Gravity director Alfonso Cuaron and filmmaking brothers Joel and Ethan Coen have each landed nominations for the American Cinema Editors' (ACE) Eddie Awards. Cuaron's behind-the-scenes work on his space disaster movie has earned the Mexican a nod for Best Edited Feature Film (Dramatic), alongside 12 Years a Slave's Joe Walker, Chris Rouse for Captain Phillips, Saving Mr. Banks' Mark Livolsi, and Eric Zumbrunnen and Jeff Buchanan for Her.
Meanwhile, the Coen brothers have scored a mention in the Comedy or Musical category under their moniker Roderick Jaynes for Inside Llewyn Davis. They will compete against American Hustle's Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten, August: Osage County's Stephen Mirrione, Kevin Tent for Nebraska, and Thelma Schoonmaker for The Wolf of Wall Street.
The nominations will give Gravity and Inside Llewyn Davis big Oscars boosts - the winner of either the dramatic or comedy/musical film Eddie categories have gone on to claim the Oscar for Best Picture in seven of the past 11 Eddie Awards shows, while the Eddie victor in the best edited dramatic feature shortlist has gone on to win the Academy Award for editing in nine of the past 11 years.
The 64th annual ACE Eddie Awards will take place in at the Beverly Hilton in California on 7 February (14).
You expect a bit of schmaltz from a movie about the making of Mary Poppins. But schmaltz doesn't entail a sentiment lathered so thickly that it's feels like an anti-depressant commercial, or material so broad that it's insulting to believe that audiences above the age of five can relate to the emotionality onscreen. Saving Mr. Banks takes for granted that its viewers are fans of traditional Disney, seeming to confuse Disney fans for Disney characters, and insinuating that we bear the intellectual sophistication thereof.
The real victim, of course, is the character of P.L. Travers (Emma Roberts, charming as she can be with this material), who incurs a fraction of a storyline about overcoming (or learning to live with?) her latent childhood traumas. As a young girl in Australia (as we learn in intermittent flashbacks — by and large the dullest part of the movie, but such a hefty piece of it), young Travers adored her merry, whimsical alcoholic father (Colin Farrell, playing a character that feels as grounded in reality as Dick Van Dyke's penguin-trotting screever Bert), enchanting in his Neverland mannerisms while her chronically depressed mother watched the family crumble into squalor.
Forty-odd years later, the themes of Travers' childhood inform (sometimes directly, right down to presciently repeated phrases) her resistence to allow her novel Mary Poppins to take form as a Disney movie. In the absence of a reason for why she might have a sudden change of heart about a feeling to which she has apparently held so strongly for two decades, Travers opts to fly out to California to meet Walt Disney (Tom Hanks, wading through the script without any of the energy we know he has in his back pocket) and discuss the adaptation process.
When it's not insisting upon clunky "melting the ice queen" devices — like nuzzling Travers up to an oversized stuffed Mickey Mouse to show that, hey, she's starting to like this place! — the stubborn author's time in the Disney writer's room is the best part of the movie. Working with (or against) an increasingly agitated creative team made up of Bradley Whitford, Jason Schwartzman, and B.J. Novak, Travers protests minor details about setting and character, driving her colleagues mad in the process. It is to the credit of the comic talents of Whitford and Schwartzman (who play reserved agitation well beside Novak's outright hostility — he's doing mid-series Ryan in this movie, FYI) that these scenes offer a scoop of charm. But Travers' gradual defrosting poses a consistent problem, as it is experienced over the slow reveal of her disjointed backstories in a fashion that suggests the two are connected... but we have no reason to believe that they are.
The implications of the characters' stories — depression, child abuse, alcoholism, handicaps, and PTSD — are big, and worthy of monumental material. But the characters are so thin that the assignment of such issues to them does a disservice to the emotionality and pain inherent therein. A good story might have been found in the making of Mary Poppins, and in the life and work of P.L. Travers. Unfortunately, Saving Mr. Banks is too compelled to turn that arc into a Disney cartoon. And much like Travers herself, we simply cannot abide that.
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With spring well on its way, it's getting time to start thinking about the Easter gifts you're hoping to receive and/or give out. If you're looking for ideas, nothing says "fun-loving" quite like Cameron Crowe's We Bought A Zoo, which is arriving on Blu-ray and DVD April 3. The all-star cast includes Matt Damon, Scarlett Johansson, and Thomas Haden Church in a sweet-natured tale about a guy who decides to change his family's lives forever by moving away from the hassles of the city and into the arms of nature by buying a zoo. It's fun, uplifting and great to put on during an Easter get together with the family.
And if you're one who loves to hear all about the creative process behind the camera, the Blu-ray combo pack includes commentary with director Cameron Crowe himself, along with J.B. Smoove (The Sitter), and film editor Mark Livolsi. If you're really looking for something with a ton of extra features, this film has got it in spades. The Blu-ray is loaded with over 2½ hours of special features that includes a hilarious gag reel, four behind-the-scenes featurettes, and 20 deleted/extended scenes in the film such as:
Elevator EmpathyA Gift From RonnieLife is ElementalThank You, RhondaRosie Names Her PeacocksQuick LearnerJust Can’t Get a Handle On ItSo Much BloodshedBuster is LooseUtterly Free / Nobody DiedI Make My Own HoursThe Stuff is AliveWe’re Living The StoryDisaffected YouthIt’s Their Zoo, TooGoodnight Big MacSuch a ClichéSorry About the RainBenjamin’s Big SpeechOpening Day
All-in-all, a great Easter gift which is sure to put a smile on anyone's face. Remember to buy it in stores starting on April 3!