ASHES TO ASHES: Movie review of Cinderella by Howard Casner

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cinderellaThere is one absolutely lovely and magical moment in the new live action, non-musical Disney version of the animated, fully musicalized Disney version of the classic Charles Perrault fairy tale Cinderella.

Our titular character, frustrated and defeated by the cruel treatment at the hands of her step-mother and step-sisters, takes to horse and rides off into a distant woods where she stops the Prince from hunting down a stag.

What’s wonderful about this scene is that the previously optimistic (and rather annoyingly Pollyanish at times) Cinderella is finally the person she really is, beaten down, sad, furious at the circumstances she has found herself in, while the Prince, in turn, is finally the person he isn’t: here he pretends to be a mere apprentice and not royalty.

Who’d have thought something this sophisticated, clever and witty would have come from a carefully fine-tuned and micromanaged to the nth degree movie from the Disney studios, but the screenwriter Chris Weitz (who has given us such fun bon bons as Antz and About a Boy) pulled off something of a coup in this particular scene.

Other than that, for my money, Cinderella is something of a mixed bag when it comes to success. I know it’s been socking it away at the box office, but I’m afraid that it only intermittently works for me. Read the rest of this entry »

LOVE, DEATH and LOVE & DEATH: Movie Reviews of Fading Gigolo, Blue Ruin and Nymphomaniac: Vol. II by Howard Casner

fading gigiloFading Gigolo is about a man, Fioravante, who, without intending to in any way, shape or form, falls into being a gigolo (don’t you just hate it when that happens?).

It’s written by, directed by and stars John Turturro. But it probably should be noted that it co-stars Woody Allen. The reason this is significant is that in many ways, Fading Gigolo is a Woody Allen film that isn’t written by, isn’t directed by, and doesn’t star the famed writer/director himself.

It has the wit of a Woody Allen film. It deals with the Woody Allen themes of love and neuroses. It takes place in New York. Woody Allen is in it.

Hamilton Burger, I rest my case. Read the rest of this entry »

SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL: Movie Reviews of Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 and Under the Skin by Howard Casner

Nymphomaniac-Vol-1I feel I should start this review with full disclosure.  I do not like the movies of Lars von Trier, I do not like them, Sam I Am.  I find them preposterous, ridiculous, over the top, impossible to connect with emotionally, and, most importantly, just plain boring the vast majority of the time.    I only keep seeing them because of the critical reception his movies receive and the reputation he has within the film community; so I realize that attention must be paid.
But I’m sorry, he just doesn’t work for me. Read the rest of this entry »