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.

Living in Fear – Terrorism and Death

Political and economic turmoil have led to a number of issues with possible reverberations throughout the globe. Apart from this, during the past few years, the percentage of terrorist attacks and unrest in the streets all over Europe has also increased dramatically. Some people have elected to chuck their passport at the bottom of a drawer and resign themselves to never travel outside of their own country again. Others read the news assiduously in order to try and find some pattern or conspiracy theory whereby certain countries are deemed 100% safe from such attacks, during certain months or periods of the year.

I personally refuse to be intimidated.

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Yes, one must obviously take precautions, both in the streets and abroad. In fact, one must be careful not to squander away one’s life, or the life belonging to others, no matter what the context. Every child knows that, and it’s plain survival instinct. That doesn’t mean that we have to stop living. It certainly doesn’t mean that we have to construct a self-imposed cage for us to cower in, beset with fears of all types, instead of being free to live our lives as we choose.

Accidents can take place anywhere and at any time – in the home, while at school, at work, or on a bus. So can episodes of violence we have no control over, or even natural disasters. We could get sick, fall down the stairs, be the victim of an earthquake. Such is the frailty of human life, which, as we all know, is finite. Our days, in a word, are numbered, which is why it’s so important to enjoy and make the most of each and every one of them.

We could, keep ourselves hostage.

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Would it really be worth it? It’s one thing to be cautious, and quite another to let the fear of the unknown transform us into shivering pieces of fluff.

Of course there are bad people in this world, just as there is violence, and you can come across these issues everywhere. The point is not to transform terror into the focal point of your life. Don’t let anyone dictate how you should live, think or feel. Be independent, be self-assured, be happy and friendly with those you meet, travel the globe and enjoy yourself.

This is an abridged version of an article I wrote, which was published on the magazine EVE.COM.MT. For the full article, please go to http://www.eve.com.mt/2016/12/31/why-we-shouldnt-live-in-fear/ 

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/

Love Letter – HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!!

Can the worst four years of your life also be the best four years of your life?

I would have said NO… if I hadn’t lived MY life. If I hadn’t been me. And if you hadn’t been you.

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These past four years have been a dream and a nightmare. They have been both heaven and hell, a hell-ride and a joy-ride.

So many things have happened, to both of us. I moved three times in three years, which was very stressful to say the least. I cut all ties with people who had abused me, injured me, manipulated me and betrayed me all my life. I left my old life behind, and became someone I didn’t know I could be – someone free, someone happy, someone healthy. That was very difficult. I had to leave behind all my comfort zones and become an adult.

And you were there.

Through it all, through the fear, and the tears, and the uncertainty, you were there. My one ray of light. My hope. My love. My strength.

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You were there for me every step of the way. Just as I was there for you when your dad died, and then again when your mum died, just six months later. Just as I will always be there, no matter what.

4 difficult years, but also 4 years of discovering what being in love really meant. 4 years of enjoying your company, 4 years of loving you and having fun with you. 4 years of experiencing new things with you. 4 years of living daily with you and knowing you as no one else does. 4 years of you knowing me, the new me, the real me.

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Oh and there were also 2 work-related promotions, and a myriad of writing commissions  – PAID commissions ofc (started earning money as a freelance 3 yrs ago). Not to mention the orgasmic joy when we purchased our house, decorated it, and settled in it, to name but a few. And what about all the fabulous holidays, experiences and adventures together? So much to mention… too much for it to fit in here. Hehe…

4 years – it seems like so much time has passed, and yet, the feeling of looking forward to seeing you, the fluttery excited charge in my heart each time you smile that sweet naughty smile at me, the way my heart bursts whenever I look into your eyes… are still the same as the feelings I felt 4 years ago.

And they will never change.

Insomnia

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I cannot save you
While the blood rages and the heart moans
I cannot save you
As you look askance at the twisted vines
I cannot save you
Your gaze is too suspicious, your mind is too old

Let go
Of all those moments of rank belittilement
Let go
The gnashing thunder within your veins
Let go
Those tears of madness you are still hiding

You know
They clamor ever hungry for reprisal
You know
Your violent flame is roaring for more
You know
This is the reason why sleep flees

And yet
The pounding surf cannot be silent
And yet
That vortex of hate will not be still
And yet
Your eyes will always spit blood and flame

And that, is why
I cannot save you
Unless you save yourself
And dream

© M_Moonsong

Before Tea Time

She had stolen mother’s lipstick. Her crimson gash of a mouth was stretched in a satisfied smirk. Her dirty bitten finger-nailed hands opened and closed slightly as she held D. My treasure. My hope. My friend.

I asked her to let her go.
First, I asked her softly. Tears hidden. Lips rubbery.
Second, I asked her mockingly. Hands behind my back. Flawless syntax.
Third, I asked her forcefully. Cheeks cherry with rage. Feet shuffling.

She only laughed.

I rushed at her and it was over suddenly. That bubble gum face disappearing down the stairs. The surprisingly tepid thump as she hit the bottom. Those clutching hands, broken, lifeless under a twisted back.

I looked at Dolly. Dolly looked at me. A wave of love and compassion stole over me. Poor dear had her hair all plastered to her head. Time for some tidying up.doll

© Melisande Moonsong

This is a quick piece of flash fiction I wrote for the ‘Ad Hoc Fiction Competition‘. Don’t really expect to win anything, but it was fun to do.

No One

I admit, at first not existing was kind of hard to get used to. 

No one saw me as I crossed the street. No one nodded to me as I passed the store. No dog barked at me while I wandered around the windy park. No one smiled faintly as I stopped to grin at a comic poster. No one even noticed when my skirt blew up so high that my underwear showed.

I guess that’s when I started tackling non-existence as a comodity, rather than a curse.

I didn’t need to get up early. Didn’t need to brush my hair, put on any make up, or even wear decent clothes. No one saw me anyway. I just wasn’t there.

I didn’t need to be polite to the person waiting before me for the bus. Hell, I didn’t even need to stay in the queue. Or pay the bus fare. 

No one scowled at me because I had left the window open. No one muttered because I had forgotten to bring the ketchup on the table. No one told me I was not good enough, when I didn’t know where they had left their car keys the day before. No one pawed at me while wiggling smelly body parts, as I tried to watch a movie. No one even tried to bite and hurt me, because of some ‘remark’ they did not like.

No one belittled me or berated me ‘jokingly’ because I didn’t read their minds and know what they wanted beforehand. No one ‘forgot’ to mention my name or that I even existed when talking to their friends, when in fact I did. Now, I truly was not there, so it didn’t bother me not to be mentioned. There is no one to mention.

I have gotten used to not existing now. I do not even feel bad about it. It is a relief really.

Existing is so much harder.

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Women = You are a Blatant Disappointment!

http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20150226/local/fifty-shades-of-grey-breaking-local-records.557723

Really? Are most Maltese women as misguided and bereft of any kind of intimacy as all that? This novel/movie is wrong on so many levels that I really don’t know where to start. Let me at least try to scratch the surface:

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1. The writing is CRAP. As a book-lover and writer with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) and a Masters in English Contemporary Literature, I can say this with professional and experienced detachment – it is TURDS ON TOAST, and that’s that.

2. It was originally written as a fan-fic of Twilight… which says it all. Love Twilight? Love soft-porn? Here you got a mixture of the two!

3. It’s not even real BDSM!! And believe me, I know what I’m saying! The novel is about a girl who doesn’t know her cunt from her ass, meeting a ‘pshycologically hurt’, not to mention inept, guy, who thinks he wants to play Master, while all he wants is a girlfriend without the title.

4. It wrongly promotes the idea that people who find BDSM kinky and titillating, like it because they are emotionally disturbed in some way. That they get excited by whips and leather because there is some big dark secret pointing towards neglect or violence in their childhood or youth = WRONG

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What does the fact that it is such a big success say about Maltese women and women in general??

1. These women know NOTHING about BDSM.

2. They know nothing about REAL RELATIONSHIPS, or the ups and downs one really encounters when trying to build something permanent with a partner.

3. They are starved for sex.

4. They haven’t got past the ‘I’m a 14-year old gushy gushy oh-so-innocent version of femininity just waiting to be plucked’ stage.

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5. They know nothing about literature, realistic plot-lines, characterization and they know NOTHING of the human psyche!

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Don’t like my summary? Bite me!

And yes I have obviously read the the book… tried to must be more like it. The cheesiness, and plain stupidity in every page made me want the vomit. Point being – I don’t write about or criticize something I know nothing about, which is why I made the effort. I wasted hours of my life and numbed my brain for THIS.

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Fortunately for the ‘author’ (for want of a better word) many people don’t need to numb their brains to accept and ‘love’ this story, since their consciousness seems to be naturally numb already.

Stubborn

Sometimes, people just don’t want to be loved.

They simply believe they do not deserve it. The journey has been so long, the road has been so hard, they have received so many jostles and kicks in their face along the road, and they think that it’s just not worth it any more.

Why try reassuring yourself that everything will get better, when all those other times it did not?

How can you believe someone really cares for you this time, when all those other people did not?

All those sharp scissors shining in the darkness. You are so tired of trying to grasp at each distant flickering light, only for it to cut you.

Licking the sweet hot blood and then leaving. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

BUT

When the blood tastes of your dreams, and the laughter sobs into nothingness, it’s time for the clock to stop ticking. Time for the axe to stop grinding. It’s time to put your foot down and say ‘YES’… the ultimate prayer. Acceptance, relief, peace.

YES this is what I want. And this is what I will fight for.

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