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Daily Reads: The Endless Evolution of ‘Cinderella,’ What ‘Going Clear’ Leaves Out, and More

Daily Reads: The Endless Evolution of 'Cinderella,' What 'Going Clear' Leaves Out, and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential news
stories and critical pieces to you.

1. The Endlessly Evolving “Cinderella.” What makes the “Cinderella” story so durable? NPR’s Linda Holmes investigates.

Bare simplicity is both the story’s strength and its weakness. One of the things that makes Perrault’s Cinderella story an unlikely classic is that stripped to its basics — as it is in the 1950 cartoon, for instance — there’s barely enough to it to sustain more than a paragraph. Sad girl gets magic dress, goes to dance, loses shoe, is found. The film is only an hour and 15 minutes long, and much of that is stuffed not with Cinderella’s story, but with “Tom and Jerry”-style animal hooliganism involving the mice, the birds, the cat and the dog. Helper animals are common in the folk tale variants, though: That movie comes by those mice and birds honestly, from hundreds of years of history. Read more.

2. The Binding Theory of “The Americans.” Jeff Jensen of Entertainment Weekly draws parallels to the Biblical/Hebrew story of Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac to the recent run of “The Americans.”

Representing The Centre this season—and coaching Team Jennings through this assignment (and others)—is a father figure with a most angelic name: Gabriel (Frank Langella). Cool dude, this Gabriel. Plays chess, deals dope, listens and advises like a priest or marriage and family counselor. Elizabeth and Philip trust him. We suspect they shouldn’t. But if he’s playing a game, what is it? The edict to turn Paige initially drove a wedge between Philip and Elizabeth. Fighting dredged up unresolved issues regarding their own binding back in the day, and their discontent threatens to subvert their subverting work. They seemed spiraling toward relational and individual collapse until the most recent episode…Read more.

3. The Folk Art of Making Movies Our Own. “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter” stars Rinko Kikuchi as a woman who’s studied “Fargo” so closely that she’s determined to find the (not real) buried loot. Eric Hynes of The New York Times writes about how the film, and others, look at how we make the movies we love our own:

From Jean-Paul Belmondo’s Bogie-ness in “Breathless” to Marlon Brando’s self-conscious channeling of his own “Godfather” performance in “The Freshman,” there’s a long tradition of movies summoning and reappropriating their forebears. (Though not summoning any specific movies, “The Purple Rose of Cairo,” Buster Keaton’s “Sherlock Jr.” and “The Last Action Hero” famously explored the porosity of the screen, and our need to transgress, and commune with, what’s up there.) There’s an echo chamber aspect to this, but such conjuring also has the potential to make the movies seem more emotionally resonant and real. In “Sleepless in Seattle,” the characters are entranced by “An Affair to Remember,” making their romance seem less fictional in light of it. Read more.

4. “Friday the 13th” in 3D. Scott Meslow of The Week spent this Friday the 13th watching “Friday the 13th Part III” in 3D, seeing the film that dared to give us a pointless 3D yo-yo effect as its creators always intended:

Story-wise, “Part III” is a paper-thin retread of the first two “Friday the 13th” movies, with a third batch of teenagers showing up at Crystal Lake to be efficiently butchered over a single evening. “Part III’s” primary innovation is making the characters shriller and more irritating. Debbie (Tracie Savage) casually mentions that she’s pregnant twice within minutes of her introduction — a weird piece of writing made weirder because it’s irrelevant to the plot and never mentioned again. Chuck and Chili, a thinly-veiled ripoff of Cheech and Chong, exist primarily to pass 3-D joints toward the screen. Read more.

5. Adam Sandler’s Emotions. Adam Sandler has been making movies for 20 years, but does he have any range? Bilge Ebiri of Vulture looks into the many moods of Sandler:

Here is Sandler in his original state, as a self-consciously exaggerated variation on the dimwitted man-child. (See also: “The Waterboy” and any number of “SNL” skits.) But his shtick is an inclusive one: It consists of the kind of weird mannerisms people might do for fun when they’re alone — which is why the bathtub scene in “Billy Madison” is so funny, and so true. Read more.

6. What “Going Clear” Doesn’t Address. Alex Gibney’s new film “Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief” takes on plenty of controversial Scientology-related issues, but not that church leader David Miscavige’s wife has been out of the public’s eye for years. Business Insider’s Jason Guerrasio explains:

“At the end of the day, rather than doing stone skipping and covering as much as possible in a superficial way we chose to dig in on certain things,” Gibney told Business Insider on why he left the story out of the documentary. Gibney also told BI that though there was a longer version of the film that included more details about Scientology, the story of Miscavige’s allegedly missing wife, Shelley, was never investigated and they never filmed anything about it. Shelley has allegedly been missing since 2006, reportedly following an incident where she filled several job vacancies without her husband’s permission, as initially reported by The New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright (who would go on to write “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood & The Prison of Belief,” the book that inspired Gibney’s film). Read more.

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