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Tale of Tales

★★★★★ "...a masterpiece of black-comic bad taste and a positive carnival of transgression" - The Guardian

“Before the Brothers Grimm perfected the bedtime horror story and psychologists turned fairy tales into Freudian templates, there was Giambattista Basile, a 17th-century Neapolitan poet who penned fantastic fables of cursed maidens, magical creatures and the occasional Faustian bargain. His influence can be seen in everything from the folklore canon to Disney's princess-industrial complex, though you probably wouldn't want to show youngsters this triptych adaptation of his work by Italian director Matteo Garrone. Unless, of course, your kid has been dying to see Salma Hayek gorge herself on a giant, bloody sea monster's heart in living color — in which case, your family movie-night selection is now in the bag.

“Hayek is the star of the first story, playing a queen so desperate to conceive a child that she sends her husband (John C. Reilly) on a quest for that aforementioned leviathan organ; according to a local sorcerer, consuming the meat — once it's cooked by a virgin, naturally — will cure her fertility problems ASAP. Things do not go as planned. The second tale involves a perpetually horny king who becomes entranced by the voice of a woman he hears. Things do not go as planned. Lastly, we watch a daffy royal foster a pet flea as it grows to St.-Bernard size. Things, as you might have guessed, do not go as planned.

“Those who know Garrone primarily as the director of 2008's Gomorrah, a 360-degree sociological procedural on Southern Italy's Mafia (think The Wire does the cosa nostra), will be startled by his facility for full-fledged fantasy here. Tale of Tales reminds you that fairy tales have always been fractured, and filled with the stuff of nightmares starting from the beginning. What Garrone & co. have concocted is a Grand Guignol pop-up storybook, full of metaphorical dark woods and morality plays. Enter, and you'll see why it's worth its weight in sea monster hearts.” - Rolling Stone

 

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