December 28th, 2013


On The 3rd Day Of Christmas We Went To The Movies

A Rain Of Ice

It was 33°F last night, heading up towards 36°F... 38°F... Today was supposed to be partly cloudy and it was. Saturday will be sunny and perhaps in the 40s, before dropping to the teens around New Year's. Ain't West Michigan weather grand?

The trees have cycled through ice & freezing rains to snow globe fluff, creating a shiny coat, changing to white-white flocking, to the thick but light white frosting of this morning. It was very pretty to stay inside on Christmas while the fluffs fell. As we set off to Allendale today to drop off another roll of Kodak Gold 200 from the N2020 at Walgreens, thence on to Holland, I hoped the trees would give up their burdens before the next hard freeze. One branch over the driveway looked impressive -- it would be bereft of snow and standing tall by the time we got back.

But driving under the canopies on Warner and 72nd Avenue meant we got bombed by ice chunks exploding on the Bravada's windshield. In retrospect we should have stayed on the main highways, but no damage done. And it was a pretty day. Picked up some printer paper at Staples -- the parking lot was clear and dry -- drove through downtown Holland just because, then off to the Holland 7. Wore our Santa hats. Several adults said they were glad to see me, I said it was my day off. No one directly wanted to know why Santa had a walker and a cane. (grin)

Saving Mr. Banks [PG-13]
Holland 7 Theatre #4 1:40pm 2x$6.75

We stipulate that Mary Poppins is a great film. A great Disney film, if you prefer. Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke working his heart off in multiple roles -- who does he think he is? Sir Alex Guiness? Peter Sellers? Mary Poppins was on TV the other day -- we watched the first half.

So Saving Mr. Banks purports to tell the story, or at least the endgame of the titanic struggle between Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson -- Walt Disney himself and the unimpressed Mrs. P. L. Travers. Or is it? Because it's also about a childhood in distant Australia, a little girl who revered her inventive, but inconstant father. A mother having a very rough patch and her sister who comes to try to save the day.

Before we get any further, let me say that despite little screen time, the always amazing Rachel Griffiths does wonders with an iconic role, that of Aunt Ellie. From the moment she first appears, you understand. And Bradford Whitney, a favorite from The West Wing and Studio 60, does yeoman work trying to corral a screenplay Travers can accept. The little girl, Annie Rose Buckley, does an excellent job, too.

But Emma and Tom, what a magical pairing. Thompson makes looking miserable and objecting to minutiae and takes them to high art. And Hanks as Disney, used to charming his way or letting The Mouse do it for him, is suitably frustrated with his twenty year war with Travers. Though I didn't know it was there, we've seen the backstory to Travers portrayed over and over in other stories. But we've seen Disney's backstory, too, with Tony Stark's father in Iron Man 2.

Of course to really get the most enjoyment from the film, you have to know the source material. We were some of the youngest people there, but were 6 and 7 when Mary Poppins came out in 1964, and I watched The Wonderful World of Disney, so was familiar with the Disney empire, even though I've only ever driven past but not gone in Disneyland and Disneyworld. In other words, we're within the target audience to get how meta this movie is.

Watching Mrs. Travers refuse absolutely on things we know are in the film, watching the script and song writers working, seeing the events in her childhood echo what would become... who cares what is real and what is myth? It's two hours of well woven together disparate plot lines.

And stay for the credits, where we see what the real people looked like -- and a sample of the real tapes. Who knew a Wollensack reel-to-reel tape recorder could be a star?

Highly Recommended

Trailers: Remake of Robocop, Gary Oldman as the heavy. At first blush, why remake? But it looks good. And technology needs a reboot every now and then. Muppets Most Wanted and an evil Kermit? Plus a zillion cameos, as per usual. Million Dollar Arm is the kind of sports movie I love, the underdog. This one has the hook of trying to find a trio of hot young Indian cricket bowlers -- and turn them into major league pitchers. Alan Arkin plays a great side role -- I don't need to see, it sounds like 43. Radar gun displays 43 mph... Son of God from the schedule, it looks like a number of Bible movies coming in 2014. This one looks good. Mrs. Dr. Phil commented that the trailer showed all the good parts. I reminded her that in West Michigan, every one already knew the story. And I suspect the trailer team wanted to show that they were treating the material well. Heaven Is For Real -- kid nearly dies in hospital and comes back nonchalantly telling people which loved ones he met in heaven. Based on a true story, or so it says. Another movie for a segment of the West Michigan population.

Dr. Phil

UPDATED: 12-28-2013, more typos than usual. Those we found, fixed.
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ALA Goes To War and Posters WWI to WWII

Books Are Free At The Library

Gizmodo has a piece on the reading programs by the American Library Association and the collection of ALA posters at the University of Illinois.

The posters run from WWI to WWII and include ALA's 50th anniversary in 1926. They advertise that Books Are Free At The Library and the campaigns to send books to the troops. 7,000,000 books in WWI, which is impressive when you realize that the US got into the war late, so we're probably only taking 1917-18.

Dr. Phil