Cinderella

An excellent palate cleanser after Tomorrowland, this is that rare fantasy film aimed at children which can be enjoyed by adults as a simple, good-hearted entertainment.  This live-action remake of Disney’s animated version is directed by Kenneth Branagh, and features a number of high-quality actors having a wonderful time chewing scenery.  Standouts include Cate Blanchett, who plays the evil stepmother as a 19th C version of Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity; Helena Bonham-Carter as the wonderfully ditzy fairy godmother, and Derek Jacobi (!) as the king.  Lily James (Rose in Downtown Abbey) and Richard Madden (Robb Stark) have wonderful chemistry together, which I defy you to resist.  (Even Blanchett has a hint of a smile in the ballroom scene.)  Cinderella’s 40-layer dress is a wonder in itself — I understand several copies were made at different lengths, depending on how much running Cinderella had to do in various scenes.  Cinematography is also top-notch — some scenes were shot at Blenheim Palace, home of the Churchill family and one of the grandest country homes in England.  And there’s a minimum of Disney kitsch, although the studio’s considerable experience with animatronic animals is used to good effect.

No violence, but plenty of ugly stepsister cackling and bad guy mustache-twirling.  No sex, unless you count the skintight pants worn by many of the male characters.  No fart jokes.

Fun fact:  Richard Madden and Lily James, this film’s protagonists, are scheduled to play Romeo and Juliet in an upcoming theatrical production directed by Branagh.  Could be good.

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