"Once upon a time" isn't what it used to be.
"Snow White and the Huntsman" is a dark spin on the classic fairy tale, as Snow (Kristen Stewart) goes from imprisoned innocent to Joan of Arc-like warrior princess with the aid of the brawny Huntsman (played by Chris Hemsworth). Stewart and Hemsworth are fine, but the real star of the show is Charlize Theron's turn as the wicked Queen. Director Rupert Sanders adds some stunning visuals, and Colleen Atwood's costumes (particularly for the Queen) are spectacular.
Several independent titles are opening in a few multiplexes today.
• "For Greater Glory" is a heavy-handed historical epic, centering on the Cristeros War - when Catholic rebels fought the socialist Mexican government in the 1920s. The hammy performances (led by Andy Garcia) and cartoonish characters make this one a chore to watch.
• "Battlefield America" is a drama set in an underground hip-hop dance competition. It was not screened for local critics.
• "Crooked Arrows" is an inspirational sports drama, about a Native American high school lacrosse team (coached by Brandon Routh, from "Superman Returns") competing in a prep-school league tourney. It also wasn't screened for critics.
On the art-house list, the highlight is "Headhunters," a gritty and sometimes wacked-out thriller from Norway. It centers on Roger (Aksel Hennie), a corporate consultant who moonlights as an art thief to bring in the cash to keep his trophy wife (Synnøve Macody Lund) happy. Then he meets a CEO candidate (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, from "Game of Thrones") who's as sneaky as he is.
"Virginia" is the directing debut of screenwriter Dustin Lance Black ("Milk," "J. Edgar"), and it's a trippy piece of Southern melodrama about a mentally unstable woman (Jennifer Connelly) having a yearslong affair with a married Mormon sheriff (Ed Harris). The movie gets downright loopy at times, and the tone shifts are jarring. (Black, by the way, is in Salt Lake City this weekend - as grand marshal of the Utah Pride Parade. Read the Cricket's interview with him.)
Lastly, there's "The Salt of Life," a pokey musing on love and lust by Italian writer-director Gianni di Gregorio - who plays the lead character, Gianni, a retiree who feels invisible to the women in his life. Di Gregorio doesn't bring nearly the charm he displayed in his last movie, "Mid-August Lunch," and the episodic story goes nowhere.
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