Category Archives: Movies

Be Like Jack: Thoughts on Mary Poppins Returns

I saw the movie “Mary Poppins Returns” today with a friend. 

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Plot synopsis from IMDB: “Decades after her original visit, the magical nanny returns to help the Banks siblings and Michael’s children through a difficult time in their lives.”

A few things I liked:

  • It mirrored the original movie (and the books) quite well but doesn’t copy.  It is a continuation of the story. 
  • The music is fun and whimsical.
  • Emily Blunt’s Mary Poppins is more smiley than Julie Andrews’s. She seems to care more for the kids and have more fun with teaching them life lessons.
  • The new Banks kids look ready to stumble into Narnia.
  •  Lin-Manuel Miranda’s character, Jack, is joyful to watch and I dare you not to fall in love with his happy eyes and cheerful demeanor.
  • Dick Van Dyke is over 90 and he still dances the happiest little jig in his cameo. 

Dislikes:

  • Jane Banks’s clothing. Good colors but hideous patterns and combinations. 
  • …That might be it.
  • I did find the songs a little too on the nose for the storyline. Nothing existed just to exist, it all tied in somehow with a moral lesson. 

Final thoughts:

I was skeptical about the character of Jack – who is the Bert stand-in as companion in this movie. The genius of Lin-Manual Miranda aside, you cannot surpass Bert. Or perhaps you can. But Jack (who is connected to Bert, but you should watch the movie to find out how) does not try to surpass him. He develops a character all of his own. He is the rare adult character who recognizes what Mary Poppins can do and marvels at it but does not need to be taught by it. 

And that, I think, is why his character really is the best in the movie. He worked with Mary Poppins in the past. He knows Bert. He comfortably takes part in all the adventures as a matter of course. Yet he still marvels and laughs with joy at it all. He is not like Michael and Jane, who forgot about their adventures with Mary Poppins. Neither is he like the children, who need to learn some life lessons. He bridges the gap between childlike wonder and adult responsibility. In doing so, he shines as an example of what a good adult should/could be like. 

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this happy sequel.

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Favorite Hunger Games Memes

This post is in honor of my cousin, Ella, who just finished reading the Hunger Games. Enjoy 😉

 

 

And let’s not forget Peeta’s love of bread.

 

 

 

Bonus Round: <Spoilers>

 


Gut Memory

My brother recently got into the TV show Chuck. The rest of us watched the show years ago when it aired. A few weeks ago, my sister walked into the living room during an episode where a new character gets introduced and exclaimed, 

“Shaw! I hate him.”

“Why?” asked my bewildered brother.

“I don’t remember,” she said. “I just know I do.”

I was upstairs and overheard the conversation. And as soon as she said Shaw, I knew I hated him too. Vehemently. But like my sister, I could not tell you anything specific about his character. He probably comes between the main couple or something. I don’t know what he looks like. I do know the name evokes negative emotions. 

I call it gut memory because it is like a gut instinct,  but based off some vague, forgotten memory. 

It happened to me again yesterday. I was reading a book from a series I used to love as a kid. The neighbor girl comes over in the book and the minute I read her name, I knew I cordially disliked her. But at least based on this book, I had no reason to! She befriends the heroine and they have adventures. I could not determine why I felt animosity, only that my gut memory told me she was no good. 

(I looked it up, and later in the series she tries to come between the main couple. I am noticing a theme for why I hate certain characters.) 

I find it fascinating how the brain remembers things. Just like a smell can evoke a specific memory, an emotion can last towards a specific person (even a fictional one!) long after you consciously remember why you feel that way. 


The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Short review: I’d much rather watch Barbie in the Nutcracker. 

Longer review: Disney takes one of the most classic ballet storylines, removes dancing and imagination from it, and returns with a generic tale of girl power and Newton’s Third Law of Motion. 

To be fair, The Nutcracker and the Four Realms contains beautiful costumes and lovely, lush scenery. Considering the amount of character depth she has to work with, Mackenzie Foy does a good job with Clara. Several other big names make an appearance, including Matthew Macfadyen, who either plays only one role or decided to approach “grieving Father” the same way he approached Mr. Darcy. Broody. Very broody. 

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Unfortunately, those are the highlights. The plot gave off a Narnia-wannabe vibe, but it reminded me more of Disney’s live action Alice in Wonderland. And that is not a good thing. I did appreciate that costumes stayed fairly period-specific in Nutcracker, though. No trousers. (* cough, Alice, cough *)

The storyline contains several plot holes and inconsistencies that never get resolved — or even addressed. The lack of magic and emphasis on science might fit society’s interest in encouraging girls to go into the STEM fields, but it removes any sense of wonder or imagination from the plot. Finally, the story’s treatment of females and womanhood in general goes overboard trying to correct traditional female movie roles and as a result sidelines some of the most beautiful elements of the ballet and the movie, including the lush costumes.

Overall, I would say a movie that could have reached something great but gets sidelined and loses the point of the Nutcracker. 

 

 

SPOILER

I said the movie falls “trying to correct traditional female movie roles.” That is true…until it doesn’t. The villain in the movie, besides being utterly predictable, behaves like a typical femme fatale. She wants strong men around and vindictively targets the other female guardian. This isn’t a groundbreaking female character. This is an annoying stereotype. And further, she is the only character who appears to relish the fashion and beauty around her. She’s the most traditionally feminine…and so predictably the most evil character. I found the motivation here disappointing. 


Late Night Movie!

Catching a late night movie with a friend. There are far too many small children here for the time of night.


Ever After

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Me: “Why didn’t Mom let us watch this when we were little? I can’t remember anything inappropriate.”*

Sister: “It was probably all the tight pants.”

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Yeah, that look didn’t age well.

 

 

*Upon re-watching, I understand why. Lots of innuendo. And those tights are awful. Sorry for doubting, Mom 😉 


Crazy Rich Asians

“We should see Crazy Rich Asians!” said my friend. “It is just like your K Dramas!” 

I don’t know about just like, but I did really enjoy Crazy Rich Asians. It had much more depth than I expected. I loved the beautiful costumes, both serious and light-hearted plot, and amazing Asian cast. An immediate favorite! 

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