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Emma Thompson

Review: Primary Colors

[Originally written for Mr. Showbiz, March 20, 1998]

Set the wayback machine to 1998. Parallax View presents reviews of films released 20 years ago, written by our contributors for various papers and websites. Most of these have not been available for years.

It will be fascinating to see what Primary Colors, Mike Nichols’s smart, creepy, scrupulously ambivalent movie inspired by a certain 1992 campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination, plays like in two months. And six months. And next year. Likewise, it wouldn’t have seemed quite the same movie if it had been released two months ago, before l’affaire Lewinsky. And surely it’s not quite the same film that Nichols, screenwriter Elaine May, et al. thought they were going to make after buying the screen rights to the 1996 roman à clef by veteran political reporter Joe Klein—even if it’s still, word for word and shot for shot, the movie they envisioned at the time.

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Film Review: ‘Effie Gray’

Dakota Fanning

It’s no coincidence that Dakota Fanning’s Euphemia (nicknamed “Effie”) looks like she stepped out of a pre-Raphaelite painting. Within the first few minutes of Effie Gray, she lives out her storybook fantasy and becomes the teenage bride of John Ruskin (Greg Wise), the 19th-century art critic who championed the upstart painters of the pre-Raphaelite movement. (He also praised J.M.W. Turner, earning the critic a small, lisping appearance in Mr. Turner.) John is serious, cultured, talented, and passionate in his love of art. A life with him will sweep Effie out of rural Scotland and into the center of London’s cultural elite—or so naive Effie believes. John meanwhile appears to view her as a lovely social prop for his budding career. He quite literally flees from any physical or emotional engagement with his wife.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

‘Saving Mr. Banks’ tells ‘Poppins’ backstory with charm

Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson

Oh Saving Mr. Banks, I’ll be honest — you had me at “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”

Critical standards tend to melt when put in proximity of that joyful song from Mary Poppins, which turns up about halfway through this new behind-the-scenes Disney production.

This amiable, somewhat whitewashed true story describes the way the already-kinglike Walt Disney (played by Tom Hanks) finally closed the deal with the author of Mary Poppins, the sourpuss British writer P.L. Travers (Emma Thompson). For 20 years — no kidding — Travers resisted Disney’s offers to adapt her beloved literary character for a movie.

Saving Mr. Banks begins in 1961, with Travers journeying to Hollywood, still having not signed away the rights to her story.

Continue reading at The Herald