Tale of Tales

The king and queen of Longtrellis. Because you need some fairy-tale royalty.

Once upon a time, Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone decided to make a movie in English. Not just any movie in English, though — this one weaves together three Italian fairy tales that were collected by Giambattista Basile in a book called The Tale of Tales, or Entertainment for Little Ones. Basile was one of the people who inspired the Brothers Grimm to collect the folk tales of Germany before it was Germany.
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Hunger Games: Catching Fire

Katniss and Peeta on fire for their grand entrance. Well, some like it hot.

This time, as well as being bigger, grander, and more expensive than the original Hunger Games, the sequel is also darker and more depressing. I guess it’s a bit like the Harry Potter franchise in that respect — as the kids grow up, the situations get more grown-up, in the worst sense. But anyway, it must be a lot easier to get all the actors back when the first movie was wildly successful, and that seems to have been the case here, since everyone who didn’t die is back.

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Amazing Grace

Wilber shocks the entire House of Commons by pointing in public.

See? Sometimes we do get limited release films around here. At least I think this one’s still only in limited release. I’m not sure about that sort of thing anymore. But the theatre was packed. Just as the previews started, every person over sixty-five in the greater metropolitan area showed up, and they took forever to settle down.

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Snow White and the Huntsman

I wanted a shot of Ravenna turning into a cloud of ravens, but no such luck.

Once upon a time — because really, how else can you start a review of a fairy tale? — there was a girl named Kristen Stewart who beat out half the up and coming young actresses in Hollywood to play Snow White. She was Bella in Twilight but I tried not to hold that against her. It wasn’t any easier to cast the Huntsman, apparently. Tom Hardy was one of the candidates, and Viggo Mortensen of Lord of the Rings considered it for months before dropping out. Hugh Jackman was asked, but didn’t want it. They even considered — wait for it — Johnny Depp. Ugh.

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The Hunger Games

Katniss is speechless at this sample of the hideous outfits from the Capitol.

In the post-apocalyptic future, when Donald Sutherland is president, which I always suspected would happen someday, they have this thing called the Hunger Games. Even if you’re like me and haven’t read the books, you’ve heard of it, unless you’ve been living under a rock. And it’s a good, solid premise, because these days you can’t get away with writing just any old thing for teenagers to read, or even tweens. These days they’re fussy about those things.

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Captain America

The Captain of the comics versus the Captain of the silver screen.

By some strange coincidence, Captain America looks exactly like the Human Torch. I’m making fun of Marvel just a little — they’d promised a while back that they would have complete continuity among all their movies, probably in preparation for all the Avengers tie-ins, so it amuses me that they cast the same actor as two utterly different major Marvel characters. I have no idea how they’ll explain the coming debacle that is The Amazing Spider-Man. They showed previews, and the entire audience looked vaguely uncomfortable and/or confused. I know I was.
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The Rite

Anthony Hopkins in full-on exorcism mode.

There’s a scene where Father Xavier (CiarĂ¡n Hinds, Amazing Grace, also soon to be Aberforth Dumbledore in the next Harry Potter flick), while talking to reluctant student Michael Kovak (Colin O’Donoghue), asks him what he thinks of the exorcism class. Now that’s not a question you hear every day. Michael’s reply is that he doesn’t know what to make of it. I mention this because I don’t know what to make of the movie, either.

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