Saving Mr. Banks (John Lee Hancock, 2013). Emma Thompson is good as the author of Mary Poppins, and Tom Hanks is interesting as Walt Disney … his accent is sometimes on the money, such that I fell into nostalgia for the days of Disneyland, but other times he just sounds like Tom Hanks doing an accent. The film doesn’t overcome the dangers of being “based on a true story” when “based” is more important than “true”, and there’s a sense of money-grabbing in the whole affair (Mary Poppins is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, and Saving Mr. Banks functions as a feature-length preview for that film’s re-release). Perhaps in that way, Saving Mr. Banks is accurate about Disney, who made a lot of money creating entertainment for children. But for the most part, the representation of Disney is too loving and sanitized. 6/10. You don’t really need me to tell you what movie matches up well with this one, do you?
The Verdict (Sidney Lumet, 1982). Paul Newman gets one of those Give Me an Oscar roles, and he manages to keep his dignity. (He got a nomination, but lost to Ben Kingsley. Gandhi, after all, is the ultimate Give Me an Oscar role.) I feared that The Verdict would be a dreary tale of an alcoholic who finds redemption, and was glad to find that the alcoholism was the result of the character’s problems, i.e., it wasn’t about alcohol, it was about a human being. That’s the Oscar part. What The Verdict really is surprised me for some reason: it’s a courtroom drama, Perry Mason with a better budget, more famous guest stars, and artier production. It wasn’t a great courtroom drama, but it was good enough. And late in the film, Lindsay Crouse shows up, which is always a good thing. Five years after Slap Shot, Newman and Crouse are together again! I love recounting Crouse’s career … daughter of playwright Russel Crouse, named Lindsay after her father’s writing partner Howard Lindsay, sister of Timothy Crouse who wrote the fine The Boys on the Bus in the early 70s, wife of David Mamet (who wrote the screenplay for The Verdict), mother of Zosia Mamet, and an important character in Season Four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Oh yeah, The Verdict … #933 on the They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They list of the top 1000 films of all time (c’mon, it’s not that good). 7/10. They are completely different movies in every possible way, but it might be fun to watch Slap Shot alongside this one.
The Lady (Luc Besson, 2011). 7/10.
Certified Copy (Abbas Kiarostami, 2010). 7/10.