Magic in the Wrong Hands: WINTER'S TALE

Friday, February 14, 2014

If there are two things I love more than film and food, it's magic and romance.

There is a part of me that truly believes when I finally take the time to commit to it, I have a book inside me to rival the stories of King Arthur and Camelot, Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet, Gone with the Wind, and Harry Potter.  A story with the perfect blend of symbolic spirituality and philosophical universalism, a story that brings alive the most alluring star crossed lovers who find each other throughout time and space.  A messages that touches the most cynical of hearts and is just damn good fun to boot!  Now, I ask you, is that hubris or what? - LOL!

Photo Credit: David C. Lee
COLIN FARRELL as Peter Lake and JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY as Beverly Penn in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' romantic fantasy adventure "WINTER'S TALE"

From what I understand, Mark Helprin's 1983 novel "Winter's Tale", may come close to the book I want to write. Unfortunately, writer/director Akiva Goldsman's movie based upon this novel does not come close.

Winter's Tale, the movie (@wbpictures), begins in Ellis Island where we see a young couple with an infant son being turned away from entering New York City, due to the husband's illness. The couple realizing their chance at "The American Dream" is over, think perhaps there's still a possibility for their child, so they steal a glass encased model ship, place the child inside the imitation vessel, and like Moses, send it out with the hope (in fact they enclose the ship's plaque "City of Hope") someone will find the child and adopt it.  They'll never know their hopes were denied.  Their infant son, called Peter Lake (don't know if the couple also enclosed the name) grows up on the mean streets of New York City, until he meets a crime boss of sorts Pearly Soames (Russell Crowe) who takes in Peter Lake (Colin Farrell) using and encouraging his talents as a thief.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
RUSSELL CROWE (center) as Pearly Soames in Warner Bros. Pictures' and Village Roadshow Pictures' romantic fantasy adventure "WINTER'S TALE," distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures.

Unfortunately, we don't get to witness Lake's life growing up or get a first hand knowledge of his relationship with Soames.  By the time we meet Peter Lake, he's being chased by Soames' men, finds a magical white horse and temporarily escapes his pursuers. Despite whatever went down with Soames, Peter's survival still depends on stealing, he finds the horse useful in his profession.  The horse leads him to a home with the family leaving on holiday, only the eldest sick with consumption daughter, Beverly (Jessica Brown Findlay) remains at home - It's love at first sight for dying Beverly and the handsome burglar.

Photo Credit: David C. Lee

Hollywood has been wanting to make #WintersTale into a movie for many years, but taming Helprin's book/saga to fit into the length of a screenplay seemed impossible.  It may not be impossible, but it is still something yet to be accomplished.

Photo Credit: David C. Lee
The movie has lovely pieces, Beverly's little sister Willa (Mckayla Twiggs) adds a special element.  This little girl truly looks like a princess out of a 15th century Russian novel. Farrell and Findlay's chemistry is present and their time spent in her families beautiful, little winter castle (Coheeries) evokes romantic charm.  But mainly the movie feels like it's full of holes and dumbed down; something I felt before I knew the book was 700 pages long and Goldsman threw out 300 before beginning his screenplay. There's no subtleties, I felt as if I was being hit over the head with magic, light, God vs Satan, miracles, immortality, reincarnation, the power of love... blah, blah, blah.

Back to my opening sentence - If there are two things I love more than film and food, it's magic and romance. In fact, I make myself late for work everyday by starting my morning with reruns of reruns of the show Charmed, proving reality and magic can work together.  You may ask, how can I compare an Aaron Spelling show, with Winter's Tale, a thoughtful yarn of destiny and redemption?  I can because all story telling is about finding a rhythm, you can take an audience anywhere, mix any genre, if you have that rhythm, when you don't hit it, it's just a hodge podge of themes, and that feels like blah, blah, blah.

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Akiva Goldsman is no novice when it comes to works of mysticism, science fiction and things beyond our knowledge and power. His writing/directing/producing credits include: A Beautiful Mind, The Da Vinci Code, Paranormal Activity, I am Legend, and another of my favorite shows Fringe.

And I know when it comes to book to film adaptations, some work better than others, some stay truer to the source material and every once in a while, the movie will actually outshine the book. Still, when I read the below original review of the novel "Winter's Tale", I couldn't help but wish the movie I saw came even a fraction to being this :
"Utterly extraordinary . . . A piercing sense of the beautiful arising from narrative and emotional fantasy is everywhere alive in the novel . . . Not for some time have I read a work as funny, thoughtful, passionate or large-souled . . . I find myself nervous, to a degree I don’t recall in my past as a reviewer, about failing the work, inadequately displaying its brilliance." READ MOREBenjamin DeMott, New York Times Book Review

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About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?

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