First, the confessions: I never read Mary Poppins. I giggled over those penguins when the movie first came out in 1964. I admit I was delighted at the thought that a nanny could save the day; in fact, I would have given anything to have had a nanny save my day as a child.
Writer/director Martin McDonagh’s film “Seven Psychopaths” is about, well, truth in labeling, seven psychopaths. As such, some bloody violence punctuates ugly murders that occur at regular intervals. Self-consciously playing this for laughs, the episodic set pieces sometimes work well, but eventually get tedious as the truly comic moments merely punctuate slower ones straining to be clever.
Science fiction films open up space for the imagination to play with ideas as much as gadgets. Total Recall is a case in point. Benefitting from fabulous CGI work reminiscent of Metropolis and Blade Runner, it finds time to play with the vagaries of memory and the question of how we know who we are.
The opening title cards of writer/director Peter Weir's The Way Back state: "In 1941 three men walked out of the Himalayas into India. They had survived a 4000 mile walk to freedom." Accompanied by ominous music and eerily mechanistic sound effects with the hint of a frigid wind, this astonishing information introduces a grueling survival tale based on real events.