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From the director of Gomorra comes the deliciously odd adult fairy tale, Tale Of Tales. Ryan reviews a cult gem in the making...
Like The Princess Bride directed by Ken Russell, Matteo Garrone’s Tale Of Tales is a full-blooded and decidedly adult fairy tale. Set in a quasi-medieval Europe of castles, four-poster beds, bulbous gowns, the movie relates a grimly comic set of interlocking fables.
It begins with a king and queen (respectively, John C Reilly and Salma Hayek) who turn to witchcraft in order to conceive a child, before lurching to the story of monarch (Vincent Cassell) who’s so sex-obsessed that he embarks on a romance with a peasant girl based purely on her angelic singing voice. You can probably guess the king’s reaction when he discovers that the peasant girl is actually far older and more leprous than he assumes.
Weirdest of the lot is the story of yet another king (this one played by Toby Jones) who rears a giant flea and then, for reasons far too complicated and wonderful to relate here, unwillingly marries off his lily white young daughter Violet (Bebe Cave) to a hideous ogre. You might think from these brief descriptions that there isn’t very much linking these surreal, dark and sometimes violent stories, but the realisation gradually dawns that each carries echoes of the last. A pair of siblings are reunited in one story, while a pair of sisters are divided in the next; one character becomes a royal over here, while a luckless heir is cast into a filth and misery over there. To loosely quote George Lucas, “It’s like poetry. It rhymes”.
A deeper meaning behind Garrone’s mad fantasy is harder to pin down. At first, it’s enough to simply admire his often stunningly conceived images: a character dining on crimson offal in an ice-white room. Toby Jones befriending his pet flea. Tale Of Tales brings us universal stories of birth, death, marriage and desire, but viewed through a uniquely strange filter. Dramatic irony is everywhere,and there’s a recurring theme about divisions: between old and young, rich and poor, life and death.
Relying less on obvious splashes of CGI than most mainstream fantasies, Tale Of Tales’ use of real European locations and physical effects set it apart from the likes of, say, Duncan Jones' Warcraft or Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies. There’s an earthiness to the creature designs and costumes that brings Tale Of Tales closer to the look and feel of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s underrated adaptation of Umberto Eco’s The Name Of The Rose, or maybe Paul Verhoeven’s American debut, Flesh + Blood. There’s also a hint of the matter-of-factness that made Garrone’s 2008 Mafia drama Gomorrah such compulsive viewing.
Where so many films leave us numbed by their swooping computerised vistas, Tale Of Tales keeps things at gut-level. There’s a wonderfully ominous funeral sequence which, thanks to some stunning competition and sound design, provides a captivating moment to pore over before Garrone suddenly shifts the action to a jarringly sordid moment elsewhere.
Cut to Alexandre Desplat’s lush score, Garrone’s film moves with between tones with ease. Some scenes have all the humour of a joke well told. Other moments in Tale Of Tales are gory on a level approaching Game Of Thrones. One sequence is genuinely terrifying. Inevitably, the film’s sheer weirdness won’t endear everybody - one or two people were checking their phones in the screening I attended. Those with a taste for the imaginative and the surreal will surely be bewitched by Garrone’s fairytale anthology, however, and there’s the strong possibility that Tale Of Tales will acquire cult status in years to come.
My advice? Cut to the chase and watch it in a cinema while you can.
Tale Of Tales is out in UK cinemas on the 17th June.
British cinematographer Peter Suschitzky is known for his collaborations with David Cronenberg (Cosmopolis, A Dangerous Method, Eastern Promises, A History of Violence, Spider, eXistenZ, Crash, Naked Lunch and Dead Ringers). His eclectic career saw him start working in fantastical “what if” tales on It Happened Here (1966) and Privilege (1967). He worked with Peter Watkins, Albert Finney, Peter Watkins, John Boorman, Ken Russell and Warris Hussein in Britain, before Hollywood came calling. is first trip to Cannes, working on Charlie Bubbles by Albert Finney, was cancelled after the festival was stopped by the May ’68 protests led by Jean Luc-Godard. This year, I met him at the […] »
- Kaleem Aftab
William Hurt, in his screen debut, experiments with that nostalgic 80s pastime, sensory deprivation, which culminates in biological devolution. Writer Paddy Chayefsky, credited onscreen as Sidney Aaron despite writing the novel his screenplay was based on, disowned Ken Russell’s wacko hallucinatory approach, which plays more like a remake of Return of the Ape Man. Original director Arthur Penn and fx maven John Dyksytra also resigned after disputes with Chayefsky, whose last picture this was. Darren Aronofsky revisited this territory in The Fountain, to equally mixed results.
- TFH Team
Mvd Entertainment Group furthers the distribution of "Arrow Video" in the Us with several new home video titles available July 2016, including "The Swinging Cheerleaders" [Blu-ray + DVD] (July 5th), "Crimes Of Passion [Blu-ray + DVD] (July 12th) and "Female Prisoner Scorpion: The Complete Collection" [Blu-ray + DVD] (July 26th):
"The Swinging Cheerleaders" [Blu-ray + DVD] (July 5th):
"'Kate', an undergraduate at 'Mesa University', goes undercover as a cheerleader for her college newspaper in order to expose 'female exploitation in contemporary society'. But instead of oppression she finds love, friendship and a bigger fish to fry: namely corruption in the football team, headed up by the coach and his pals..."
Bonus Materials include :
- Brand new 2K restoration from original film materials
- High Definition (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD Presentations
- Optional subtitles
- Audio commentary
- Brand new interview with Jack Hill
- Michael Stevens
Can’t get enough looks at Independence Day: Resurgence before its release on June 24th? Four new behind-the-scenes videos have dropped, giving us a look at some pivotal scenes in the film as well as a profile of director Roland Emmerich. Also: a Ghoster concept trailer, details on three new Arrow Video Us releases, and info on the Dances with Films screening of Beacon Point.
Watch Four New Independence Day: Resurgence Videos: “We always knew they were coming back. After Independence Day redefined the event movie genre, the next epic chapter delivers global spectacle on an unimaginable scale. Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force. Only the ingenuity of a few brave men and women can bring our world back from the brink of extinction.
Directed by Roland Emmerich, »
- Tamika Jones
Arrow Video has announced their July releases and in a not-so-shocking turn of events, they’re awesome. First up is The Swinging Cheerleaders. I’ve never seen this but I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, the more Jack Hill on Blu-ray the better. A week later Arrow will follow that up with Ken Russell’s Crimes […] »
- Chris Coffel
Every week we dive into the cream of the crop when it comes to home releases, including Blu-ray and DVDs, as well as recommended deals of the week. Check out our rundown below and return every Tuesday for the best (or most interesting) films one can take home. Note that if you’re looking to support the site, every purchase you make through the links below helps us and is greatly appreciated.
“We will conquer this wilderness. It will not consume us,” foreshadows our patriarch in the first act of The Witch, a delightfully insane bit of 17th century devilish fun. As if Ingmar Bergman and Ken Russell co-directed Kill List, Robert Eggers’ directorial debut follows a God-fearing Puritan family banished from their settlement in a colonial New England, only to have their deep sense of faith uprooted when our title character has her way with their fate. »
- TFS Staff
Above: 1929 Swedish poster for The Hound Of The Baskervilles (Richard Oswald, Germany, 1929). Designer uncredited.It’s time once again for my countdown of the most popular (the most “liked” and “reblogged”) posters on my Movie Poster of the Day Tumblr over the past three months. The most popular by far, and deservedly so, was this extraordinary 1920s Swedish poster for an adaptation of Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, which looks like some modern Mondo marvel. I had never seen it before it showed up on Heritage Auctions in March, where it sold for over $5000 (a steal). I’m not sure how Heritage dated the poster or divined which version of Hound of the Baskervilles this was for, since there are no acting or directing credits on the poster. They claim it for Richard Oswald’s 1929 German version though IMDb has a variant of the poster attached to a 1914 German adaptation. »
Bruno Dumont, the former high priest of French seriousness, has successfully shifted to slapstick and pratfalls in this crime comedy set during the Belle Époque
Is there a more extraordinary auteur career than that of Bruno Dumont? Having started as one of Europe’s foremost purveyors of extreme cinema and extreme seriousness, he made a startling move to wacky broad comedy, and is handling it as if to the manner born. Now he gives us Ma Loute, or Slack Bay, a macabre pastoral entertainment by the seaside from the belle époque: it’s an old-fashioned provincial comedy with something of Clochemerle, a world in which everyone seems to have drunk their bodyweight in absinthe. There’s also the surreal meta-strangeness of Ken Russell’s version of The Boyfriend.
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- Peter Bradshaw
With a seemingly endless amount of streaming options — not only the titles at our disposal, but services themselves — we’ve taken it upon ourselves to highlight the titles that have recently hit the interwebs. Every week, one will be able to see the cream of the crop (or perhaps some simply interesting picks) of streaming titles (new and old) across platforms such as Netflix, iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and more (note: U.S. only). Check out our rundown for this week’s selections below.
In lauding Miguel Gomes‘ three-part, six-and-a-half hour behemoth, it’s perhaps important to consider his background as a critic. Not just in terms of the trilogy’s cinephilic engagement with Rossellini, Alonso, Oliveira, etc.; also in its defiant nature. While it’s easy to assign the trilogy certain humanist and satirical labels from the get-go and just praise these films for following through on them, »
- TFS Staff
Dan Ireland, who co-founded the Seattle Film Festival, served as an acquisitions exec at Vestron Pictures and directed films including “The Whole Wide World” (1996) and “Jolene” (2008), starring Jessica Chastain, has died Thursday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 57.
Chastain tweeted in memory of him.
“The sweetest angel left us. Called his voicemail just to hear his voice once more. I’ll miss you baby,” she wrote.
The sweetest angel left us. Called his voicemail just to hear his voice once more. I'll miss you baby. #DanIreland #Jolene
— Jessica Chastain (@jes_chastain) April 15, 2016
“The Whole Wide World,” starring a young Vincent D’Onofrio and Renée Zellweger, was a biopic of Texas-born pulp fiction writer Robert E. Howard, who created Conan the Barbarian in the early years of the 20th century, and the woman in his life, played by Zellweger (the film was her movie debut).
Ireland was nominated for »
- Carmel Dagan
★★★★☆ British director Ken Russell passed away in 2011 leaving behind a life's work devoted to filmmaking at its most exuberant and vital. Russell made a number of films in the early part of his career which depicted artists brimming with the same enthusiasm of expression as the director himself. The Great Passions is one of two collections which the BFI are releasing to honour his distinctive approach to the biographical form. The three films collected here are dedicated to Dante Gabriel Rossetti (Dante's Inferno), Isadora Duncan (Isadora) and Henri Rousseau (Always On Sunday) - three artists whose eccentricity provide a perfect foil to Russell's own bravura style.
- CineVue UK
In this episode of Off The Shelf, Ryan and Brian take a look at the new DVD and Blu-ray releases for Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016.
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Follow-Up Twilight Time Quantity Updates: Used Cars and Center of the Earth Ryan is out of space, but still buying box sets! (Buyers remorse vs unwatched stuff) Hertzfeldt Kickstarter Arrivals News Star Trek: Digital Bits News (Animated Series on Blu-ray, Khan Uhd) Kino Lorber: Fathom, Star Slammer, Modesty Blaise, Gold (1934) Code Red: House on the Edge of the Park, Truck Stop Women, Hot Moves …bucket list fever! Scorpion: The Rift (from the director of Pieces) Blue Underground: Circus of Fear/5 Golden Dragons & The Shape of Things to Come Misc Links Larry Karaszewski on After The Fox Night of the Comet vinyl Kickstarter Links to Amazon After the Fox Bandits Black Mama, White Mama The Black Sleep Breaker! Breaker! »
- Ryan Gallagher
Shock sits down with veteran actress and now sexual advocate Catherine Oxenberg. Back in 1988, she was Eve Trent of the Derbyshire B&B, the site of an unusual archaeological find in Ken Russell’s The Lair Of The White Worm. Working across several genres, Catherine Oxenberg took on iconic roles in TV shows like Dynasty and…
The post Interview: Actress Catherine Oxenberg on Lair Of The White Worm, Sharktopus and Female Sexuality appeared first on Shock Till You Drop. »
- Chris Alexander
Mark, Aaron, Cole, and Dustin go further than most people want to go. This is our exploration of the gross film, and whether the subgenre has any artistic merit. Our main episode is a deeper look at Lars von Trier’s Antichrist (2009), followed by a history of gore and violence in film, and then a discussion about Ken Russell’s The Devils (1971) and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Salò.
About the film:
Lars von Trier shook up the film world when he premiered Antichrist at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival. In this graphic psychodrama, a grief-stricken man and woman—a searing Willem Dafoe and Cannes best actress winner Charlotte Gainsbourg—retreat to their cabin deep in the woods after the accidental death of their infant son, only to find terror and violence at the hands of nature and, ultimately, each other. But this most confrontational work yet from one of contemporary cinema »
- Aaron West
★★★★☆ Bold casting, high production values, glitzy cinematography and over-the-top direction. It can only mean one thing: Ken Russell filming the life story of Rudolph Valentino, doomed Latin lover of the silent movie era. His death in 1926, aged 31, was among the most sensational and unexpected events of the Jazz Age. Valentino was arguably the biggest movie star at the time. His brand of masculine sex appeal had men and women all a quiver and trade rags gossiping about the threat he posed to wholesome American ideals. Basically, his fiery passion was deemed a bit too full-on for American men to handle. How could they compete at home, when their wives were thinking only of Rudy?
- CineVue UK
Rodolfo Guglielmi was born in 1895 in a farmhouse in Castellaneta, southern Italy. He died 31 years later in New York City, a heart-throb known to millions as Rudolph Valentino. The combination of beauty and an early death can transform any star into a legend. But Valentino was more than just a star to begin with. In his adopted homeland of America, he was an object of both devotion and open hatred. Thousands of young women turned out to mourn Valentino at his funeral and some reportedly killed themselves in despair when they heard the news. But while America’s daughters were sobbing, many American men were delighted to see the back of him.
- Pamela Hutchinson
Life isn’t easy for witches. Sure, they have magical powers, live for hundreds of years, and can fly around on broomsticks — but it’s not all fun and games. Beyond the stinging social stigma attached to those who witch for a living, there’s also the constant threat of unruly villagers brandishing torches and pitchforks, hungry for a good old-fashioned witch-burning. It’s starkly amusing to recall that the archetypal witch caricature was born out of the cold-blooded, unlawful murder of innocent people, acts committed vainly in the name of religion. On film, the witch is prolific, with countless examples dating back to the dawn of the art form.
When examining the witch film genre, mounting similarities cannot be ignored. Some employ the witch in fairy tales, macabre bedtime stories intended to evoke fear and wonderment in equal measure. Others depict a society gone mad, fingers ever pointed at »
- Tony Hinds
Alright, all you sinners and winners out there. Just in time for Valentine's Day have we got a sinful story to share with you. Having completed the festival circuit Fredrik S Hana's award winning short film Sister Hell is ready to be unleashed upon the unsuspecting populace. Believe me, you are not prepared for what is about to invade your eyeballs. Featuring sickening practical effects and a wicked soundtrack it screams like a disobedient grandchild of Ken Russell. And Satan does not even show up until the end! A reclusive nun is tempted to leave the monastery. Her dream is to become a curvy,voluptuous woman; to become how she really feels inside. With cautious steps, she ventures towards the sinful city... It is a short film about a...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
While we’re just about done wrapping up this year’s Sundance Film Festival, this month we’ll get one of the best from last’s year festival. Set for a nationwide release in February, Robert Eggers’ directorial debut The Witch is an unforgettable feat of spiritual horror and today we have a new trailer which shows off a colonial game of terrifying peek-a-boo.
The story follows a God-fearing Puritan family banished from their settlement in a colonial New England, only to have their deep sense of faith uprooted when our title character has her way with their fate. I said in my review that the film’s “a delightfully insane bit of 17th century devilish fun…as if Ingmar Bergman and Ken Russell co-directed Kill List.” Starring Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Ellie Grainger, and Lucas Dawson, check out the new trailer and poster below. »
- Jordan Raup
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