Sleeping Beauty

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In Disney’s 1959 Sleeping Beauty, the evil Maleficent has less than 15 minutes of screen time, making the character’s decade-lasting infamy and the initial interest in a feature-length film of her re-imaging, Maleficent, notably impressive. Of course, the same could be said for the Evil Queen of Disney’s 1937 Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, who’s gotten two recent chances to re-captivate  audiences with Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman. Judging by Maleficent‘s opening weekend domestic box office numbers, this serpentine queen is number one in fans’ cold dead hearts. Anyone who remembers Maleficent’s fifteen minutes of fame in Sleeping Beauty already knows that Maleficent writer Linda Woolverton took enormous leaps in filling the expansive gaps in Maleficent’s history. However the same can be argued for the writers of Sleeping Beauty as well. The original Disney film was based on both the original fairy tale “La Belle au Bois Dormant (The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood)” by Charles Perrault and the later “Little Briar Rose” by the Brothers Grimm – neither of which had much to say in the characterization of the once nameless and now legendary villain. So how did Maleficent change over time? We did the reading, so you don’t have to.

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Disney has finally cast the cherry on top of its long-gestating revisionist take on the Sleeping Beauty myth, setting up young Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites to play the prince to Angelina Jolie‘s evil Maleficent and Elle Fanning‘s innocent Princess Aurora. In the classic fairy tale, the part is generally referred to as Prince Phillip, but Deadline Evil Dark Woods doesn’t let on if that will be the case in Robert Stromberg‘s take on the tale. Despite his name, Thwaites is not a type of bread and he’s also not a knock-off of clothing brand Benetton, he’s one of those Aussie actor kids who cut his teeth on two of their many, many television series. Thwaites did a ten-episode run on SLiDe and also starred on continual favorite, Home and Away. He’ll next be seen as the male star in Lifetime’s take on The Blue Lagoon, next month’s Blue Lagoon: The Awakening (ew). Other stars who did their time on Aussie TV? Chris Hemsworth, Ryan Kwanten, Rose Byrne, Toni Collette, Portia di Rossi, and Liam Hemsworth. It’s nothing to sniff at and no one should be surprised if Thwaites ends up the next Hollywood It Boy. Hey! Maybe we can cast him in Catching Fire!

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! This is actually the third anniversary of my stewardship of the column, and I want to thank all of you for stopping by each and every Tuesday to check out the week’s best and worst DVD releases. I’ve discovered countless fantastic films over the last three years, and I hope some of you can claim the same. Or even just one of you. This week’s releases include an utterly terrible biopic (with great makeup!) of Margaret Thatcher, Werner Herzog’s best documentary from 2011, a bland alien invasion flick set in Moscow, a powerful boys-in-prison drama from Norway and more! As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Conversation Piece Burt Lancaster plays a retired American living in Rome whose quiet life is interrupted by a quartet of rude and rambunctious neighbors. They talk their way into renting his upstairs apartment, and over the course of the months that follow they worm their way into his life with interruptions, destruction, seduction and endless conversation. Luchino Visconti’s film is a beautifully shot tale of clashing ideals and intellects unafraid to mix political discussion with homoerotic undertones and black comedy with a sexy teenage seductress. Raro Video has done a fantastic job with the film’s first widescreen, English language release in the US, and while the link here is for their new Blu-ray transfer a DVD version is also available.

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For the uninitiated who might think that Maleficent is just a nonsense word (you know, like me), it might seem strange that Disney is so gung-ho about putting together an Angelina Jolie-starring film using such gibberish as a title. But for those in the know, the situation is a lot more clear. You see, Maleficent is the name of the Evil Queen in the classic fairy tale “Sleeping Beauty,” and Maleficent is an upcoming feature that means to tell the Sleeping Beauty story from the perspective of said Queen. The big question about this prospective project is whether or not Maleficent will be able to do for Evil Queens what Wicked did for Wicked Witches. Given Jolie’s recent track record when it comes to quality of projects, and the fact that its director, Robert Stromberg, is sitting in the chair for the first time ever, things weren’t looking so certain. But with a little bit of new casting news, suddenly the future is looking much brighter.If Maleficent is set to be our protagonist, then the other big casting question as far as this film is concerned is who will be playing the evil and sleepy Princess Aurora. According to Twitch, it may just be Elle Fanning.

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Movie News: Dredd

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column about movie news. That is all. We begin this evening with a look at Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby in Dredd, the revival of the Judge Dredd franchise. First impressions: Karl Urban’s helmet is huge and Olivia Thirlby needs more leather. Or something along those lines. Either way, it’s a good conversation starter.

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Film is a powerful medium, and the best ones can make you feel strongly one way or the other about fictional characters and their make-believe lives. These people exist only on the screen, and yet we can feel joy, fear, love, hatred and so much more for them as if they were living and breathing beside us. Most movies never accomplish this feat. And Sleeping Beauty is no different. Instead Julia Leigh‘s debut film manages something decidedly unique. The lead character is passive, bland and as emotionally inspiring as a wash cloth, but the actress who plays her? You just may find yourself feeling bad, embarrassed and fearful for her. Lucy (Emily Browning) is a college student like many others. She attends class during the day and at night works in a restaurant or office and occasionally volunteers for paid medical experiments. Sure, some nights she heads to swanky bars to do lines of coke with Asian women in the bathroom, but mostly she works hard. It never seems to be enough though as she’s always behind in her rent and at risk of being booted out by her roommates. Until she responds to an ad for a silver service waitress to work private parties. The interview is brief but invasive, and it comes with two warnings. Don’t make a career of this. And indiscretion will not be tolerated.

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Remember the time in college when you were strapped for cash and ended up working as a subconscious prostitute where anyone with a few bucks could have their way with you in your sleep? Yeah, we had that wiped from our memory too. Thankfully, Julia Leigh‘s new film Sleeping Beauty won’t let us forget. Here’s the trailer if you want to refresh yourself and get some context for the big spooning image of Emily Browning and your grandpa to the right. It hit Cannes with a mixed vengeance, and it should be in theaters (limited style), but it’s also available right this second on SundanceNOW. That is, if you like paying for things. Since we don’t, we’re giving away a free online ticket to see the movie through that wonderful website. How do you enter? How do you win? Glad you asked.

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As the temperatures turn just the slightest bit colder and the fall colors settle in the landscape (if you’re lucky enough to live near trees), we should start directing our film focus to the fall movie season. We love summer for its mind-numbing fun, but the last season of the year tends to offer some of the most vulnerable, honest, and captivating films (you know, just in time for that other “big O”). Fall supplies films meant to scandalize our minds and even our naughty bits, and there is nothing wrong with that. But with so many films and film festivals to choose from between now and December, it becomes overwhelming to sort through all the goodness being dispensed our way. Lucky for you, my love of highlighting full-frontal male nudity and questionable sexual conduct happens to pay off for a change. Below you’ll find a helpful collection of five sultry features sure to stimulate your brain and your nethers.

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At a party over the weekend a deliciously nerdy debate broke out about two things. One, what cartoon is the sexiest of all? And two, whether it is acceptable or creepy to find animated characters sexually attractive? Fueled by strong margaritas, a battle against the rising sun, and too many active imaginations on one patio, the group came to the unanimous decision that sexy animated characters are just an added bonus from the directors to our awaiting eyes. These characters are generated to appeal to both children and adults, and just like in tradition film the actors need to be attractive enough to keep us locked in. But what does our animated crush say about us?

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With the Toronto International Film Festival mere weeks away, cinephiles everywhere are prepping to ship off to America’s hat for ten days of films and fun, all fueled by bagged milk and and trademark Canadian politeness. TIFF has already established itself as North America’s premiere film festival (duking it out with Sundance for top billing), but this year, the festival’s programmers have truly outdone themselves when it comes to putting together a drool-worthy schedule. This year’s TIFF has already announced the bulk of their lineup, including The Ides of March and Moneyball and their documentary and genre picks, but they now round out their programming with some final and spectacular picks.

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The second film of the day, following Midnight in Paris this morning, Sleeping Beauty is the only Australian film included this year, starring Emily Browning (who hopefully won’t be a high-profile casualty of Snyder’s sickly Sucker Punch) as a University student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of beauty and desire. Or at least that’s what the marketing material says. Regardless of what they position this erotic, chiller had already been picking up a lot of buzz, possibly because the official synopsis that I read as part of the bulging press pack (stuffed lovingly into my press PO box this morning) suggested a film about a girl who willingly becomes a Sleeping Beauty – or someone who takes a sleeping pill and allows herself to have “erotic experiences” with “old men” that she has no control over. Funny that, because Browning’s whole role in Sucker Punch can be labelled as overly eroticized and submissive too. Zing!

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a movie news column that is content with entertaining you on a nightly basis with the best links and tidbits the web has to offer. But in reality, it wishes that it could be out there fighting for the side of humanity in the great world war against the zombie invasion. It has big dreams, this nightly feature. As you know, there are three things I can’t avoid writing about in this here column: Michael Bay movies, Doctor Who and World War Z. The third is perhaps one of the greatest texts ever written about the zombie apocalypse. What I did not know is that it was almost turned into an awesome video game, as this Kotaku investigative report suggests. As you can see from tonight’s headline image, it would have been very cool.

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Every day, come rain or shine or internet tubes breaking, Film School Rejects showcases a trailer from the past. The management of this theater is proud to suggest this movie for every member of every family everywhere. It’s fascinating to think of how dark and frightening this movie is despite all the musical interludes, the trademark Disney animation, and all the fairies prancing around making mops do their cleaning work for them. Yes, it’s the story of Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, and a kiss that can break a coma. Check out the trailer for yourself:

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The Week That Was

What is The Week That Was? Nothing much, just a recap of all that was great and wonderful here on Film School Rejects over the course of the last week. And in a week such as this, when we reviewed controversial and conversation-worthy films from the minds of Ayn Rand, Wes Craven and Robert Redford, it’s important to take a look back at the best of what was written. That, and we interviewed Takashi Miike, so we’ve got that going for us. Also, I have access to the traffic stats. I know that all of you did not read every one of our best articles. What’s the deal with that, beloved readers? Lets right those wrongs on a pantsless Sunday afternoon. Start with the articles listed in this compilation and work your way back. Do it now.

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The last film Emily Browning was in featured her exploited, stripped down to lingerie and kicking a dragon’s ass. For Sleeping Beauty, it looks like she’ll be exploited and stripped down without a dragon in sight. The film from writer/director Julia Leigh was selected for Cannes in competition, and tells the story of a young student (played by Browning) who takes a job where men fulfill their sexual fantasies with her while she’s asleep. Of course, the trailer is sufficiently haunting, and it spells out a potentially bleak film that explores a person as object. Check it out for yourself:

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. What villains have you liked more than their hero counterparts? – Nathan S.

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Emily Browning has replaced Mia Wasikowska as Sleeping Beauty. Generally, we’d find a statement such as this one to be (a) logical and (b) completely uneventful. Both actresses are young, fresh and would fit right in to the classic role of the sleepy princess. The twist is that this isn’t Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, it is the erotic version.

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Of course, as with all Burton movies, the first question in everyone’s mind is “who will Johnny Depp play?”

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It’s been a while, but Snow White is headed back for another high definition release and this one is set to eclipse the last by, well, Blu-ray proportions.

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Disney has announced that they’re going Blu-ray on our asses, bringing their platinum standard over to the new format with some quite impressive improvements.

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