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Group buys former Armour meatpacking site in Stockyards

The 16.8-acre site of the historic, former Armour meatpacking plant in Fort Worth’s Stockyards has changed hands, and its new owners aren’t saying anything about their plans. Chesapeake Land Development Co., which bought the site

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Hulen Pointe Shopping Center sold

Hulen Pointe Shopping Center, located in southwest Fort Worth on South Hulen Street one mile south of Hulen Mall, has been purchased by Addison-based Bo Avery with TriMarsh Properties for an undisclosed price.

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Dallas-Fort Worth in top five commercial real estate markets in 2015

According to the Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2015 report, just co-published by PwC US and the Urban Land Institute (ULI), Dallas-Fort Worth ranks No. 5, with two other Texas cities, Houston and Austin ranking at No. 1 and 2 respectively. San Francisco ranks No. 3 and Denver No. 4.

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Social House Fort Worth plans to open mid-November

Social House has leased 5,045 square feet at 2801-2873 W Seventh St. in Fort Worth, according to Xceligent Inc.

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Fort Worth temporarily stops issuing new home permits in TCU area

The moratorium will give a committee and the City Council time to review a proposed overlay that will pare the number of permissible unrelated adults living in the same house.

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'Saving Mr. Banks' : A richly rendered, engrossing dramatization of Walt Disney's efforts to adapt the novel "Mary Poppins"

Annie Buckley and Colin Farrell in “Saving Mr. Banks,” a richly rendered, engrossing dramatization of Walt Disney’s efforts to adapt the novel “Mary Poppins.” CREDIT: Francois Duhamel/Disney 
 

Ann Hornaday
(c) 2013, The Washington Post.
A spoonful of sugar and all the cheap sentiment and facile whimsy it represents are precisely what author P.L. Travers abhors in "Saving Mr. Banks," a richly rendered, engrossing dramatization of Walt Disney's efforts to adapt Travers' novel "Mary Poppins" into one of his confectionery extravaganzas.

Played by Emma Thompson in a deliciously brittle turn, Travers emerges in the film as a humorless, imperious, unfailingly prim martinet, who when she arrives at the Disney studios in 1961 to collaborate on the script, insists that everyone — even Uncle Walt — address her as "Mrs. Travers."

Reluctant to hand over Mary Poppins — never just "Mary," please — Travers wages a two-week war of attrition on the screenwriter and composers assigned to bring the magical governess to the screen, wearing the boys down with constant criticisms and suggestions, all to keep her most cherished creation from becoming yet another casualty of Disney-fication, "cavorting, twinkling . . . careening toward a happy ending like a kamikaze."

Thompson, her perfectly powdered face topped with a crown of angry curls, her mouth carefully drawn into a disapproving crimson grimace, tucks into such succulent dialogue with relish, dousing every line with an extra drop of vinegar for acidic good measure. The irresistible force to her unmovable object is Tom Hanks, whose Walt Disney is all soft-spoken Midwestern manipulation, unctuous and shrewd in equal parts.

Unimpressed by the balloons and Mickey Mouse plush toys that greet her at the Beverly Hills Hotel, "positively sickened" by the prospect of visiting Disneyland, bored by California (Los Angeles smells of "chlorine and sweat," she announces upon her arrival at the airport), Travers' steady state of rankled indignation is impervious to Disney's cajoling and flattery. To paraphrase a flinty sister-under-the-skin, albeit from another era, the lady's not for turning — on one of Disney's carousels, or otherwise.

Even with Thompson's delectably dyspeptic portrayal of Travers, she'd be a difficult protagonist to root for, were it not for the back story of "Mary Poppins" that "Saving Mr. Banks" is really about. What comes to light in the flashbacks that constitute their own period-piece-within-a-period-piece is that Poppins was a product of Travers' own childhood in Australia, where she grew up as Helen Goff at the turn of the century, the favorite daughter of an alcoholic bank manager named Travers Goff (played in a sad-eyed, sympathetic turn by Colin Farrell).

Compulsively toggling back and forth between 1960s L.A. and a Goff family farmhouse mired in addiction and financial worries, "Saving Mr. Banks" doesn't always straddle its stories and time periods with utmost grace. But the film — which John Lee Hancock directed from a script by Kelly Marcel and Sue Smith — more than makes up for its occasionally unwieldy structure in telling a fascinating and ultimately deeply affecting story, along the way giving viewers tantalizing glimpses of the beloved 1964 movie musical, both in its creation and final form.

In addition to the evocative scenes of Travers' simultaneously idyllic and horrifying childhood, the best moments of "Saving Mr. Banks" occur in the Disney rehearsal room, where screenwriter Don DaGradi (Bradley Whitford) and songwriters Robert and Richard Sherman (B.J. Novak and Jason Schwartzman) endure Travers' constant stream of invective. When the Shermans try out a little ditty for Dick Van Dyke that rhymes "constable" with "responstable," she immediately notes that "responstable" is not a word. "We made it up," they tell her. "Well, un-make it up," she snaps. (It's revealing that the person Travers is kindest to, a chauffeur played by Paul Giamatti, is the film's only fictional character.)

How on earth could this marriage be saved? In "Saving Mr. Banks," it's Disney himself who comes to the rescue, when the genial, mustached Hanks delivers a moving, if cloyingly self-righteous, speech about the role of storytelling (read: Hollywood) in healing primal wounds. It's a self-serving moment, easily dismissed as studio-sanctioned mythmaking. Still, thanks to the particular story it tells and the marvelous actors channeling it, "Saving Mr. Banks" succeeds in proving Disney's point. Catharsis is powerful medicine, whether it's delivered by way of a mouse with big ears, a sharp-elbowed woman allowing bitterness to melt into long-buried grief or that dreaded, delightful spoonful of sugar.

---

Three stars. PG-13. Contains thematic elements including some unsettling images. 125 minutes.

Ratings Guide: Four stars masterpiece, three stars very good, two stars OK, one star poor, no stars waste of time.

adv fri dec 13

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