Mary Poppins Returns

When Mary Poppins pops out on stage in stockings and Mia Wallace hair I was reminded of some Mary Poppins-themed miniskirt ensembles I saw in a shop window in Disney Springs. From then on, I was half-afraid of the Banks home staging a rendition of the sexy maid porno situation. I’m fairly certain Andrews’ version would have scoffed the scanty jollity of this number in particular. I’m positive that author P.L. Travers would have wept.

True Grit (2010)

The Western is a myth of values. True Grit is a story that appreciates these values without necessarily approving of them. This is a film made in the spirit of a long tradition, which is surprising coming from the usually more provocative Coen Brothers. But its subtle changes should not be ignored – they contain all its secret truths, and theirs.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Cuarón colludes with us like one of Harry’s helpful army of British character actors whispering in our ear in a language we understand without knowing, or a clever dad with a dark and silly secret. This is the first Harry Potter film that feels like an open book. It’s the best teen film ever made.

The Man Who Invented Christmas

A Christmas Carol is such a tired tale by now that the first task of this new film should have been to make old hat seem tailored for the first time. But as Dickens picks up well-known artifices of his story off the street, you become infected by that terribly un-jolly feeling that this is one of those movies – one in which random people will speak full Dickensian quotes for the good author to overhear and jot down, in which everyone he meets has a name that will go into one of his stories.

Raging Bull

Thelma Schoonmaker took home the Oscar for editing and the fights testify to it: there is no method to these matches, no information on boxing, only adrenal pounding and desperate fear. Schoonmaker dredges the matches in momentary flashes of primeval instinct. When LaMotta feels suspicious of his wife, his opponents become dramatically-lit monstrosities shrouded in smoke and slow motion and shadow. His fights are pictures of his psyche. 

Carrie (1976)

Carrie is great horror because it basically isn’t horror at all – beneath its skin, this film is really a coming of age tale. It takes the innocence of growing up and warps it into a Jungian nightmare realm of laughing faces and perverted desires. When Carrie ultimately becomes the villain, she does it with a straight face, which gives us the ability to understand her.