I should start by saying Julie Andrews’ films were the foundation of my childhood. Mary Poppins, The Princess Diaries and The Sound of Music provided the soundtrack to the Abu Dhabi flat I shared with my family. It wasn’t until last year that I learned that the latter is almost three hours long — so entranced I was with Andrews’ balancing act of proper lady and free spirit, time seemed to melt away. So I entered the sequel to one of my formative films with measured expectations. Rob Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns is certainly charming in the moment —its bright colours and jaunty musical numbers can make the feet of biggest skeptics tap— but after awhile the spell dissipates. On the drive home, I listened to the soundtrack — not to Mary Poppins Returns, but to the original film. Julie Andrews’ spoonful of sugar goes down much smoother.
Three months into 2018, and it is clear that it is on its way of becoming the year of unexpectedly fresh studio surprises. From the clever comedies of Game Night and Blockers to the romantic Love, Simon and the meditative sci-fi film Annihilation. John Krasinski’s addition to these first quarter gems is a nerve-wracking, experimental horror flick A Quiet Place. Despite the grievances I have with the film, I felt that first and foremost it was mainly about bringing the audience together and having them actively invested in the film. In short, A Quiet Place more than succeeds on so many levels, and while experiences may vary depending on how respectful your audience is, my viewing of the film was an engaging, interactive time at the movies.