Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Adventures in Cinematic Failure: "Winter's Tale" Really Sucks

I'm lucky enough to have access to a screening series in New York, where I get to see movies for free about every other week. It's an especially great group to be a part of during the Oscar season when so many great films are out (and is why my bank account can survive my obsession with the Academy Awards). But, once the awards season is over-- as it is now-- then the film screenings tend towards the random. It's still a great group, as I get a chance to see films that I ordinarily wouldn't have bothered to see, and sometimes I am pleasantly surprised. But this past week, I saw the new film Winter's Tale and it was one of the worst things I've ever seen. It's really bad. Really, really bad. I went into it with only the lowest expectations, and I was still disappointed. Few things could ever hope to be this bad. Having spent the past few posts discussing the very best in film of the past year, it might be a nice change of pace to write about one of the worst films in recent memory. And so, for your reading pleasure, I am going to summarize the film to the best of my ability and, of course, point out the many, many, many flaws as the film went on.

To start, the positives. The film looks beautiful.

Thus ends the list of positives.

Actually, the other positive is that at least Russell Crowe doesn't sing.

The film starts with an overly dramatic narration saying something about stars and love and how we're all connected or something. I would mock it as being really cheesy and awful, except that it's probably the least cheesy and awful part of the movie.

Now it's 1886, and an immigrant couple (one of whom is played by Matt Bomer for no reason) are denied entry to the United States. The couple is disappointed, but not for themselves, but for their infant son who they think deserves a better life. They're so determined for their son to not have to live in...wherever they come from since they never actually tell us...that rather than keep him, they lower him into the ocean in a toy boat. Keep in mind that it's not a real boat, it's just a model of a ship, and from the looks of it, they're not exactly near shore. This baby would have little to no chance of survival and these parents are probably the least responsible parents in the world.

But, luckily for them, their terrible plan works and the child grows into Colin Farrell.

Farrell, immediately after watching this film.

Colin Farrell plays Peter Lake, a common thief with an Irish accent despite, as the opening scene showed us, having not grown up in Ireland. It's now 1916, and Farrell is running away from men in bowler hats. Now, in the completely incoherent trailer (although to be fair, the trailer makes more sense than the film itself) I assumed that these were cops. Since they're chasing down a thief. But, really they're apparently gangsters, led by Russell Crowe.

Russell Crowe does his best "Russell Crowe with a scar" face.

They have him cornered and are about to kill him. But Colin Farrell is saved by a magical white horse.

Read that again. Colin Farrell is saved by a magical white horse.

This happens less than ten minutes into the film, and is probably the earliest a deus ex machina has ever appeared in a film.

The best performance in the film and Colin Farrell.
The thing is that Colin Farrell takes an unreasonably long time to climb onto the magical white horse, and I have to wonder why Russell Crowe doesn't shoot him. But there's a very good reason for this: Russell Crowe is really bad at killing people in this film. Really really bad. This is just instance #1. Take a drink every time Russell Crowe doesn't kill someone.

So Colin Farrell escapes on the magical white horse which might be able to fly, and decides to flee New York City to hide out. He takes the horse to...a location (again, unspecified) and talks to...a guy. I'm pretty sure we don't ever learn his name. But, after Colin Farrell leaves, he knowingly says to the horse "I was wondering when you'd get here," so the guy clearly has some sort of magical quality. The guy does not do anything in this entire film.

We find out that Russell Crowe is a demon. We are also told in expositiony dialogue that Colin Farrell used to be his protege and that demon Russell Crowe thinks of him as a son. Don't worry, this part of their relationship never has any impact on the story and neither ever shows any emotion towards the fact that their father/son relationship has become a rivalry. That would be too interesting. Demon Russell Crowe is trying to kill Colin Farrell because he's going to perform a miracle. And, as a demon, Russell Crowe can't let that happen.

Back to Colin Farrell, he's trying to leave town and plans to ride the magical white horse to Florida. Because that's doable. But the horse refuses to move, and Colin Farrell takes this to mean he should rob another house before he leaves. He sneaks into a house which clearly belongs to a wealthy family-- being all thiefly like he is-- but finds that the house is not abandoned as he originally believed. Instead, Jessica Brown Findlay is there-- she plays Beverly Penn and she has consumption. Earlier we saw a doctor who looked horrified to see how poorly she was doing even though she looks perfectly fine.

Jessica Brown Findlay does her best "close to dying" face
Colin Farrell watches her play the piano and accidentally steps on a floorboard, which squeaks. Jessica Brown Findlay turns and sees him holding a gun. Colin Farrell attempts to alleviate the tension in the room by simply saying the word "squeaks." That's his actual line. She looks at him, and he just says, "squeaks."

Seriously, this scene feels like Colin Farrell forgot his lines, but remembered that one of the words is "squeaks," so he just said that a few times.

But whether Colin Farrell knew any of his lines is not important here. What's important is that because Jessica Brown Findlay is hot, Colin Farrell decides not to rob the house. And because Colin Farrell is hot, Jessica Brown Findlay is not scared of him. Even though he's a stranger who snuck into her house and was creepily watching her (and I didn't mention she'd just gotten out of the bath) and is holding a gun. But, again, he's hot, so therefore can't be dangerous. They drink tea and talk about their lives and fall in love. We know that they fall in love because...we're told they are. Seriously, there's no reason for these characters to connect at all, and the actors don't share any chemistry. But they're in love because...they are. Just accept it, because there's more ridiculousness to come.

Colin Farrell rides away on the magical white horse but meets up with a Native American man  who, like with many other supporting characters in this movie, is completely unexplained and never appears again. He tells Colin Farrell that the horse is actually a guardian angel who shows up when someone's going to perform a miracle, and encourages Colin Farrell to go and be with Jessica Brown Findlay.

The previous night, Russell Crowe had been at a restaurant and injured a waiter and drew something in his blood. The drawing is supposed to be a redheaded woman, but it looks like more like a "squiggly thing." And because the waiter was a virgin (luckily for Russell Crowe) this means the drawing is actually a prophecy, so Russell Crowe thinks that the redheaded woman must have something to do with Colin Farrell's miracle so he tries to find her.

Anyway, demon Russell Crowe finds Jessica Brown Findlay-- the redheaded woman-- and menacingly talks to her before killing her. Now, it's a common criticism that movie villains tend to explain their plans for no reason, thus giving the chance for the hero to foil said plan. Consider almost every James Bond film ever made. But this irrational trope is especially egregious here. Russell Crowe even mentions while talking to Jessica that he has to kill her quickly since Colin Farrell is probably on his way to save her. He actually acknowledges his time limit, and then continues to talk for a really long time. Unsurprisingly, Colin Farrell shows up riding his magical fucking white horse-- which is an incredibly conspicuous way to arrive. Russell Crowe can see and hear him from across the block...yet still does not take this opportunity to kill Jessica Brown Findlay. Even though he was just talking about how it's really important for him to kill Jessica Brown Findlay. Instead, he just watches as Colin Farrell rides on by and effortlessly picks up Jessica and the two of them ride away on their magical white horse. Demon Russell Crowe gets really angry about this despite having made no effort to stop it. That has been instance #2 of Russell Crowe being really bad at killing people. Take a drink.

So, Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay ride away on the magical white horse as demon Russell Crowe and his gangsters chase them. Colin Farrell gets to the edge of the city, which is apparently a cliff overlooking a frozen lake. Jessica Brown Findlay is scared because the horse is about to jump off the cliff, but Colin Farell tells her that the horse can fly. This is certainly news to the audience, and it's rather unclear how Colin Farrell knows this particular fact, but he does and the horse does indeed fly off the cliff with invisible wings that the audience can see (???) and runs away on the frozen lake. Russell Crowe is angry, and tells us that he can't follow them because it's "against the rules." Instead, he kills his second-in-command-- a guy named Romeo. With such a literary name, you'd think that maybe he has something in common with the famous character after which he is named. He does not. Other than the fact that he dies, but in this case, it's certainly not tragic.

Seriously, this guy is named Romeo, yet has nothing to do with the Shakespeare character. There's later a character named Caesar, who also has nothing to do with the Shakespeare character. And the film is called Winter's Tale yet has nothing to do with the Shakespeare play The Winter's Tale. What gives?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, demon Russell Crowe is not the one who actually kills Romeo-- he makes a henchman do it instead. So his track record of not successfully killing anyone himself stands. You can breathe a sigh of relief.

The magical white horse keeps running on the frozen lake and happens to take its two passengers to the very place that Jessica Brown Findlay was planning to head to that very day. Good job, magical white horse! There, Colin Farrell meets Jessica Brown Findlay's family-- specifically her father, played by William Hurt, and her sister Willa, who seems to be about seven by my estimation, and is the most precocious and whimsical child ever put on film, beating out competitors in this category like Dakota Fanning in I Am Sam and the character Timothy Green from the film The Twee Life of Tweemothy Green.

The actress' name is McKayla Twiggs, which totally sounds like a Hogwarts student.

McKayla Twiggs precociously tells Colin Farrell that because he loves Jessica Brown Findlay, he can save her. She brings him to a greenhouse, which contains a bed that she built out of wishes. Not even kidding. Colin Farrell will later say that the bed was built with the wishes of a child. McKayla Twiggs tells him that if he kisses Jessica Brown Findlay on the bed, then she won't die of consumption. Colin Farrell does nothing with this information. He spends a lot of time with the family and gets to know them. At one point he saves the house from exploding, but even that is boring.

We also learn that stars are the souls of the virtuous people after they died. And Jessica Brown Findlay really likes stars and knows a lot about them. She proves this by listing all the names of the stars several times. "Castor, Pollux, Cassiopeia, Ursa Minor, Ursa Major, Polaris." These are, I think, the only ones she ever says, though, but a list of six proves her expertise pretty definitively. Except that Cassiopeia, Ursa Minor, and Ursa Major are all constellations and not stars, so...not really sure what's going on here but either way, half of her list is wrong.

While all of this is happening, demon Russell Crowe goes to meet with "The Judge." Who is actually Lucifer. Who is played by Will Smith. At one point this would have been really funny because this means that the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is the devil. But then Will Smith proved he's a serious, Oscar-nominated actor whose cameo could hold a lot of weight. But, the thing is, Will Smith hasn't really done anything good lately. His last film was the disastrous After Earth. So his presence here is not as much "Oh cool, Will Smith," it's more "Why is Will Smith here? And why is he the devil?"

Demon Russell Crowe asks devil Will Smith for permission to leave New York City to chase after Colin Farrell and kill him. His reasoning here is pretty sound-- Colin Farrell is going to perform a miracle, demons can't allow that to happen, Colin Farrell is away from New York City, so demon Russell Crowe needs to leave to kill him. Devil Will Smith, however, decides not to allow this for reasons which aren't ever explained and tells demon Russell Crowe that he has to find another way. Even though it would be so easy for him to be like "okay," and thus allow demon Russell Crowe to perform his task. Demon Russell Crowe leaves, sulking, and devil Will Smith foreshadowingly tells him that "The miracle might not be what it seems." Demon Russell Crowe hears this coming from a seemingly all-knowing and all-powerful devil and decides to do nothing with this information.

Demon Russell Crowe, luckily, finds a way around his problem by speaking to another demon-- who the credits tell us is named Gabriel even though in mythology Gabriel is not a devil but an angel so why is he a demon who is named Gabriel ohmygodthisfilmsucks-- and basically tells the demon to go to the house and kill Jessica Brown Findlay. Demon Gabriel is like "But we're not supposed to go out of the city," and demon Russell Crowe is like "Yeah, it'll be okay," and that's the end of that. It's never explained why this rule can be broken but others can't.

Oh, I forgot to mention that Russell Crowe learns of Colin Farrell's whereabouts because some jewels told him. He, like, can read jewels. Again, never explained.

So, the demon who the credits tell us is named Gabriel goes to the house and slips some sort of magic poison into Jessica Brown Findlay's drink when no one's looking. Later that night, Colin Farrell and Jessica Brown Findlay have sex and she immediately dies. Like, literally immediately after. It's weird. This murder, of course, succeeded because a person other than demon Russell Crowe carried out the murder. Good job, demon who is confusingly named Gabriel. You are the most competent character in the movie. Colin Farrell rushes Jessica Brown Findlay to the...sigh...bed of wishes and kisses her. Nothing happens. Later, at the funeral, McKayla Twiggs precociously gives Colin Farrell a flower because that's what whimsical children do.

With the love of his life gone, Colin Farrell gives up and basically just waits for demon Russell Crowe to kill him. Demon Russell Crowe arrives with a ridiculous number of henchman, and yet it still takes a really long time to capture Colin Farrell. The magical white horse flies away and demon Russell Crowe has Colin Farrell in his clutches. Rather than shoot him, or stab him, demon Russell Crowe decides that the very best weapon he could use is his head. He head-butts Colin Farrell several times, and then finally head-butts him off of a bridge.

But because he is Russell Crowe in this movie, Colin Farrell survives. This is instance #3 of Russell Crowe being really bad at killing people. Take your third drink. We watch Colin Farrell crawl out of the sea but discover that he has amnesia. So sad.

Now we fast forward to 2014. That's 98 years. 98 years have passed. This is an important fact to remember. It's also important to note that what I just described is the BETTER HALF OF THE MOVIE. Its level of suckiness is nothing compared to what happens in the second half of the film. You have been warned.

So, Colin Farrell has not aged at all in the 98 years, but his hair grew out a little bit.

"Oh god, it's only half over."
Colin Farrell still does not know who he is or where he came from. And these questions still seem to be foremost on his mind-- over other concerns like "I still look the same and have been alive for 98 years," and "I don't seem to have met or befriended any other person in those 98 years," and "I need a haircut."

But then he's walking around Central Park and he walks by the guy from before. You know, the guy. The guy who seemed to know about the horse and was like "I was wondering when you'd get here." Well, he's here again and does what he does best: he says a cryptic thing. This time he says something like "Okay, Peter, it's time for you to change." I'm not even sure. Well, he flips a coin and this causes Colin Farrell to bump into a little girl. Neither of them seem to be bothered by this, and have a conversation that Colin Farrell earlier had with McKayla Twiggs. This supposedly represents something, but it's not like they end up being the same person reincarnated or anything, so I'm not really sure what it means. Basically, the little girl is just trying to out-precocious McKayla Twiggs. She doesn't quite do it, but she tries. She then asks Colin Farrell what his name is and he replies, "I don't know."

WHAT?! HE DOESN'T KNOW?! Like, I get that he has amnesia and doesn't remember who he is, but this is a dilemma he has faced for 98 years. Did he not, at any point in those 98 years, think "Maybe I'll just come up with a name. Something that people can call me in case they ask me really simple questions like 'What's your name?' Maybe I'll call myself Colin." No, instead, he spent the entire time just wandering around going "I can't remember my name. Welp, guess I just don't have one."

The girl and her mother, Jennifer Connelly, walk away. Nothing happens. There is no change. Even though random useless magic guy said there would be. Don't worry, he never shows up again and we never find out who he is.

But somehow, without any prompting, Colin Farrell suddenly remembers that he used to live in the roof of Grand Central Station. So he goes there and finds various trinkets from his past. Using them, he pieces together that he might have had something to do with the Penn family. This brings him to the Isaac Penn Reading Room, where he talks to a librarian (depressingly played by the very talented Norm Lewis).

Winter's Tale: A Tale of Two Javerts
Colin Farrell wants to look through the archives of the reading room, which is fine, except that he needs two forms of valid ID. Which he doesn't have.

So, this shouldn't surprise me because he DOESN'T HAVE A NAME but how does he not have any ID? How, in 98 years, did "getting an ID" not come up? It becomes clear that Colin Farrell did not go to the police or a doctor after he had his amnesia. But why not? That would be a normal thing to do! It's not like he remembers he's a thief, so why wouldn't he go to the police? And even if he doesn't have a valid ID, how has he not gotten a fake one? In 98 YEARS?! And...wait, we saw him sitting in his apartment earlier. How does he own/rent an apartment without a valid ID? Or a name? WHAT IS GOING ON?!

Anyway, Jennifer Connelly overhears this. She happens to be a reporter and therefore doesn't need. any ID to go back to the research room, and she decides to help him. This must be why Colin Farrell had to bump into her in the park, so she'd recognize him and decide to help him except WAIT NO SHE SAYS "Do I know you?" AND HE SAYS "I don't think so," SO THEY DON'T RECOGNIZE EACH OTHER AT ALL AND THE WHOLE CENTRAL PARK SCENE WAS USELESS. USELESS. Despite not recognizing him, Jennifer Connelly agrees to help him, saying that she was having trouble with her current project anyway. When Colin Farrell asks what her project was, she says something like "Oh, the cure for cancer or something," which is puzzling because we later find out she's a food columnist.

So, they go to the back room and go through pictures of the Penn family-- Colin Farrell seems to recognize William Hurt, and then all of his memories come back when he sees Jessica Brown Findlay. He starts babbling that he knew her, which is clearly impossible because these pictures were taken 98 years ago. But, sure enough, the very next picture they find is of Jessica Brown Findlay and Colin Farrell standing next to each other.

This puts Jennifer Connelly in a weird situation. If this happened to me, and I were a reporter-- a profession which typically attracts rational and fact-driven people-- I would think that Colin Farrell was a con artist who had somehow hacked the computer and photoshopped himself into the picture. But even if I believed that the picture was genuinely untouched, then this means that he is either a time traveler or an ageless being who is at least 100 years old. Jennifer Connelly responds to this news by disinterestedly saying "What's going on here?" She is way too calm . And is, in fact, way too calm throughout the entire film. Seriously, this character is ridiculously unenthusiastic. And all of Jennifer Connelly's line readings have this certain drowsy quality which makes the second half of this film just so unbelievably uninteresting and perplexing. It's beautiful, and truly the worst performance in a film chock full of them.

A friendly reminder that she won an Oscar.

So, Colin Farrell bemoans that all of the people he knew must be dead, which he treats as some sort of revelation even though he lost his memory 98 years ago so he must have known this already. And then Jennifer Connelly says (in, of course, the most uninterested tone possible) "Not all of them."

She says this, we find, because it just so happens that the editor-in-chief of the magazine at which she works is...Willa Penn. The precocious child. Who is played by Eva Marie Saint, who looks like this.

And if we are to believe the timeline of the movie, she should be 105 years old.

Eva Marie Saint is 89 years old, but looks amazing for her age-- there's no way she would be over 100. And if she's over 100, how is she STILL THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF A MAJOR PUBLICATION?! Shouldn't she have retired by now? Is no one concerned that there's a literally ancient person running this magazine?! HOW IS SHE STILL ALIVE?! DOES SHE EXIST ON A HEALTHY DIET OF WHIMSY?!

So, Colin Farrell and Jennifer Connelly go to meet this 105-year old super editor at her office. She sees Colin Farrell and, amazingly, does not immediately keel over in a stroke. No, rather than showing any shock, horror, or disbelief at seeing her sister's boyfriend from nearly 100 years ago standing before her looking completely unchanged (he cut his hair at some point so he really is completely unchanged), she simply throws her arms up, says "Peter Lake!" and gives him a hug.

This, I think we can all agree, is not a normal response. Seriously, no one in this movie is at all concerned that Colin Farrell is an immortal possible demigod. Jennifer Connelly asks Eva Marie Saint how this is possible (finally) and Eva Marie Saint replies with something along the lines of, "When you've lived as long as I have, you realize that things happen." Sure, things happen...but not things like this!!! Yes, I understand that they're characters in a fantasy movie, but THEY DON'T KNOW THAT! Thankfully, this ridiculous scene ends, and there's not any real point to it other than to show that Willa is still super whimsical even as an old lady. Her final line in the scene is simply to say that she likes pecans. And, thus, she disappears from the film forever. Jennifer Connelly and Colin Farrell are now alone. Now, I know I've made this point before, but again, Jennifer Connelly is a normal person, who is faced with an ageless, seemingly immortal being who is over 100 years old. And while she might have doubted him before, she has now heard first-hand from someone that he is in fact the same person from the photographs 98 years ago. And, in response to all of this, she says the following line. I swear this is the exact line from the film, and it is as ridiculous on the screen as it is here. She says:
"I have a chicken."

Read it again. Read the line. See, what she's doing is inviting him over to dinner, where she's planning to make chicken. But EVEN IF we were to believe the absurd situation that her response here is to invite him for dinner, the fact that the screenwriter thought the best line to convey this would be "I have a chicken," is mind-boggling. I had given up on this movie long before this, but I was especially over it now. What a ridiculous line. Who wrote this crap?!

Oh. The screenwriter was Akiva Goldsman.

Akiva Goldsman won an Academy Award for Best Screenplay once.

An Academy Award-winning writer wrote the line "I have a chicken."

I hate everything.

At first, Colin Farrell declines the invitation, but then shows up anyway. He has dinner with Jennifer Connelly and her daughter. To the film's credit, it does appear that they are having chicken, so at least it's consistent here. Colin Farrell learns that the daughter has cancer, and she begins to convulse and passes out. As she's passed out at the window, Colin Farrell realizes that the drawing of the woman with the red hair is actually the daughter! And the red hair isn't red hair at all-- it's the red headscarf that she's wearing on her head because of the cancer!

Unfortunately, demon Russell Crowe has found this out too. See, remember how jewels talk to him? Well the jewels choose just now to tell him that Colin Farrell is still alive. Why did they wait 98 years? For dramatic tension.

So demon Russell Crowe goes back to devil Will Smith and is like "How did this happen?" Devil Will Smith tells him that the miracle they all sensed would happen was actually caused by Jessica Brown Findlay! She loved Colin Farrell sooooooo much that he remained alive. Which means that Colin Farrell is not performing his miracle until just now. Devil Will Smith admirably resists the urge to say "REMEMBER WHEN I SAID THAT THINGS AREN'T WHAT THEY SEEM? THIS IS WHAT I MEANT, YOU IDIOT!"

But, here's the problem for me...Jessica Brown Findlay performed a miracle and demon Russell Crowe wasn't even aware of it for 100 years. Which means that performing a miracle didn't really have any consequences. But, why then is demon Russell Crowe so adamant that miracles not happen? It doesn't seem to have any adverse affect on the demons whatsoever. So why does he care? Is he just an asshole? Does he like squashing miracles because, well, that's just what demons do? What is his reason for this?! THERE ARE NO STAKES AND NO LOGIC IN THIS STUPID MOVIE!

Demon Russell Crowe resolves to actually kill Colin Farrell for realzies this time-- and given his track record that's going to work out great. Seriously, he has to be the least menacing villain ever. I mean, the worst thing he's done in the entire movie was butcher his accent. Zing. He's so determined to kill Colin Farrell that he strikes up a deal with devil Will Smith that he gives up his immortality. It's never explained exactly why this is necessary, but, like with all the other unexplained things in this film, it's best not to think about it too much. Besides, it was never really established that he couldn't be killed before. We never see him, for example, get shot and then immediately heal. So, for us, there hasn't really been a change. But...I digress. Now not immortal demon Russell Crowe tracks down Colin Farrell's whereabouts and arrives at Jennifer Connelly's house. Colin Farrell realizes they have to get out of there, so he and Jennifer Connelly climb to the roof, unconscious cancer-ridden child in tow. Now this might seem like a stupid plan, as there's nowhere to go once they're on the roof. But...when they get to the roof, they find something there, waiting for them. Something that made me laugh out loud in the middle of the theater.

Are you ready to know what it is?

It's the fucking magical white horse.

So they fly away on the magical white horse and go to the same house they escaped to beforehand-- the giant mansion which is, luckily, uninhabited ever since the Penn family all died out. Jennifer Connelly asks if it's safe and Colin Farrell says that it is, because demon Russell Crowe can't follow them there.

Naturally, demon Russell Crowe then shows up with his troupe of gangsters all driving black cars. This surprises us, as we had not heard that he could go there now, but luckily Colin Farrell has an explanation-- one which I as a viewer was eagerly anticipating. Seeing demon Russell Crowe arriving, Colin Farrell looks at him and simply says "Rules can change." Which is not a good explanation, is not a complete explanation, and barely even qualifies as an explanation, but at least it's something. In fact, it sums up the entire narrative of the movie. This is not a movie that is concerned with rules. This is not a movie that is concerned with logic. Rules, after all, can change, so why stick to them? Why make an effort to create any semblance of guidelines for how this world works. It's not like that's important when setting up a fantasy film. HAVE I MENTIONED HOW MUCH THIS MOVIE SUCKS?!

So, Russell Crowe is there and is really ready to kill everyone. But while he's busy talking, the magical white horse decides to break the ice, which makes all of the gangsters and their cars sink into the water and die. Meaning that the magical white horse has magically saved the day three times in the film. Three deus ex machinae are too many for a single story.

Demon Russell Crowe and Colin Farrell begin to fight. Russell Crowe immediately has an advantage, and begins to kick and headbutt Colin Farrell.  Seriously, he really likes headbutting. He keeps doing this for quite some time. At this point, it would be so easy for him to kill Colin Farrell. But, instead, he just keeps headbutting him. And he keeps doing this until Colin Farrell manages to stab him with one of the trinkets he found in Grand Central earlier in the movie. Demon Russell Crowe dies from this-- in complete shock at the fact that someone would think to use an actual weapon, and a technique other than just headbutting. His last thought was surely "Doing something to actually fatally kill the other person? Why didn't I think of that?!"

As demon Russell Crowe dies, I realize that this is instance #4 of him failing to kill someone. Take a drink. In fact, take another drink, because he also failed to kill Jennifer Connelly. And take a third drink because he also failed to kill the most deadly foe of all-- an unconscious child with cancer.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Connelly continues to have the same comatose expression throughout the whole film.
Having vanquished demon Russell Crowe, the logical thing would be to ride the magical fucking white horse back to a hospital. But, oh noes! The child died at some point! Don't worry-- she was not killed by Russell Crowe's character because that would be a true miracle.

Also, it was at this point that I realized that the daughter does have red hair, which seems redundant because I thought the red headscarf was supposed to symbolize the red hair, so why does she also have to have red hair? Meh, it doesn't matter. That's the least of this film's problems.

But, yeah, the cancer child is dead. Jennifer Connelly seems kind of sad about this and maybe even says "Oh no," or something. It's not as much of a reaction as I would expect from a single mother whose daughter just died, but it's the most emotion she shows in the whole film, so I'll let it slide.

But Colin Farrell has an idea! He carries the dead girl to the bed of wishes that Willa had made as a young girl. Now, I got really worried here because I thought the whole point was that he had to kiss the person on the bed to bring them back to life. But...even for this film, having Colin Farrell make out with a dead child would be a bit much. But they go to the greenhouse, lay her on the bed and then, just kind of ask her to not be dead anymore. They cry on her, Colin Farrell kisses her on the forehead, and he also puts down the flower that Willa gave to him as a young girl. Which has survived without going bad for 98 years because fuck logic, I mean, seriously, he was thrown in to the ocean and the flower was still okay. Also, for some reason, he never threw away the flower during his time with amnesia even though he had no cause to think he should keep it. Although at first it looks like nothing happened, eventually the dead cancer girl wakes up and Jennifer Connelly is so happy she almost smiles.

The film ends and Colin Farrell flees this shitty movie by flying on the magical white horse into the night sky to, theoretically, become another star and join Beverly in the night sky.

And...that's the end. In the end, he finally gets to be with his true love who died almost a hundred years prior and who hadn't been on the screen for an hour. And his one true destiny was to save a littler girl who he met twice in his life and whose family he had absolutely no relation to otherwise.

In case you couldn't tell from my commentary, this movie sucks. The performances are wooden, the dialogue is stupid, and the logic of the film is completely incoherent. And that last one is the worst flaw of the film. I love fantasy, but to set up a fantastical world, you need to define how the world works. This film hardly explains any of what's happening, and a lot of what it explains, it later contradicts. The film never explains the real role of magic in this world. Russell Crowe shows his supernatural demonic powers in public and everyone seems to accept it, and no one questions it. Similarly, we never know just how much Colin Farrell knows about this world. We know from that one single line at the beginning that he was raised by Russell Crowe, so maybe he knows about demons? And yet he seems rather out of the loop at the beginning of the film. And NOBODY REACTS TO THE WEIRD THINGS THAT HAPPEN!!! That's the worst part. All these humans take everything infuriatingly in stride.

There are plenty of bad movies out there, but what makes Winter's Tale especially enjoyable to watch is the fact that it takes itself really seriously. You can tell that it's trying to be profound and trying to be magical, and everyone involved seem to think they're succeeding. So the fact that they're not succeeding even a little bit is part excruciating and part hilarious. And the worst part is that it could have been a good movie. The characters are not interesting, but they could have been, and the novel on which it is based is hugely popular, and I can see how it would make a great book. I hear that the film and the book are completely different, so that's a good start. But the lack of any attention to detail, the stupidity of the characters, and the all-around incoherent narrative make Winter's Tale one of the most astonishing cinematic failures I've ever seen, and it's an early contender for worst film of 2014.

But at least Jennifer Connelly has a chicken. And that's something for which we can all be thankful.

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