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Sarasota: Phishey reports on the East Coast premiere of MIRRORMASK!!!

Hey folks, Harry here... Well - Sundance has yielded a few reviews thus far of MIRRORMASK and so far it sounds very very very worthy of seeing immediately on a huge screen in a theater near you. Let's just hope it gets there. I've been going absolutely stir crazy in this hospital room - and reading about a film like this makes me want to get out of here and seeing this movie asap! Here's Phishey...

View as text Hi all!  

On Monday I saw what was the east coast premiere of Mirrormask at the Sarasota Film Festival. After the film was over, Neil Gaiman (who wrote the original story and the screenplay) asked the audience to try to get the word out so that the film would get a wide release, citing Ain't It Cool as a great place to start. So I thought, hey, I read AICN, and I loved Mirrormask, so I'm spreading the damn word.

  This is a gorgeous movie. I know you've had a few reviews for it already, and they've all focused mainly on the visual effects, but you really can't understand the absolute beauty of the film until you've seen it for yourself. For anyone familiar with Dave McKean's art, the opening title sequence will feel strangely familiar, and these little hallmarks are apparant through the rest of the film as well, including schools of flying fish and cats with human faces. But words can't really describe the visual aspect of Mirrormask, and not a lot of reviews have spent time on the actual story.  

The story is pretty simple: 15 year old Helena wants to run away from the circus and join the real world. She has a fight with her Mother, her Mother gets seriously ill, Helena falls into a dream world which seems to echo the world that she created in her paintings. In this world, there is a white queen and a dark queen who keep the world in a perfect balance. Except one day, the dark queen's daughter goes to the white queen's castle and steals the mirrormask, which sends the white queen into an eternal slumber. With the white queen out of commission, the world's balance is shifted and the shadows begin to take over. Helena decides, in the manner of dream logic, that whatever she does in this world will effect what happens in the real world; namely, waking up the white queen will save her Mother. With the help of the rather shifty character Valentine, she goes on a quest to find the mirrormask and set the world to rights.  

All of the actors do a fabulous job, Stephanie Leonidas (Helena) carries the film and gives it an emotional heart that often keeps the audience from feeling disconnected in an entirely blue screened world. There are a few scenes where Helena is grieving over her Mother that are beautifully acted and really make you want to pick up the phone and call your own Mom. Gina McKee (Helena's mother, The White Queen and The Dark Queen) gives impressively versatile performances as the exasperated mother and the narcissistic Dark Queen. Jason Barry (Valentine) is hysterical as the untrustworthy and unapologetic Valentine. Although hampered by a mask covering half of his face, he still puts in a heartfelt performance, and utters some of the best lines throughout the whole film. Rob Brydon (Helena's father and the Prime Minister) plays a sweet, straight role throughout. The scenes between him and Stephanie Leonidas are probably the best part of the real world sequences. And the scene between himself and the chicken is one of the funniest in the film. There are a few notable cameos, among them are Stephen Fry as the librarian and Robert Llewellyn as the sphinx.  

A few highlights: The transformation sequence of Helena into the dark princess. Valentine's glimpse into the future. The fake mirrormasks. Small Hairy. Valentine's tower. The ride to the center of town. Pingo. Everything in the circus. The amazing ending.  

Um...yes. To conclude this review, this film is depending on sites like this one to help it get a wide release. I know a lot of people are sick and tired of remakes and sequels and are longing for something truly original to come along well...this is it. Support it. Tell people about it. Go out and see it if you can. Let the people that matter know that this is the kind of film we want to see more of. This movie was made by 17 animators on a 3 million dollar budget. It is proof that you don't need to have a fortune to make something beautiful. Let's try to give it a chance to be seen.


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