Cinderella: You’ll Believe in Magic Again

It takes a special type of magic to take something familiar and transform it into something extraordinary. And that is precisely what Kenneth Branagh did with his live-action adaptation of Disney’s Cinderella. To use a metaphor: the fabric of the story remains familiar, but with re-tailoring, it becomes something new and beautiful. This is exactly the Cinderella you know , no twists or turns: from the fairy godmother all the way down to the chubby mouse friends of Cinderella, the glass slippers, the handsome prince and all of the known story beats remain the same. However, this is all elevated by Kenneth Branagh’s direction and Chris Weitz’s sharply written script.. Branagh is know for lavish theatrical experiences that elevate expectations and Weitz is known for young adult fiction and film and together the interpretation they make of the fairy tale feels very much current, smart and timeless all at once.

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Kingsman: The Secret Service – Mean Spirited Satire in an imppecably Tailored Blockbuster

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Filmmaker Matthew Vaughn went and transformed himself from a producer and filmmaker in the shadow of peer Guy Ritchie, to a director-for-hire to a genuine auteur. Don’t get me wrong, his previous efforts such as the underappreciated Layer Cake, the quintessential superhero flick X-Men First Class and the anarchic Kick-Ass were all enjoyable and showed off an impeccable sense of filmmaking craft. As great as his films were, none ever seemed to elevate themselves beyond pop movie. That is until he decided to repurpose an old Mark Millar spy comic called The Secret Service and create one of the meanest, irreverent and cynical satirical work since Paul Verhoven’s Starship Troopers. Kingsman: The Secret Service is violent, chaotic and angry, it uses the framework of a blockbuster James Bond parody for the purpose of angrily indicting issues of elitism, male privilege, and many others. The secret genius behind this film is that it does such a good job as a finely tailored example of the very things it aims its vitriol at that it can be easily mistaken as a celebration of those terrible things. The movie is too self-aware to be taken at its face value, and like the best satirical works, it never lets the audience off the hook.

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