Theatrics slapstick and cheer are cinematic qualities you rarely find outside the realm of animation. Disney perfected it with their pantheon of cartoon classics mixing music humor spectacle and light-hearted drama that swept up children while still capturing the imaginations and hearts of their parents. But these days even reinterpretations of fairy tales get the gritty make-over leaving little room for silliness and unfiltered glee. Emerging through that dark cloud is Mirror Mirror a film that achieves every bit of imagination crafted by its two-dimensional predecessors and then some. Under the eye of master visualist Tarsem Singh (The Fall Immortals) Mirror Mirror's heightened realism imbues it with the power to pull off anything — and the movie never skimps on the anything.
Like its animated counterparts Mirror Mirror stays faithful to its source material but twists it just enough to feel unique. When Snow White (Lily Collins) was a little girl her father the King ventured into a nearby dark forest to do battle with an evil creature and was never seen or heard from again. The kingdom was inherited by The Queen (Julia Roberts) Snow's evil stepmother and the fair-skinned beauty lived locked up in the castle until her 18th birthday. Grown up and tired of her wicked parental substitute White sneaks out of the castle to the village for the first time. There she witnesses the economic horrors The Queen has imposed upon the people of her land all to fuel her expensive beautification. Along the way Snow also meets Prince Alcott (Armie Hammer) who is suffering from his own money troubles — mainly being robbed by a band of stilt-wearing dwarves. When the Queen catches wind of the secret excursion she casts Snow out of the castle to be murdered by her assistant Brighton (Nathan Lane).
Fairy tales take flack for rejecting the idea of women being capable but even with its flighty presentation and dedication to the old school Disney method Mirror Mirror empowers its Snow White in a genuine way thanks to Collins' snappy charming performance. After being set free by Brighton Snow crosses paths with the thieving dwarves and quickly takes a role on their pilfering team (which she helps turn in to a Robin Hooding business). Tarsem wisely mines a spectrum of personalities out of the seven dwarves instead of simply playing them for one note comedy. Sure there's plenty of slapstick and pun humor (purposefully and wonderfully corny) but each member of the septet stands out as a warm compassionate companion to Snow even in the fantasy world.
Mirror Mirror is richly designed and executed in true Tarsem-fashion with breathtaking costumes (everything from ball gowns to the dwarf expando-stilts to ridiculous pirate ship hats with working canons) whimsical sets and a pitch-perfect score by Disney-mainstay Alan Menken. The world is a storybook and even its monsters look like illustrations rather than photo-real creations. But what makes it all click is the actors. Collins holds her own against the legendary Julia Roberts who relishes in the fun she's having playing someone despicable. She delivers every word with playful bite and her rapport with Lane is off-the-wall fun. Armie Hammer riffs on his own Prince Charming physique as Alcott. The only real misgiving of the film is the undercooked relationship between him and Snow. We know they'll get together but the journey's half the fun and Mirror Mirror serves that portion undercooked.
Children will swoon for Mirror Mirror but there's plenty here for adults — dialogue peppered with sharp wisecracks and a visual style ripped from an elegant tapestry. The movie wears its heart on its sleeve and rarely do we get a picture where both the heart and the sleeve feel truly magical.
Awards season is a veritable smorgasbord of red carpet fashion. Stars bring out the big guns and riskier styles, knowing that now more than ever, all eyes are on them. And no red carpets are more memorable that the yearly Globes and Oscars walks. The fun-loving, younger sibling Globes has already paraded its fashion offerings before us, and this Sunday, Feb. 26, it’s the Oscars turn and the biggest question on many of our minds is: what will everyone wear? Well, with the help of acclaimed fashion designer Marc Bouwer and stylist to the stars Robert Verdi, we’re taking a look at red carpet patterns from years past and this year’s trends to prepare ourselves for the gamut of Oscar gowns.
Every year, we spy an array of disparate, risky, and colorful Globes gowns and by the time we get to the Oscars a month later, our favorite stars have whittled those experiments down to a more polished, austere look for biggest night in Hollywood. Part of that stems from the fact that the Globes are simply more laid back, like a Sunday night dinner party for the A-list, whereas the Oscars is more of an honorable ceremony and the big parties come afterward.
For high res images click on the image to visit our Golden Globes gallery.
No stranger to dressing stars for the red carpet (just ask Melissa Leo’s 2011 Oscars dress, which he designed), Bouwer helped us hone in on some of the differences between the ceremonies: “There are probably brighter colors worn to the Globes. People take a little more of a risk because it’s more casual,” he said. In fact, just looking through last year's photos, those elements are clear. In 2011 we found Michelle Williams taking a risk with a juvenile daisy frock at the Globes, and following it up with a demure, effervescent ivory Chanel gown at the Oscars. Natalie Portman also got a little more playful at the Globes, showing off her baby bump with a ballerina pink dress with ruby red rose detail, and toning it down with a gorgeous, mature royal purple gown for the Academy.
Even Scarlett Johansson made sleeker choices when it came time for the Oscars, eschewing her risky and polarizing windswept updo for a sleeker, more modern bob. Verdi explains the shift, "Oscar fashion is always more dramatic and glam and amped up than the Globes. At the Globes, the stars get to have more fun with what they wear." The Globes are the place for the dramatic and risky – Anne Hathaway’s head to toe nude sequins and January Jones’ racy, revealing scarlet dress would be huge risks for the Oscars, but at the Globes, they fit right in. And as Bouwer sees it, that’s because the stars “save the best for last.” He said stars “really zero in on the style that is their favorite for the Oscars, and their second choice is for the Globes.” Perhaps that’s why the Oscars often see such classic lines, like Jennifer Lawrence’s simple, yet eye-opening red gown or Mila Kunis’ delicate, feminine lavender dress. While there’s certainly a bit of a pattern for 2011’s shifts from Globes to Oscars looks, in 2012 things seem to be a little more complicated. Looking through the looks from this year’s Globes, we see a great deal of risk – a symptom Bauer attributes to a larger shift. “There is definitely a futuristic move in fashion,” Bouwer said, adding, “…the shoulders and the sleeve treatment, the geometric cuts, the asymmetry, the sharpness of silhouettes. These are the people leading fashion in a new direction.” That futuristic look was rampant at the Globes this year. From Salma Hayek’s geometric, glistening bustier, to Rooney Mara’s severe, yet elegant black dress, to Emma Stone’s hipster glam blood red gown – edgier was better at this year’s Globes. For high res images, click on the photo to visit our 2012 Globes gallery. Of course, two stars in particular really shined in that arena: Angelina Jolie and Tilda Swinton. Angie donned a floor length white silk gown that hugged every inch of her svelte shape. It was demure and expected, except for one crucial element: the pop of red peeking out at the top of her dress. “The slash of red makes this dress look very modern,” said Bouwer. “It still has that old world glamour and romanticism, but it’s vampy and it’s clean.” It’s no wonder Jolie topped countless best-dressed lists. Swinton’s androgynous, yet romantic look had fashion experts talking for weeks: she combined the romantic mermaid silhouette and soft light blue tone with her signature, more severe tailoring with the tuxedo jacket on top. “That is architecture and romanticism coming together absolutely beautifully,” said Bouwer. But how will these edgier looks inform Oscars fashion? Last year, a few risk takers braved more innovative looks on the red carpet, and Verdi sees that trend continuing, "I think that for The Oscars we'll see an eclectic assortment of styles, some futuristic and some modern," he said. In fact, Cate Blanchett’s white, structured and embellished frock arrested everyone’s attention in 2011, drawing awe and ire alike. Melissa Leo followed up her architectural, black 2011 Globes dress with another structured and polarizing gown. Those dresses were not just a few risky flukes. Bouwer sees us shifting towards more futuristic fashion: “It started with Gaga…the essence of that is filtering down into wearable sophisticated style,” he said. And with the edgier looks moving to the forefront of fashion - both Bouwer and Verdi name avant garde "it" girl Rooney Mara as one of Hollywood's top fashionistas - we could be in for a very interesting red carpet come Sunday’s “ultimate fashion show.” Besides the only dresses that are still talked about for years to come are the ones that shocked us. Stars would be wise to take a little more risk. For high res images, click on the photo to visit our 2011 Oscars gallery.
And as Verdi puts it, "A lot of women want to be noticed as great tastemakers and trendsetters and fashion leaders and therefore they try to find a gown that suits not only their personal image but their idea of what beauty, glamour, and star style is." As lovely as Amy Adams looked in her demure navy Oscars gown and as lovely as Michelle Williams was in a glittery Chanel dress in 2011, all we could talk about was Blanchett’s revolutionary silhouette or Mila Kunis' daring neckline. After all, the Oscars ceremony is the perfect time to make a statement – it’s one night when the whole world stops to admire Hollywood royalty in their finest. But no matter what the outcome – geometric cuts, romantic princess gowns, or boring old strapless getups – we’ll have plenty to talk about come carpet time.
Did you like Easy A? Specifically, did you like the tone of the film, courtesy of rising comedy director Will Gluck and its star Emma Stone? In all probability, you did. The high school-set contemporary rehash of The Scarlet Letter was a riotous good time that has gotten almost universal praise and made Stone a household name. It’d be kind of hard not to like either of them. Well do I have good news for you...they’re re-teaming for another movie!
According to Screen Gems (the division of Sony Pictures that is responsible for the $65 million hit) topper Clint Culpepper, “Will and Emma blossomed in Easy A, which was easily the most well-liked and best critiqued movie Screen Gems has made. To have them want to team again at Screen Gems makes me the happiest and luckiest guy in the business. I’d have had to pour a glass of iced tea over his head had he tried to go anywhere else.” Sounds like Culpepper is very enthusiastic about this dynamic duo and won't short change the new project, whatever it turns out to be.
Word on the street is that Gluck will script the film while he edits Friends With Benefits, his Justin Timberlake/Mila Kunis comedy due in theaters July 22nd. Production could very well start before then if all goes smoothly. Of course, Stone's busy schedule is a major factor in the start date. She's just about finished with DreamWorks' period drama The Help and will soon start on Marc Webb's Spider Man reboot. Rumor has that she is also attached to Sony's 21 Jump Street reboot, which would go before cameras in the spring just after Spider-Man wraps. My guess is that the new movie will shoot after all that, making Stone one of Sony's star players and her fans very happy campers!