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Archive for the ‘Fractured Fairy Tale’ Category

Maleficent

22 Jun

Maleficent – directed by Robert Stromberg. Fractured Fairy Tale. 97 minutes Color 2014.

★★★★

The Story: A fairy queen jilted, takes out her resentment on the jilter’s daughter, giving rise to unforeseen circumstances.

~ ~ ~

The Disney Imagination that has gone into this can be seen by looking into one big Keane painting child’s eye. It is exaggerated in its content, yet it is too big even for its content. Sentimentality with bling.

But we must set that aside if we are to remain in our seats. Even though, as usual with Disney films, we see the details become lost in the speed, we are at least afforded one thing to gaze upon steadily and with reverence, and that is the visage of Angelina Jolie.

Once again she is one of her PowerBeauty roles. Not too many actresses have the fortification to manage such parts. Our Liz, of course, and Garbo, who did it without exerting any power. But Jolie brings forth the blaze of her beauty as a weapon fit to crush all who dare to look upon it impiously. Ah, the Jujitsu of her eyes! It is a treat which movies alone afford us.

Angelina Jolie is an actress much limited to such roles, and when you see her in a part such as in Changling, it is clear she does not have the technique to manage it. But here, as Maleficent, she is on her home field, and, boy, is she good. She gets to be hot under her many collars but brings touches of wit and reserves of humor to the role, which often consists of her standing still in a huge cape and horns and being gazed upon. A little “hm” of commentary now and again brings all the fun we need.

The rest is spectacular displays of special effects and animation, with a dragon emitting more fire from its mouth than Bette Davis, and a flying scene that’s a humdinger.

The story is just like that of The Rover with Guy Pearce – in a field of hell, someone who hates someone else comes to love that person. Children may be frightened by the hell, but so what? If Disney had been afraid of that, he would never have made Snow White.

Janet McTeer does the narration. And Imelda Staunton flapdoodles about as a maladroit  fairy. And as to the rest – well, it’s all Tinkerbell tosh – but still, a little of that is good thing sometimes, especially when Angelina Jolie is just the medicine that helps the sugar go down.

Everyone is seeing it, and, although I didn’t, I should think it’s better to do so in 3-D than not.

 
 

Mirror, Mirror

23 Apr

Mirror, Mirror — directed by Tarsem Singh. Fractured Fairy Tale. 105 minutes Color 2012.

★★★

The Story: The Wicked Stepmother seizes the spotlight and Prince Charming as well.

~        

Of all the actresses ambitioned to play Scarlet in Gone With The Wind there were only two who would not have been ridiculous, Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh, and for the same reason: they both possessed the temperament of hellcats, and they alone had in their skill kits a sense of period.

Exactly what that is, is hard to declare, except its absence is notably present in the performance of Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen, for she seems to have no sense of the genre in which she is performing, a costume drama at the least. She dismays by adopting the cracked ice of condescension, an amateur choice which wrecks the role at the outset by giving it no place to go.

Julia Roberts – no one can say they knew her after she was a pretty woman, because, now of a certain age, she is still one. But for years she coasted along on the white sailboat of her smile. To do that all she needed to do was be a gal. But that won’t wash any more, and she is now cast in character parts while having no actual skill at playing a character. All these years I waited for the genius of her brother, Eric Roberts, to break through – a mistake on my part to be sure. Now I want his sister to discover her craft.

Less harm can be done to the film by her, because the style of Mirror, Mirror begins in Fairyland Camp, and somewhere along the line shifts across into Bullwinkle Land. That is to say, it becomes dialogue-dependent rather than style-dependent, and the dialogue is vernacular. So, when the prince appears, one soon sees that the actor does not have a prince in him and does not have the pronunciation of one either: the word “adieu” is, by Princes, pronounced “adyou” not “a-do,” so the poor actor fails in his opening sequence. Fortunately the character he plays is a jerk, so it does not matter much, except that it too defies the necessary tone and doesn’t create one of its own.

And in a piece like this, tone is essential. Because without it you can’t really buy into the enchantment. Moreover, the written style and the acting style are in rash countermand to the visual style, which is glorious. The sets, the costumes, the wigs are lavish — imaginative and surprising and fun — as are the narrative conceits. Visually, it has the right tone.

As do the animation and the special effects, particularly that of The Beast – a terrific griffon. Snow White is right for the part, a lovely young actress, Lily Collins, and she is assisted by Nathan Lane as a pusillanimous courtier and by seven sexy dwarfs, all of whom are jolly good and all of whom survive the mishmash nicely.

Of course you want the Queen to be thwarted, and you want Snow White to save herself with her magic dagger. And you love Snow White floating through the snowy woods in a billowing May dress, and the Prince in his floor-length coat swashbuckling about is a treat that never palls. You root more for the visual effects than the characters, but you are let down that, despite the film’s stated promise, nothing new about that wicked queen has been revealed, either by one mirror or by two.

 
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Posted in FAIRY TALE, Fractured Fairy Tale, GOTHIC ROMANCE, Julia Roberts, Nathan Lane

 

Mirror Mirror

07 Apr

Mirror Mirror — directed by Tarsem Singh. Fractured Fairy Tale. The wicked stepmother seizes the spotlight and Prince Charming as well. 105 minutes Color 2012.

★★★

Of all the actresses who desired to play Scarlet in Gone With The Wind there were only two who would not have been ridiculous in the part, Bette Davis and Vivien Leigh, and for the same reason: they were not alone in possessing the temperament of hellcats, but they were alone in having the skill in their kit to bring to the part a sense of period. Exactly what that is, is hard to declare, except in its absence. Its absence is notably present in the performance of Julia Roberts as the Wicked Queen. She seems to have no sense of the genre in which she is performing, a costume drama at the least. She also astonishes and dismays one by adopting at once the cracked ice of condescension, an obvious and amateur choice which wrecks the role at the outset by giving it no place to go. Julia Roberts – no one can say they knew her after she was a pretty woman, because, now of a certain age, she is still one. But for years she coasted along on the white sailboat of her smile.  To do that all she needed to do was be a gal. But that won’t wash any more, and she is now cast in character parts while having perhaps no actual skill at playing a character. All those years I waited for the genius of her brother, Eric Roberts, to break through, a mistake on my part to be sure. Now I want her to discover her craft. Less harm is done to the film by her here, because the style of it begins in fairyland camp and shifts to Bullwinkle somewhere along the line. That is to say it becomes dialogue dependent rather than style dependent, and the dialogue is vernacular. So, when the prince appears, one soon sees that the actor does not have a prince in him and does not have the pronunciation of one either: the word “adieu” is pronounced “adyou” not “ado”; the poor actor fails with his opening sequence. Fortunately the character he plays is a jerk, so it does not matter much, except that it defies the necessary tone. And in a piece like this, it is the tone that must engage. Without it you can’t really buy into the enchantment; moreover, the script and these performances are in rash countermand to the visual style of the picture, which is glorious. The costumes are the last masterpiece of  the late Eiki Ishioka and must be seen at once. The sets, the wigs are lavish to a degree, imaginative and surprising and fun, as are the narrative conceits. As is the animation when it occurs and the special effects, particularly that of The Beast which the crew has made into a terrific griffon. Snow White is quite right for the part, a lovely young actress Lily Collins, and she is assisted by Nathan Lane as a pusillanimous courtier and by seven very sexy dwarfs, all of whom are jolly good and all of whom survive the mishmash nicely. Of course you want the Queen to be thwarted and you want Snow White to save herself with her magic dagger. And you love Snow White floating through the snowy woods in a billowing May dress, and the Prince in his floor length coat swashbuckling about is a treat that never palls. That is, you root more for the visual effects than the characters, and you wonder that, despite the film’s stated promise, nothing new about that wicked queen has been revealed either by one mirror or by two.

 
 
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