Mary Poppins Returns

step_payoff_poster3_united_kingdomThose of us who were children in the 1960s will have strong, and in my case very fond, memories of Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins, so when it was announced that a new film was going to be made I was a little anxious about how it would turn out. Once Emily Blunt was cast as the lead I relaxed a bit, and began to be excited about seeing the film.

And before I go into more detail, I am pleased to be able to say that it is really lovely and charming and highly entertaining.

Mary Poppins Returns is set in the Depression, several decades after the original, with the Banks children all grown up. Jane has followed her mother into political activism (hands up anyone who’d forgotten that Mrs Banks was a Suffragette) and Michael is a recent widower with three children, a job in the bank at which his father worked, and financial difficulties which may lead to the loss of the family home.

Cue the arrival of Mary Poppins.

If the original film was all about saving Mr Banks (and if you haven’t seen that film with Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks then you really should), then MP Returns is definitely about saving Michael. I will fight anyone who says it isn’t.

It is fair to say (as others already have) that this is less of a sequel and more an exercise in revisiting the original film. Not sure?

  • Non-cockney Cockney? Check.
  • Cartoon sequence? Check.
  • Really good songs? Absolutely, though only time will tell if they will last as long as, for example, Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious or A Spoonful of Sugar. But let’s give it time.
  • Lessons to be learned even in the middle of surreal situations? Yep.

Everyone will rightly talk about Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda but for me, Ben Whishaw was one of the best things in the movie. The children were also excellent and there were some very enjoyable cameos. And a special shout-out to Colin Firth’s moustache which made me very suspicious from the outset as to his intentions.

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Mary Poppins Returns was clearly made by people who actually love the original. It looks very familiar but also totally fresh and really manages to retain the spirit of the original film. And has made me want to re-read the books.

Highly recommended; it’s super.

Dazzling details: directed by Rob Marshall, MPR is 130 minutes long and rated U for everyone if you are OK with very mild threat. I feel I may have said this recently about something else….

Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody 2018I have been a fan of Queen since for ever – I distinctly remember bopping to Killer Queen at our school Christmas disco in 1974 when I was 12 – and I have most of their albums as well a couple of 12″ picture discs (the younglings will not know what those are, sadly), so there was no way I was going to miss seeing Bohemian Rhapsody.

It was awesome IMHO.

The film tells the story of the band from its inception until their astonishing Live Aid performance in 1985. Although obviously Freddie Mercury is front and centre given his astonishing showmanship and ultimately tragic death, the other band members get a fair amount of attention also.

The casting is brilliant. Rami Malek is amazing as Freddie, capturing his distinct style of performance without getting lost in what could have been merely an impersonation. Gwilym Lee looks so much like Brian May, ditto Joe Mazzello as John Deacon, that it’s almost easier to accept that time travel exists! There are also lots of well-known British actors in supporting roles though I totally missed Mike Myers in his cameo.

The controversy around the film before it was released centred on how Freddie’s sexuality was going to be portrayed, and although it’s a 12A and therefore shies away from the more lurid aspects of his life, I don’t think it was straight-washed as many had feared. Of course it’s a movie and not a documentary, so some elements were changed to increase dramatic tension and the timing of certain events was tinkered with, but I thought the essence of the band and its history was largely maintained and I wasn’t disappointed in any of the changes made.

Clearly it’s a very old-fashioned, traditional biopic but the performances and especially the recreations of the various musical numbers are so special that it doesn’t matter that there are no real risks in the storytelling or direction. I loved every second of it, managed not to sing along until the end credits, and will very happily watch it again in its DVD release.

Honestly, if you like Queen you will enjoy this film (although you’ve probably seen it already!), and I’ll be stunned if Malek doesn’t win awards for his performance.

Directed by Brian Singer (though finished by Dexter Fletcher when Singer was sacked from the project) BoRap is 134 mins long and rated 12A for moderate sex references, drug references, infrequent strong language