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Non-Review Review: Blancanieves

This film was seen as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival 2013.

Blancanieves feels like either a film that has its finger firmly on the pop culture zeitgeist, or the victim of the worst timing. It appears less than a year after The Artist won the Best Picture Oscar, becoming a massive critical and popular success. Given the relative dearth of high-profile silent black-and-white films, Blancanieves is somewhat trapped within that shadow. More than that, though, it emerges following a year that demonstrated popular culture’s fixation on the Snow White story. 2012 saw the release of both Mirror Mirror and Snow White & The Huntsman, both reimaginings of the classic tale. Blancanieves is, for its own part, an adaptation of the fairy tale, and it seems like the story was weighing on the popular imagination.

In any other context, Blancanieves would seem like a breath of fresh air. An affectionate homage to the classic era silent cinema, retelling the Snow White story in an unfamiliar setting, there’s a lot to recommend it. Indeed, Blancanieves is easily the best Snow White adaptation of the past year. Unfortunately, it suffers because it’s not quite as charming, witty and well-constructed as The Artist.

Dark materials...

Dark materials…

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My Best of 2011: The Artist, Tempering Nostalgia & Truly Accessible “True Art”…

It’s that time of the year. To celebrate 2011, and the countdown to 2012, I’m going to count down my own twelve favourite films of the year, one a day until New Year’s Eve. I’m also going to talk a bit about how or why I chose them, and perhaps what makes this list “my” best of 2011, rather than any list claiming to be objective.

The Artist is number three. Check out my original review here.

Spend a bit of time discussing film with people, and you’ll discover that a lot of prejudices exist about certain types of films and their audiences. For example, you’ll discover that some people cling to the believe that any film made on a budget of over six figures and released in the middle of summer is a brain-dead offense to the senses. On the other end of the scale, you’ll find those who protest that any narratively challenging or otherwise unconventional film is “pretentious” or “inaccessible.” These views don’t represent the majority opinion, but you’ll stumble across them if you converse about film enough. Thankfully, at least, The Artist puts paid to the idea that a black-and-white silent film is inherently “inaccessible.”

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Non-Review Review: The Artist

It’s funny that The Artist should end up being so accessible. It’s a black-and-white silent film, shot in an abandoned aspect ratio, set in old Hollywood from a French director. It sounds like an exercise in arthouse excess, and yet it’s easily one of the most charming and engaging stories in recent memory. It’s hard to put a finger on which part of the film works so well, so I’m going to opt for a massive copout: they all do. It’s a love letter to cinema, but not necessarily to “classic cinema” – the movie feels pretty timely for a story set in the twenties. In short, if you are any sort of cinephile, do yourself a favour and check it out. You won’t regret it.

Released just in time for New Year’s, it seems like 2011 might have saved the best for last.

Now THAT's Entertainment!

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In Good Humour: The Calamatous Case of the Comedy Classics…

The wonderful lads over at Anomalous Materials are running a tournament over the summer to find the best comedy of all time. Think of it as a world cup, for film nerds. However, the competition – like our quad-annual footie fest – has had its share of upsets. Most notable in an early round where Galaxy Quest triumphed over Some Like it Hot or the trumping of Arsenic and Old Lace by A Fish Called Wanda another day (the same day The General went home empty handed, losing to Mrs. Doubtfire) or Bringing Up Baby getting trounced by Little Miss Sunshine. There are more borderline cases, with The Apartment beating The Circus or The Great Dictator losing to The Graduate. However, the only victory for a “classic” classic film I could find was that of City Lights over A Christmas Story. This sparked a bit of discussion between those taking part (which is, in fairness, the rather wonderful thing about events like this), but it got us wondering: Is comedy a fickle mistress? Has what the audience expected from a comedy changed dramatically with the times? Are what many consider to be “classics” of the genre subject to this winds of change and popular taste?

Modern Times are tough for Charlie...

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