Mary Poppins Returns

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 3/19/19;
Disney;
Musical;
Box Office $171.69 million;
$29.99 DVD, $39.99 Blu-ray, $39.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘
PG’ for some mild thematic elements and brief action.
Stars Emily Blunt, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, Nathanael Saleh, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Julie Walters, David Warner, Jim Norton, Colin Firth, Meryl Streep, Angela Lansbury, Dick Van Dyke.

There’s a lyric at the beginning of the original 1964 Mary Poppins in which Dick Van Dyke sings “what’s to happen all happened before.” It’s a line that hints at the mysterious nature of the magical nanny but seems a bit curious in the context at the beginning of a story in which we as an audience have yet to witness any of Mary Poppins’ adventures.

Rather, that prophetically tinged turn of phrase would seem to have more meaning when applied to this new installment, which bears fruit for the notion that Mary Poppins’ adventures are somehow cyclical.

The sequel that has been 54 years in the making has been carefully crafted for each story beat to resonate with an equivalent scene from the first film. Indeed, such echoes of the original are even reflected in the musical score, which always seems to play a few nostalgic notes when appropriate.

In the new story based on author P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins novels, the nanny returns some two decades later when the now grown Banks children, Jane (Emily Mortimer) and Michael (Ben Whishaw) find themselves in a bit of a financial crisis. Michael’s life is in disarray a year after the tragic death of his wife, and the financial toll exacted by her loss have put their famous house at 17 Cherry Tree Lane in danger of being seized by the bank. As Michael seems ready to given in to cynicism and despair, Mary Poppins (Emily Blunt) reappears to ostensibly take care of Michael’s three children while infusing a new sense of joy and imagination into everyone’s day.

Mary Poppins Returns is an effective follow-up to the original classic, capturing its spirit of whimsy with a slate of catchy tunes, even if its story could use some fine-tuning at points. While every sequence more or less serves a central premise of approaching life with a variety of perspectives, some moments seem less relevant to the primary narrative than others. Colin Firth’s bank executive, for example, seems to want the house just for the sake of typical movie villain greed, where the plot could have given him a more personal stake in the Banks family story by, say, establishing he had a grudge against their father, George, who was a senior partner at the bank.

Likewise, the film’s most eccentric musical number, “Turning Turtle,” seems to exist only to provide an outlet for interesting ideas from the books the filmmakers wanted to use couldn’t infuse elsewhere in the story, resulting in a superfluous guest appearance by Meryl Streep. ‘

Much more effective is a practically perfect appearance by the iconic Angela Lansbury as the magical balloon lady, whose perfectly “Nowhere to Go but Up” number is the most memorable of film while most effectively reminding young and old alike to never lose sight of their childlike sense of wonder.

Bonus features on the Blu-ray are mostly focused on the creation of the various musical numbers, from the 23-minute “The Practically Perfect Making of Mary Poppins Returns” to the 18-minute “Seeing Things From a Different Point of View: The Musical Numbers of Mary Poppins Returns.” And the five-and-a-half-minute “Back to Cherry Tree Lane: Dick Van Dyke Returns” delves into the now 93-year-old actor’s cameo in the new film.

The disc also includes a deleted song sequence that was replaced by another piece early enough so that the version presented here is a scratch track set to animated storyboards. The total sequence, called “The Anthropomorphic Zoo,” runs about five minutes.

There are also two true deleted scenes that run about a minute each that are extensions of musical sequences that are in the final film, as well as a two-minute blooper reel.

The disc also offers the movie in a sing-along mode that shows the lyrics during the various song sequences (as opposed to closed captioning showing all the dialogue).

The digital edition, which can be accessed using the Movies Anywhere redemption code included with the Blu-ray combo pack, offers an informative commentary with director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca.

Movies Anywhere also has two more vignettes, each running more than a minute. “Different Worlds: Creating Mary Poppins Returns is a shorter clip from the longer making-of featurette about the making of an animated sequence. And “What Is Your Favorite Disney Musical?” is a promotional video in which the title question is asked to various cast members.

Finally, the digital version on Vudu offers a three-minute featurette about the cameo of actress Karen Dotrice, who played young Jane in the original film.

‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’ Dancing to Digital Oct. 9, Disc Oct. 23 From Universal

The Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Sing-Along Edition will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Oct. 9 and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Oct. 23 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned more than $118 million in theaters.

Ten years after Mamma Mia! The Movie, the prequel/sequel set to the music of ABBA features returning stars Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, Stellan Skarsgard, Julie Walters, Dominic Cooper, Amanda Seyfried and Christine Baranski alongside new additions Lily James, Cher and Andy Garcia. The film follows two stories: present day as Sophie Sheridan (Seyfried) prepares for the grand reopening of her mother Donna’s (Streep) hotel and 1979 when young Donna (James) first arrives on the island. Sophie learns about her mother’s adventures with the young Dynamos, Tanya (Jessica Keenan-Wynn) and Rosie (Alexa Davies), and how young Donna first met her three possible dads Harry (Hugh Skinner), Bill (Josh Dylan) and Sam (Jeremy Irvine).

Bonus features, some exclusive to 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and digital, include deleted/extended songs and scenes with commentary by director/screenplay writer Ol Parker; enhanced sing-alongs; cast meets cast, in which those playing young and older versions of certain cast members discuss their parts; cast chats between those playing the three young Dynamos and the young dads; a featurette on the choreography; featurettes on the development of the story, the character of Sophie, on Cher’s joining the cast, the costumes and more; and feature commentaries with Parker and producer Judy Craymer.

The film will be available on 4K Ultra HD in a combo pack which includes 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and Digital. The 4K Ultra HD disc will include the same bonus features as the Blu-ray version, all in 4K.

Talent Talk: Romance With Hollywood Star Changes Young Man’s Life in ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’

To Hollywood, she was an aging star from the 1950s known for playing femme fatales.

Though she was decades his senior, to a young Peter Turner in Liverpool in the late 1970s, she was a fascinating woman and lover who changed his life.

Based on a true story by Turner, that romance between a young actor and Oscar-winning film star Gloria Grahame is the basis for the romantic drama Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, available now on digital and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

“I was 28. She was in her early 50s,” recalled Turner. “That was quite a big age gap at the time. It was quite unconventional.”

The film stars Annette Bening as Graham and Jamie Bell as Turner. Julie Walters and Vanessa Redgrave also star. It received three BAFTA Film Award nominations, including Best Leading Actress (Bening), Best Leading Actor (Bell) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Matt Greenhalgh), in addition to its four British Independent Film Award nominations, including Best Actor (Bell) and Best Supporting Actress (Walters). The San Francisco Film Critics Circle and London Critics Circle Film Awards each nominated Bening’s performance, with her winning Best Actress at the AARP Movies for Grownups Awards.

Bening’s portrayal also gets high marks from Turner, who said, “She made the role her own.”

“There’s no impersonation involved,” he said. “Annette was very clear that she wanted to inhabit the essence of the woman, the truth of Gloria, the soul of Gloria. She didn’t want to put on a phony walk or flip-of-the-hair kind of thing or have a kind of big makeup job. She just wanted to have a kind of truthful portrayal.

“She said to me, ‘Peter, I might not be exactly the Gloria that you knew, but I will be, I promise you, the Gloria that I now know through you.’”

Of the real Grahame, Turner recalls knowing and loving a very singular individual.

“She was just very unique,” he said. “I’d never met anyone like her before or since really. She had this sort of natural kind of aura. She was funny. She was very, very clever and just a wonderful actress, and there was also a sweet vulnerability about her that was very endearing. She had a great sense of humor, and we just connected.”

Though she was typecast often as a femme fatale, the real person wasn’t like that, he said.

“She was quite quiet really,” he said. “She wasn’t boisterous.”

While known in her prime as very glamorous Hollywood royalty — in 1953 she won an Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Bad and the Beautiful — Turner noted she found it hard to do her makeup and hair.

“She never really nailed it, how to dress or how to do her makeup, because of course at the studios it was all done for her,” he said. “She liked to be very natural.”

Turner noted the age difference never bothered him during their romance, and wonders at the double standard that makes the love affair so unusual.

“If I had been in my early 50s and she was 20 no one would have batted an eye,” he said.

All that matters, he said, is human connection.

“Love doesn’t kind of know age really,” he said. “I think that the most important thing in any relationship of any kind of endurance is the love and the connection in the relationship, and I was very lucky to have shared that time of my life with such a wonderful, enlightened, beautiful, sensual, clever woman, and I shall always be grateful for everything that she gave me.”

The DVD release of Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool includes the music video for “You Shouldn’t Look at Me That Way” by Elvis Costello; film commentary with director Paul McGuigan, producer Barbara Broccoli and Turner; and four featurettes: “Elvis Costello Performance & Conversation,” “Making of the Music Video: ‘You Shouldn’t Look At Me That Way,’” “In Conversation with Annette Bening, Jamie Bell, Paul McGuigan & Peter Turner,” and “Annette Bening on Gloria Grahame.”