This spring, moviegoers had the chance to watch not one but two feature films updating the Snow White story for contemporary audiences. (That's in addition to Once Upon a Time, ABC's fairy tale drama series, revolving around Snow White, Prince Charming, and the daughter who doesn't know her parents are fairy tale royalty.) Tarsem Singh got to market first with Mirror Mirror, featuring Lily Collins as Snow White and Julia Roberts as her wicked stepmother. It was terrible. But at least it was first!
Snow White and the Huntsman arrived a few months later: It matched Mirror with another Oscar winner in the wicked stepmother (this time, Charlize Theron), and bested it with a much more famous Snow White in Twilight star Kristen Stewart. Since then, of course, we've all learned the scandalous Huntsman backstory: Stewart's affair with her director, Rupert Sanders, leading to the end of both Sanders's marriage and Stewart's long relationship with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. So you can rent the movie on demand and decide whether you can see any evidence of Stewart's wandering eye, I guess? Or just wait for Once Upon a Time; Season 2 starts September 30. And it's free.
On Tuesday, The Hollywood Reporter wrote that Kristen Stewart would not be brought back for the planned sequel to Snow White and the Huntsman. Since Snow White was directed by her partner in infidelity, Rupert Sanders, and its sequel presumably would be as well, it seemed like everyone involved was avoiding another tabloid mess by not reuniting the dastardly duo. As to why the studio, Universal, wouldn't just drop Sanders instead, THR pointed out that K-Stew does require one big-ass salary, and that saving those bucks and instead focusing on her co-star/budding movie star/Thor, Chris Hemsworth, could be feasible. (Originally the plan was to make another flick focusing on Snow White, then shift gears for the third installment of the franchise by creating a spinoff for the Huntsman, played by Hemsworth.) THR explained that Universal was now skipping over that theoretical movie no. 2 and going straight to theoretical movie no. 3. But wait! Later in the day the L.A. Times followed up and got Universal to explain that Stewart hadn't been dropped from the sequel. Yes, the plan had now shifted to a spinoff for the Huntsman, but Stewart "could still be a character in that film, despite reports that suggested otherwise." Also: Sanders isn't yet booked for another go-around, although he is on the short list of directors.
There is an early David Foster Wallace story called “My Appearance” about an actress whose “face and attitudes are known to something over half of the measurable population of the United States, whose name is on lips and covers and screens.” The story centers on an appearance of hers on Late Night with David Letterman. Mostly it’s just an excuse for Wallace to riff on a few favored subjects: the place of sincerity in an age of overwhelming irony; the difficulty of saying things that don’t already come packaged in the kind of quotation marks that basically disavow what you’re saying even as you’re saying it.
“Sincerity is out,” says the creepy television executive who has taken it upon himself to coach the actress in advance of her appearance. “The joke is now on people who’re sincere.” Letterman’s show is an “anti-show,” one that feeds off its evident amusement at itself and its withering, disingenuously friendly host. Our heroine aces the interview by in turn playing an idealized, self-mocking version of herself; it's only at the end of the story, when she asks someone close to her what they “really” think, that she finally slips up and plunges into the trap that was lurking beneath her the entire time.
“My Appearance” (then titled “Late Night”) was first published in Playboy in 1988. Kristen Stewart’s famous and very real appearance on Letterman came 20 years later, in 2008, when she was promoting the first Twilight movie, and basically validated every fear Wallace had. She was mumbly and weird and she fidgeted; Letterman, sensing something human on the other side of his desk, went in for blood. He asked her if vampires were vegetarians and how she felt about bats. He questioned her about her lack of a high school education. When she confessed to being unprepared, to being boring, to not really knowing how to play the game — “I was like, what am I going to talk about on Letterman, I have no idea” — he did a kind of comic double take. “Did you — did you tell somebody that?” he asked, overwhelmed with mock concern. The audience roared.
Silver:This trailer leaves me completely conflicted.
Here’s what I liked:
*There are some moments that are quite funny. Although we’ve seen the out-of-time, out-of-place gag before, I get a kick of out of the way Depp’s recently awoken 16th-century vampire attacks the TV for being evil sorcery. The juxtaposition of Karen Carpenter singing, and Depp’s line “Reveal yourself, tiny songstress!” makes me smile every time.
Silver: I cannot wait to buy my ticket to Battleship. Even though the film looks like a vapid orgy of action and CGI, I have much more faith in Peter Berg, a director who’s made some good films and told actual stories (Very Bad Things, The Kingdom, Friday Night Lights), than I do in a new addition to the Michael Bay(hem) section of his résumé.
Daniel Silver: A box-office battle between two pasty-faced adolescents will range as two Snow White films will be released in 2012. Although Mirror Mirror will win the race to theaters on March 16, June’s Snow White and the Huntsman has notched itself a win by releasing its trailer first. The music is what initially gave me hope. It’s extremely reminiscent of Daft Punk’s Tron: Legacy score, and the initial image of the red-eyed crows swooping through a foreboding sky got me excited. But that quickly subsided when all the CGI-enhanced imagery kicked in — birds bursting into another 100 birds, a power zoom into a castle, and a knight breaking into a thousand small pieces — and when I saw that the film was from the producer of the eye-raping Alice in Wonderland my expectations were properly reset. Also, is it me, or does Chris Hemsworth look to be playing a poor man’s version of his own Thor. I’m going to love to hear what my buddy Rembert thinks about this one.
Rembert: This looks unreal. I guess my Kristen Stewart film ban will finally be up. It was a good run, nevertheless.