(On Cable TV, June 2017) I had reasonably high hopes pure fantasy film Tale of Tales—it’s Italian, based on lesser-known fairy tales rather than familiar stories, and it seems to have a decent-enough budget to do itself justice. Then there was the film’s rating, easily aimed at adult audiences. Before long, we start understanding why: As the film adds up cruel deaths, raw desires, nudity, unpleasant plot developments and a fair heaping of violence, it’s clear that Tale of Tales is not in the comfort business, nor does it particularly care if you’re feeling put-off by the results. But then there are other issues: The three tales don’t appreciably feed off each other, they end without much in terms of denouement and they’re often pointlessly cruel like only classic fairy tales could be. The topline cast is impressive (in-between John C. Reilly, Salma Hayek, Vincent Cassel and Toby Jones) but their roles are often repellent or cut short, which stands for the rest of the film in many ways. It really doesn’t help that the film clocks in at more than two hours, far too long for the stories being told. Tale of Tales, in other words, is not just dull and long—it’s mean-spirited, unpleasant and empty of meaning. This is not a good combination, no matter one’s initial expectations.