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Non-Review Review: Snow White and the Huntsman

Snow White and the Huntsman can’t help but feel like it misses the mark. Its intentions are clear, its objectives very firmly set. It’s an attempt to “reclaim” the age old fairytale for a more modern audience, to revisit all the tropes and the plot devices from the story we all know and rework them so that they speak to today. The result is a massive misfire, as the attempt to craft a feminist fable from the story of Snow White makes the same fatal misstep as Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland: just because you put a sword in the hand of your leading female, and just because she wears a suit of armour, does not immediately reinvent her as a feminist icon.

Not quite queen of our hearts…

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Alice in Funderland at the Abbey (Review)

I had the pleasure of catching Alice in Funderland at the Abbey Theatre on Friday night. An attempt to playfully recast Lewis Carroll’s iconic story against the backdrop of modern Dublin, it is – for most of its runtime – an enjoyable high-energy experience with a cheeky charm and a winning wit. It is, however, just a little bit uneven – especially in its first act. In fact, the play works much better indulging its delightful appetite for the insane and the surreal, instead of attempting to offer rather blunt commentary on the political and social character of modern Ireland.

Alice? Who the %@#! is Alice?

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Non-Review Review: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right is a charming and engaging little dramedy with a wonderful cast. It manages the wonderful feat of making an on-screen family seem “real” – there are any number of sequences in this which viewers will spot from years of family interactions. It’s an interesting study of how a strange “interloper” can have a surprisingly destablising effect on a family unit – how it all it takes is this one catalyst to bring all this unsung tension to the surface. But it’s never heavy or self-important. Sure, the ending is more than a little awkward, but the movie’s smart and funny enough to keep you engaged with it to the final reel.

And that’s saying nothing of the cracking David Bowie soundtrack? It has Won on it!

Paul gets a crisp reception...

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Do We Give Too Much Kudos to Established Directors?

There was (as ever) a rather interesting piece in the Guardian a few weeks back which suggested – what with Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island coming out within weeks of each other and dominating film discussion in March – perhaps we tend to focus too much on established directors like Burton and Scorsese.

Because it’s one thing for a studio to take a project and market it with such frenzied hyperbole that for a week or two seeing it becomes all but obligatory for anyone wanting to remain a la mode. It’s quite another for film-goers to convince ourselves we need to see that same project through an increasingly forlorn belief in its director as a still-vital and relevant force. Whatever the implications of Burton’s Alice may be for exhibitors and all that newly-installed 3D technology, the nuts-and-bolts issue here is surely the length of time any once-great film-maker is given in the cinephile heart purely on the basis of dusty triumphs a decade or more in the past.

I thought it only fair to wait until I had seen bother of those big films to comment. Being entirely honest, I don’t think it’s entirely reasonable to lump Burton and Scorsese together as some sort joint proof of that assertion. In fact, I’d argue the two are very different sides to the same coin.

Is Burton picking his own creative bones dry?

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Alice: A Feminist In Wonderland?

Alice in Wonderland opens this weekend, and we were lucky enough to tag along to the Irish premiere. Since we came out of the cinema, we kinda suspected that this would be a polarising film – as the Rotten Tomatoes score seems to demonstrate. However, taking a moment to step back and appreciate the breadth and depth of the critical response, is it possible that we’ve all completely missed the point? Rather than being a fantastically realised gothic fantasy that strays just a little bit closer to The Lord of the Rings rather than its own source material, has Tim Burton produced a uniquely feminist fantasy film?

Should feminists be up in arms?

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Non-Review Review: Alice in Wonderland

I imagine Lewis Carroll’s iconic fantasy story poses quite the problem for anybody looking to bring it to the screen. Both Alice in Wonderland and Alice’s Adventures Through The Looking Glass essentially consist of a collection of vignettes, very loosely linked to each other. One minute you’re translating The Jabberwockey and the next you’re hearing the story of The Walrus and the Carpenter. I can’t imagine it would be particularly easy to produce a film following that sort of almost random structure. Perhaps that’s why Tim Burton’s wonderfully visual fantasy seems to draw perhaps more heavily from The Lord of the Rings than its own source material, which is a shame, as the director fantastically brings the magic of Wonderland to life. If only there were more of it.

Down the rabbit hole...

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Adventures in Wonderland…

I just won tickets to a preview screening of Alice in Wonderland as part of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. I’ll have my review up on Monday morning, but in the meantime, here’s how I won. It’s a reworked version of The Walrus and the Carpenter. Apologies in advance to Lewis Carroll, his estate, fans of the poem and people with taste.

Apologies in advance...

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When Cinemas Strike Back…

Hmm… I knew there wasn’t good news on the horizon when Disney announced they were steamrolling ahead with their plan to truncate the cinematic run of Tim Burton’s upcoming Alice in Wonderland adaptation. Obviously driven by the home entertainment market (and the fact that parents would be look for distractions for the kids as the summer holidays approach), they want to release the DVD 12 weeks after the movie premieres, rather than the standard 17 weeks. As you can imagine, this has ticked off the cinemas who make more money the later into a film’s release you see it, so it looks like we may have a boycott – in the UK at least. 95% of 3D screens may not be showing it. Including Cineworld, the largest cinema in Dublin.

Through the looking glass but not necessarily on the big screen...

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Evil is the New Black: Tim Burton to Reboot Sleeping Beauty to Give us ‘Maleficent’…

Looks like Tim Burton is getting quite comfortable at Disney – apparently he plans to follow his 3D spectacular Alice in Wonderland with a reboot of the classic Sleeping Beauty. Don’t worry (or do worry, depending on your opinion of the director), he’s not going to be offering a straight-forward adaptation – that would be much too straightforward. Instead, Burton is going to rework the story from the perspective of the evil queen: Maleficent. It seems that revisiting classic stories from the villain’s perspective is Hollywood’s new business plan, and – being honest – I’m equally worried and excited about it. Which, at the very least, means it is in someway daring.

Evil or misunderstood? It is going be a Burton film after all...

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It’s a funny world – Comic Con ’09 in retrospect…

It seems to have been a fairly average year at Comic Con – no big surprises (pleasant or otherwise), just solid confirmation of what us movie watchers had suspected all along. Contrary to what some suggested, apparently the Twilight fangirls didn’t ruin the experience for everyone. In fact, there were a whole host of fascinating insights on a whole slate of geek-interest projects. I don’t think anyone seems to have left particularly disappointed.

Fun with glow sticks...

Fun with glow sticks...

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