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.
S4E6: It’s time for the case of the missing coke. It’s time to get in your Mystery Machine for Sons of Anarchy. Scoobie Snacks not included.
“Killing each other ain’t gonna solve anything!”–Clay
Our show begins right where last week’s left off, the Sons and Mayans wondering where the missing key of coke is and the two MCs arguing about it. Mayan president, Alvarez says matter of factly, “it doesn’t matter if it’s a Mayan or a Son; they’re dead.” Clay and Jax rule out Juice (who actually is the coke thief) with a quick discussion and Jax heads off to grab Happy for some of his interrogation tactics. First up for questioning is the Sons’ newest member, Eric Miles. While Happy’s having his fun, the Prospects proclaim their innocence to Clay. Happy’s fun, unbeknownst to the Prospects is just him bashing a hammer onto a table while Miles pretends to squeal in agony. Obviously Juice’s guilt is rising over the missing brick he stole and he thinks his club mates are being tortured for it. Jax forces the Prospects, Phil and Ratboy, into a game of Russian Roulette, and you guessed it: there are no bullets in the gun, it’s all in good fun and it’s all in the name of routing out the yak thief.
“She’s half of Satan’s spawn.”–Gemma
Tig’s daughter, Dawn – “the crazy one” – shows up at Teller–Morrow with some bad news about her sister, Margeaux, who she claims is anorexic. Meanwhile Gemma, Tara, and little Thomas Teller find Ima, the porn star, still at the shop from a night with Opie. Gemma and Tara threaten her and tell her to leave. While Tara briefly thinks Jax cheated on her again, Lyla shows up to ask where Opie is and she realizes that Opie was the one who cheated. Lyla spots the gash’s car, but before Lyla can put the boots to her, Ima pulls a gun and tells Lyla to ask Opie why he cheated instead on her. Tara and Gemma again threaten her, she better keep that gun close. While this is nothing more than a B story, a lot of B stories on the show intersect with the main plots and this one’s no different, forcing Clay, Jax, and Opie to leave the drug warehouse to deal with it. Upon returning, Piney tosses a fist into his son’s face, “Your d**k almost got people killed. I don’t even know who you are anymore.” All this over Lyla taking birth control (which Opie found out about last week); damn right the old man should have punched him. Pulling a gun in a room with a baby is not cool at all. As for Dawn, Bobby gets a hold of Margeaux, who is living happily and healthily in Chicago. Even though Tig learns that she’s drifting him, the thought of seeing his daughter is more important and he gives her the money.
“Knocked up and kidnapped kind of wipes the slate clean. I wouldn’t recommend it as a fix.”–Jax to Opie
Jax and Opie have one of their heart-to-hearts about Opie’s infidelity. Opie isn’t sure about his relationship with Lyla anymore. More importantly, afterwards Tara pours her own heart out to Jax “I’m the mother of your sons, you don’t just hurt me, you hurt all of us.” Gemma in not so many words suggests to her son to shut Ima up, “that wound isn’t going to heal fully. I’d make sure it doesn’t come back.” Sometime later, Opie and Lyla have their tete–a–tete and Lyla tells Opie about her abortion. Opie says he’s going to crash at the clubhouse until Lyla figures out what she wants to do. This is a story that has been ever-present but rarely spoken about: Opie’s continuing decent into the MC and away from any real family. We first met him as family man who was just part of the MC. Then the MC murdered his wife in a hit that was meant for him. He’s been headed down the road to motorcycle madness ever since. The show’s done a good job of portraying these changes ever so slightly and actor Ryan Hurst has done an outstanding job of deftly portraying them. Even though it’s a side story, I’m always pulling for Opie, hoping one day we’ll see him happy again. As for Jax’s part, smashing Ima’s head into a mirror and spitting on her is enough to keep her away.
“Burdens on you to find out the truth, otherwise you’re both dead.”–Chibs
Chibs, Happy, and the two prospects are still in the warehouse and the boys are still being forced to play the Russian roulette bluff. Chibs tells the prospects they had better find out the truth. Back at the club, Miles tells Clay that he checked the tapes and no one entered the warehouse except for their guys. Clay gets the word from Alvarez that he’s questioned his guys and none of the Mayans took the coke. Juice takes one last stab at the Sons’ prospects, telling them that there are guys coming to the warehouse and if the missing kilo isn’t here, it spells trouble for the club. Juice tells the prospects that he, Chibs, and Happy are going to have a smoke and if the missing kilo is around somewhere, “just put it back.” Juice dips away from Chibs and Happy to retrieve the missing key, unfortunately for him, Miles finds him. Instead of trying to talk it out, there’s an all too brief, but violent skirmish that ends with Juice shooting Miles; one of the show’s more gruesome murders of late. It’s bad enough Juice has been living in fear of Sheriff Roosevelt ratting him out to the Sons about his African-American heritage, but now he’s got the guilt of murdering an innocent man and covering his own ass. At least he’s found his scapegoat to blame the missing kilo on. Luckily for him, Chibs and Happy believe his story. Although, the look Chibs gives Juice while he’s getting stitched up would lead you to believe that the ex–IRA member does suspect Juice after all.
“She’s our doc, she’s got a level of access that I’m afraid is going to expose us.”–Clay
When Parada comes to pick up his drugs, Clay meets with him secret, asking him to set up a hit on his soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Hopefully, with Unser still in his back pocket, Clay had him on Tara, but after he meets with Sheriff Roosevelt and explains that Tara is in danger and anonymously puts a threatening letter on his car, it could be that he’s trying warn Tara without giving himself up.
Whew, I’m surprised this wasn’t one of the show’s 90-minute episodes, since there was a lot ground to cover. “With an X,” demonstrated why Sons of Anarchy is so captivating. With very little action, the plot’s drama was at the forefront and was all-engrossing. Even little B stories that seemingly mean nothing feel significant, because on this show the B stories wind up being more important by season’s end. We’ll probably see Dawn again. As for Ima, Jax’s threats will surely rise up again to hurt the club. After all, one of last year’s B-plots resulted in Tara’s kidnapping.
We saw a week of no action, and I’m still pumped up for the next episode. Kudos to creator Kurt Sutter, episode director Guy Ferland, and writers, Chris Collins and Regina Corrado for putting together a fine hour of drama.
Havana Nights is based on the real-life story of co-producer/choreographer JoAnn Jansen who moved to Havana in 1958 with her family and fell in love with the culture and the dancing as well as a Cuban boy. Here Katey Miller (Romola Garai) resents the fact she is being uprooted from her middle-class American life to live in Cuba where her father has taken a prestigious job. The bookish 18-year-old is expected to hang with the other rich American rich kids at the luxurious Havana hotel where she and her family are staying but instead she finds herself drawn to the proud Javier (Diego Luna) a waiter at the hotel. She soon comes to realize that the steamy capital is a hotbed of activity--not only politically as country stands on the brink of revolution but also on the dance floor where the locals including Javier move their bodies in ways Katey never dreamed possible. She wants to learn Javier's slinky salsa moves but in trying to get closer to him she inadvertently gets him fired; since Javier's family relies on his income Katey wants to make good and convinces the Cuban hottie to dance with her in a prestigious national dance competition whose grand prize would set his family straight again. Katey starts lying to her parents and rushing off to practice with Javier. As their passion for one another grows their dance moves begin to meld (sounding familiar?) and when the night of the contest finally arrives Katey and Javier are ready to win unaware that the streets of Havana are about to erupt in revolutionary violence.
Look out! There's a new heartthrob in town and his name is Diego Luna. The Mexican actor who made his mark in the incredibly sexy Y Tu Mama Tambien sizzles as Javier with smoldering eyes a sinewy frame and a killer smile any girl in her right mind would fall for. But Luna isn't just hot; he's also a fairly talented actor if given the right material. Unfortunately Havana Nights isn't really up to snuff. Even still Luna sinks his teeth into a few choice moments especially when Javier tells Katey how his father was killed by the Cuban regime. British actress Garai (I Capture the Castle) isn't nearly as charming a good girl itching to break free as Jennifer Grey was in the original Dirty Dancing but it's hard to take your eyes off her as she comes alive on the dance floor. In supporting roles the lovely Sela Ward (TV's Once and Again) and John Slattery (HBO's K Street) do an admirable job as Katey's parents former dancers themselves who try hard to give their daughter the freedom to express herself. And for all you diehard Dirty Dancing fans watch for a very strategically placed cameo by that movie's star Patrick Swayze.
The original 1987 Dirty Dancing tapped into the American consciousness with its sweet love story set against a backdrop of straitlaced 1963 mores pulsating music and sweaty grinding bodies. Even with all its cheesiness the film has sold over eight million VHS and DVD copies to date. The new movie's setting--1950s Cuba-- works even better than Dirty Dancing's Catskills locale and with even more young hot bodies and hotter Latin music one immediately gets caught up in the rhythm of the film. TV director Guy Ferland (F/X's The Shield) also captures Cuba's lush surroundings transforming the streets of Puerto Rico where the film was primarily shot into old-school Havana. Havana Nights may not however see the same long-term success as its predecessor probably because of the hackneyed script courtesy of Boaz Yakin (director of the illustrious Uptown Girls) and Victoria Arch.
The down-and-dirty groovin' we loved so much in 1987's Dirty Dancing will get a new treatment in a sequel.
Plans for a sequel have been in the works for several years, and now Variety reports TV director Guy Ferland (Ed) will helm the sequel called Havana Nights for Miramax Films/Artisan Entertainment.
Inspired by the original, which starred Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey, Havana Nights is set in 1959 Cuba. A 17-year-old girl moves to the island with her family, and against her family's wishes, falls for a local dancer who opens a world of possibilities beyond her sheltered life--and of course shows her a few hot moves in the process.
Although no one has been cast yet, such stars as Ricky Martin and Natalie Portman have been named as possibilities for the leads.
Production will begin in the fall.