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DVD Review by Diane McCurdy - Another Cinderella

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DVD Review by Diane McCurdy
Another Cinderella

By Diane McCurdy

The story of Cinderella story has been told hundreds of times in hundreds of different ways and will be told hundreds of times hence. According to Joseph Campbell the disdained beauty who overcomes her dire situation and achieves royal status is something ingrained in our collective unconscious. We crave it. What makes this version special is its director and cast. No less a personage than Kenneth Branagh, eminent actor and interpreter of Shakespeare, is in the driver’s seat. He gave us a four hour version of Hamlet so he is an odd but successful choice to helm a fairy tale. Oscar winner, Cate Blanchett, is the maliciously, malignant stepmother. Oftentimes it is the villain who steals the show and Cate does it here magnificently. Helena Bonham Carter is the fairy godmother. Known not only for her quirkiness in her personal life but in her portrayals she makes a perfect bouncy spirit. Galloping in as the charming prince is Richard Madden from The Game of Thrones and the glass slipper lady herself is Lily James of Downton Abbey. She is down to earth and animated but Cindy should never have to play second fiddle to her prince and the truth is he is prettier than she is. This is a film for adults as well as children with wonderful settings, accessories and costumes, circumstance and pomp.

From the fantastical to the very real we have Me Earl and the Dying Girl. Greg, the “me” of the title is a typical teenager, not quite a nerd or a loner but he exists on the fringes of high school society not belonging to any definitive group. Greg and Earl spend their time making video remakes of famous movies giving them weird titles that are supposed to be puns but don’t quite measure up. Adapted from a young adult novel, the film treats themes of death and friendship wrapped in a bittersweet coming of age drama. It is slight and fragile and almost poetic in concept.

Earl, who is black, and Greg are inseparable. Rachel, the dying girl, is not a close friend of either but Greg’s mother insists that he spend times with her because she feels sorry for her. Initially all three resist the idea of a trio. Greg doesn’t want to be bothered. Earl is oblivious and Rachel doesn’t want their pity. But, predictably, a strong bond is created. Now all this could have melted into a gooey maudlin mess but as deftly handled by director, Alfonso Gomez Rejon, the film is touching without trying to wring out buckets of tears. The viewer might feel a little dewy eyed, however.

Both of these films are gentle but have a core that is profound in purveying some universal truths in a lyrical, wistful way.