Saturday, December 29, 2018

"Mary Poppins Returns" surging at the box office

A little over a week after its debut, Mary Poppins Returns is garnering strong receipts from theaters. According to Box Office Mojo, through Wednesday night the film had earned nearly $61 million domestically (with an additional $22m in foreign totals). In a somewhat atypical scenario, the movie is actually gaining steam in its second week, versus seeing a slight dip in totals.

Friday estimates add another $10m, the three-day weekend is also projected to have a takeaway of $32m, which will bring the film's total just over $100m.  The high daily returns and second week boost, as reported by Mojo, suggest the film is "on its way to a lengthy domestic run."

Get it, Mary.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Film review: "Mary Poppins Returns" (2018)

I managed to catch a matinée of Mary Poppins Returns this afternoon. Going into it, the overwhelming impression I'd had was that the film was well made, the storyline heartfelt and and the general experience a joyous one. Coming out of it, I'd have to say I (mostly) agree with all three. I'm certainly a big fan of the original, and and even bigger fan of Julie Andrews. Emily Blunt of course had some very big shoes to fill in the titular role, but pulled it off convincingly.

The film takes place many years after the original during the Great Depression, where the Banks children are all grown up and Michael (Ben Whishaw (who's best in show IMO)) is on the verge of losing his childhood home to repossession. His wife has died, leaving him alone with his three children Anabel, John and Georgie. Aunt Jane is in the picture as well, and she and Michael realize their father had left them shares to the bank, which they expect could cover the debt owed for the house. If only they can find the papers.

Cue Mary Poppins, who descends from the clouds on an old kite Georgie has loses control of, and over the course of two hours, she and the wee Banks children, along with lamplighter Jack (Lin-Manuel Miranda) go on a series of fantastical mini adventures around London.

The crux of the drama is that the Banks might lose their home. The kids hatch an idea to sell their mother's old bowl, which she had always described as "priceless."  Here's where we are treated to Meryl's scene, as she portrays Mary's "second" cousin Topsy (her full name is Tatiana T-something with a vaguely Russian-y accent), who owns a fix-it shop. She's sought out to help repair the crack of said bowl, with the slight wrinkle being that her shop turns upside down every second Wednesday, of course the day they all happen to show up to ask for help. Meryl gets to sing a song entitled "Turning Turtle" and actually has a pretty physical role, rolling around, dancing, swinging, standing on her head. Sadly, mom's bowl is deemed inexpensive, regardless of Topsy's ability to repair it.

Fast forward toward the end, where it seems all hope is lost for the Banks' as we see them moving out of their home. That is until Michael realizes the bank notes were used by Georgie to repair the holes in the beat up kite. With the help of Mary, Jack and Jack's lamplighting friends, they manage to stall things enough for Michael and Jane to make it to the bank, where a devious Mr. Wilkins (Colin Firth) tries to tell them it's too late. In walks Dick Van Dyke (in character of course), Wilkins' uncle and chairman of the bank, who ousts Wilkins and announces that Michael's childhood tuppence investment has secured the loan payoff. Hurray!

As expected, the effects and stage production were extremely strong. I have to admit though that for about the first hour of the film, it seemed like the actual plot of the film got a bit lost, in that the Banks' losing their home was just a backstory, and the real focus of the movie was just showcasing magical experiences for the kids on screen. Maybe there's nothing wrong with that, and I felt this less in the second half, but I was generally underwhelmed at the beginning.

And I might get some hate for this, but I just wish movie musicals had more amazing singers nowadays. God bless Emily Blunt but there were zero wows for me. I realize she's not that kind of vocalist, and it isn't even a comparison to Julie Andrews, but I like a little more 'pop' in performances like these. Same sort of goes for Miranda. Their acting was wonderful, however.

The film is doing fairly decent with critics and should make a lot of money. Pictures like this tend to have pretty good legs, especially over the extended holiday season. I have a feeling I'll never see it a second time, though.

One thumb up, one thumb sideways.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Will Meryl star in a 2018 Black List script?

Two out the last three years, when the Hollywood "Black List" of top unproduced scripts was announced, I posted about any I thought might be a good fit for Meryl. In 2015, Nyad struck a major chord, while a year later, a little film called The Post caught my eye.

Still waiting on Nyad, and 2017's The Post of course earned Meryl her 21st Oscar nomination.  In 2017's list, there were zero script tags that stuck out as viable options for Meryl to star in a lead role. Unfortunately, this year looks to be the same.

Yesterday, the 2018 Black List was revealed to multiple sources lauding how around 40% of the stories centered around women. In itself this is great, but having searched the list, I can't say I read a single screenplay description that involved women of a certain age; namely women over 50.

This sort of makes it tough for Meryl to be a potential participant. Certainly some of the scripts mentioned don't have a lot of plot details, so there could be something out there role-wise, but it's pretty "slim pickins."

I guess we'll just have to rely on other sources (at least for the next year)!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Reviews pouring in for "Mary Poppins Returns"

With the film set for release in less than a week, official reviews have started to roll in Mary Poppins Returns. Generally, they've been pretty good, with its score on Rotten Tomatoes holding at 76% on 63 reviews, while review aggregate Metacritic lists it at a respectable score of 70.

This was never a film I expected to be a critics darling, but it's actually doing pretty well. The bigger reaction is likely going to be from audiences, as I imagine we'll see some pretty hefty receipts over the holidays. 

The film happened to have its European premiere yesterday and Meryl was on hand in London with the rest of cast, looking smart as usual:

L-R Emily Mortimer, Ben Winshaw, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emily Blunt, Colin Firth and Meryl Streep

And lastly, we got a little clip of Meryl in character in a new featurette:

Looks like a fun physical role, albeit small. I'm interested to hear a bit more that accent.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

SAG nominations announced

The Screen Actors Guild announced its nominations for film and television this morning. Meryl is nowhere to be found, but considering her two screen roles this year were bit parts in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again and Mary Poppins Returns, it's hardly a surprise.

Great to see Emily Blunt nominated, however (both for lead in Mary and supporting for A Quiet Place)!  Following her nom for a Golden Globe last week, it's shaping up pretty well for her chances at an Oscar nomination (for Mary) . I have to expect that she'll hit BAFTA as well when those nominations on announced January 9.

Couple of surprises from this morning's announcement:

No Regina King for If Beale Street Could Talk. 
Margot Robbie (Mary Queen of Scots) in over Claire Foy for First Man.
No Sam Rockwell for Vice.
Not a single woman of color nominated for individual film role (I guess that's not actually a surprise).

I still think King will get in for Oscar, as it's very unlikely Emily Blunt will be nominated there for A Quiet Place. It's possible not a lot of people saw Beale Street in time or that screeners were sent late. Foy may miss altogether, but I'd be pretty surprised if Robbie made it ultimately. Rockwell may sneak in over Timothée Chalamet (but I hope not as I very much enjoy Timmy).

Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters in one week!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Golden Globe nominations announced

I realize that Meryl wasn't really expected to garner any award recognition for the one project she has out this year, but I thought I'd mention the nominations Mary Poppins Returns received this morning from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Not surprisingly, Emily Blunt was nominated for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy for her titular role, while Lin-Manuel Miranda also snagged a nod for his performance. The film of course also was nominated in the Best Musical/Comedy general category, along with an Original Score nod.

While Blunt might challenge for the win, I think Olivia Colman is hands down the favorite for (ha ha) The Favourite. I was surprised not to see Ryan Gosling for First Man or Viola Davis in Widows. And is Vice really a comedy or is it just a comedy the way My Week with Marilyn was a musical?

Things will come into a little better focus for Oscar prognosticating after the SAG noms are announced next Wednesdays.

Hopefully next year we'll see Meryl's name somewhere in the Drama Series category for Big Little Lies!

Sunday, December 2, 2018

First reactions positive to world premiere of "Mary Poppins Returns"

Mary Poppins Returns had its world premiere in Hollywood on Thursday and initial reactions from critics are mostly favorable. In this Entertainment Weekly article, you can find multiple reactions to the film, and while some may be mixed, folks are overwhelmingly praising Emily Blunt's performance in the iconic role of the magical nanny. 

stars Lin-Manuel Miranda and Emily Blunt with director Rob Marshall (right)

Sadly, no sign of Meryl at the premiere. Official reviews are embargoed by the studio until December 12, and although we may not be able to expect universal acclaim for the picture, I'm pulling for a Metacritic score above 70 and Rotten Tomatoes score above 80. One thing I think may be safe to assume is that this move is going to make a shit-tone of money over the holiday season. 

Mary Poppins Returns hits theaters December 19.