Fairy tales for grownups are everywhere, fraught with love, sex and menace. Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood, wonderfully cast with Amanda Seyfried and Gary Oldman, arrives next week. Catherine Breillat’s smart revision of Sleeping Beauty opens in July. (Here’s my review from the French film festival.)
Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton are making Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Julia Roberts will play the Evil Queen in a new Snow White movie, and ABC has a pilot in the works called Once Upon a Time, with Ginnifer Goodwin as Snow White, about a 21st century town in Maine where fairy tale characters live.
But smart, artistic filmmakers have been playing with grownup fairy tales for years. Here are a few of the best.
THE COMPANY OF WOLVES
Neil Jordan’s creepy version of Angela Carter’s story offers a take on “Little Red Riding Hood” full of sexual awakening, and howling animals in the woods. In perfect casting, Angela Lansbury plays Granny.
There have been many versions of the story, but Catherine Breillat’s stunning 2009 film (photo above) sends two precocious adolescent sisters to the palace of the corpulent wife-killer.
Not a fairy tale, but Czech master Jan Svankmajer’s take on Lewis Carroll creates a surreal new wonderland. It is streaming on Netflix (pay no attention to their useless trailer.)
And here’s a look at RED RIDING HOOD Harwicke’s first post-Twilight film: