Michael Bergeron
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Film Facts 5.20.16

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Based on the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile and assembled by acclaimed Italian director Matteo Garrone, Tale of Tales offers up one disturbing image after the other. And that’s a good thing. Real fairy tales are dark and twisted, not Disney fantasies.

There’s an ogre, a real life Shrek who can smell humans a mile away. There’s a flea that has been bred and raised like a puppy, and happens to be the size of a pony. Medieval nudity and debauchery reign, as does a sad queen who makes a diabolical deal that involved eating the heart of a sea monster. Of course only after said organ is cooked by a virgin.tae

The mostly English language production features an international cast that includes Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, John C. Reilly, Shirley Henderson and others. Multiple stories interweave throughout the narrative.

Much of what transpires floats by as if in a dream – or a fairy tale. Tale of Tales unwinds exclusively at the downtown Sundance Cinemas Houston.

Also at the Sundance is the British documentary Dark Horse, which chronicles the residents of an impoverished Welsh town who decide to compete in the rich man’s game of horse breeding and racing. The horse, Dream Alliance wins a few and loses a few. Dream Alliance was the first horse to undergo stem cell therapy after a hoof injury. Dark Horse pays as much attention to the lives of the participants as to the actual sport of equine steeplechase competition. Horses have better dental care than some of the people on display.

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising answers many of the questions that were left dangling in Neighbors. This is one of those vanity projects green lighted because Seth Rogen has made some actually funny films. This isn’t one of them. Neighbors 2 looks cheap, has no worthy laughs, has something to offend everyone and will make buckets of money. You’ve been warned.

The good news for movie fans is that this weekend features the opening of a real movie. That means a flick that unwinds from beginning to end with a sense of loyalty to what makes cinema great. The Nice Guys from writer/director Shane Black conjures up a period 1970s Los Angeles besotted with smog, private eyes, murder, catalytic converters and a tinge of Abbott and Costello physical comedy.niceguys-1449438449669_1280w

Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling star, both against type, as bumbling private dicks. At least Gosling is a licensed PI, whereas Crowe just beats people up for hire. Throughout the movie they seem to pick up each other’s habits.

A convoluted plot (Is there any other kind in a sleuth tale?) moves the story back and forth from back alleys to missing persons to the porn industry to high society parties. Justice may not be equal for all and the nice guys may not always please their clients. The thrill of The Nice Guys comes from a constant barrage of witty dialogue and intriguing plot twists. You don’t want this film to end.

— Michael Bergeron