Tagged: drama

Take a Look at Saving Mr. Banks

Take a Look at Saving Mr. Banks

Walt Disney, the studio not the epoymous founder or Tom Hanks, has released several featurettes spotlighting Saving Mr. Banks, which opens today.

Genre:                   Drama
Rating:                  PG-13
Release Date:     December 13, 2013, limited; December 20, 2013, wide
Running Time:   120 min

Cast:                      Emma Thompson, Tom Hanks, Paul Giamatti, Jason Schwartzman, Bradley Whitford, Annie Rose Buckley, Ruth Wilson, B.J. Novak, Rachel Griffiths, Kathy Baker and Colin Farrell

Director:             John Lee Hancock
Producers:         Alison Owen, Ian Collie, Philip Steuer
Executive Producers:  Paul Trijbits, Christine Langan, Andrew Mason, Troy Lum
Written by:                       Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith

Two-time Academy Award®–winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen.

When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ Mary Poppins, he made them a promise—one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against a curmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation.

For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp.

It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history.

Inspired by true events, Saving Mr. Banks is the extraordinary, untold story of how Disney’s classic Mary Poppins made it to the screen—and the testy relationship that the legendary Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it.


  • Saving Mr. Banks is the first feature-length, theatrical drama to depict the iconic entrepreneur Walt Disney.
  • Richard and Robert Sherman’s original score and song (“Chim Chim Cher-ee”) would go on to win Oscars® at the 1965 ceremonies.
  • Mary Poppins won five awards of its 13 Academy Award® nominations: Best Actress (Julie Andrews), Best Effects, Best Film Editing, Original Score and Original Song. Among the nominations were Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • P.L. Travers’ father was a banker and is the basis for the Mary Poppins story’s patriarch, Mr. Banks—the character in the book whom the famous fictional nanny comes to aid.


REVIEW: Leverage The Final Season

leverage spine packshotLeverage takes a curtain call this month as 20th Century Home Entertainment releases the fifth and final season on DVD. The four-disc set contains the complete fifteen episode season, which was aired in two batches across summer and winter 2012. Since then, the series has remained in the public eye thanks to three incredibly fun novels along with its well-deserved honor as Favorite Cable TV Drama at the 39th People’s Choice Awards.

Much as we here at ComicMix have adored the show, the audience has been dwindling; opening the final year with 3.39 million viewers and the final drew a smaller 3.04 million, far too small these days to be sustained. However, co-creators Dean Devlin and John Rogers suspected this was the make-it or break-it season and prepared accordingly. From the outset of the season, Nate Ford (Tim Hutton) was up to something and we saw him pushing the other members of the team to either take leadership roles or step out of their comfort zones. The why remained unclear until the very end.

Along the way, though, the series saw the criminals turned good Samaritans relocate from Boston to Portland, setting up shop in a microbrewery/pub now owned by Alec Hardison (Aldus Hodge). At its heart the show has always been about justice and redemption with every character in need of both. For the producers, it was also about shining a spotlight on the sorts of white collar crime and corruption that doesn’t make the headlines with any regularity. As noted in the extensive show by show notes at Rogers’ Kung Fu Monkey blog, the writing staff did their homework and then some, socking away tidbits for later use.

Each week there’s someone who has been cheated and they turn to Leverage, Inc. for help, with one or the other member of the squad taking their case to heart and convincing the others to pitch in. By now they have become a tight team and more than a bit of a family so they remain there for one another despite their idiosyncrasies. Alec remains a control freak and uber-nerd; Sophie (Gina Bellman) has become a drama coach despite her lack of talent on the stage; Elliot Spencer (Christian Kane) is a tough guy/gourmand; and poor Parker (Beth Riesgraf) is still trying to connect with society.

The cases by now have become almost secondary to the actual mechanics of the con and the personal touches along the way. In the steady hands of the strong writing staff and a stable of repeat directors, the show hit a nice rhythm that made for a weekly hour of pure fun. One of the most entertaining this time around was “The First Contact Job”, where director Jonathan Frakes even let them add in a little TNG humor. One of the most interesting from a plot standpoint was “The French Connection Job”, spotlighting Elliot’s softer side. From writing and performing standpoint the second best one of the bunch may be “The D.B. Cooper Job” where the cast doubles for 1971 counterparts as they try to unravel the story of the famed skyjacker. There were others that also tweaked the formula such as “The Broken Wing Job” when an injured Parker recruits the pub’s waitress (Aarti Mann) to help while the others were in Japan.

But it was all leading up to “The Long Goodbye Job”, which aired on Christmas Day but was actually a valentine from the crew to the fans. Suspecting this was their swan song, Devlin, Rogers, and Chris Downey actually conned the audience in a brilliantly executed story. Listening to the commentary track, we discover how much of episode 77 echoed episode 1. It also reset the status quo just in case there was a chance of more stories in the future. And of course, the episode wouldn’t be complete had their nemesis Sterling (Mark A. Sheppard) not made a final appearance.

There’s audio commentary for all fifteen episodes, a handful of deleted scenes, giving you that much more to enjoy, and then a brief gag reel.

The show’s gone, the cast gone their separate ways, but the spirit remains and with luck there will be chances to follow their adventures in some other way. For now, we have the five seasons on home video to enjoy.

Audio Comics Takes the Battle to LA

Starting September 1, AudioComics will begin taking pre-orders for the audio drama adaptation of Moonstone Entertainment‘s “Battle for LA,” starring the Phantom Detective, the Black Bat, the Domino Lady, Secret Agent X, and Airboy.

“Battle” will be released as a digital download October 1, available exclusively through the AudioComics website at www.audiocomicscompany.com!

Between September 1 and October 1, you can preorder the “Battle” MP3 for $6.45 ($1.50 off the retail


price of $7.95).

Plus you will receive a FREE episode from AudioComics’ “Horrorscopes” series!

Learn more about Battle for LA here and here.

Pro Se Presents: The Podcast Episode Three-Pro Se’s Roots in Audio!

This week on PRO SE PRESENTS: THE PODCAST, the beginning of Pro Se as both a company and then as the first in the New Pulp Field to produce Audiobooks is front and center!  First, Tommy explains how Pro Se ventured briefly into a different field before becoming a leading Publisher of Genre Fiction and shares the first and only episode of a Pro Se Productions full cast audio drama, THE VARIED ADVENTURES OF PECULIAR ODDFELLOW! Then a story from one of Pro Se’s original line of magazines, MASKED GUN MYSTERY #1, is featured. The debut story of Aloha McCoy by Ken Janssens as performed by H. Keith Lyons rounds out this week’s episode and peek into Pro Se’s Past on PRO SE PRESENTS: THE PODCAST!

REVIEW: Blood and Sand

img5The Golden Age of Hollywood is filled with shining stars, brilliant directors and pioneering films that built a foundation for all to follow. As a result, films from those first decades are viewed with nostalgia and fondness, making us consider them all to be wonderful, especially the ones form the Big Name Stars. The magic of those early years was nicely captured by Martin Scorsese in Hugo and the bets of the best are restored and released on Blu-ray waiting to be rediscovered.

While we bemoan the justifiably bemoan the bloated nature of films, hoping they would be trimmed by 15-20 minutes and emphasis character over mindless action, we cite the classics in the field. And then come along older films that sound promising, look interesting and ultimately show they have not aged at all well. 20th Century Home Entertainment just released Tyrone Power’s Blood and Sand on Blu-ray and despite it being about a bullfighter, does not make you cry, “Ole!”

The 1941 release was shot in color and it is lovely to look at, earning Oscars for cinematographers Ernest Palmer and Ray Rennahan. Based on the 1909 novel by Vincente Blasco Ibanez, it tells the story of a cocksure son of a legendary bullfighter, determined to follow in his father’s footsteps. Sure enough he does, becoming the toast of Spain much to his mother’s regret, who has seen this all before. He marries Linda Darnell but falls for temptress Rita Hayworth. You pretty much know where this is all going since the script lays it all out like a series of tracks to carry the train.

Power’s Juan Gallardo leaves home as a promising teen and returns home a champion, ready for fame and stardom, He is at first mocked then loved then abandoned by the great matador critic Curro (Laird Cregar) who seems to represent the adoring and fickle public. As Gallardo’s star rises, he pays less attention to his craft, indulging in life’s luxuries and does everything to excess. Along the way, the illiterate never takes time to educate himself or pay attention to who handles his money, a situation exacerbated when he enters into the fiery affair.

One of the most interesting scenes in the film is when the two women meet and talk not fight, about the man they both love. It’s subtle and underplayed so is remarkable.

The stars are well supported with some terrific character actors early in their careers such as J. Carroll Nash (Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and the theatrical John Carradine. Accompanying Hayworth and sporting a cheesy Mandrake mustache is young George Reeves and he’s given precious little to do but cock an eyebrow at Power.

8362_2The bullfighting scenes are genuinely boring and you never are made to understand what makes Gallardo so special. And of course there’s one of his childhood friends who is now his rival, played with verve by Anthony Quinn. As The New York Times wrote during the film’s initial release, “In themselves they are good calendar art; as film drama they are as hopelessly static as Jo Sterling’s adaptation is puerile. Most of the fancy capework in Blood and Sand occurs in the script.

“For there is too little drama, too little blood and sand, in it. Instead the story constantly bogs down in the most atrocious romantic clichés, in an endless recital of proof that talented young bull-fighters are apt to become arrogant and successful; that Curro, the critic, will sing their praises, and that thereafter their love life becomes very complicated.”

Jo Swelring’s script is thin and given his credentials I expected far better. Director Rouben Mamoulian keeps the pacing deliberate and stretches things adding a dollop of heavy handed religious imagery. At 2:05, I wanted more story or a faster pace or something because this just plodded along, creaky in terms of dialogue and performance.

The film transfers wonderfully to high definition with good audio. The sole extra on the disc is a commentary from Richard Crudo, former President of the American Society of Cinematographers. His background and anecdotes are sometimes more interesting than the film itself.

The Point Radio: CROSSING LINES Tackles Worldwide Crime


NBC’s new summer series, CROSSING LINES gives us a crime drama with a worldwide perspective. Actor William Fichtner and the show’s creators talk about what makes this one worlds apart from it’s competition. Plus Downey is IRON MAN for awhile and the New Doctor may be just six degrees away.

This summer, we are updating once a week – every Friday – but you don’t have to miss any pop culture news. THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

REVIEW: Tommysaurus Rex

Tommysaurus Rex
By Doug TenNapel
Scholastic Graphix, 136 pages, $10.99

Tommysaurus RexThe concept of a boy and his canine best friend is nothing new at all and has provided us with countless heartwarming stories through the years. That the dog dies and is resurrected as a tyrannosaurus rex is a fresh spin on the story; one so fresh that in 2004 Universal bid $1million to preemptively option the property. I have no idea what happened with that, but it was based on an earlier version of Tommysaurus Rex, which Doug TenNapel released as a miniseries through Image in 2004 and then a collection in 2008. This month, though, a revised, expanded and apparently recolored version of the story is being released from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

Ely is shy, without a lot of friends, except for Tommy, the golden retriever who is his companion, friend, playmate and security blanket. Overenthusiastic in all ways, he pulls free from his leash one day and is hit by a car and dies. A distraught Ely is brought to Granpa’s nearby farm and in addition to learning about agriculture, he locates a nearby cave where, tucked behind some rocks, is a living T-Rex.

The dino-phenomena proves as loving and eager as a puppy and quickly Ely realizes its Tommy reincarnated. How Ely and Tommy win over a fearful and skeptical community forms the core of the story. Of course, there’s also antagonism in the form of Randy, lead bully but rather than be pure evil, we learn what causes him to act in such a terrible way.

Of the TenNapel works I’ve read and reviewed here – Ghostopolis, Bad Island, and Cardboard – this has the most heart and soul. It’s also his earliest work so the art style and storytelling is simpler. Everything is clear and the color adds a nice dimension with solid pacing, mixing pathos, drama, and humor. I’ve been usually critical of TenNapel’s story logic lapses and this has few of those although the fact that a dinosaur is wandering the world seems to attract minimal media attention and zero attention from scientists or the federal government. It doesn’t hurt that the Mayor, up for reelection and seeing the creature’s popularity, acts as a buffer.

Pare away the bullies and gawkers and this boils down to a boy loves dog story that can warm the heart and entertain. It’s an ideal volume for third through eighth graders and is well worth a look.


Pro Se Productions, an independent press on the cutting edge of genre fiction, heroic storytelling, and New Pulp, was the first company formally involved in the New Pulp Movement to enter into the world of audiobooks with its original line of magazines.  Pro Se, in conjunction with New Pulp audiobook pioneer Dynamic Ram Audio Productions announce the first audio title for ‘The Voice of Pro Se’ audiobook imprint! 

Audiobooks,” Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions states, “have always been in the plans for Pro Se.  The sort of fiction we publish lends itself well to the spoken word and adaptation of all sorts.  That, and I am a major fan of Audio Fiction, from old time radio shows to modern day audio drama and especially audiobooks.   And our first trip into the medium was a great experience and to have Chris Barnes, our engineer the first time around and the man behind Dynamic Ram Audio Productions now, on board for this debut as well as what is coming, it just couldn’t be any better.”

The debut title in THE VOICE OF PRO SE Audiobook line is HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE, the novel written by Lee Houston, Jr.  One of Pro Se’s flagship characters, Hugh Monn comes wonderfully to life thanks to Audiobook Narrator Pete Milan in eight tightly written fast paced uanbridged stories. Milan is a voice actor, writer, narrator, audio drama producer and cosmopolitan jackadandy. He has previously appeared in works by Pendant Productions, the Colonial Radio Theatre On The Air, Gypsy Audio and Cape Cod Radio Mystery Theater.

“Pete Milan,” Hancock says, “channels the voice of Lee Houston’s Hugh Monn perfectly.  Hugh sounds like a 1950s type detective, but plies his trade in a futuristic setting.  In just the same way Lee blended those two things seamlessly together, Pete’s take on the stories has the nearly hard boiled edge you’d expect from a great PI tale, but there’s also that flexibility a good science fiction tale demands of a narrator.  Hands down, the team of Milan and Houston make HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE an audiobook must have.”

Even in the future, dames still need help, criminals still need captured, and men still hire out to do both!  HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE written by Lee Houston, Jr. and narrated by Pete Milan lets you walk the glittering, yet dark and mean streets of Galveston 2 and join Hugh Monn as he investigates cases with gorgeous green skinned dames, slick swindlers and hardened crooks while keeping one step ahead of the lawbots.  This VOICE OF PRO SE audiobook engineered and produced by Dynamic Ram Audio Productions is over 7 hours of fantastic futuristic Private Eye Action! 

Listen to the HUGH MONN trailer at http://soundcloud.com/chris-barnes-37/hugh-monn-private-detective.  And the entire Audiobook is Avaiable via Audible at http://www.audible.com/pd/ref=sr_1_1?asin=B00CQ6MJHS&qid=1368850196&sr=1-1 and from Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/bdx6lmm!

The Voice of Pro Se from Pro Se Productions (www.prose-press.com) and Dynamic Ram Audio Productions (www.dynamicram.co.ukproudly presents HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE-the audiobook.

REVIEW: The Best of Both Worlds

STTNG Best of Both Worlds“The Best of Both Worlds” is a strong piece of television drama and was a defining moment for Star Trek: The Next Generation. The spinoff of Star Trek had been a ratings bonanza for Paramount Pictures, which syndicated the show and reaped huge profits. The fans, though, were slow to warm to the show and its characters, thanks to incredible infighting that sapped the inaugural season of coherence and left it to season two to show the series’ real potential. Season three, which is also out this week on Blu-ray, came to life thanks to a solidified writing staff under Michael Piller’s tutelage and the actors finally getting comfortable with their roles.

After eschewing two-parters, producer Rick Berman allowed Piller to end the season with a cliffhanger and as has been chronicled repeatedly, Piller wrote the first part thinking he was leaving the show. The resolution would be someone else’s headache. The plan was upended when Gene Roddenberry convinced him to stay on staff and he had to figure out the second half on his own.

Riker & ShelbyAs a result, the first half is far stronger with most of the action left for the second part, draining it of the emotional drama we had come to expect. The Borg had been teased in a second season episode so their arrival was not unexpected, just earlier than hoped for. Lt. Commander Elizabeth Shelby (Elizabeth Dennehy) is brought to the Enterprise to help the flagship investigate a world devastated by, they believe, the Borg. She has been coordinating Starfleet’s plans to deal with the approaching threat but admitted their weapons planning needed eighteen to twenty-four more months. Along the way, she is all enthusiasm and arrogance, seeing First Officer William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) as being in her way towards a command spot of her own. Riker, for the third time, had been offered his own captaincy and was near-Shakespearean in his indecision.

Riker, Shelby, HansenRiker was speaking for Piller, who was also conflicted about staying or going while Shelby reminded Riker what he was like as an eager First Officer, out to prove himself. Most of the cast is given something meaty to think about and discuss, including Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg). As a result, it felt like change was coming to the crew but first, they had to deal with the arrival of the first Borg cube in Federation space. Things are ratcheted up when the Borg ask for Picard (Patrick Stewart) by name and then abduct him. When he next is seen as the Borg named Locutus, you know this is not a dream, hoax or imaginary story. Left with little choice, Riker ends the season with the command to “fire!”

Fans spent the summer waiting to see what would happen. The fall of 1990 brought about the eagerly anticipated finale and Picard was of course rescued, Riker chose to remain in place, and the threat neutralized – at least for the moment. But the stakes have been raised for all concerned and nothing will be the same. As a standalone episode, the episode is totally devoid of the sort of the character-based drama that made the first half so rich and entertaining. No one is given a real moment to reflect on what is happening or at the end what has happened to them and their friends.

BestofBothWorlds2This beautiful transfer and upgrade is edited into a single 85-minute episode, making this disc unique. Yeah, it’s a bit of a money grab from Paramount but they at least sweeten the deal with some nice extras not found elsewhere.

Regeneration: Engaging the Borg (29:40) features Dennehy, Frakes and others from the cast along with makeup supervisor Michael Westmore and director Cliff Bole talking about the making of the episodes. They tell good stories and Dennehy in particular is honest in her 28 year old naiveté when she auditioned. Frakes, who had performed with her father Brian Dennehy, reveals that the actor had his qualms about her being on an SF show.

You also get additional insights in the all-new commentary from technical consultants Mike and Denise Okuda, Dennehy and Bole. There is an episode specific gag reel (5:28) as well.

It holds up thanks to the strong hand of Bole, a cast up for the challenge, and a real threat. The high definition upgrade makes it both an audio and visual treat.

Martha Thomases, Don Draper & John Constantine

Thomases Art 130405Mad Men starts its sixth season this weekend. I won’t be able to see it because I’m out of the country, but my cat sitter has strict instructions to set the DVR, so I expect to be up to speed anon.

I am psyched.

The last season ended in 1967. I’m not sure whether this new season will pick up immediately after the last one left off, or if it will jump forward a year or two. In any case, the late 1960s were a time when any average Tuesday had more drama and conflict and human interest than all of the 1980s combined.

The advertising for this new season, at least as seen in the posters in the subway, hint at some of the challenges we can expect to see. Buttoned-up Don Draper versus a chaotic world.

To me, it looks like a Vertigo cover, circa 1998.

Which brings me around to comics, and the points I want to make this week. For as long as I can remember (which doesn’t include the late 1960s, by the way, because that’s what the late 1960s were like for me), comics fans have bemoaned the fact that comics don’t advertise. If only comics reached out to people the way books/movies/television do, we’d have a mainstream medium.

I don’t think it would make any difference. Comic companies don’t know how to advertise.

Let’s look at an ad for an upcoming series I anticipate eagerly, the new Constantine, written by Jeff Lemire, with art by Ray Fawkes and Renato Cuedes. John Constantine is one of my favorite characters.

The ad shows Constantine sitting in a graveyard, slouched against a tombstone with his name on it, smoking a cigarette. There is a vase of red roses at his feet. Zombie hands are reaching for him, and there is a drooling zombie behind him. A skull rises from a grave to his left. There is a logo above his head, and above that is the line, “Playing with magic always comes with a price…”

It’s a terrible ad.

If you didn’t know anything about the character, or the creative team, what would this tell you? It seems to depict a guy who is so lackadaisical about the undead that he can relax with a smoke. Where is the tension? Where is the drama?

What’s in it for me?

The best advertising suggests a benefit for the consumer. It elicits an emotional response (and if you don’t believe me, watch any episode of Mad Men in which Don Draper explains things to the client). Perhaps my dishes will be cleaner, my vacation more glamorous, my beer-drinking nights more fun. Successful advertising for entertainment promises me emotional highs and lows, laughter and/or tears. It promises me that I will experience something I’ve never had before.

Perhaps DC assumes that, since the ad is running in their books, the reader knows who the character is, and what the creative team can do. Perhaps they think this information is enough to motivate someone already familiar with the work.

After all, the Mad Men poster I praised earlier is just a picture of Jon Hamm walking down a city street. In this case, however, the average media consumer knows about the show, and even if that person doesn’t watch it, Jon Hamm is regularly in movies and other television shows, reaching an audience outside the show’s usual demographics. By using a master of advertising illustration from the same era as the show, the ad evokes the time period. The composition implies a tension that is at odds with the soft colors of the background.

My curiosity is piqued. I can’t wait. Anticipation achieved.

The DC ad does none of this. And until our industry learns how advertising works (and, no, this doesn’t count), we don’t deserve nice things.

Saturday: Marc Alan Fishman

Sunday: John Ostrander