Blancanieves

2013review_scifi

This year promised a number of great original science fiction movies from Hollywood, and then it turned out most of them weren’t even good let alone great — the sort that left us with way too many unanswered questions regarding their plot holes. Meanwhile, in the fantasy genre, we continued to see the studios churning out one YA adaptation after another in the hopes of it being the next Hunger Games (or still the next Harry Potter or Twilight or even Star Wars in the case of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones) and ironically having no clue how to find the *magic* in the appeal of these kinds of stories. And of course there’s the ever-growing subgenre of superhero movies, which really only disappointed this year because they arrived in the wake of 2012’s The Avengers, not simply because most of the output was sequels (Iron Man 3; Thor: The Dark World; The Wolverine) that were merely okay rather than totally awesome. As I’ve noted in the past, I don’t consider Gravity to be sci-fi (even after learning that some tech in the film doesn’t exist yet), but I’ll let it be known that if I were to qualify the outer space thriller, I’d put it in the number 6 slot on account of its gripping visual storytelling and little else. As for another popular choice (one that made a few FSR staffer’s best of lists, as well as our democratically voted top 10), Pacific Rim might have made this […]

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discs stories we tell

Welcome back to This Week In Discs! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Stories We Tell Sarah Polley, best known for her work both in front of and behind the camera for feature films, turns her eye onto her own family in documentary form as she explores a part of their history from varying perspectives. Through interviews and home videos she goes back in time to explore her parents lives, her own childhood, and a secret they all think they know. What starts as a focus on a mystery becomes something more as stories, recollections, and memories differ from person to person. In a year filled with fantastic and powerful documentaries, Polley’s film remains the warmest and most wondrous thanks both to the content and the film’s structure. She’s on this journey with us, equally unsure of her own motivations and delighted by the results. It’s a personal story, even her family members wonder why anyone else would care, yet it speaks to a universal truth about how we share our stories and make them our own. Each person has their own tale as well as a piece of everyone else’s, and it’s amazing to see them play out onscreen. Plus, the stinger here puts Marvel films to shame. [DVD extras: Trailer]

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2011_the artist

Slightly over a year ago, after Michel Hazanavicius’s The Artist came home with a Best Picture win and accomplished the unlikely feat of becoming a $100+ million worldwide hit, observations hit the web (ranging from hopeful to snarky) speculating whether or not the critical and financial success of this film would bring about a trend of new silent filmmaking. That the film’s gimmick seemed anathema to any marketing department’s formula for success stood as a provocation to an ever recycling Hollywood, declaring: if you revisit winning formulas, why not this one? Of course, few genuinely expected such a trend to actually come to fruition.  In February 2012, David Denby wrote: “We should be happy that The Artist exists at all, of course. Even after being nominated for ten Oscars and winning numerous awards from critics’ groups and the guilds, the film still seems arbitrary—one of those freaks of idealism which sometimes occur in the movies.” Even after the seeming silent-throwback double bill of The Artist and Hugo, Denby can only imagine a silent film resurgence happening in repertory form: a new emerging interest in old classics rather than an opportunity for new filmmakers to experiment with older forms of cinematic expression. But silent cinema has made something of a soft but notable and innovative return subsequent to The Artist – it just didn’t quite happen in the way we expected. Both Miguel Gomes’s Tabu from Portugal and Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves from Spain were recognized as their respective countries’ official selections […]

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Blancanieves

Blancanieves, Spanish director Pablo Berger’s second feature, will turn to American audiences at an unlikely intersection of tastes and trends. On the heels of The Artist and last year’s near-perfect Tabu, Blancanieves is the latest in a string of European-produced throwbacks to silent-era filmmaking. But the other major element at play here is the film’s classical fairy tale structure: it’s a version of Snow White updated to the world of Spanish matadors in the 1910s and 1920s, which makes Blancanieves a necessary relief from brash but vacant Hollywood retreads of the world of Grimm like Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. But regardless of its potent timeliness, the greatest asset of Blancanieves is its masterful, elegant, and palpably inspired embrace of silent-era styles and techniques. Blancanieves is inventive while remaining nostalgic and familiar, intricately stylized while still retaining the capacity to move you, and completely devoid of audible dialogue while still filling your ears will a rich, diverse palette of film music. Of the handful of silent-era throwbacks to be released in the last few years, Blancanieves, more than any so far, takes a devoted and orthodox approach to silent-era techniques while remaining fresh and surprising. Far from an arthouse gimmick, Blancanieves marries style and story in a way that seems so obvious and fitting that it’s a wonder why this film hadn’t been made before.

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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.26.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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published: 11.21.2014
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