THE MANDATE Episode 36: MARY POPPINS RETURNS & WELCOME TO MARWEN

It’s a Christmas Miracle! The holiday episode of The Mandate is here and it contains exactly zero holiday themed movies within. However, that doesn’t mean we are delivering the “Bah Humbug” as you are being gifted not one but two films that, regardless of the end result, had heart and the best of intentions.

Starting off this party is the MARY POPPINS sequel that is 54 years in the making, MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Instead of Julie Andrews, Emily Blunt takes over the helm as the title character and features the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda (Broadway’s HAMILTON), Ben Winshaw (PADDINGTON BEAR), and Emily Mortimer (The Newsroom) rounding out the main cast. The film takes place in 1935, which is 25 years after the events of the original, and follows the Michael and Jane Banks, now adults, who experiencing their own struggles. It’s these struggles that summon the magical nanny, Mary Poppins to return, having seemingly not aged a day. Without spoiling the film, the movie navigates through song, magic, and some hand drawn animation much like the original.

Joining me on this journey is returning guest, Heather Bennett (see: THE MEG), who brought a high admiration for the original film. I allow Heather to explain the significance and I counter by saying that I, while I respect the original film, I was never a big fan. I was more of a BEDKNOBS AND BROOMSTICKS type of guy. Heather naturally had some high expectations and I had hoped to just have some fun with this sequel. When the film concluded, we both agreed that this was a lot more fun than either of us anticipated and that we both felt that it was very true to the original film. Despite the film being “practically perfect in every way”, especially Blunt as the eponymous character, the film only had maybe 1 or 2 flaws that could be easily overlooked by the charm of the rest of the film. Easily a top family film of the year, that unfortunately waited until the end to be delivered to us.

In part two of this holiday episode, I am joined by The Mandate first timer but good friend to the Cinepunx collective, Carly M, who plays drums Mr. Josh Alvarez, in the two-pieced movie themed band, Aspect Ratio. For our “date”, we checked out the Steve Carell lead, WELCOME TO MARWEN, which is based on the documentary, MARWENCOL. For those who are unaware of the documentary, for starters, you should check that out regardless if you see this film. MARWENCOL follows artist Mark Hogancamp, who was viciously assaulted and had all is memories prior to the assault, wiped clean from his memories. Unable to seek professional mental health, Hogancamp creates a ficticious miniature 1942 era Belgium town called Marwencol. Hogancamp takes photos of this town and his dolls, one of which is his avatar, to navigate through his own PTSD. MARWENCOL is a beautifully fascinating, yet tragic look into mental health and how one can use art to alleviate some of the troubles. WELCOME TO MARWEN, however, is the fictionalized account of the same story.

 

Before the film, Carly and I discuss what we know about the real Mark Hogancamp. I share a story of how I accidentally came across the story only because I saw a friend comment on some bigoted post about transgender soldiers that used a Hogancamp photo as the centerpiece. Finding out that it was a piece of artwork eventually lead me to the documentary. Even though Carly hasn’t seen the film, we both had the hopes that the film would pay respect to the sensitivity of the situation and the documentary as well. The new technology, which Leslie Mann stated on an episode of The View to be “performance capture” is discussed briefly with the hopes that it might bring something to the table, even if the story is a little lacking.

Upon the films conclusion, both Carly and I had trouble finding the right inspiration to get the discussion going. If we could sum the movie up in one word it would be “flat”. Obviously a great bit of the post-viewing discussion is spent with our likes and dislikes, and while we may not have found the film to be great, there were actually things to like about it. More discussions of Hogancamp’s work, which is featured in the film a few times, and agreement that we hope this film inspires people to check out MARWENCOL. When it comes time to mandate, i.e. our recommendation, the film, we are a bit of a disagreement. You know the rules though. Listen to find out why.

 

I definitely want to thank Heather and Carly for coming to check out some movies with me and I want to thank you, the listener, again for checking out another episode of The Mandate. I hope you all have a happy holiday, whichever one you celebrate, and if you don’t celebrate, enjoy your Tuesday! Go see some movies. As always, make sure to like, share, re-tweet, and continue to follow Cinepunx for all things movie. Til next year…So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye. I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye – Goodbye!

John Wren

I am John Wren; a Delco original, and thanks to a cartoon Chihuahua (surprisingly, not the small bird), most know me only by my last name. Although people think I it’s due to self-hatred, I do actually enjoy running in ridiculous races up and down mountains and have recently ventured into the world of triathlons. I used to sing for the Jersey based metalcore band Bottomfeeder (www.facebook.com/bottomfeederhxc) but am now bandless. I’m the worst Buddhist known to man and if I’m given the opportunity, I will ramble on about anything and everything at great lengths, with lots of profanity. I’ve read every Stephen King book, my favorite band of all time is White Zombie, and I will need to take a week of bereavement the day Bruce Campbell dies.

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