Reviews by Ken Burke
In this, our first posting of 2015 and the 3rd one into our 4th year of operation (Pat Craig—on the left in the little photo to your right—and I debuted this venture on December 12, 2011) my goal is to catch up on some of the current holiday/awards contenders-fare after having taken a luxurious week off, so there’s no common theme among these chosen 5, they’re just what I’ve seen lately, presented in my (keen!) estimation of descending order of quality, delivered to you in somewhat shorter fashion for each one than my usual lengthy enunciations so as to not require you to still be reading this until 2016 (with the review flow compressing a bit as my interests in the particular subject matter wanes). Also, 3 of these are based on real-life/biography-situations with the other 2 being adaptations of a play or an earlier movie; yet, I have the advantage (?) of not having seen any of this previous material so my judgments are only about what’s on the screen currently, although you may have to take that into account based on your knowledge of these various backstories as we navigate through the (insightful, of course) commentary. But first, the usual boilerplate stuff that you love so much …
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Artists marry, supposedly in mutual support, but as her strange portraits start selling he takes credit until she’s had enough of the ruse and him; based on real events.
Just to make a bunch of long stories a bit shorter, The Baker and his Wife finally gather up all the needed items so not only is their curse lifted but also The Witch returns to the appearance of her younger self, both Princes get their respective honeys, and Jack brings riches from above after climbing the magic beanstalk, robbing the giant in the sky, then chopping down the stalk which kills his pursuer. However, in the second half of this extended story, not much is “happily ever after” after all, as Cinderella tires of her preening, cheating Prince (“raised to be charming, not sincere”), The Witch has lost her powers then brings a curse upon herself to regain them and be swallowed up by the ground, Rapunzel leaves with her Prince rather than reconciling with her “stepmother” Witch, the Giant’s Wife (Frances de la Tour) comes down another hefty beanstalk (from another of the trove of magic legumes) to take revenge on Jack, while death claims many of the characters: The Baker’s Wife, Red Riding Hood’s mother and grandmother, Jack’s Mother. The remaining major characters huddle together in an attempt to learn something useful from their various fears and mistakes as they press on into an unknown future where they'll need to work together to survive.
History sets the story, with a look at the behind-the-canvas-life of famed 19th century English seascape painter J.M.W. Turner, whose work transcended his personality.
If you’d rather contact Ken directly rather than leaving a comment here please use my new email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks.
By the way, if you’re ever at The Hotel California knock on my door—but you know what the check out policy is so be prepared to stay for awhile. Ken
P.S. Just to show that I haven’t fully flushed Texas out of my system here’s an alternative destination for you, Home in a Texas Bar, with Gary P. Nunn and Jerry Jeff Walker.