Saturday, December 8, 2012

SCN opens with Pablo Berger's (and Spain's Oscar-entry) BLANCANIEVES

A much more genuine "silent film" (if that's what you want) than last year's The Artist, Spain's entry into the Best Foreign Language Film "Oscar" race, BLANCANIEVES, is the real thing, all right, succeeding both as an homage to "silents" and -- because of its ambition and insight, not to mention what movies are capable of technically these days -- a truly new creation all its own.

Retelling the Snow White fairy-tale while giving it a decidedly Spanish spin, writer/
director Pablo Berger (who, nearly a decade ago offered up his only other full-length feature,
the great Torremolinos 73), combines the customs of Spain (bullfighting, anyone?) with the story's own identifying objects (a wicked stepmother gloriously played by Maribel Verdú, above) into a Grimm stew of dark and delightful variations on the original and already dark fairy tale's themes.

If you didn't get the chance to see this film at Spanish Cinema Now (SCN), never fear. Cohen Media Group has picked  it up for U.S. distribution in early 2013; at its opening I'll have more to say about this very special film. For now let me just mention that you can indeed take the kids to see it -- so long as they can read the subtitles. While it goes into adult areas (Stepmom's into S&M!), it does so fleetingly and "tastefully," as becomes a silent movie. And it is consistently suggestive rather than coarse in its visuals (the gorgeous black-and-white cinematography is by Kiko de la Rica of The Last Circus) -- never more so than in its amazing final scene.

Here, Berger takes a magnificent leap, and what has heretofore been a lovely retelling of an old tale transforms into... oh, god, so many possibilities that I must see the film again to re-discover. You're going to have to open up a discussion with your kids about this scene and what it means. But it'll be worth it. You'll all learn and grow and be made aware again (maybe for the first time for those kids) of what movies are very occasionally capable.

Spanish Cinema Now has just begun. There is lots to come, so click here to see the whole schmear.

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