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Tale of Tales

Director:  Matteo Garrone
Year Released:  2015
Rating:  1.0

A trio of stories by Giambattista Basile get stitched together with a bent needle: the Queen of Longtrellis (Salma Hayek) consumes the heart of a sea creature to have a son, only to see that son become infatuated with another boy (to her dismay), the lusty King of Strongcliff (Vincent Cassel) is enamored with a young lady (Stacy Martin) from afar, but in reality she has the body of a wrinkled witch and the King of Highhills (Toby Jones) takes on a fast-growing flea as a pet ... that perversely causes his only daughter (Bebe Cave) to be kidnapped by an ogre. The strangeness of the stories is evident, but it doesn't have lasting appeal in the hands of Garrone, who's too measured and muted for the fantasy genre (think of Branagh doing Cinderella) - the CGI is fine, but emotionally it's at an arm's length. Garrone's use of his native Italy makes for a neat, rustic backdrop, but if he was trying for grit and bawdiness à la Pasolini he's quite a long way off.

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