least two films within that list will be that of an animated pedigree, with the first being the wonderful Song of the Sea, released only two weeks ago, which proved to be one of the most blissfully entertaining and emotion rattling films that I had seen so far this year with gorgeous visuals, a simply gorgeous design and a soundtrack that rivals any classic musical companion to date. The second on that list however, without a doubt, will be this weeks’ new Disney Pixar release, Inside Out, a film so masterful in reaching all its’ cinematic targets and avenues that it begs the question whether Disney can ever outdo itself ever again in creating a film that not only touches the heart, but touches the mind too with concepts and ideas that are set to bring a overarching sense of joy out in everyone, even if they are too stubborn to admit it.
The story of Inside Out focuses on the life of young Riley Anderson and her five manifestations of emotions that reside within her mind who control the way in which her life is run, whether it be saving memories of joy and happiness, creating islands of Riley’s personality or just finding solutions to day-to-day problems and situations young Riley finds herself in. Of these emotions, Joy (Voiced by Amy Poehler) believes the best way for Riley to live her life is to constantly be happy and only resort to the other emotions of either Disgust, Fear, Anger and Sadness if completely necessary, yet Riley and her emotions are turned upside down when she is forced to relocate from Minnesota to San Francisco, resulting in a range of stark changes that set Joy and co. on a wild quest to adapt to their inhabitants sudden and relentless changes. From the plot synopsis alone, it is obvious that Inside Out is a movie that can be related with by almost everyone and anyone, regardless of age, with the youngest audience being there for the gorgeous visuals and design, the high comedic and slapstick output and relationship to the character of Riley, whilst the older audience being there to enjoy the relationship between Riley and her parents, helped by a deep understanding of the films’ main idea that growing up brings with it a rafter of changes, both physically and mentally.
Of the many positives within the film, the simple, yet brilliant concepts that continued to pop up were astounding to behold, with trains of thought, islands of personality, imaginary friends and subconscious fears all being expertly designed, resulting in a roller-coaster ride of emotions with moments of sheer sadness, uplifting joy, and an overall sense of wonder that the film willingly creates. For example, one young girl in the cinema showing I was in actually broke down in tears during the film and although I was never going to follow suit, I have to admit, there were times my tongue was being well and truly bit, particularly in regards to the final scene of Riley’s imaginary friend, Bing Bong. I’m such an emotional wreck. These collage of magical elements that encompassed Inside Out throughout its’ runtime results in making the film not only one of the best of the year, but a true Disney Classic, one of which will live long in the memory of all that choose to watch it.
Overall Score: 10/10
The Little Glass Slipper
“Not another remake of a Disney classic in order to tear the little money we have away from us”, I hear you all scream! And to be fair, before watching Kenneth Branagh’s “re-imagining” of the well-known fairy tale, I had that exact view, even after being pleasantly surprised of it having a cast that includes Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård and the always brilliant Helena Bonham Carter. My pretty pessimistic view of Cinderella was soon put to bed however, with the film succeeding in being everything that I wanted it to be, whilst simultaneously reminding me of my childhood where Disney films played a constant, and important, part of my early cinematic years.
As everyone knows the story behind Cinderella there is really not much point in giving a plot synopsis, but I will say how happy I was at seeing how much the film stuck to the original telling from the 1950’s animated classic, something of which has seen to sway away from “re-tellings” recently such as within Into the Woods, which although wasn’t terrible, didn’t really do it for me in attempting to do something a slightly bit different. Sometimes sticking to your roots isn’t such a bad thing, and I think that is one of the reasons the new Cinderella is so strong. Yes, everyone knows the story, but I would rather the film stuck to the story everyone knew instead of heading in a completely different direction, particularly when it is such a beloved fairy tale such as this. Bonus points for that then.
Even more bonus points for the casting too, with Lily James doing a rather grand job in such an iconic role, supported by the ever-smiling Richard Madden as the spouse-searching Prince Kit, and the ever-evil Cate Blanchett who once again shines as an actress, chewing up the scenery as the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine. For the short time she is on screen, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother (of course) also shows why she is the go-to kooky character actress too, shoving down the scenery instead of chewing it, only adding more evidence to my opinion that she should just move to a world ran by Tim Burton and Disney. To be honest, I would probably move there too.
In conclusion, Cinderella beat all my previous expectations of it hands-down, proving that if done correctly, a story as strong as Ella and her glass slipper, can never be broken. Not only is the casting spot on, but the pretty much perfect runtime maintains its’ sense of sheer wonder throughout, ending on a note that can only make you leave the cinema smiling. If there ever was a blueprint for future live-action Disney remakes, then Cinderella has surely secured itself as just that. Cinderella, you can go to the ball.
Overall Score: 8/10
Mary Poppins is a character that will stay with many of us for the rest of our lives and will be remembered for many years to come. A tale of a wondrous nanny with magical abilities and a loving heart cemented it’s place in many hearts and minds, even when it was just a book! Saving Mr. Banks details the creation of Mary Poppins and P.L. Travers’ aversion to it’s filming without her specific sign off.
Going into the theatre, the trailer didn’t look all that, but considering I have a soft spot for anything vintage or Disney orientated, I looked forward to exploring the workings and production of a story that was a staple in my childhood. The opening scene of the iconic Disney castle logo was the 1960’s version and kept it’s grainy 30mm film aspect and was an incredible gorgeous but subtle piece even before the movie starts, almost as if it’s taking it’s hat off, bowing in respect to the past.
Jumping into the movie, we follow 2 time lines. The first is obviously the 1960’s era that depicts Travers’ struggles and the weeks she spent in California working on the film. Our second time line is Travers as a young girl in Australia that depicts a life vastly different to her current lifestyle. The stories merge intermittently throughout to give context to certain scenes and motivations. They also help illustrate Travers’ attitudes and aversion to change. The merging of the lines is perfectly done. Nothing is harsh on the eye and you don’t get dropped into another scene that opens up another avenue, it seamlessly blends together. Even though the stories follow the same character, the pieces are juxtaposed against each other. While one starts off happy, it deteriorates while the other flourishes the longer it goes on.
Many scenes are dotted throughout the movie that are just perfect. There is no doubt about it. A mix of the exuberant colours, great acting and a brilliant script that really resonates. A particular favourite was when Travers’ was leaving the US. Through the time she spent there, a personal driver was assigned to drive her where ever she chose. Ralph (Paul Giamatti) was his name. Blissfully unaware to who he was driving about, he would talk about the beauty of life in LA and his disabled daughter. Just before Travers leaves, Ralph found out from his daughter about her and asked for a signature. The ensuing conversation is a real tear-jerker and still stays with me even when I saw it weeks ago.
With a huge cast of actors and many recognisable faces, we understand their abilities. Fortunately, they manage to maintain a high standard of acting that doesn’t diminish. I was extremely surprised to see Colin Farrell appear. I didn’t expect to see so many people. Farrell also has experience as an alcoholic, so jumping into the boots of one isn’t much different to what he used to do. Not being a huge fan of him, I do have to say that he played the role with dignity and portrays Travers Goff as a wonderful human being struck by something difficult to control. Obviously, Tom Hanks is Walt Disney and I really enjoyed his performance, even though I’m hearing complaints about his southern accent. Personally, I have no idea what they are grinding at but otherwise all the acting was superb.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve had real trouble trying to find something wrong with the movie. I didn’t want to sit here a praise it endlessly without something to pick on. The only thing I can think of is that I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Disney. Not just the theme park but a little more into the background of Walt. Seeing I’ve run out of things to say, I believe that this movie is worth a good 9/10. Mary Poppins is brilliant story that has influenced countless generations and the premise to delve into it was a great idea while seamlessly blending two time lines into one.