What To Do? Tuesday's Pick: Alice in Wonderland at the Castro

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Alice in Wonderland @ the Castro Theater

One wonders what Walt Disney would've made of his studio's 21st-century, 19-year-old Alice--a tousle-haired 3-D action figure who decapitates a dragon and drinks the creature's blood. Tim Burton's Alice is off-handed in its violence and doggedly on message--a straightforward allegory of female actualization.

Alice (Australian actress Mia Wasikowska) returns to Wonderland to escape her engagement to a bilious aristocratic twit and much of what transpires in that moist, warm realm down there (Wonderland is later called "Underland") demands to be read in feminine terms. Alice may be a babe, but Eros is largely sublimated. Amid the digitally conjured white rabbits, Cheshire cats, and hookah-smoking caterpillars, Alice does encounter a pair of flesh and blood males--but Johnny Depp's amusing Mad Hatter is scarcely more eligible than Crispin Glover's creepy Knave of Hearts. In any case, Wonderland is a gynocracy and, rather than romance, Alice is drawn into the sibling rivalry between Helena Bonham Carter's irascible Red Queen and Anne Hathaway's languid White Queen.

Burton's Alice, sad to report, is not the least bit lysergic. (Shot normally, the movie was stereofied in post production. The resulting 3-D is shallow and largely superfluous.) Alice is also soberly concerned with itself as a business model. The final battle is clearly designed for gaming; so, too, the protagonist. Back in the U.K., Alice even has a plan that involves expanding her jilted father-in-law's enterprise to China. Walt's corporate heirs must be proud.

The Castro's screenings tonight are at 7 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. ($10)

For more Tuesday recommendations, check out our calendar picks.

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