Fairytales for freakish times

Title: Snow White and the Huntsman

Director: Rupert Sanders

Rated: M

The classic Grimm's fairy tale is given a considerable makeover in Snow White and the Huntsman, and for a first-time director this is a lavish, visually spectacular production, in turns both grim and enchanting, with very well staged action and with a much darker and grittier version of the story than anything Walt Disney presented in his 1937 animated classic or the recent Mirror Mirror with its Bollywood finale. While Disney's evil queen/stepmother could certainly scare the young ones, this not-for-children version presents a very sinister, jealous and power-hungry queen in Charlise Theron's Ravenna, with perhaps a fascinating contemporary sub-text of the extremes a woman will pursue to maintain youth and beauty.

Following in the neo-tradition of rebooting classic stories or superheroes the movie seems to pick up threads from various films: Lord of the Rings, Joan of Arc, Excalibur, Legend and even Bambi. But the result is better than anything I'd anticipated, and the film is a worthy interpretation of the Grimm classic. The cinematography by Australian Grieg Fraser is brilliant, and the solid performance by Oz Chris Hemsworth as the feisty and rugged huntsman is a highlight. The casting of the dwarves is an absolute treat with a bevy of veteran British actors including Ian McShane, Ray Winstone, Bob Hoskins, Eddie Marson and Toby Jones. And it is the rough and ready dwarves who bring a dose of humour into the story.

As Snow White the Twilight star Kristen Stewart handles the role effectively with a minimum of expressions, but she does look very fetching in well tailored armour, and while Theron is sometimes over-the-top as the queen, her CGI transformations are stunning. Overall this is highly entertaining cinema.

Title: Swerve

Director: Craig Lahiff

Rated: M

Contemporary film noir set in the blazing sunlight of the Australian outback, Swerve is also a road movie which dips into the genres of crime and thriller. Director Craig Lahiff is known for his previous features Black and White and Heaven's Burning, which was also very much a road movie.

Swerve has a stunning opening sequence, brisk and wordless, with four people in four cars, a drug deal that ends badly and a suitcase full of cash that ignites a greed-driven story with odd twists and a double-cross of various characters.

Collin (David Lyons) is heading to Broken Hill when he witnesses a car crash that introduces him to both the seductive Gina (Emma Booth) and the sought after suitcase of cash which he duly hands over to the local cop Frank (Jason Clarke) in the nearby one-horse town of Neverest. As the plot becomes increasingly convoluted, there's a web of complex relationships involving car salesman (Vince Colosimo) and villain (Travis McMahon).

The action is skilfully handled by Lahiff, and the film is well crafted and visually impressive. But the realism of the first half of the story gets rather bent out of shape as things become rather far-fetched and the body count begins to blow out. The acting is impressive however, and the film is certainly entertaining with its complex jigsawed plot.

Swerve will be screened at Star Court Theatre on Friday July 6 at 7.30pm and Sunday July 15 at 5.30pm.

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