Friday, March 13

REVIEW: Cinderella

Directed by Kenneth Branagh
2015 Family Romance Drama
1 hour 52 minutes
From Disney Studios

Lily James
Cate Blanchett
Richard Madden
Stellan Skarsgård
Derek Jacobi
Nonso Anozie
Sophie McShera
Holliday Grainger
Ben Chaplin
Hayley Atwell
Helena Bonham Carter

Frankly this isn't so much a movie review as it is sharing about my morning.  Nowhere was it on my radar that I would be seeing Cinderella (although, um... gulp!... I did think the previews looked kinda sweet, you know, in that family-Disney sort of way).  And if by chance I would have planned to go see it would I even consider asking my partner to accompany me.  With the raise of an eyebrow and a slightly raised voice, he would have muttered some sort of expletive right before the word no.  And yet...

I asked him if he wanted to accompany me to another movie.  It wasn't until we were standing in a short line at the ticket booth and looking up at the marquee that I realized the movie we wanted to see wasn't listed.  The nice young man selling the tickets told me it's opening next Friday.  Ooops.  What to do now?  Here we are... as adrift as Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger but I'm ready to see a movie.  I don't think I should have to tell you that going back home was not an option.  And I'd had breakfast.  And I don't go shopping.  It was foolish to suggest we see Fifty Shades of Grey again (can I even mention that in a review of a Disney film... what am I thinking?) because I knew my partner would put the quick kibosh to that.   It matters to him that we just saw it a couple of weeks back.  And nothing else rattled my cage so I drew myself up, puffed out my chest and heard myself say... what about Cinderella?

Ok, there was no expletive but I did pretty clearly hear not on your life.  At our ages we no longer talk that way so I immediately understood something pretty clearly... he did not want to see Cinderella

Well, I didn't either but it was in my head to see some damned movie and my mind was racing trying to think of things to, um, gently coax him into giving in.  We've been thisclose for 38 years and I've paid attention to my relationship and have learned a thing or two.

Cate Blanchett is the wicked stepmother.  Y'know how we both love her so much.  Always makes good choices in her films.  I looked at him square on.

You hated Babel, he rightly said.  And that thing where she played Bob Dylan.  He thought he had me.

Well, that's two flicks out of how many?  And we've probably seen them all

But Cinderella?  Really

By now we were ready to be served and when the kid asked for which movie, I blurted out Cinderella and looked at my partner who was rolling his eyes.  Bet we'll be the only pair of guys who buys tickets for Cinderella, I said to the kid as I handed him my $10.  Wouldn't surprise me at all, he chirped.

I could tell my partner wasn't convinced this was a smart move as we headed for theater 11.  So I asked Cate to stretch out her arms while I piled on that Disney does great stuff like this, the costumes and the music will likely be wonderful, it might be fun to see just one film with no swear words, it will be colorful.  There was no reaction.  Then I added my final touch... if this wouldn't turn his head, nothing would.  Didja know the title star and one of the wicked stepsisters are both on Downton Abbey?  Huh?  Huh?

Oh yeah?... This chirp was perkier.  Oh maybe this will work out.

Why aren't these kids in school, he said, as we took to our seats.  Our 10:45 Friday matinee wasn't SRO but the ones who were in attendance seemed to all be 11-13-year old girls.  Did they cut school to see Cinderella?  Really?  So here we were, two older types sitting among young teenage girls.  It just didn't seem right.

Ok, I liked it.  It was beautiful to view.  The locations admittedly are helped along with some CGI but what my eyeballs were absorbing produced utter satisfaction.  The musical score by Patrick Doyle, I hope, will garner an Oscar nomination.  It was exquisite... just as one expects from those Disney folks.  If the film isn't completely forgotten by next year's Oscars, then Sandy Powell's costumes should set the guidelines.  Damn if that blue ball gown seen in all the ads isn't a beautiful piece of brilliant work.  I wonder if it's available in very tall.  Oh, I'm kidding... I'm kidding.  Please, what do you take me for?

Blanchett was good, properly disagreeable throughout but, let's face it, this must have been like a holiday for her.  Her acting genius was hardly tapped.  Lily James (Rose on DA) radiated the blonde charm the role requires and Richard Madden is winning as the prince.  I seem to remember the stepsisters as being a bit nastier in previous incarnations.

My favorite part involved a dolled-up and blonded Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother.  I had no idea she could be so fetching.  Let's get hair and makeup an Oscar, too.  Wow.  Her brief turn at wizardry transforming a pumpkin into a gilded coach, mice into spirited white horses and a virtual scullery maid into the belle of the ball was great fun.

I admit to feeling a bit cheated that the ball itself didn't amount to as much screen time as I felt it should have. 

If I had a larger complaint, I suppose it would be why was there a need to do the Cinderella story again?  I saw previews of (Peter) Pan and ask myself the same thing.  Why?  Who isn't completely familiar with these stories?   I've seen Kenneth Branagh on a couple of clips and he appears to have wet himself from the excitement of doing this.  Really?  Nothing else been capturing your imagination, lately, Olde Stick, say what?  How about striking out in virgin territory?  Maybe a musical on climate change.

I thought my partner got through it just fine.  This will tarnish neither his weekend nor his retirement.  As we were walking out, we saw a poster of Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer from the upcoming The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (talk about unoriginal).  Not only was I unaware of that movie or that pairing, but I think they are two of the handsomest actors working today... and in one film...!  Boy, I would love to ask the manager if I could buy that poster when they no longer need it, I gushed to my partner.  But what would I tell him, how would I say it? 

Just tell him you'd like it and that you've just gotten out of seeing Cinderella, he said.  He'll understand.  I'll be in the car.

The Rogue Movie Star