Why does it matter that Saving Mr. Banks sabotages its supposed heroine? Because in a Hollywood where men still pen 85 percent of all films, there’s something sour in a movie that roots against a woman who asserted her artistic control by asking to be a co-screenwriter. (Another battle she lost — Mary Poppins' opening credits list Travers as merely a “consultant.”) Just as slimy is the sense that this film, made by a studio conglomerate in a Hollywood dominated by studio conglomerates, is tricking us into cheering for the corporation over the creator. We take sides because we can't imagine living in a world without the songs the Sherman brothers wrote for the film: “Let's Go Fly a Kite,” “Feed the Birds,” “Chim Chim Cher-ee.” We wouldn’t have had to either way; if Mary Poppins had collapsed, Walt planned to package up the songs wholesale for Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
As a feint toward empathy, Saving Mr. Banks splices in Travers’ hardscrabble childhood in Australia. Her father (a charismatic ) was a yarn-spinning drunk, her mum (Ruth Wilson) a wispy depressive. In them, we see traces of what will become both her inspiration and irritants: disorder, whimsy and an instant suspicion of imps like Walt.
Her history is true enough, but it’s also the kind of missing-puzzle-piece pat psychology Travers would have loathed — not to mention a fictionalized excuse for Hanks’ Walt to play Dr. Phil and solve her kiddie traumas. The real Walt didn’t bother — he deliberately decamped to Palm Springs as soon as her plane touched down. Neither Walt invited her to Mary Poppins' premiere. So she invited herself, a 65-year-old crasher at a party that should have been in her honor.
Walt was popsicled two years later. Travers lasted another three decades. But while Saving Mr. Banks feels like his risen-from-the-grave attempt to pretend that Travers only cried during the film because it reminded her of her daddy, the disgruntled writer got her own eternal revenge on Walt, Burbank and the sunny country that’s made Mickey Mouse its international ambassador: Not only did she forbid the studio from making a sequel, in her will, she decreed that no American would ever be allowed to tamper with her Mary Poppins again.
The lawsuit was first brought in late 2011 by two interns — Alex Footman and Eric Glatt — who both worked on Fox Searchlight’s Black Swan and claimed that the company’s unpaid internship program violated minimum wage and overtime laws.
The lawsuit then got bigger with amended claims brought by added named plainitffs such as Kanene Gratts, who worked on Searchlight’s (500) Days of Summer as well as Eden Antalik, who participated in the FEG internship program. To prevail, they would need to jump several hurdles including showing that the training programs set up weren’t for the advantage of the trainees.
On Tuesday, federal judge William Pauley issued a ruling that is very favorable to the suing interns.
There is a song for this