Rewind Review: Nanny McPhee Returns


As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

Nanny McPhee Returns (2010)

Nanny McPhee returns is a fun film that avoids many of the trappings that typically hamper family-oriented entertainment either by curtailing these issues or outperforming the expectations of the given situations which we may find in many films.

One of the things that makes this film rather delightful and enjoyable is that situations which we are expecting or are set up are only as obstructive as necessary. A case in point would be Phil’s (Rhys Ifans) several attempts to get the farm, upon which our heroes live, sold to settle his debts. Each attempt is no longer and no more of an obstacle than necessary as villains can be both unfunny and overly imposing in family films. The first saving grace the family finds is the sale of prize pigs, he releases them they are recovered quickly enough and with the help of Nanny McPhee. This film also, however, manages to not de-fang its villain simply because he is thwarted quickly.

Both in Ifans’ performance and the tandem of Katy Brand and Sinead Matthews bring over-the-top quirkiness but also humor. There is a fine line between comedically and painfully over-the-top and they tread it smoothly with nary a misstep.

Emma Thompson is certainly to be applauded for the many good things she does with this story as a writer. There is a lovely dovetail into the first film at the very end but for all intents and purposes this is a film that is in no way dependent on its prior installment for you to enjoy it.

Also, there is minimal didacticism. Nanny McPhee is there to teach the children, cousins both from the country and the city who hadn’t met, five lessons. We are not told what each lesson is until it has been learned. While we are told many times that she will leave when she is wanted but no longer needed the clues as to how close she is to leaving are visual and unspoken.

Thompson is also quite funny in her deadpan reincarnation of this character. As a writer though she was again unafraid to let the children drive the story for the most part and has her fun with the supporting cast. The children are all a credit to the film and none, no matter how young, are so-cute-you-could-puke or in any other way annoying unless they are supposed to be and all of them do round out their characters at least to some extent.

Kudos are especially in order for the younger set: Asa Butterfield (who some may know from The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and even more will when he is in Martin Scorcese’s Hugo Cabret), Lil Woods, Eros Vlahos and Rosie Taylor-Ritson.

The only weak link in the cast is Maggie Gyllenhaal, who for some unknown reason is cast as a British housewife. Needless to say her accent isn’t the greatest and she is somewhat off overall here. The credit to her and the film is that you do eventually get past it.

Regardless, Nanny McPhee Returns is a very funny, heartfelt and fun film which likely supersedes its predecessor.


BAM Award Winners: Young Actors

From 19962009 I had been satisfied with having but one category in which to honor the talented youths on film. This was one of the only places to honor them alongside their counterparts who are of age. In 2011, and perhaps more so in 2012, the nominating process became more difficult than ever as the talent pool seemed to be, if not the deepest ever, then one of them. Suddenly, I realized that I would have been eliminating people based on the size of their role and not on the quality of their performance. People like Janina Fautz in The White Ribbon and Billy Unger in You Again would be shutout of the nominating process. One of the benefits of creating your own awards is the ability to improvise.

Looking at the films and performances I’d seen I was able to create two new categories: I was able to make unisex categories for lead and supporting performances and one for ensemble work by youths, which seemed equally overdue. The goal in the 2011 awards was parity, meaning male and female lead and supporting categories and ensemble. This was achieved.

These categories have always been of great importance to me, not just because I was 15 when I started picking these awards but because youth performers are and have been greatly overlooked and under-appreciated and deserve some recognition. Especially when you consider that the Academy used to have a Juvenile Award and stopped awarding it.

UPDATE 2012: To venture even further away from negative connotations, I have decided to rename this post to remove the ‘child actor’ moniker, which to some can be seen as a slight. It’s a symbolic and semantical gesture, but no less significant for that. The group of categories and individual category names will be adjusted as necessary in the 2012 awards. Previous year will retain the same verbiage, but this post and future winners will not.

UPDATE 2013: To give each of the Youth Categories their due and for browsing convenience this post will act as a jump station to the new posts created for each of five youth categories, plus an additional post for the 1996-2009 winners.

Best Youth Ensemble

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Leading Role

Best Performance by a Young Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by a Young Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Performance by a Child Actor 1996-2010

Short Film Saturday: Mixtape and Disco

Disco (UK Film Council/ Virgin Media Shorts/ 2 AM Productions)

Below you will find video links to two short films by Luke Snellin. The first, Mixtape, proves just how little time you need to tell a complete and affecting tale and that’s part of why it was nominated for a BAFTA award.

The second is a companion piece which came out the following year called Disco. They both feature a similar core group of actors and a thematic similarity of young love. Essentially, my reaction to having seen Disco was it was precisely what you’d want it to be after having seen Mixtape.

Disco expands the story from a first flirtatious romance to a triangle and being tongue-tied. Without over-explaining I also want to point out you may know some of the cast members here which help make the film what it is: Bill Miler (X-Men: First Class, Is Anybody There? and Son of Rambo), Charlie Rowe (Neverland and The Nutcracker in 3D) Lil Woods (Nanny McPhee Returns) and Izzy Meikle-Small will appear in Snow White and the Huntsman.

Snellin’s work in both these films is superb, so without much further ado enjoy…