Thursday, September 26, 2013

VIDEO GAMES: A Wolf Among Us, the Fables Video Game Trailer

Yet again, old news, but really exciting! The Fables video game, A Wolf Among Us, has a trailer! No news on when it is coming yet, but the art in the video game holds true to the artistry in the graphic novel. The nature of the game has you making moral choices to get you through the story, and your choices effect the game play and how others respond to you. You must negotiate Fables politics while getting your job done.

Very exciting! I hope they have more news soon!

Video: "Cinderonce" Makes Me Happy

I am catching up from my blackout period, so I know this is old news, but this video is one of my favorite things to come out in fairy tales this year: the story of Cinderella told through Beyonce songs.

It is brought to you by the fantastic artist, Todrick Hall who gave us Beauty and the Beat which went viral a year or two ago, and Cinderfella, a gay take on Cinderella which I had never seen until Once Upon a Blog's post

Everything in Cinderonce is lip syched, except for Todrick's vocals, but honestly, I didn't care! It was part of the homespun charm. It is a testament to how the themes of Cinderella still speak to a modern audience, and how the themes of Beyonce's songs transcend time. :-)

The best part is a cameo by drag queen Shangella as the fairy godmother! She is fabulous and makeovertastic. And Tiffany Daniels rocks the traditional Disney dress as Cinderella. The story is silly and tongue in cheek, but also very heartfelt at times.  

See more about the videos on Once Upon a Blog and Io9.

Here is Beauty and the Beat, a rendition of the song "Belle" set in the 'hood. 

Here is CinderFella, a touching gay retelling of Cinderella with a mix of Disney and modified pop songs (and sassy cameos from other Disney princes and princesses): 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

MOVIES: Into the Woods Pictures and Questions of Form and Style

I was going to save this post for a little later, but there are a whole slew of pictures from filming Into the Woods that have just come out on

Many are of Cinderella's wedding with Prince, Cinderella, Stepmother and a non-Lucy-Punch Stepsister action:

Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine & Company Film INTO THE WOODS Royal WeddingAnna Kendrick, Chris Pine & Company Film INTO THE WOODS Royal Wedding
Anna Kendrick, Chris Pine & Company Film INTO THE WOODS Royal Wedding

Cinderella's dress is beautiful!! And Chris Pine definitely looks charming, if maybe not sincere.

And then we get my beloved James Corden as the Baker and Emily Blunt as a preggers Baker's Wife:

First Look At INTO THE WOODS Movie Cast In Costume!
First Look At INTO THE WOODS Movie Cast In Costume!

This actually brings home something I was going to write about. I was jarred when I saw this tweet from Anna Kendrick a few weeks ago: "Voice lessons, horse riding lessons, corset fittings. It’s like I’m in finishing school except I’ll be back in sweats by Xmas #IntoTheWoods."

I saw "horse riding lessons" and the weight of Into the Woods as a movie really hit home. For me, much of the charm of Into the Woods is the style, the obviously fake cow that eats a shoe, the flat cut out trees that are layered, the strong conceit that we are watching a fairy tale story being told by a storyteller, the Narrator. The idea that Cinderella would be riding a real horse, through presumably a real forest was difficult to swallow.

It brings up the question: how much of what we love about Into the Woods is the content, and how much of it is the form? Can it translate to real trees and real horses and real cows, or will we loose a lot of what we loved about this complex story told in this deceptively simple and homespun environment? 

Along similar lines, I have noticed that they do not have a Narrator listed in the IMDB credits. They do have a Baker's Father, but no Narrator. This may mean they have not cast the role yet. It could mean that, like the film of Sweeney Todd, they chose to get rid of the highly theatrical narrative structure that made the play special. You could certainly tell the content of Into the Woods without the Narrator, all you would need to do is cut one joke. But you would loose the style. 

In addition, I feel that the style and the content are not mutually exclusive. The Narrator sets up your typical fairy tale with his narration, which makes it all the more astonishing when the characters decided to break out of their roles, when the story becomes all too real, when stories begin to have weight and truth that you never realized before: that "children will listen." If the story is told straight out, without the idea that you listening to someone tell you a familiar story, that you are entering into this "Once Upon a Time" world where you know all the comforting rhythms, we will lose much of the weight of Act II.

What do you think? Do the images so far, including the one below, represent what you loved about Into the Woods? I must admit, they made me excited. Here's hoping that we do not loose the style, or the movie is able to create a new style that serves the form and the story. 

First Set Photos From INTO THE WOODS! Rapunzel's Castle, The Woods & More
Rapunzel's Tower Under Construction

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TV: BBC's Atlantis looks like Young Hercules

The trailer for BBC's Atlantis came out a little bit ago, and honestly, the only thing I can see going for it is Mark Addy, Juliet Stevenson and Sarah Parish. Jason, the main character, has almost no palpable personality. Pythagoras could go either way, stereotype or endearing sidekick. It looks like a generic Greece with everyone who has ever been associated with Greece, mythological or otherwise, having a good adventurous romp with McGuffins galore. But perhaps it is just a bad trailer? As the comments say below in the Io9 article, BBC gave us fairly good if a bit hokey adaptations of Merlin and Robin Hood.

Thoughts? Anyone excited about it?

UPDATE: HOLY CRAP! They are either doing a really horrible job marketing this show, or they are geniuses. Jason is possibly a TIME TRAVELER?

Friday, September 20, 2013

ARTICLES: Fairy Tale Class, Unsatisfying Princes, Dancing in Red Hot Shoes, a Fairy Tale Conference, and Fairy Tale Fiction Initiatives!

There has been a lot of juicy fairy tale analysis and scholarship while I was gone! Here are a few meaty tidbits to sink your teeth into.

USF offers it's First MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) in Fairy Tales
At last, you don't need a bagillion dollars to take a college course in fairy tales!  The course is called "Fairy Tales: Origins and Evolution of Princess Stories" will be taught by professor Kevin Yee. Unfortunately, it already began, and we all missed it, but hopefully it bodes well for things to come. You can follow some of the work on Once Upon a Blog. InkGypsy took the course and is providing summaries and thoughts on each of the weeks! Here is her summery of Week 1 - Cinderella (Part 1) which has some really beautiful and insightful reflections from her classmates. Part 2 examine's Disney's Cinderella and it's contribution to the genre. Look for more soon!


The Ending of Cocteau's La Belle et La Bete, and Disney's Beauty and the Beast is Supposed to be Disappointing. 
Once Upon a Blog discovered that, apparently, Cocteau meant for the transformation of the Beast into the prince to be disappointing in his highly influential La Belle et La Bete. He stated in an essay, "My aim would be to make the Beast so human, so sympathetic, so superior to men, that his transformation into Prince Charming would come as a terrible blow to Beauty, condemning her to a humdrum marriage and a future that I summed up in that last sentence of all fairy tales: ‘And they had many children.’” This is emphasized by the fact that the same actor played the transformed beast and the unwanted suitor at the beginning of the film.

Glen Keane, supervising animator for Disney's Beauty and the Beast, who referred to Cocteau's film for inspiration, agreed. "I never referred to him as anything but Beast,’ he answered. ‘To me he’s always been Beast. I always just believed that Belle called him Beast from the moment that he transformed… so whatever his name was before is not important because he was called Beast after that.’ Keane also went on to add, ‘matter of fact, when he changed into the prince, I knew everybody was going to be disappointed by that, because they fall in love with the beast’"



Once Upon a Blog, yet again, great scholar that she is, has researched the history of Snow White's cruel ending, where the evil stepmother is forced to dance in red hot shoes. Check out the link to see the historical torture device that may have inspired her fate. (I always think of this fantastic monologue when I read about the red hot shoes.)


This year's American Folklore Society Conference is focusing on Fairy Tales! It is in Rhode Island from Oct 16-19th if you want to go. Really interesting topics. Click the link to find out more on SurLaLune.


There are also two really exciting initiatives by my fellow fairy tale bloggers. First, Diamonds and Toads has launched Timeless Tales magazine! Each issue focuses on retelling of a specific fairy tale. She also includes a recording of the tale so you can listen to it. 

Something to Read for the Train has launched a similar, but more personal, initiative, A Grimm Project, where she is using each of the 242 Grimm tales as a prompt for her own creative writing! 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

MOVIES: Into the Woods Update

I did not include this in my general movie overview earlier this month because I felt it deserved its own post.

First, there was a huge uproar when we found out that Disney had cast Sophia Grace Brownlee as Little Red Riding Hood, opposite Johnny Depp's wolf. (see Io9's post as well)

Sophia Grace: Little Red Riding Hood in 'Into the Woods'!

1) People were concerned that it was stunt casting, because Sophia Grace is not an actress, but a child celebrity singer. 2) Sophia Grace is 10. I, like many of my colleagues on the internet, had interpreted the "Hello Little Girl" scene between the Wolf and Little Red, and her subsequent song "I Know Things Now," to be about sexual experience. "Hello Little Girl" uses culinary and sexual imagery in the same breath: "Think of that scrumptious carnality twice in one day." "I Know Things Now" describes how she got "excited and scared" when he "drew me close and he swallowed me down down a dark slimy path where lie secrets that I never want to know." It did not help that the wolf costume in the original Broadway production had a phallus, and that Robert Westenburg was highly suggestive:

On the other hand, in his interview for BroadwayWorld in 2011, Sondheim states that the theme of the play is about parents and children. As one of the two active children in the play, having Little Red as an actual child would enhance that theme. Depending on the interpretation, I could see this song played purely as a "beware of strangers" cautionary tale. I hoped that is the direction they were heading when they cast a 10 year old. 


Disney recently swapped Little Reds, replacing 10 year old Sophia Grace with 12 year old Lilla Crawford, a stage actor with several Broadway shows under her belt. 

This certainly addresses the first concern: stunt casting. Yet, however mature Lilla may be, 2 years (though an important 2 years) is not a huge difference. We can safely assume that Disney will not emphasize the sexual nature of the scene, but judging from the change, they are apparently taking the public's concerns into consideration. 

Anyway, you can now see the completed cast list here, which includes most of the people we have seen before, but with one exciting addition: Annette Crosby (the sassy fairy godmother in Slipper and the Rose) will play Little Red's Granny. I am also ecstatic about Lucy Punch playing an evil stepsister, as she seems to have made a living in fairy tale films playing exactly that (and Sally Shepherdess from 10th Kingdom). It also includes character descriptions so you can get a glimpse of what they deem to be the essence of the character.

ART: The Tragedy of the Three Little Pigs

Fun small post while everything is crazy. There is a consistently clever blog on Tumblr called Tragedy Series who comes up with very unique tragedies to mourn. This is one of my favorite:

Heed the warning of this tale.

Monday, September 16, 2013

BOOK REVIEW: Stung by Bethany Wiggins

"As I jump out the window, I glance over my shoulder. The window frames a face with smooth skin and hollow cheeks -- a boy on the brink of manhood. He peels his lips back and growls, and I stare into his brown eyes. For a moment it is like looking into a mirror and I almost say his name. Until I realize his eyes are wild and feral, like an animal's...As I sprint across the empty schoolyard, past the silent, rusted playground, I dare a look over my shoulder. My brother is hobbling toward the fence, his angle hanging at an odd angle to his leg. His eyes meet mine and he holds a hand up to me, a plea to come back. A sob tears at my chest, but I look away and keep running."

Fiona wakes up in her bedroom. Everything is covered in dust. The world around her is lifeless, and there is a tattoo on her right hand. She is 4 years older than she was when she fell asleep. She steps into a world divided, where those bearing the tattoo must live outside the wall because they are infected with a deadly disease that could turn them at any moment into mindless beastly killing machines. Those within the wall are safe, but at what cost? When Fiona is captured by the militia, she is marked as a Level Ten, the deadliest of all the infected. Yet, she feels normal. As flashes of memories come back to her, she and her former classmate Bowen, now a hardened militia man, must discover her secret before it is too late.

To see what I thought of this Sleeping Beauty adaptation, go to my other blog: Palimpsest

BOOK REVIEW: Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

by Marissa Meyer

“A sickening howl stopped her, sucking the air out of her lungs. 
The night's chatter silenced, even the loitering city rats pausing to listen.
Scarlet had heard wild wolves before, prowling the countryside in search of easy prey on the farms.
But never had a wolf's howl send a chill down her spine like that.” 

This second book in the Lunar Chronicles follows a delivery girl named Scarlet whose grandmother has been missing for two weeks. The police have given up, but she tenaciously searches for clues. When she meets a young, handsome, ambiguously affiliated street fighter, Wolf, who might hold the key to her grandmother's disappearance, they embark on a journey that might save her grandmother, or doom Scarlet to the same fate. In the mean time, Cinder (protagonist of the last book), is breaking out of prison with the charming, but rather self absorbed Captain Thorne. And poor Prince Kai is left to deal with the evil Lunar Queen alone. 

To see what I thought of it, check out my other blog, Palimpsest! (HINT: I thought it was awesome.)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


My goodness. It has been a while since I have posted. I blame Master's Degree, Sickness, Vacation and First Week of School. Lots to catch up on, so lets get down to it. My first installment will be regarding all the fairy tale movies coming up.

H&G: a modern day retelling of Hansel and Gretel. 
"...I have always been struck by this fable’s portrayal of adult women. The stepmother and the witch are portrayed as heartless villains. Whereas the father, although also complicit in the abandonment of the children, is portrayed as caring and loveable. In reading about the history of the tale, I discovered that Wilhelm Grimm revised the traditional tale several times. He changed the mother character into a stepmother and he also made her less sympathetic. According to folklorist Jack Zipes, Wilhelm Grimm “deepened the characterization of the father and stepmother so that he becomes much more caring and concerned about the children and she becomes more coldhearted and cruel.” This sharp gender dichotomy, this demonization of the adult female characters, was an element of the story that I wanted to explore and challenge. 

This was my starting place for writing H&G." - Danishka Esterhazy, Writer (Begins touring to film festivals Fall 2013)

Hallmark Transforming "Mirror Mirror" Comic Into Family Movie "The Hunters"
"Hallmark Released Synopsis: Carter and Jordyn Flynn (Payne, Forbes) aren't the average mom and dad. For them, a typical workday can take place anywhere in the world, raiding ornate museums and evading pursuing authorities as Hunters, protectors of powerful fairy tale artifacts that are anything but make believe. (Edit FTNH: Definitely sounds like a special annex of Warehouse 13!)" Victor Garber and Michelle Forbes will star.

This sounds right up my alley! I love me some Warehouse 13. Hallmark does not instill a lot of confidence, based on it's past movies (aside from it's Snow Queen), but it could be really cool! I certainly want to read the graphic novel now.

What a Fables Movie Must Have, According to Creator Mark Buckingham
"I think if it doesn't have Snow White and Bigby [Wolf] in it, then... [that's a problem]. They were such a core element of the first 50 issues of the story. So I think their romance, their relationship, is a really core aspect of the series. Beyond that, the beauty of Fables is it has such a rich cast, and you can really cherry-pick a lot of different aspects from it, and create a really good story, even if you don't necessarily follow the entire narrative."

Maleficent First Footage Reactions and Full Cast
"Maleficent is the untold story of Disney’s most iconic villain from the 1959 classic “Sleeping Beauty.” A beautiful, pure-hearted young woman, Maleficent has an idyllic life growing up in a peaceable forest kingdom, until one day when an invading army threatens the harmony of the land. Maleficent rises to be the land’s fiercest protector, but she ultimately suffers a ruthless betrayal—an act that begins to turn her pure heart to stone. Bent on revenge, Maleficent faces an epic battle with the invading king’s successor and, as a result, places a curse upon his newborn infant Aurora. As the child grows, Maleficent realizes that Aurora holds the key to peace in the kingdom—and perhaps to Maleficent’s true happiness as well." (Full Cast)

First Footage Reactions from ScreenCrush: "To give you some idea of what was shown, it imagines the famous Christening scene of baby Aurora. The three fairies (Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather) fly to the castle, ready to bestow their gifts on the child. As soon as the green fairy, Fauna, is about to present hers, the candles are snuffed out and a dark whirlwind heralds the evil witch herself. “Well, well,” says Jolie, accompanied by a villainous, whispered cackle. Scenes flash forward as we see Aurora growing up into her teenage self, while Maleficent, engulfed in a green flame, casts the famed curse we can all probably recite from memory." (More from Once Upon a Blog)

Channing Tatum's Bizarre New Look in the Wachowskis' Jupiter Ascending

Tatum Channing's Werewolf Assassin in Jupiter Ascending
In this sci-fi version of Snow White, Tatum Channing plays the Huntsman character, an albino assassin half-wolf. In Channing's own words, "I’m a splice, splices are essentially built in a test tube. I’m a hybrid wolf and human. And half albino, so I’m a little defective."

I am rather excited for this, but I hope it doesn't mean we can't have a Cinder movie too.

Disney's Next Animated Feature (Unofficially) is Giants
They are apparently doing to "Jack and the Beanstalk" what they did for Tangled and Frozen, which was highly successful in Tangled, but debatable in Frozen. There are so many plot details over at Once Upon a Blog, so please go over there and see them! The pics on the blog are not from Giants, however!