Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Best Movie I Saw This Week: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

This week was best-actress-nominee heavy and I loved Mike Nichols' Working Girl a lot (I had not enjoyed my first viewing of the film) but the winner is an animated movie, that is, nevertheless, filled with actresses, even if only in voice. This film is Sleeping Beauty (Clyde Geromini, 1959). I actually was able to watch this film thanks to the dreadful Maleficent because the Dvd had been discontinued forever and they re-edited it to accompany the Jolie vehicle. And thank goodness since this is an amazing movie.

To start off, the animation is breathtaking. There is this tendency to assume that all Disney animation looks the same and while they always have common ground I think this is not the case. In this movie, for instance, medieval art heavily influences the drawings and it could not be more beautiful. In my opinion, the reasoning behind this mental homogeneity is two-fold. First, some people remember the merchandise (where the princesses are very washed down) more than the films themselves. Second, Disney animation is showing signs of fatigue and of defeat. I don't care how many million dollars it has made or how catchy "Let it Go" can be, Frozen (Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, 2013) is a very badly animated film. Granted, I am not a fan of Disney's 3d movies but, for example, Wreck-it Ralph (Rich Moore, 2012) showed a different style than Tangled (Nathan Greno and Byron Howard, 2010) but Frozen is just the same princess with a different color palette. What's worse is that with this success, I don't think they are going to stretch much for the future.

Anyway, and back to the good movie and forgetting the ones that infuriate me, Sleeping Beauty is a classic story of good versus evil without any of the post-modern ethical mumbo-jumbo that is our bread in animated movies today. Aurora and the fairies are good, Maleficent is bad. Because they are, because they choose to be. Not because someone took their fucking wings. The movie is a classic fairytale that works like clockwork precisely for its timelessness. And, for such a short film, it has everything. The dance around the woods is one of the most romantic moments in the Disney canon, the fairies getting the dress and the cake ready in one of the funniest moments in the Disney canon and Maleficent turning into a dragon is one of the most terrifying moments in the Disney canon. Whether in pink or blue, this movie is a masterpiece.

Other films I watched this week:
Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970)
Morocco (Josef von Sternberg, 1930)
Hester Street (Joan Micklin Silver, 1975)
The Constant Nymph (Edmund Goulding, 1943)
Love Field (Jonathan Kaplan, 1992)
Working Girl (Mike Nichols, 1988) [Rewatch]
The King and I (Walter Lang, 1956)
X-Men: Days of Future Past (Bryan Singer, 2014)
Maleficent (Robert Stromberg, 2014)
Todos están muertos (Beatriz Sanchís, 2014)

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