Winter's Tale

Friday, August 29, 2014

There’s a kernel of a good idea somewhere within Winter Tale’s body. It’s a tale of demons, love and miracles. But it also happens to be a completely stupid, wretched, worthless piece of filmmaking - the kind of movie that takes whatever good ideas it has and chokes them thoroughly to death.

The murderer here is Akiva Goldsman, a filmmaker whose work has run the gamut from Batman Forever to Batman & Robin. Okay, he also wrote the scripts for A Beautiful Mind (one of the worst films to win the Best Picture Oscar), Lost in Space and he tried his darndest to ruin I Am Legend. He’s an appalling filmmaker without any discernible taste.

Therefore it was rather terrifying to think that he was going to direct his first movie. Let loose without the likes of Ron Howard to try and redeem his risible words, how would he fare?

Badly, of course.

The film begins with an immigrant couple trying to gain entry into America with their newborn child. The mother, however, has consumption and they’re denied entry. Not wanting their baby to suffer their fate and rot in some European hellhole where everyone drinks their own piss and eats old ladies, they decide to sneak him in New York. They do this by placing him in a model sailboat and lowering him into the water so that he can float to Manhattan. They obviously have a lot of faith that the little model isn’t going to capsize on the way and that the currents will wash him up in the perfect location and that he won’t starve or freeze to death. Either that or the little bastard is keeping them up all night and they don’t give a shit either way.

Being that this is a fairytale, the baby survives its worrisomely long journey to Manhattan and grows up to be Colin Farrell.

As soon as we meet Mr Farrell, he’s being chased by a gang of thugs. Oh no, he’s gonna get a clobberin’, you think to yourself, but before Russell Crowe can finish chewing up all the scenery, he’s riding a magic horse that’s apparently his guardian angel.

Okey dokey. Colin Farrell is playing about twenty years younger than his real age and he’s befriended a magical horse and Russell Crowe looks like he’s suddenly lost the ability to act, but I’ll give it a go. What’s next?

Oh shit, the horse is telling him to rob a mansion and now he’s flirting with a girl who has consumption. ‘What’s the best thing you’ve ever stolen?’ she asks him (the fucking guy who broke into her fucking mansion!). ‘I’m beginning to think that I haven’t stolen it yet.’ Vomit! Vomit! Tons and tons of vomit spewing from every orifice! Yes, I know this man is dreamy, but he just admitted that he wants to rob your gaffe and now you’re making him tea and falling in love with him. And you’re the same silly girl that fell in love with the Irish chauffeur in Downton Abbey and then carked it while giving birth. Do you have an Irish fetish, lady?

Maybe Russell Crowe will save this film. Maybe the opening scene was just a one off. He’s a great actor, after all. Okay, he sounds like he should be handing out Lucky Charms but he’s intense as always. Oh, nice, he’s intimidating wait staff and being a dick. Business could be about to pick up... What the fuck! He’s turned into a demon and killed the wait staff! A magical horse and a demon Russell Crowe? This is just stupid. But it can’t get any worse. No, no, no. Not possible.

Pissing hell. Russell Crowe is now actually throwing Lucky Charms! Watch the fucking trailer. One minute and two seconds!

I’m crying now. I can’t take this. No more.

Ooh, Russell Crowe is meeting Satan. Alright. This could be interesting. Hmm. Risible dialogue. Satan’s voice getting deeper when he gets mad. Not so interesting after all... You’re shitting me!! Will Smith as Satan! You’ve just taken the most likeable man in Hollywood and made him Beelzebub! I get it. I get it. You’re casting against type. Blah, blah, blah. Henry Fonda was great as a villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. Yadda, yadda, yadda. But Smith isn’t doing anything to make us fear or hate him. He’s just occasionally reaming Russell Crowe, who’s acting like a dick anyway. We bloody well want him to get reamed. This just isn’t working at all. And now it looks like they’re chilling! Russell Crowe is chewing the shit and chilling out with Satan Smith! Utterly, utterly ridiculous. And Smith even has an earring, like he’s a pirate Lucifer! Can you not make one decent decision in this film?

I think there’s possibly one good scene in this movie. After Colin Farrell’s consumptive girlfriend pops her clogs, he’s confronted by Russell Crowe on horseback. Farrell’s horse, of course, is white and Crowe’s is black. Crowe barks at him and briefly there’s some gravitas (he talks about blackening souls and crushing miracles), but then it kind of turns into The Matrix with a hundred anonymous guys in bowler hats trying to crush our hero.

If the film wasn’t crude and manipulative before, it gets even worse when our hero is transported into modern times. He encounters a little girl in a park who happens to be wearing a hat. Now if you’ve watched any films before, you’ll know that this is suspect. A hat on a little girl means that she has a 90% chance of having cancer. And of course this little girl does have cancer.

Oh, what’s going to happen here? Is she going to wither and die? Or is our hero going to find a way of performing a miracle and save the wee innocent poppet and try to wring out some undeserved emotion from this festering shitpile of a movie? What do you think?

This movie is so bad that it really should be studied. It’s a brilliant encapsulation of how you can get everything wrong. You can take this good idea and fuck it up with terrible writing, awful casting, atrocious acting and hamfisted melodrama. A film like this could be wonderful like Wings of Desire. It just needs someone with a bit of intelligence and taste. Instead we get the guy who wrote Batman & Robin. It would have been a real, genuine bona fide miracle if this had turned out well. But of course, it didn’t. I guess I’m sticking to atheism then...

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