Home Before Midnight

In spite of the hype of the 2015 Oscars last evening, it wasn’t enough to lure me in. Don’t get me wrong. I love movies, especially the films with well-drawn characters and a sensitive story line. (I’m much less interested in films that go for cheap laughs and ugly or superficial relationships.) If I’m going to devote two hours to a film, I need to care about the characters on the screen.

The Oscars broadcast didn’t draw me in because, much as I love movies, I’m disinclined to care about and choose to watch the Hollywood glitterati preen and pose and suffer through the tedium of a inane questions asked and answered inanely.2015_1$largeimg215_Jan_2015_104948370

From some of the comments I heard today and the brief posts I read online, I think it was a blessing I didn’t watch … no need to witness the awkward moments – Neil Patrick Harris in a diaper or John Travolta imitating Joe Biden’s lecherous moves, nor to note the stunning absence of Joan Rivers’ mention during the In Memoriam tribute.

I did note the Best Supporting Actor award earned by J. K. Simmons, the recent face of Farmers Insurance commercials. (I suppose it goes without saying, his price per ad will be going up, right?) I also took a gander at the gowns this morning and watched Lady Gaga perform the Sound of Music medley, as well as the Vine video of Common appearing to ignore (diss, some suggested) Oprah. All in all, the twenty minutes I spent was preferable over the extended live production.

My younger daughter is the true movie buff, next to whom I am a pathetic piker … but this does not mute my enjoyment of stories presented on the screen. When I talk with her next, I expect she will offer a unique perspective to the show itself as well as to the list of winners (and also-rans). Since I’ve actually viewed very few of the nominated films and many of the faces are new to me, my interest in Hollywood’s biggest show decreases every year.

Granted, one of the aspects of Oscar night (and Hollywood in general) is imagining oneself as a princess. Oftentimes, the gowns radiate an almost magical luminescence … actresses parade like royalty, gliding along the red carpet in their diamonds and pearls and flowing gowns. A girl with an imagination sees herself in her mind’s eye wearing the gown and waltzing into the hall while everyone else looks on in admiration!

The image rightly evokes Cinderella. So it was with some excitement that I learned Disney will release its newest live-action production of Cinderella in mid-March! Under the direction of Kenneth Branagh, the role of the title character is played by Lily James (who plays the impetuous Lady Rose on Downton Abbey). Further, it looks as if Helena Bonham Carter has scored an elegant role as the Fairy Godmother.

It seems as though I know the Cinderella story backward, forward, and upside down … so why does this Disney film excite me? It’s a child’s fairy tale … why would it fascinate me? Besides that, it’s just a mindless retread, right?

Speaking only for myself, I must answer with a resounding NO! While the tale is a familiar one, it still delivers its magic and fairy tale beauty with each retelling. A girl (of whatever age) can imagine herself clad in an elegant ball gown (crafted with a magic wand waved by a fairy godmother) and being carried to a royal ball in a magnificent carriage (magically transformed out of a pumpkin)! It’s all so … magical! And a glass slipper is absolutely magical! glass slipper

There’s a flashback in one of the movie trailers where Cinderella’s mother gives the young Ella advice for her life. She says:  Have courage and be kind. Then she adds:  Where there is kindness, there is goodness; and where there is goodness, there is magic!

Cinderella demonstrates her kindness when she’s out riding one day and her horse is startled by a large stag. She notices others riding their horses in the nearby forest and realizes the animal is being hunted down! She quickly implores the stag to run and hide. (Though not a White Stag, this scene brought to my mind images of C. S. Lewis.)

The magic of Cinderella’s story is how it stirs the creative imagination. There are times every girl deserves to see herself as a princess … and this is one. But, she should never forget the fairy godmother’s admonition to return home by midnight.

Renée