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The Boston Globe

Movies

MOVIE REVIEW

In ‘Blancanieves,’ the bullfighter checks her makeup

Two recent mini-genres combine in Spanish director Pablo Berger’s gimmicky, sometimes affecting oddity. The first – meta-celebrations of the glories of pre-sound cinema – faded after its brief 2011 heyday with “The Artist” and Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo.” The second – modernized rehashings of classic fairy tales – peaked, one hopes, with “Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.”

“Blancanieves,” Spanish for “Snow White,” is, by my count, the third rejiggered go-round of the Brothers Grimm tale over the past year alone. But Berger has outdone the other versions in inventiveness by setting his in the bullfighting circuit of 1920s Spain and by shooting it in the monochrome, silent mode of that era. He benefits from Macarena García as Carmen, the film’s stand-in for the Grimm heroine; she cuts an elegant figure in her toreador outfit, as sleek and superficial as the scenery. She has a face that rewards close-ups — a cross between Valentino and Louise Brooks. But they not only had faces back in those silent days, they also had souls. “Blancanieves” just has style.

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