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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Midnight is just the beginning

I am unashamedly, unabashedly sentimental about all things Disney.

My strongest memory of the 1964 World's Fair is riding "It's a Small World".

The very first movie I ever saw in a movie theater was Mary Poppins.

Sleeping Beauty was re released when I was in college, and I dragged a group of friends off campus to the local movie theater so that I could get my "fix". (I kind of think they all enjoyed it.)

Hearing "When You Wish Upon A Star" leaves me teary-eyed.

But Cinderella holds a special place in my heart.

When I was a little girl, my Aunt Eileen would sing "A Dream Is A Wish". I can still hear her voice in my head. And when we drove up to the Catskills, where my grandmother rented a bungalow every summer, she'd point to the castle in Tarrytown -- the one you can see just before you get onto the Tappan Zee Bridge -- and tell us "That's where Cinderella lives."

That Cinderella, she really gets around these days. She pops up in lots of movies, doesn't she? Ever After. And  Ella Enchanted. We saw her on Broadway not too long ago, in the revival of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, and she's currently off Broadway in the Roundabout's Into the Woods.

But on Saturday night we got a treat, seeing her in Disney's new live action movie. The film takes its storyline from the 1950 animated classic. A very straightforward telling of the classic fairytale. Cinderella's widowed father, a merchant, marries a widow with two daughters of her own. The stepmother and stepsisters are cruel to Cinderella, begin treating her like a servant in her own home even before her father dies. An invitation to a ball, some magic from a fairy godmother, a charming prince, a pair of amazing shoes. A happy ending. No weird twist to the story, no attempt to "modernize" the tale.

My favorite performances in this movie weren't the leads, though Lily James and Richard Madden make a cute couple. I really loved Helena Bonham Carter as the fairy godmother -- she's so good at evil, but it was fun to see her as a quirky benevolent character. Derek Jacobi, who captured my attention when he did all that Shakespeare on PBS in the 70's, makes an excellent King. But Cate Blanchett, as Lady Tremaine, steals the movie. So cool, so calculating.   Not to mention, her costumes are incredible.

This movie is not a musical, but two songs from the animated film --  "Bibitti Bobetti Boo" and "A Dream Is A Wish"  -- are sung over the closing credits.

This Disney fan was satisfied.

The film is preceded by a short cartoon featuring the characters from Frozen.  It was cute, great for fans, and just enough to whet the appetite for the upcoming sequel.


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