MARY POPPINS

The film begins with Mary Poppins perched on a cloud high above London in Spring 1910. The action descends to earth where Bert, a cockney jack-of-all-trades, introduces the audience to the well-to-do, but troubled, Banks family (17, Cherry Lane), headed by the cold and aloof Mr. Banks and the loving but highly distracted suffragette Mrs. Banks.

     

The Banks' latest nanny quits out of exasperation after the Banks children, Jane and Michael, run off in pursuit of a wayward kite. The children ask their father to help repair it, but he dismisses them and advertises for an authoritarian nanny-replacement. Jane and Michael draft their own advertisement asking for a fun and caring person, but Mr. Banks tears up the paper and throws in the fireplace. Unnoticed, the note's remains float up the chimney.

The next day there is a queue of old and disagreeable nanny candidates waiting at the door. However, a strong gust of wind blows the queue away, and Mary Poppins flies down with her umbrella to apply. Mr. Banks is stunned to see that this calmly defiant new nanny has responded to the children's ad despite the fact he destroyed it. As he puzzles, Mary Poppins hires herself and begins work.

The children face surprises of their own: Mary possesses a bottomless carpetbag, and makes contents of the children's nursery come to life and tidy themselves. The magic continues with a countryside outing via one of Bert's chalk pavement drawings, and a tea-party in midair with Mary's "Uncle Albert", who floats uncontrollably whenever he laughs.

Mr. Banks grows uncomfortable with his children's stories of their adventures, but Mary effortlessly inverts his attempted dismissal of her services into a plan to take his children with him to the bank where he is employed. Unfortunately, Mr. Dawes, Mr. Banks' extremely elderly employer, aggressively tries to persuade Michael to invest his money in the bank. When Michael protests, the other customers misunderstand, and start a run that forces the bank to suspend business. The children flee and wander into the slums of the East End of London. Fortunately, they run into Bert, now employed as a chimney sweep. He takes them safely home, explaining that their father does not hate them, but that he has problems of his own, and that unlike the children, has no one to turn to but himself.

A departing Mrs. Banks hires Bert to sweep the family's chimney and mind the children. Mary arrives back from her day off to caution the children about the hazards of this activity, and sure enough, the children are sucked up to the roof. Bert and Mary follow them and lead a tour of the rooftops of London that concludes with a joyful dance with Bert's chimney-sweep colleagues. A volley of fireworks from the Banks' eccentric neighbor, Admiral Boom, sends the entire gathering back down the Banks' chimney.

Mr. Banks arrives home, forcing Mary to conclude the festivities. Banks then receives a phone call from work ordering him to return immediately for disciplinary action. As Mr. Banks gathers his strength, Bert points out that while Mr. Banks does need to make a living, his offspring's childhood will come and go in a blink of an eye, and he needs to be there for them while he can. The Banks children approach their father to apologize, and Michael gives Mr. Banks his tuppence in the hope that it will make things alright. Banks gently accepts the offering.

A sombre and thoughtful Mr. Banks walks alone through the nighttime streets. At the bank, he is formally humiliated and fired for causing the first run on the bank since 1773. However, after being at a loss when ordered to give a statement, Mr. Banks realizes the true priorities of life and uses Mary's all purpose word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!" to tweak Mr. Dawes. He gives Dawes the tuppence, tells the ancient one of Uncle Albert's jokes and raucously departs. Dawes mulls over the joke, finally "gets it" and floats up into the air, laughing.

The next morning, the winds have changed direction, and so Mary must depart. Meanwhile, the Banks adults cannot find Mr. Banks, and fear that he might have become suicidal. However, Mr. Banks, now loving and joyful, reappears with the now-mended kite and cheerfully summons his children. The greatly-relieved Mrs. Banks supplies a tail for the kite, using one of her suffragette ribbons. They all leave the house without a backward glance as Mary Poppins watches from a window. In the park with other kite-flyers, Mr. Banks meets Mr. Dawes Jr., who says that his father literally died laughing. Instead of being mournful, the son is delighted his father died happy, and rehires Mr. Banks to fill the opening.

Her work done, Mary Poppins takes to the air with a fond farewell from Bert.

NANNY MCPHEE

Nanny McPhee is a 2005 children's film. It was adapted by Emma Thompson from Christianna Brand's Nurse Matilda books. It is Emma Thompson at her finest, and she has said in interviews that a film trilogy is planned. Let's hope so!!!

Widower and undertaker Cedric Brown has seven children: Simon, Tora, Lily, Eric, Chrissy (Christianna), Sebastian, and Aggie (Agatha). He loves his children but spends little time with them and cannot handle them. The children have had a series of seventeen nannies, which they systematically drive out by bad behavior; it is a point of pride for them to drive out each nanny as fast as possible. They also terrorize the cook, Mrs. Blatherwick, but are cared for and loved by Evangeline, the scullery maid.

     

Cedric attempts to hire another nanny from the agency who gave him the past seventeen nannies that the children scared away, but the nanny agency wouldn't allow him to hire another. Being desperate after being refused, he is about to return home when he hears the mysterious voice from the house "The person you need is Nanny McPhee." After a series of mysterious events, an unusual and ugly woman named Nanny McPhee comes to help, introducing herself as a "nanny of the government". With discipline, and a little magic, she transforms the family's lives. In the process, she herself transforms from ugly to beautiful. The children, led by the eldest son Simon, attempt to play their tricks on her, but gradually start to respect her and ask her for advice. They change into responsible people, helping their hapless father in solving the family problems, making Nanny McPhee less and less needed.

     

The family is financially supported by nearsighted Aunt Adelaide (the late Mrs. Brown's aunt). However, she demands custody over one of the children. She first wants Christianna (Chrissy), one of the daughters, but, as the children - and Cedric himself - are loathe to part with one of the siblings, Simon offers up Evangeline in Chrissy's place. Adelaide agrees, assuming that she is one of the daughters, adopting her as her own, something which satisfies both Evangeline's wish to be properly educated and the requirement of Adelaide's latest condition to the contract.

She also threatens to cut off the allowance and reduce the family to poverty unless Cedric remarries within the month. The family would lose the house, and would not be able to stay together. Desperate, Cedric turns to the vulgar Mrs. Selma Quickly, local widow of three husbands with garish taste in clothing. The children assume from fairy tales that stepmothers are terrible. Therefore, they sabotage a visit of Mrs. Quickly, who leaves, angry at Cedric. After the children are explained the truth of their father's situation, they agree to the marriage, and appease Mrs. Quickly by confessing they were to blame for the disturbance of her visit.

However, on the day of the wedding, they discover that Mrs. Quickly is unkind, as they suspected all along. This point is proven when Mrs. Quickly breaks Aggie's rattle, the last thing they had to remind them of their mother. When everyone is gathered for the marriage ceremony, they disturb the ceremony by pretending a swarm of bees has been attracted to Quickly's flowered hat (with Nanny McPhee secretly joining in). Things quickly get out of hand, resulting in a food fight. Cedric understands that they do not like the bride, and that he does not like her himself, and therefore starts disrupting the ceremony himself. Mrs. Quickly cancels the marriage and storms off.

This seems to mean that Adelaide's marriage deadline is missed. But then Lily asks Evangeline whether she loves Cedric. She first denies it, explaining that that would be inappropriate because of her station as maidservant, but then admits she does. Cedric then admits that, he too is in love with Evangeline. Cedric then marries Evangeline.

Nanny McPhee taps her magic cane one last time, and a glorious shower of snow decorates the landscape, providing the perfect backdrop for the marriage of Cedric and Evangeline. Aunt Adelaide's demand is satisfied, and all of the family's problems are solved.

Her duty done, Nanny McPhee leaves surreptitiously, but not before fixing Aggie's rattle, in accordance with what she told the children before: "When you need me, but do not want me, then I will stay. When you want me, but no longer need me, then I have to go."

POLLYANNA

Eleanor H. Porter's story of Pollyanna, "The Glad Girl," was first filmed in 1920 by Mary Pickford. While entertaining, the Pickford version tended to reduce the supporting characters to stereotypes. Disney's 1960 remake of Pollyanna wisely offers three-dimensional characterizations, enhancing the charm and believability of the story.

In her first Disney film (and her first American film), Hayley Mills stars as Pollyanna, an orphan girl sent to live with her wealthy aunt Polly (Jane Wyman). A humorless sort, Aunt Polly is taken aback by Pollyanna's insistence upon seeing the happy side of everything.

With her best friend and fellow orphan, Jimmy Bean (Kevin Corcoran), Pollyanna spreads her sunshine all overtown, transforming such local curmudgeons as hypochondriac Mrs. Snow (Agnes Moorehead), hellfire-and-brimstone Reverend Ford (Karl Malden), and reclusive Mr. Pendergast (Adolphe Menjou) into positive, life-affirming sorts. She does this by applying common sense and refusing to indulge anyone's self-pity.

       

Only Aunt Polly refuses to warm up. As the owner of the town orphanage, Aunt Polly will not hear of having a new, more modern facility built, and when handsome Dr. Chilton (Richard Egan) stages a charity bazaar in defiance of Aunt Polly, Pollyanna is forbidden to attend. She escapes to the bazaar by climbing down the tree next to her upstairs window; but when trying to return home, Pollyanna falls and injures her legs.

Facing possible permanent paralysis, the "Glad Girl" is for the first time pessimistic. Her spirits are uplifted by the townsfolk whom she's helped, and finally by Aunt Polly, who's realized the folly of her stubbornness. Ebulliently optimistic once more, Pollyanna leaves town for an operation, as the townsfolk cheer her up and cheer her on.

PRIDE & PREJUDICE

Based on Jane Austen's 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.

This tale of love and values unfolds in the class-conscious Georgian England of the late 18th century. Mr Bennet is an english gentleman living on a working farm (Longbourn) in Hartfordshire with his overbearing wife and their five daughters; the beautiful Jane, the clever Elizabeth, the bookish Mary, the immature Kitty and the wild Lydia.

Mrs. Bennet raises her daughters with the purpose of getting married with a rich husband that can support the family. They are not from the upper class, and their house in Hartfordshire will be inherited by a distant cousin if Mr. Bennet dies, so the family's future happiness and security is dependant on the daughters making good marriages.

When the wealthy bachelor Mr. Bingley and his best friend Mr. Darcy arrive in town to spend the summer in Netherfield, a mansion nearby their property, the shy and beautiful Jane falls in love for Mr. Bingley, and Lizzie finds Mr. Darcy a snobbish and proud man, and she swears to loathe him forever. This is the beginning of their wonderful love story.

Life is uneventful until the arrival of the rich Mr Bingley, who brings with him his hauty sister, Caroline, and the dashing (and richer) but proud Mr Darcy. Love is soon in the air for one of the Bennet sisters, while another may have jumped to a hasty prejudgment. For the Bennet sisters many trials and tribulations stand between them and their happiness, including class, gossip and scandal.

THE RIPPER

It is 1888, and London is a city in the grip of fear. Women are being strangled and murdered by a madman who can't be found, a serial killer who strikes with ruthless precision. It's up to Scotland Yard's top investigator to stop the relentless murderer and protect his only witness - the woman he loves.

This telling of the story of Jack the Ripper focuses not on the killings as much as on the aristocratic lives of the people connected to the heir-apparent to the throne of England... who of course is the Ripper. It tells also of the investigator who dares to charge this man with such crimes.

The success of this film is, in my opinion the result of the absolute steller cast: Patrick Bergin as Insp. Jim Hansen, Gabrielle Anwar as Florry Lewis, Samuel West portraying Prince Albert Victor Edward and Michael York as Sir Charles Warren.


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