Film review: ‘Blancanieves’

Maribel Verdu vamps up a storm in the faux-silent film "Blancanieves." Credit: Cohen Media Group/Yuko Harami
Maribel Verdu vamps up a storm in the faux-silent film “Blancanieves.”
Credit: Cohen Media Group/Yuko Harami

‘Blancanieves’
Director: Pablo Berger
Stars: Sofia Oria, Maribel Verdu
Rating: PG-13
2  (out of 5) globes

Before “The Artist,” faux-silent cinema had one regular practitioner: Guy Maddin, the Canadian mad scientist who — with “The Heart of the World” and “Cowards Bend the Knee” — always kept cult viewers fat on spastic homages to Soviet montage and German mountain films. Pablo Berger’s “Blancanieves” was in production at the same time as “The Artist.” Though it won many awards in its native Spain, there’s not a chance any producer would have successfully rammed this down Oscar voter throats. But it’s closer to the Best Picture winner than to a Maddin whatzit, which is to say it’s a reminder that not all of the period’s entries, as with any era, were winners.

That’s not for lack of trying. Berger’s film cites the Grimms’ “Snow White” as its source, but it tries its best to cover those tracks. It takes 55 minutes for Snow stand-in Carmencita (Sofia Oria as an adult) to almost get gouged by an assassin and happen upon a septet of dwarves (one a transvestite, natch). Before then our heroine’s backstory is relentlessly upchucked. The daughter of a famed bullfighter, she’s placed in the care of a duplicitous nurse (Maribel Verdu, of “Y Tu Mama Tambien), who proves — like Julia Roberts in “Mirror Mirror” and Charlize Theron in “Snow White and the Huntsman” — to be the aging-but-still-hotcha queen.

Upon escaping her clutches, Carmencita finds herself adopting her father’s trade. That Snow White now has a job, and a pretty manly job, makes it less sexist than the Grimms original (as well as the other recent Snow White “twists”). It grants autonomy to a character who is typically reliant on men at all turns. And Oria does a mighty bullfighter strut that’s right for the hyperbole of silent cinema.

The same goes for Verdu, who vamps up a storm. Someone has to. For a film that rounds up the Brothers Grimm, bullfighting, dwarves and a nearly century-old filmmaking style, “Blancanieves” is surprisingly sedate, calmly plowing through its mixed-up narrative. One could say that’s accurate, that silents aren’t as hysterical as legend would have them. (Some of the period’s best, Mary Pickford and Buster Keaton among them, relied on the subtlest of physical expressions.) But if ever there was material that cried out for the era’s more kinetic techniques — if not an outright debasement, a la Guy Maddin — it’s a fractured fairy tale that upends gender roles.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Hurricane Odile batters Mexico's Baja resorts, sparks looting

Hurricane Odile injured dozens of people, forced the evacuation of thousands and smashed shops open to looters in the popular tourist area of Baja, Mexico.

National

Apple iPhone 6 pre-orders hit record 4 million…

By Lehar Maan(Reuters) - Apple Inc said many customers will need to wait until next month for their new iPhones after a record 4 million…

National

LAPD investigates complaint from detained 'Django' actress

The LAPD is investigating after "Django Unchained" actress Daniele Watts accused police of violating her rights when they detained her.

Local

Number of New York City smokers increase, topping…

For the first time since 2007, there are  more than one million smokers in New York City, according to the New York City Department of…

Movies

Newsflash: Corey Stoll is still not a man

In director Shaun Levy's "This Is Where I Leave You," Corey Stoll stars as the oldest of four adult children (the others are played by…

Movies

If you don't like Simon Pegg's new film,…

Simon Pegg goes all out in "Hector and the Search for Happiness" as the titular psychiatrist stymied by modern life who embarks on a globetrotting…

Arts

Art in Chelsea: Don't miss these 3 galleries

We selected three sure bets for seeing cool art in the galleries of Chelsea.

Music

Robin Thicke blurs lines further with new 'Blurred…

"The reality is," said Robin Thicke about "Blurred Lines" in a court deposition, "Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

NFL

Tom Coughlin says Giants 'beat themselves' against Cardinals

Head coach Tom Coughlin, who had a day to cool off and reflect, still sounded like he had a gnawing feeling in his gut.

NFL

Marty Mornhinweg accepts blame for Jets timeout fiasco

Jets fans looking for a scapegoat for Sunday’s timeout fiasco found a willing party on Monday: Marty Mornhinweg.

NFL

3 things we learned in Jets loss to…

The wheels came off for the Jets, who gave up 21 unanswered points after a brilliant first 20 minutes in a 31-24 loss at the Packers.

NFL

Victor Cruz catches case of the drops in…

The Giants dropped a tough, 25-14, decision to the undermanned Cardinals Sunday in their home opener. And drop was the operative word of the day,…

Travel

World's most hipster cities: Top 5

Travel blogger Adam Groffman tells us his picks for the Top 5 most hipster cities in the world.

Education

The top 5 regrets recent high school grads…

College application season can seem like a blur for many students - as test prep, campus visits and filling out a seemingly endless stream of…

Parenting

Tech execs tend to limit their kids' screen…

You probably got your iPad before Bill Gates's kids did.

Wellbeing

Wellbeing: Daybreaker returns, Ray Rice jersey trade, Sweet…

  Now that Ray Rice is no longer with the Baltimore Ravens — or any other NFL team — after video footage surfaced showing him…