Take a Drink: for adorable animals (all creatures are adorable in their own way)
Take a Drink: for magic most strange
Take a Drink: whenever you wonder what possessed people to tell stories like this to children
Do a Shot: for each separate tale (once you discover their boundaries)
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Thanks to Disney and its many erstwhile competitors, fairy tales have been watered down to merch-moving, life-affirming little baubles of joy and song. This is not how practically any of them were written, however.
That’s more like it.
Tale of Tales adapts poet and one of the earliest fairy tale masters Giambattista Basile’s Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones. They start innocently enough- a royal couple (Salma Hayek & John C. Reilly) earnestly wish for a child, a lonely king (Toby Jones) struggles with a starry-eyed daughter who wishes to marry (BeBe Cave), and a lusty king (Vincent Cassel) petitions for the hand of a woman (Hayley Carmichael) with an alluring voice and a desire to remain hidden.
It’s hard to pick what stands out most for Director Matteo Garrone’s fucked up fables- how utterly sumptuous , even decadent, their production design, costuming, and cinematography are, or how thoroughly, enjoyably bizarre everything about them is.
And here’s where both converge
On the first hand, every technical element of the production is first rate, right down to the surprisingly nasty creature design, putting many higher-budget films to shame. On the second, this is the kind of film where the magically-birthed prince is albino, has a doppelganger and a magic tree brook reflecting their psychic connection, and maybe can breathe underwater? It’s spectacular.
Rob Marshall, this is how you make something original of something old
Garrone juggles a variety of tones like a maestro, from the film’s delightfully fatuous sense of humor to moments of real humanity and pathos. A lot of the fully rounded feel of the characters is due to the uniformly strong performances of that stacked cast, from Vamp Supreme Hayek to pitifully pathetic Jones to my pick for Best in Show, Cave, who has to travel one hell of a character arc. What’s so effective is that even the supposed monsters and villains are given glimmers or even gobs of empathy, particularly Guillaume Delaunay, who embodies a brutish man who’ll be remembered as an ogre in the annals of yore, but who was anything but.
NOT FOR CHILDREN. Or for awesome ones only, I guess.
This dude’s either gonna be President or Ted Bundy
The only weakness I can see in the film is the relative strengths of the arcs of each tale. Reilly and Hayek are essentially (or totally) done by the midway point, with the rest of their tale petering out in a predictable manner by the end, while the other two tales end on high notes.
Fairy tales like they used to make ’em- gorgeously rendered, gloriously gory, and full of the abject terrors of life every good young lad and lass should be thoroughly instructed in.