Friday, June 28, 2013

The Hero's Journey as Explained by Puppets

This might my my favorite thing this week. I09 brought our attention to this fantastic and HI-larious Glove and Boots video where the puppets Fava and Mario explain Joseph Campbell's Monomyth in the context of several movies, but mostly using Happy Gilmore. The comedy gold comes mostly from them reinacting certain classic movie characters in light of their archetypes.

I would say more about it, but it pretty much speaks for itself! A nice silly thing for your Friday. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fairy Tale Roundup: Casting News for Cinderella and Into the Woods, a "Fairy Tale Wedding," and the International Percy Jackson Trailer

Quick round up! LOTS of casting news coming out of the next two fairy tale films, and I have to say I am pretty excited about this:

Disney's Cinderella Movie
The Cinderella cast for Kenneth Branagh's live action Disney movie is now as follows: Lilly James (Downton Abbey) as Cinderella, Richard Madden (Game of Thrones' Rob Stark) as the Prince, Cate Blanchett as the Wicked Stepmother and now introducing Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother! While I feel it is a little awkward to cast the person whom you cheated on your wife with in yet another movie, casting Helena seems to be a good sign for Cinderella. You will get a very specific kind of fairy godmother out of her. Once Upon a Blog has some great commentary about it, and how, perhaps she will be like our mutual favorite fairy godmother of all time, Annette Crosby in The Slipper and the Rose. She also directed us to The Hero Complex' commentary regarding the casting:
"Though the fairy godmother in the 1950 animated feature was a grandmotherly dumpling, Bonham Carter’s casting would suggest that the updated “Cinderella” might be embracing a darker tone; the actress is known for playing offbeat, exaggerated roles, including the villainous Bellatrix Lestrange in the “Harry Potter” films, the twisted Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” and clownish thief Madame Thénardier in “Les Misérables.”...It’s too early to say whether the film will follow in the whimsical, color-saturated footsteps of “Alice in Wonderland,” or whether it will take a more classic approach, but producers have said they want the film to feel “modern.”"
The cast will also include Sophie McShera (Downton Abby) and Holliday Grainger (The Borgias) as the stepsisters. This movie appears to be using the 1950s Disney movie as their basis, because they call the Stepmother Lady Tremaine, and Sophie McShera's stepsister as Drizella. Not sure how I feel about that. It seems like...I don't want to say "masturbation" when it comes to a Disney movie, but I can't really think of another word for it. [EDIT: Thank goodness for small mercies. Once Upon a Blog has discovered from Variety that Sophie McShera's stepsister name is Noemi.] According to Io9 yesterday, the movie will come out  March 13, 2015.


Into the Woods Movie 
Once Upon a Blog has been scrambling to pin down the cast of Into the Woods, and her research, plus Io9's post this morning has confirmed that Anna Kendrick (squee!) is in talks to be Cinderella. She would be joining James Cordon as the Baker, Emily Blunt as the Baker's Wife, Meryl Streep as the Witch, Johnny Depp as the Wolf, Jake Gyllenhaal as Cinderella's Prince, Chris Pine as Rapunzel's Prince, Tracy Ullman as Jack's mom, and Christine Baranski as the Stepmother. This is a crackerjack cast. Granted Once Upon a Mattress in 2005 had a crackerjack cast too and it went splat, but finger's crossed!


The Concept of the Fairy Tale Wedding
Tales of Faerie reflects on the idea of Fairy Tale Weddings. What does that really mean?
The "fairy tale wedding" is, in theory, the couple's ideal, dream wedding. This coming from the misconception that fairy tales themselves are ideal. And in one sense, the happy endings do generally tend to be ideal, but they're more of a well-deserved rest for the main characters who have been through hell (sometimes literally) and back. But even then, you don't hear much detail about what makes it so happy, or the wedding itself, even though many fairy tales do end with a wedding. Some folktales end with a line about being invited to the wedding, and eating their fill and having wine run over their beards (see my beyond happily ever after post), but I highly doubt this is what bridal stores have in mind when they use the phrase "fairy tale wedding." 
Oh the truthiness of this.


Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters International Trailer
In keeping with my attempt to integrate myth into my blog, here is the international Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters trailer:

I have a confession. I have not read the books. I only saw the first movie in a hotel room because nothing was on....and I LOVED IT. I am ridiculously excited about this movie (partially b/c Nathan Fillion is Hermes). Aside from the storytelling, the main reason I am excited is because the author of the books created the series to break open mythology for teens. To introduce them to the stories and characters. He has Rick Rirodan has another series about Egyptian Mythology, and he is currently writing a series on Norse Mythology. Maybe we can make myths the new popular genre! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

MOVIES: Anna Friel and Ed Speleers play Artemis and Actaeon in a short silent film

I am thinking I might start expanding this blog to mythology as well. Myths and fairy tales go very well together, both ancient stories that we tell over and over, changing them for our purposes, and often living them without knowing it. They both explore what it is to be human.

Here is a beautiful silent short film with Anna Friel (Pushing Daisies, Timeline, Bathory) and Ed Speleers (Downton Abby) depicting an Edwardian retelling of the story of Artemis and Actaeon, based on the Titian painting. For those who don't know the story, Actaeon sneaks a peak at Artemis bathing, and she turns him into a stag and his own dogs tear him to pieces.

The acting in it is superb. You can tell the attention is unwelcome, but in no part is Artemis the victim. She does not hide her body. She can shame him with her glance. The trippy abstraction of her spell makes you wonder if she did turn him into a deer, if she poisoned him, made him hallucinate and killed him, or what? Absolutely stunning visuals.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fairy Tale Roundup: Mercer Meyer's Beauty and the Beast, an eclectic Fairy Tale Film collection, SWATH sequel, and Disney's Frozen

Oh, it makes me so sad that I don't have time for anything more than Fairy Tale Roundups right now! I am in the middle of rehearsing two plays, working my 9-5 and taking two classes for my master's degree, one of which requires me to read two (boo) YA books (yay) a week. I have many interesting ideas in the pipe, I just have to have the time to develop them and write them. In the mean time, I will point you in the direction of the genius of my fairy tale blogging colleagues:

Beauty and the Beast by Mercer Meyer
Tales of Faerie explores the beautiful illustrations of one of my favorite adaptations of Beauty and the Beast, by Mercer Meyer and Marianna Meyer. I love the sumptuous detail of the images! She riffs off of Jerry Griswald's analysis in The Meanings of Beauty and the Beast: A Handbook (which I now have to grab a copy of!)

Once Upon a Blog continues to be a never-ending font of awesome:

A New Journey into Fairy Tale Films from Fandor
Gypsy has discovered an online fairy tale film collection. Discerningly curated, the collection includes a 1902 Jack and the Beanstalk, Betty Boop's Poor Cinderella, the erotic film Cinderella 2000, a stop motion Pied Piper of Hamlin,  a Korean Hansel and Gretel, and Sita Sings the Blues. I know what I will be doing when I have more time!

Snow White Drifts To the Dark Side in SWATH Sequel?
She also tells us of the new Snow White and the Huntsman sequal, and confirms a theory I had when I saw the first one! The evil queen may be gone, but the mirror remains. Power corrupts.

The Snow Queen Cometh
Last, but certainly not least, Gypsy informs us that Frozen, the Disney movie looooooosely based on the Snow Queen, is nigh. She goes into a wonderful analysis of why it could be good, and why it could be bad. I am certainly not heartened by the character portraits. I am interested in the whole 'the Snow Queen is her sister" angle! And Disney's first female director....wha? Isn't it the 2000s? It seems like this should have happened before now. And the talking snowman.... Didn't we learn from Hunchback that you don't need to have the talking inanimate objects to make a good movie?

P.S. Oh god. The trailer is horrible. It is trying to be Ice Age, I guess? We don't get to see any of the characters that actually look interesting, and it tells us nothing about the story:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fairy Tale Roundup: NPR's Ted Radio Hour Explores Storytelling, Vincent Cassell's Beauty and the Beast Movie, Bluebeard and Rape Culture, and a One Thousand and One Nights Adaptation

“Barbe Bleue” by Sorsha

NPR's Ted Radio Hour: Framing the Story
While this is not strictly about fairy tales, NPR's Ted Radio Hour is amazing. This one has several Ted talkers exploring what a story is, how to tell a story, and what is important for a story. Andrew Stanton (the main writer for Pixar), discusses what makes a good story. Tracy Chevalier (writer of Girl with the Pearl Earring) tells how she finds a story in an image. Chip Kidd (book cover creator - Jurassic Park and others) talks about how book covers tell their own story. Chimamanda Adichie (Nigerian author) elegantly examines the dangers of s single story (hearing one story about a place or a person and thinking it is the whole picture (my favorite!)

First Look at Christophe Gans' Beauty & the Beast: "I'll Eat You Up I Love You So"
Once Upon a Blog gives us a first glimpse of the crazy sounding Christophe Gans' Beauty and the Beast. This is the one with Vincent Cassel, not the Disney one with Emma Watson. The image and costumes look traditional, and not very revolutionary, but Gans promises to "surprise the audience by creating a completely new visual universe never experienced before and produce images of an unparalleled quality." It is adapted from the original novella written by Madame de Villeneuve in 1740, rather than the children's version published in 1760. While many novel adaptations have used the novella as inspiration (Beauty by Robin McKinley), apparently this is the first time it has been adapted for the screen. Check out the link for some insightful thoughts from Gypsy.

Of Keys & Bluebeards
Gypsy of Once Upon a Blog reflects on a blog post from by fantasy writer and fairy tale lecturer Theodora Goss, "On Bluebeard" on how men and women will often perceive situations differently. What men may perceive as an easy conversation, women may perceive as a potential threat. Gypsy examines the post in the larger cultural context, and then looks at the situation through the lens of fairy tales:
"Girls and women are taught from an early age to be cautious: "Stay on the path", "Don't talk to strangers" and, unfortunately, this is still the smart thing to do. "Wolves" are bad enough. "Bluebeards" (and Mr. Fox characters) are downright terrifying." 
Not all women may feel this way, but in our current cultural climate, I would not blame them if they did. Walking home late at night, I have often looked at the man following me from the metro as a potential threat, even if he looks like a nice guy. You never want to be wrong. It is unfortunate that fear has made women adopt a "Better Safe than Sorry" stance. Even more unfortunate that Bluebeard and Little Red Riding Hood are still very relevant today.

EDIT: Heidi at SurLaLune has added to the conversation and provided several Bluebeard resources for further reading.

Scheherazade: From Storytelling 'Slave' To 'First Feminist'
To end this on a positive note, here is an NPR interview with Hanan al-Shaykh who has written a new adaptation of One Thousand and One Nights, in which Scheherazade outwits her own Bluebeard figure, the king. The stories she chose to adapt involve women using their wits to survive.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Fairy Tale Roundup: Two Bits of Big TV/ Movie News!

Meghan Ory (Ruby/ Red) is Leaving OUAT
Dear OUAT producers: if you do not play with your toys, you do not get to have them. Meghan Ory was one of the best actresses on the show, and after making her a regular for season 2, they haven't used her significantly since November. No wonder she's leaving to move on to bigger and better things like this:


From the sounds of it, (and through watching the show) Kitsis and Horowitz are trying to do too many things at once. Remember back to the beginning of season 2 with Charming's dad? He's still in town and plotting Charming's death, but it has not been addressed since then. They seem to be distracted by shiny new plots and characters, rather than investing in the solid core of actors and characters they have already. There is so much to mine with Ruby, including developing her friendship with Victor Frankenstein/ Dr. Whale, and not to mention a female werewolf is rarely seen in tv and film and absolutely fantastic. Your loss, OUAT. And ours too.

Fables, the most awesome graphic novel series about fairy tale characters living in the real world (and in my opinion better than OUAT), is going to be made into a movie! 
"The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that A Royal Affair director Nikolaj Arcel (who also penned The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo screenplay) has been tapped to adapt Willingham's Vertigo comic. Which means... it might actually be good. Jeremy Slater, of the Fantastic Four reboot, is penning the project and oh-my-god-all-the-blood-just-rushed-to-my-head-and-I'm-going-to-pass-out."
Start your fantasy casting now! If you are not familiar with the series, I highly recommend it. And I completely echo Io9's freak out: Please be good! Please be good! Please be good! I might have to go home and re-read them all right now.