Tale of Tales – Movie Review

Genre – Adult Fantasy/Horror
Length – 2hr 14mins
Released in – 2015
My Overall Grading – 4 Stars

Tale of Tales (2015) is that blend of gothic fantasy weirdness which usually immediately catches my attention. As soon as I watched its suggestive atmospheric trailer, I craved to behold the whole movie, and I must say, I wasn’t disappointed.

Let me say this first and foremost – if you’re expecting yet another re-imagining of some popular children’s fairytale like Cinderella or Snow White, you’ll be disappointed. Actually, not even those narratives commonly known as fairy tales are meant for children at all, and only started to be projected that way for the multitudes, after severe editing and further changes by various 19th century writers, such as Charles Perrault and the Grimm Brothers .

Tale of Tales, an Italian-Franco-British production derived from the 17th century collection of tales known as Il Pentamerone and written by Neapolitan poet Giambattista Basile, can be described as an adult fantasy horror, or at best, a metaphorical cautionary tale.

Sinister, yet strangely sensual. Strange but graceful. Haunting yet moving. This movie is a strange experience and definitely not for children. Tale of Tales has three different and yet finally entwined story lines. On the one hand, we encounter the King and Queen of Selvaoscura, who, true to fairy tale canon, are having difficulty producing an heir. A wandering wizard tells them that to do this, they must find and kill a sea monster, and the Queen (Salma Hayek) must eat its heart. It’s portrayed as a horrifyingly huge bloody mass where she eagerly devours the organ on a silver platter.

The second tale takes us to Roccaforte, where a sexually voracious and dissolute king – played by Vincent Cassel – spies on a woman shrouded in a mantle, whom he believes to be a pretty young beauty, but who in reality is a hideous old crone. The crone’s only treasure is her loving relationship with her sister, who is also an old woman. The king hounds what he believes to be a new conquest, bullying and pressing the two sisters, who don’t know which way to turn without revealing their true identity and being punished for it.

The third story arch follows the King of Altomonte and his daughter Violet. The King (Toby Jones) is a shallow and comic creature, prioritizing the care of an unusual flea over that of his own daughter.

Throughout the three story-arches, the one constant emotion is that of obsession, which, we are shown, is the heart of all evil. Obsession vies with what is supposed to be the love of someone’s family. The Queen of Selvaoscura is obsessed with her son, which is why she seeks to destroy any ties he could have with other people. The King of Roccaforte is obsessed with claiming every young woman he sets eyes on, which results in betrayal, suffering and death. The King of Altomonte and his ridiculous obsession with the flea to the exclusion of all else brings about terrifying consequences.

Flea-petting, heart-eating, rape, flaying, betrayal, morbid jealousy… All this and more makes the movie a very strange and curious beast; a truly horrific Renaissance fairy tale. No wonder that, unlike other tales penned by Basile, these three weren’t even adapted to be read by children. Other tales of his, however, have inspired more well-known fairy tale writers such as Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. In this case, the three tales explored and adapted for the screen – The Enchanted Doe, The Flea and The Flayed Old Lady – serve as a dark metaphor to show that real love of one’s family members doesn’t mean warping them into suiting our own wishes and desires, but accepting them for who they are, even if this means letting them go.

The movie also sports beautiful visuals, as filming locations include stunning palaces, haunting forests and beautiful gardens in NaplesTuscanyAbruzzo and Lazio, amongst others.

I truly recommend this movie to all those who are lovers of the unusual and the artistic – those who appreciate dark humor and black comedy, and who enjoy finding revelations of the truth couched in veiled metaphors and tragic-comic allegory, rather than stark black and white fables.

A version of this article written by me was originally published on Eve magazine.

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Jigsaw – A Movie Review *SPOILERS*

So, just finished watching the last movie in the ‘Saw’ franchise, which I’ve been a HUGE fan of for the past 10 years… and I must say, I was quite disappointed.

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The prime thing which had attracted me to all the Saw movies, apart from the inventive torture devices, was actually the ability of the writers/producers to interlock all the movies and storylines togather like a jigsaw puzzle. That was the genius of the whole thing – that while the first movie in the franchise was taking place, chronologically we (later realize) that movies number 2 and 3 were also taking place (with different individuals) at the same time! I don’t want to give any spoilers here but I kind of had to in this case. So basically the some of the whole was better than it’s individual parts.

And that’s great HOWEVER as of the third and fourth movies we started seeing a common plot emerge, which the writers just continued to exploit by repeating again and again… and in the case of the latest ‘Jigsaw’ movie, yet AGAIN.

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For Pete’s sake, how many ‘disciples’ did this guy have? How many ‘ex-victims’ did he ‘convert’ to his ideology of pain? Were they all unaware of each other? And will the producers continue to milk this cow forever? It was a great idea and twist the first time round, and ok the second time round too. But a third secret disciple… and a fourth? Even at a distance of 10 years from Kramer’s death?

Ugh – yea again sorry for the spoilers. I just wish I could erase this last movie from my head and keep the old ones. So, thanks, but no thanks.

American Horror Story – Season 6 Review – NO SPOILERS

When I had watched Season 5 of American Horror Story last year,I was hardly impressed to say the least.

However, looking at Season 6 this autumn, I guess I’ll just have to eat my words.

Gone is the fake gratuitous soft porn thrown in simply to shock viewers into cheap thrills. Gone is the unneeded violence and lackadaisical plot. Instead of unexplained murders and ghouls, AHS takes us back to the mysterious plot lines, interesting characters, and dramatic acting so much admired during the first season. Entitled Murder House, Season 1 had focused on a haunted mansion and its historic violent past. Season 6, Roanoke, tackles not so much a haunted house, but an actual haunted piece of land, illustrating one of America’s oldest mysteries.

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The Season in fact makes reference to the historic mystery of the Roanoke colony, also known as the Lost Colony – a group of Americans who were sent to Roanoke Island in the New World (North America) in the 16th century, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, in an attempt to colonise it and establish a base camp. The 115 members of the colony all disappeared without a trace. The only remaining clue was the word ‘Croatoan’ scratched on the bark of a tree.

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This season is, in a way, totally different from the previous ones, as all the episodes are presented in the format of a documentary. The narrative focuses on a married couple, who are telling us the story in a studio, while at the same time, people we know to be re-enactors play their parts in order for the viewers to understand what actually happened. Each character is therefore seen twice and portrayed by two different people. The ‘real’ character is interviewed in the filming studio, while the ‘re-enactors’ are the ones playing out the actual events.

The main plot line follows an interracial couple, Matt and Shelby. After being attacked by a street gang, they decide to leave the city and its perils, and relocate to an abandoned colonial farmhouse in North Carolina.

To read the rest of the article, which was published on EVE magazine follow the direct link: http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/11/05/american-horror-story-season-6/

Halloween Movies perfect for Kids!

Halloween also called All Hallow’s Eve and Samhain, this Autumn festival historically marks the end of harvest season and the beginning of Wintertime. Celtic and Gaelic traditions saw huge bonfires lit, as well as celebrations to mark the occasion. This is where the practice of dressing up comes from, since costumes were supposed to keep the cold, dark, evil spirits at bay by confusing them. It was the last festivity before the onset of the coldest months.

Today, we’re fortunate enough to live in a time where electricity, air-conditioners, heaters, and a marked jump in health institutions are enough to keep most of the cold chilly darkness under control. Nonetheless, we still celebrate Halloween. Apart from the usual parties, costume competitions, pumpkin fairs and trick-or-treating, many also take the opportunity to watch some good old horror movies to get into the mood.

Here are a number of some old favourite movies which I always make a point to watch during this time. These are not films of the slasher-horror type, but rather those which I associate with childhood, and which always leave me feeling of good cheer. Definitely ‘must-sees’ for all those with children and for those who can’t handle scary flicks!

The Tim Burton QuartetThe Nightmare before Christmas(1993), Corpse Bride (2005), Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). Tim Burton’s work is just perfect to watch cuddled on the sofa while a heavy rain lashes against the windowpanes. These dark fantasy movies are all, somehow or other, centred around Halloween. The first two mentioned are animated, full of catchy tunes and delightful characters. In fact, the ghouls, ghosts, skeletons and monsters aren’t scary at all. Although all of these movies are targeted at children, they also have dark sinister meanings which only adults will be able to appreciate, and which have nothing to do with Halloween and everything to do with the society we live in; a society which can be cruel and intolerant, and end up pressuring people into doing what is acceptable instead of being happy with their own individuality.

Hocus Pocus (1993) – I must admit, the Sanderson sisters have always been my favorite media witches. Especially Bettie Middler, who’s somehow perfect in her rendition of an angry yet funny medieval witch, who after being burnt at the stake, comes back to the present to take her revenge. Unfortunately, she and her sisters are totally unprepared for today’s world, not to mention today’s children, who are much pluckier and smarter than the ones she was used to.

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The Addams Family (1991) – The stories of this eccentric, affectionate clan who don’t care what others might think about them have always been close to my heart, and the 1991 rendition with Angelica Houston as Morticia, Christopher Lloyd as Uncle Fester and Christina Ricci as Wednesday is just perfect in complementing Halloween. The Addams seem to live in a perennial Halloween all year round. Their neighbors think them strange, and society tries to shun them. And yet, they love and care for each other, especially when it matters the most.

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To read the rest of the article, which was published on EVE magazine follow the direct link:- http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/10/26/halloween-movies-for-the-faint-hearted/

An Unconventional Saint Patrick’s – One Day Later!

Alright – I SUCCUMB!

I’ve been reading posts about St Paddy’s, its origins, and how people got shitfaced all through yesterday. I promised myself I wouldn’t post anything relevant on MY blog… but… here we go! lol

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When I was younger (that is, up to three/four years ago hehe), I used to take the day after Saint Paddy’s off. After all – it was impossible to wake up for work at 6am, when you got back home, drunk and disorderly, at 4.30am right? The 18th of March was usually spent asleep and/or vomiting repeatedly in a plastic bucket and/or nursing an enormous headache while trying to nibble at some salty crackers.

Fast forward to the new me – living in my own apartment, with a steady income, a steady relationship and a penchant for loooon looong holidays abroad (therefore needing all the accumulated time-off and vacation days I can spare), and I’m not doing that anymore… HOWEVER…

Seeing that in around a month and a half it’s my bf’s bday, and that I honestly didn’t know what to get him as a bday present, I had the absolutely fantastic idea of gifting him with a weekend break at a great hotel + spa we love and whose food is just awesome, and combine that with St Paddy’s! So, as of tonight, here we go!

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Quite an early surprise for someone whose bday is in May – true, HOWEVER due to other unforseen circumstances, we’ll be quite up to our ears in other stuff in May (more about this later on, as we’re keeping it kind of low-key for now), PLUS we really needed this break – sort of like the calm before the stress-storm hits.

Anyways, to get back to my original issue, since we did not celebrate St Paddy’s yesterday eve like the rest of the planet, as we had to wake up early this morning, we are going to celebrate it in grand style tonight in our hotel room after a luxurious Mediterranean all-you-can-eat buffet. Is there something better than getting drunk in bed with your boyfriend/best friend?

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YES

I just remembered one of the most GODDAMN AWFUL Horror Comedies everrrrr – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GzgjsTzwlU4

Gods, I just adore honest trailers. Anyways, I’m going to download this as soon as I get home, and WE ARE GONNA PLAY THE DRINKING GAME!!!

Oh boy, so looking forward to that ;p

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Then tomorrow, we can detoxify with another free-for-all buffet (this time, for breakfast), and go relax in the pool and jakuzzi for a couple of hours, before heading to the spa where I have booked us in for a couples’ massage… hmmm…

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Movie Review – The Woman in Black 2 – Spoilers Alert

Personal Rating – 1 star

I had been looking forward to this sequel for quite some time. I had hoped that unlike most sequels, it would be exciting, titillating and emotionally disturbing – most of all, I had hoped that it would shed more light on the background story of Jennet Humpfrye, that is the ghost that became the ‘Woman in Black’ herself.

I am sorry to say, that I was VERY disappointed.

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The movie, subtitled ‘Angel of Death’, fast-forwards us from the Victorian era, which had set the stage for the first Woman in Black film, to the Second World War, when the now semi-renovated haunted house in question,started to be used as an impromptu orphanage. You’d think the ghost would have a field day… hmm…

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The main character (Phoebe Fox), of bland appearance, gives us an equally bland performance as a woman who has, in the past, experienced the loss of a child. This could have been a good idea for the focus to be not just on the main character as a grieving mother, but also on the ghost herself, since the child-carer here could empathize with the dead woman’s similar plight. That is the way I would have played it, while giving more background and detailed info on the ‘ghost’ herself. Instead, the film portrays the feelings which inexplicably grow between bland young woman, and a bland young pilot, in an ever-boring slow movie where nothing happens, and where semi-horror background music is used to try and built up a sense of suspense which simply DOES NOT HAPPEN.

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The ghost, instead of seeing Eve, the main character, as a representation of herself, since her baby was taken from her, wants to punish her for ‘letting him go’. This attitude could have spurred a showdown between the two women, one alive and one dead. Needless to say, it didn’t. Ever. The movie plodded its way on through half-finished dreams and mediocre attempts at giving the audience some thrills, which failed miserably. Veiled women shrieking in corners and screaming silently in one’s face are not my thing. Give me a well-rounded plot with believable emotional characters and an interesting background story, or a psychological effort at least, and you’ve got me. Unfortunately this film had all the wanna-be cheesiness of a gore movie, without the gore.

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The worst part (yes even worse than a wasted hour and a half where nothing happens) was the ending. The pilot semi-love interest is killed, and the Woman in Black just stops haunting the child she had ‘chosen’ as well as Eve. Without explanation or reason. Totally pointless. On the other hand, she continues to haunt the house. We do not know why and there is no explanation. Another attempt at creating ‘mystery’ = FAILED.

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