The Overnight

Firstly, what a great day in the US! Marriage Equality is country-wide! I want to remember this day forever. What will make this day extra memorable is that I saw Adam Scott tweet about a couple showings of The Overnight in Chicago where he would be in attendance for Q&A sessions after the movies. So not only did I get the right to marry in this country, I also got to meet Adam Scott! What a memorable day.

And what a fun movie. This is not the typical indie comedy. It is not shy about going to that uncomfortable zone. This film covers everything: full-frontal male nudity, breast pumps, massages with happy endings, skinny dipping, butt-hole paintings, among other things — so if any of that would make you uncomfortable, you’re probably not going to enjoy the film. Despite all the racy content, it’s ultimately a story exploring the stagnancy that comes with marriage and children. Alex (Adam Scott) and Emily (Taylor Schilling) moved to Los Angeles with their young son. She’s a career-oriented woman; Alex is a stay-at-home dad and finding life socially challenging. How do you meet new people at that age, when you don’t have work?

It’s a very interesting concept, because I imagine this is a widespread experience. You grow up, get married, have kids, and, as Adam Scott said after the film, you reach a point in life where you stop changing and growing, and it’s hard to deal with that. So this film explores that — albeit in very exaggerated ways. Alex and Emily learn how to figure out how to get past the inert quality of their relationship from spending one crazy night with Kurt (Jason Schwartzman) and Charlotte (Juliet Godrèche). 

I will admit that I didn’t foresee the direction the narrative was going to take. It became one of the most palpable and thrilling shared movie theater experiences I’ve ever had. Throughout the entire film, the audience was laughing consistently, but when the climax of the film arrived, the audience became very quiet. It was an unexpected turn — something you thought could happen but not something you thought would actually happen. Then it’s actually happening before your very eyes, and I couldn’t even tell you how long it lasted. Time stood still, and the audience was silent. It was the kind of silence that you can feel all around you — like everyone was holding their breaths. I was holding mine. I was shocked, honestly, and wondering what was going to happen. I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s all in line with the somewhat twisted humor of the film. 

Definitely one of the most fun movie theater experiences, and it was such a treat to hear Adam Scott speak — and such a treat to meet him! What a night!

Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks (2013) is a comedy-drama, directed by John Lee Hancock, about writer P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins novels. The film focuses on the 2-week long period where Walt Disney (Tom Hanks), and his production crew, persuade Travers (Emma Thompson) to sign over the screen rights to her novels. The film parallels Travers’ time in Los Angeles with flashbacks of her childhood, growing up with her imaginative yet alcoholic father. The various flashbacks unravel the mystery of how the young and free-spirited Helen Goff/Ginty (Annie Rose Buckley) transformed into the cold and rigid P.L. Travers.

Emma Thompson excellently portrays the stern and unyielding Mrs. Travers. Travers is a character burdened by decades of guilt and resentment, choosing to express herself through concise diction, appropriate gestures and dress, and through her books. Thompson delivers every line masterfully, strikingly similar to the recording played during the film’s credits of an actual session with P.L. Travers and the Disney production crew. Thompson’s stringent performance throughout the majority of the film makes those few moments where Travers lets down her guard that more moving. Her soft moments truly contrasted from her many hard moments. Travers an austere character, but the film’s care with her childhood story arc allows her to be a sympathetic character, despite her harshness. The audience wants to find out what has made her so firm and wants her to find peace.

The cast is delightful. Disney’s production crew is a bubbly and optimistic group of people — who really have to their optimism put to the ultimate test. Bradley WhitfordJason SchwartzmanBJ Novak, and Melanie Paxson give spirited performances. Their characters in general are happy Disney employees who have to go the extra mile to appease the difficult Mrs. Travers.

The film is named for Mr. Banks, the father character in Travers’ novels. As far as the production crew knows, Mary Poppins comes to care for and save the children, but the flashbacks into Travers’ childhood prove that there is a greater purpose for her presence. Mary Poppins was inspired by Ginty’s Aunt Ellie (Rachel Griffiths), who came at the lowest point in her childhood to fix “everything”. She succeeds in almost everything, but she was not able to save Ginty’s sick father (Colin Farrell). Aunt Ellie’s failure stays with Ginty as she grows up. Mary Poppins comes to save the children’s father, illustrated in touching scene in the film where the song “Let’s Go Fly A Kite” is born.

This delightful and moving film defies multiple expectations, the most important of which is Travers’ transformation. The film is not about forgiving herself. She does not need to save herself. The film is about forgiving her father, forgiving her aunt, forgiving Mary Poppins for not saving her father.