Little Red Riding Hood (and other tales) Movie Review
Written by ZigZag
A Malaprop Productions Release
Written and directed by David Kaplan
2009, Region 0 (NTSC), 30 minutes, Not rated
Christina Ricci as Red
Timour Bourtasenkov as The Wolf
Evelyn Solann as Granny
Quentin Crisp as the Narrator
David Kaplan presents three short films he directed between 1993 and 1997. The Frog King, Little Suck-a-Thumb, and Little Red Riding Hood are classic tales that feature a subversive twist on the material.
Little Suck-a-Thumb (1993, 8 min) is a bizarre cautionary tale featuring a mother warning her son not to suck his thumbs or a man known as "The Tailor" will visit and cut them off. The story is a parable of parental disconnect and children's rebellious nature to break the rules. This presentation features an erotic exchange between the child and the tailor before the offending digits are indeed removed.
The Frog King (1994, 10min) is the roughest in form, and is in fact a re-cut version that halves the original running time. When a little girl loses her doll down a well, a frog offers to retrieve it, for a price. The frog is lonely and wants the girl to invite him home and let him sleep in her bed. Kaplan's commentary openly discusses his disappointment with the final product and places blame upon the stifling nature of thesis films.
Kaplan's take on Little Red Riding Hood (1997, 12min) stars Christina Ricci in a performance that helped the actress transition from cute child star to comfortable adult lead. The film is gorgeously photographed by cinematographer Scott Ramsey. Presented as a virtually silent film, the action is split between a lush forest and an expressionistic cottage setting reminiscent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The short features narration from '70s gay icon Quentin Crisp (author of The Naked Civil Servant). Timour Bourtasenkov's wolf is both beautiful and sympathetic as he falls under the spell of the capricious girl who plays with his affections. Sixteen-year-old Ricci is commanding in the title role as a Red who knows more than she lets on.
The festival circuit has praised Kaplan's interpretation of the classic Little Red Riding Hood for ten years and the arrival of this DVD is most welcome. Within the commentaries, Kaplan discusses what attracts him to the material and mentions his plans for a feature-length adaptation of "Hansel and Gretel". After watching what Kaplan can achieve within the confines of a small budget and even smaller running time, it will be nice to see what he can pull off in the expanded realm of features.
Video and Audio:
Not reviewed as this is a screener.
This DVD comes with a nice trio of commentaries from David Kaplan who is informative and quick to share production tales and his thoughts on any flaws or shortcomings in the shorts. A second commentary is present from folklore scholar Jack Zipes on the headliner. This track is highly detailed and very informative despite the short running time. A trailer is present for both Little Red Riding Hood and Kaplan's feature-length Cinderella adaptation, Year of the Fish.
David Kaplan's Little Red Riding Hood (and other stories) is a stunning show of creativity and originality. The familiarity of the material presented in a manner that keeps viewers intrigued with provocative imagery and flirtatious actions of the characters within will stay with audiences long after the surprisingly short running time.
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