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Shut Up and Take My Money!

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My movie notes entry got me thinking about live-action fairy tales. I’m very excited to see the new Beauty and the Beast and I thoroughly enjoyed the lovely yet weightless Cinderella of 2015, but I find myself yearning for a different kind of escapism. I want a naughty fairy tale. I want a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall adaptation of say…Rapunzel. Or Cinderella! Or Beauty and the Beast! Has this movie been made and I missed it? (If you say Snow White and the Huntsman I will ban you.)

I will feel stupid if it has but I have to ask. And if it hasn’t WILL SOMEONE MAKE THIS MOVIE NOW? Trump is president and I need something artful and beautiful and life-affirming now.

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  • Warren Terra

    I want a naughty fairy tale. I want a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall adaptation of say…Beauty and the Beast

    Well, there’s Jupiter Ascending

    I’ll see myself out.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      Jupiter Ascending, you fool.

      • Warren Terra

        Joke’s on you! The edit function is back!

    • Dennis Orphen

      Okay, you set me up for this:

      Scorpio Rising (for the soundtrack if nothing else)

      Then I recommend just about any book by Gene Wolfe.

    • A bad movie with some...stunning imagery.

      • Warren Terra

        You asked for:

        dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall

        I gave you:

        dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, furry, balls-to-wall

        Close enough I say. You didn’t say it couldn’t be a terrible movie.

  • tsam

    Did not the Tarzan reboot with the two hottest people on Earth not do it for you?

    • jamesepowell

      The New Improved But Still Pretty Racist Tarzan movie?

      • tsam

        Probably. I haven’t seen it. I didn’t like the last 431 Tarzan movies.

  • KeithB

    Would it be cheating to mention the 1946 Beauty and the Beast written and directed by Jean Cocteau?

    • Mr_Neutron

      Not at all–it’s a vastly more imaginative film than Disney’s live action zombie remake and it has the sort of controlled, ever-present sensuality that is better than “naughty.” And anything directed by Jean Cocteau is great and deserves seeing.

    • Origami Isopod

      The 1980s TV series Beauty and the Beast deserves a mention here as well.

      • GeorgeBurnsWasRight

        What GRRM was doing before GOT.

  • tsam

    I think what you’re really asking for is Lion King, you totally not furry.

    • Ronan

      Yep. And with added bestiality.

      eta: sentimentality with beasts, that is. Maybe I should use a different term.

  • Chieroscuro

    La Belle et la Bête 2014. French Beauty & the Beast release. Subtitled, so that’s a thing, but otherwise I thought it a vibrant take on the story.

    • erick

      Yeah I thought of that one right away.

      Also there was a French Bluebeard from 2009 by Catherine Breilatt that is very good.

      Sigourney Weaver and Sam Neil were in an R rated Snow White in the 90s, been so long since I’ve seen it I don’t remember if it was good or not.

      Red Riding Hood a few years ago with Amanda Seyfried tried for this but I didn’t think it was very good.

      I think the best dark fairy tale movie is still Neil Jordans A Company of Wolves

      • bender

        I think that’s In the Company of Wolves. It occurred to me too.

        There is a good deal of modern fiction along those lines. One of my favorites was a paperback of rewritten fairy tales by a woman author, might have been Angela Carter. I don’t remember the title; it may have been some version of Snow White and Rose Red, but the subtitle was Tales from (or of) the Sisters Grimmer. One story in it was a retelling of Snow White from the POV of the stepmother who is a Christian sorceress; her stepdaughter Bianca is a vampire and the stepmother spots this well before anyone else notices.

        This sort of thing could be tedious if not well done but this collection was well written and thought through.

        • Red as Blood (Or Tales of the Sisters Grimmer) by the late Tanith Lee. Originally published in 1983 but recently reprinted.

          You may be thinking of the (terrific) 1993 anthology Snow White, Blood Red, first of a series of fairy tale retellings edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. I think my favorite story in it (Lisa Goldstein’s “Breadcrumbs and Stones”) uses “Hansel and Gretel” as a vehicle for siblings to come to grips with their dying mother’s Holocaust experience.

          • bender

            I was thinking of Red as Blood. I bought it in the original edition. I’m glad to hear it has been reprinted.

      • William Berry

        Wrt remakes of LRRH, there’s 1996’s Freeway. Very definitely “dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall”. Well, you can delete “lush” actually.

  • Nobdy

    Not at all the same thing but have you seen Terry Gilliam’s The Brothers Grimm? I think it has some of the elements you want and the black forest he creates is very lush and entrancing.

    Far from Gilliam’s best but if you’re in the mood for fairy tale related movies I think you could do worse.

    Like you could see Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters. That would be doing worse. That would be doing much much worse.

  • tsam

    King Arthur is coming with the Sons of Anarchy dude. Don’t know if he does that sort of thing for you, but it looks violent–not sure about sexy, but the Guinevere triangle was always red meat for a sexfest.

  • NBarnes

    In The Company Of Wolves? Into The Woods?

  • MPAVictoria

    Seems like Labyrinth would be the perfect movie for you right now. Have you seen it?

  • Peterr

    I think you’re going about this backwards, dear.

    You need to ask “Who will throw lots of money at me, for the privilege of making a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall live-action fairy tale based on this? Or maybe this.”

    This is the Trump era, vacuumslayer. “Ask not how much money someone should take from you, but ask how much money you should demand from others.”

    • John Revolta

      When you’re right, you’re right, 2r’s.

      Slayerworld cries out to be brought to life!

    • Aww, geez, thanks! I guess some of my more whimsical works would make a good jumping off point for a story!

      • John Revolta

        I’m willing to bet 100 quatloos that when you’re doing some of your pieces that you already have in mind, if not a plotline, then at least a backstory.

  • Q.E.Dumbass

    Red Riding Hood: A mixture of the hardcore version and “The Cat’s Paw,” where the titular character is sent wi to Grandma’s house with cake, a gun, and a full clip of silver ammo (the wolf’s really her grandmother, although she doesn’t find out until she checks her pocket for the paw she found on the road).

    Much more depressingly, has anyone done an Adam and Eve story that was an explicit metaphor for CSA?

    • jamesepowell

      Confederate States of America?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        No, although the allegory wouldn’t just apply to one age bracket, on second thought.

    • Randy

      Community supported agriculture?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        No; CSA above can be shortened to SA without weakening the allegory –cf. “betrayal” and “informed consent.”

      • Origami Isopod
        • Q.E.Dumbass

          Damn. I hadn’t thought of that, and even if I did I certainly wouldn’t put it in an adaptation (too on the nose, for one thing).

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      ETA: Should read “explicit metaphor for sex abuse;” the high potential for it to become fucked-up beyond salvageability would likely cripple/doom it from the start.*

      *Sorry if this is mansplaining.

  • Klaus Edcase

    I’m not saying it’ may not be problematic on some levels, but have you ever seen Donkey Skin?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donkey_Skin_(film)

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      Also included in Grimm’s Fairy Tales as Allerleirauh. See, this is exactly why people write wills now.

    • Dennis Orphen

      I just knew there had to be a French animated film that would fit the bill.

      Now if you all will excuse me, I have to pop over to the Urban Dictionary for a moment.

  • Todd

    ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is sort of that thing, though an original fairy tale and not an adaptation.

    ‘The Red Shoes’ is sort of that thing, but with ballet, and encased in a realistic love triangle. (Also, ‘Black Swan’ in this vein).

    ‘Hanna’ has a lot of that stuff going on as well.

    ‘Tale of Tales’ is from a couple of years ago, and I haven’t seen it yet, but is based on the fairy tales of Giambattista Basile and was described as weird and adult to me.

    • BigHank53

      Pan’s Labyrinth was excellent, but not in the least bit funny.

      • N__B

        The failed elevator pitch: “Fascism begins at home. But with slapstick humor.”

    • erick

      Can’t believe I forgot Pans Labyrinith.

      Another good one is Del Toros earlier Devils Backbone which is also set in the Spanish Civil War

      • Has there been an anime reboot of Todo Sobre Mi Madre yet?

    • Pan’s Labyrinth is my second favourite film ever made (and was my all-time favourite until Moonlight supplanted it). However, as pointed out above, it’s not the least bit funny; it’s also not sexy. Still mandatory viewing for basically everyone at some point, though. (Though it’s probably too scary for children.)

      • Origami Isopod

        Though it’s probably too scary for children.

        I would absolutely not take a child to that movie. It is gorgeous on multiple levels, but it is also terrifying and heartbreaking.

        • I definitely wouldn’t take a young child to see it; it would scare the shit out of them. A teenager might be able to handle it, though. But yeah, you have a point about how heartbreaking it is. Might be the sort of thing you need to be at least fifteen or so to handle.

  • Warren Terra

    Maybe the mistake is asking for film? I get the sense this has been done a LOT in print.

    (though: if it works in print, why wouldn’t it work on film?)

    • gccolby

      if it works in print, why wouldn’t it work on film?

      No kidding? The list of print works that don’t translate to film, or more accurately, of print tropes and conventions that don’t translate to film, is bottomless.

      • Right. Try adapting Gravity’s Rainbow or Finnegans Wake to screen. Impossible. For that matter, even graphic novels have media conventions that can’t translate to screen, which was one reason Watchmen didn’t translate without flaws (though a greater reason was Zack Snyder’s misunderstanding of the source material).

        That said, I have a hypothesis that the more literary a work is, the more difficult it is to translate to screen without losing something. Though No Country for Old Men is a thorn in the side of this hypothesis, since most people agree that the film is every bit as good as the book. George Roy Hill’s adaptation of Slaughterhouse-Five is also fairly highly regarded, though it wasn’t commercially successful. Then again, the existence of such adaptations isn’t concrete disproof of my hypothesis, since they remain fairly rare.

        • Dennis Orphen

          Robert Gover’s The 100 Dollar Misunderstanding is a textbook example of a book doing something a movie could never do, although there’s an episode of Malcolm in the Middle that comes close (the contrasted alternate timeline one).

        • kped

          Actually, “No country” works because it is in fact very cinematic on the page. It’s honestly almost a word for word adaptation from page to screen.

          The movie was better than the book to me because it was exactly like the book, but better than my imagination could make it due to the perfect casting and directing. That’s rare for an adaptation.

          Another adaptation where the movie was better was the Godfather. It lost all the weird digressions into vaginal reconstruction surgery…

    • N__B

      Ask and I might sometimes deliver: Snow White.

  • patrick II

    Angelina Jolie’s Maleficent had her wings torn off, but that might not be dark enough for you. However it was a different take on the motives of Sleeping Beauty’s “evil” queen.

    • Have not seen Maleficent yet, but want to!

      • Dennis Orphen

        Recommended highly.

      • Lit3Bolt

        Also recommend. It’s too heavy on the action (although most of the action scenes are great, but some are CGI disasters) and could use more character development, but it’s still a wonderfully realized “alternative history” film.

        I want more of these.

    • Denverite

      Seconded. I liked it a good bit and didn’t think I was going to.

    • Anna in PDX

      Oh good. I was coming here to say I guess no one but me thought that movie was dark and interesting and a neat take on an old standby… glad it has some fans.

    • patrick II

      I will add that, regardless of what on may think of her personal life, Jolie is a powerful actress. In this film she played the charismatic, powerful queen, and then later and in a more subdued way, the queen without the wings who loved a child, and she played all of it as well as I think anyone could.

  • gccolby

    I was really turned off by the trailer for Beauty and the Beast doing it’s utmost to sell the movie as a shot-for-shot live-action remake of the animated film, from composition and framing of the filming right down to the production and character design. Not because I object to the animated Beauty, but because I find it just so stifling and depressing from an artistic and creative point of view. Hopefully the trailer was really playing up the parallels for marketing purposes, but it’s still a project that seems severely constrained by Disney’s existing work. I don’t think Maleficent was all that successful, but I appreciate that it took a different angle on the story. Still, my wife and sister are planning to see it and are really excited, so I should probably stop pooping on everyone else’s parade.

    • No, I hear you. I, too, was disappointed that B&B seemed like it wasn’t much different than the original (animated version), but I’m still looking forward to seeing it and hoping for the best.

      • Lit3Bolt

        The new songs in the “live” action remake will make you yearn for the lyrics of Howard Ashman. Just FYI.

        B&tB isn’t bad…but with the new details, it even makes less sense now. The Enchantress comes off as a total unfeeling bitch.

    • Hallen

      I’ve seen only a scant fraction of the genre (not really my thing), but I still think I’m pretty safe in assuming that Maleficent is the most underwhelming rape-revenge movie ever made. This is on top of its desecration of the 1959 Sleeping Beauty.

      I can’t really think of a movie that fits all of the requirements, at least given the implication that The Little Mermaid doesn’t count, even though it probably should, since it’s a feature-length sexual awakening that bothers to attend to the role of personality and not just aesthetics in a woman’s sexual appeal (and it ends with the villain getting impaled on a ship’s prow, which is pretty rad in and of itself).

      Labyrinth was mentioned, but for all its real accomplishments, is at bottom a movie about a pubescent girl facing down the advances of a hot pedophile who can sing and dance, which is, at best, sexy for pubescent girls.

  • BigHank53

    Did the TV series Lost Girl hit any of your marks? A woman discovers she’s not human, but a succubus, by inadvertently killing her boyfriend. It stays fairly light (broadcast TV, after all) but there’s plenty of wierdness. Or Forever Knight, about the 800-year-old vampire who somehow gets a job as a homicide detective. (How would he ever appear in court?)

    • bender

      Forever Knight is fantasy, and has violence, sex and humor, but it’s not much like a fairy tale.

      • BigHank53

        Granted. I was going for the feel of the thing, which was a bit silly and sexy. The title character’s partner doesn’t know he’s a vampire, even though there’s nothing but unmarked bottles of what’s referred to as “wine” in his fridge! Said blood helpfully provided by the sexy coroner character…who never mentions how she manages to get blood out of people while it’s still liquid, either. Dumb fun.

        Actual TV fairy tale: the Ron Perlman Beauty and the Beast. Little-known fact about that show is that George R.R. Martin was their showrunner. Broadcast, so they had to leave most of the violence offscreen and be extremely coy about the sexual tension.

    • Technically, Lost Girl wasn’t broadcast; it ran on Syfy network, which is a cable station. But it’s not pay cable like HBO and Starz, so it can’t get to Game of Thrones or Spartacus levels of nudity.

      (Haven’t seen it, but want to at some point.)

      • Warren Terra

        I thought it was broadcast in Canada, where it was produced?

        • Oh, maybe so. Didn’t know it was broadcast though.

          • I would also suspect broadcast stations in Canada probably have less prudish standards than American ones do. That said, it looks like the Canadian station that aired it was Showcase, which looks like a cable/satellite channel.

            On that note, Canada has been killing it with sci-fi series lately. Off the top of my head, Orphan Black, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, Continuum, Battlestar Galactica, and The Expanse all come to mind as series that are partially or completely Canadian (some of them are merely filmed in Canada, while others are outright produced by Canadian companies), and Orphan Black and The Expanse in particular stand out as all-time genre highlights to me (though I’d recommend all the series I mentioned, albeit with reservations in Battlestar’s case, and I haven’t finished Continuum yet).

            • kped

              Showcase is a cable channel, but it does show nudity (sometimes hardcore late at night, showing European movies that are quite explicit.) It’s most famous for “Trailer Park Boys”.

              Battlestar Galactica wasn’t Canadian. Filmed here, but Universal produced, USA. Similarly the Expanse (also Universal), and Dirk Gently (British and American). Filmed here like you said, but probably not fair to give us that much credit.

              Orphan Black and The Expanse are Canadian though, and I love seeing stuff we make find an audience outside Canada. So much of our talent just goes to America to make things since our cultures are so similar, so it’s rare to see really good Canadian produced television and movies.

              • Well, an awful lot of the casts of Battlestar, Dirk Gently, and The Expanse are Canadian (which I think is what caused me to notice that some of them were filmed in Canada in the first place). Indeed, several actors appear in at least two of the shows I mentioned.

                I’ll agree that they’re not as clearly associated with Canada as Orphan Black and Continuum are, though.

      • erick

        The first two or three seasons were pretty good, but it kinda ran out of steam as it went on IMHO.

        • njorl

          I always found it weird that the beautiful succubus character had 1/10th of the charisma of her scrawny little human woman sidekick. It ruined the show for me. I’m a complete sucker for lighthearted supernatural stories, but I kept getting annoyed that the show wasn’t about the ordinary human woman.

  • LeeEsq

    It’s a difficult proposition. Going back to the original telling of many fairy tales will not be family friendly. There might not be enough of an adult audience for a Sun, Moon, and Talia movie though because most adults seem to prefer the lighter versions.

  • FridayNext

    I think Legend fits the bill, imho. Not everyone’s cup of tea.

    ETA: The one with Mia Sarah and Tim Curry directed by Ridley Scott. Not the one about the Kray boys. You probably figured, but I thought I’d clarify.

  • bender

    I want a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall movie adaptation of say…The Book of Esther. Srsly.

    It’s a Hellenistic novel set in a fantasy ancient Persia. It’s got palace intrigue, a scheming villain, a pair of scheming-villain underlings who are like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, a harem, a chief wife who is demoted for showing some self-respect by refusing to be exhibited to her husband’s drunken dinner guests, a super submissive heroine who has a slightly creepy relationship with her manipulative uncle, a king who is dumb enough to be besotted and then manipulated by the virginal Esther, threats of genocide foiled, public humiliations and executions–the whole Megillah, so to speak.

    You can’t do this material straight for a modern audience, which is why no one has tried it since the silent movie era. It’s made to order for an approach closer to Tarantino (though I don’t like Tarantino).

    • tsam

      Yeah, I’m gonna be needing that newsletter, k?

      • I’ll be seconding this. I may even attempt to write a screenplay for this at some point myself, because it sounds like a fantastic idea. (I’ve already got three long-form writing projects I’m planning to start after I finish the one I’m currently working on, though, so it may be awhile.)

        • Dennis Orphen

          Considering the political limitations outlined in the other responses to the original comment, rewrite and reser the story in a completely fictionalized earth as R.E. Howard or Tolkien did?

          • This is a superb idea, though particularly after reading bender’s thoughts on the matter I’m not even sure the political limitations of the source material are insurmountable. I haven’t read it probably since I was a teenager, though, so I’ll certainly have to go revisit it and think about it more.

    • LeeEsq

      Most of Hollywood’s attempts to turn the Book of Ester into a movie failed miserably because they try to add God to one of the two books in the Bible that doesn’t mention God and treat it like an ordinary biblical epic. Considering that the Book of Esther is dripping with material made for a big Hollywood epic movie this failure seems odd.

      The problems with making a proper Esther movie for the modern audience is strictly political. Its going to be really difficult to turn the Book of Esther into movie without pissing off a lot of people. Religious people are going to be offended on the lack of God. The basic plot is going to make it very easy to paint a Book of Esther movie as anti-Persian/Arab/Muslim given contemporary politics even if you just want a lush epic. Lets not even get into the racial politics in casting. Do you cast Jewish actors as Jews and Middle Eastern actors as the Persians? Thats going to make the somewhat hard to avoid anti-Persian/Arab/Muslim vibe even harder to avoid? Do you try to get rid of the entire Haman plots to commit genocide against the Jews angle and de-Jew the Book of Esther. Thats going against the Jewish interpretation of the Book of Esther, which sees in Haman a proto-type of the anti-Semite.

      • One possible solution to the racial angle that occurs immediately to me would be introducing Persian/Arab characters who aren’t involved in the genocide plots or, better still, actively oppose them. That turns it into less of a generic racial politics story and more into a story of political power specifically, particularly if you have Persian/Arab characters directly cooperating with Jews to oppose genocide.

        The lack of God is more difficult to address, but since it’s in the source material as well it would at least be easily defensible on artistic grounds.

        • Q.E.Dumbass

          I imagine casting West Asian Jews would help alleviate potential racial problems.

          Somewhat connected, have there been any Adam and Eve adaptations other than the usual suspects, and could one done along the lines of those suggested be possible without being unnecessarily fucked up?

          • LeeEsq

            Jerry Seinfeld oir Hank Azaria as Mordecai it is.

            Doesn’t Adam and Eve suffer from the same issue that the Flood does? Its really hard to turn the story of Adam and Eve into a full length movie without a lot of padding. Hollywood managed to make really complete movies of Jesus’ life that are long but not reasonably so and thats without padding.

            • Q.E.Dumbass

              I was thinking Shaun Toub. (And isn’t Azaria ethnically a Spanish Jew by way of Thessaloniki?)

              • LeeEsq

                Most Sephardic Jews spent several centuries in part of the Ottoman Empire. Thats West Asia if you go by Metternich’s decree that the Orient starts in Budapest.. According to Wikipedia, Hank Azaria’s ancestors lived in Thessaloniki after the Edict of Expulsion. My ancestors settled in a fishing village in Asia Minor called Chanakkale.

          • Q.E.Dumbass

            I just thought that you could write a good Adam and Eve plot centered around the Fruit of Knowledge being a supreme, possibly-divine intoxicant.

            • LeeEsq

              Most likely you can but I can’t see how you get a one and half hour movie out of it let alone anything longer but that might be a limited imagination on my part.

        • LeeEsq

          Adding Persian characters that are opposed to Haman’s plot might work but the issue that springs to mine is that they are going to come across as ineffectual at best because Esther and Mordecai wouldn’t need to act if they were effective. They would come to symbolize all the people that know their government is going to do wrong but not do anything to oppose it effectively unless you really diverge from the Bible and Esther’s sudden reveal. The Book of Esther has a great story but not with the current political situation.

          • Surely if the plans for genocide aren’t widely known, that lessens the implications of the story. And the Arab/Persian characters don’t need to be ineffective either; they can act alongside Esther and Mordecai, surely.

      • bender

        My thoughts on racial politics in casting: I would not cast any Arabs as Persians. They are totally different ethnic groups and have different cultures and histories, so lumping them together for casting purposes is in itself a racist move unless you are going for casting that ignores ethnicity altogether.

        I would do casting that is the visual equivalent of the way the Romans in Spartacus and other sword-and-sandals epics speak the King’s English and the Jews and other plebians have American accents. Iranians are Aryans and a lot of them are pretty white. Cast at least one major Persian role with an Iranian actor or actress and cast as many of the minor Persian roles as possible with Iranian or Iranian-descent actors, filling in the rest with British or American actors who don’t look “ethnic”. Iran is a country with a serious movie industry. If you are going to do an American film set in ancient Persia, the Iranians at home and ex-pat are going to pay attention to it. Failing to cast any Iranian actors in major roles would be an insult and will, in fact, be like the former Hollywood practice of putting white actors in yellowface and redface instead of hiring Asian and Native American actors. Given the well known Jewish influence over the American movie industry, we don’t need to give the Iranians a grievance.

        The Jewish roles should be cast with actors who look Sephardic/Italian/Arab etc. They should as a group look like a different ethnicity from the Persians to make the point that they are a readily identifiable group which is not part of the ruling class. They should definitely not be directed to act like stage Jews. That is always problematic and anyway doesn’t fit the material because the setting of the book is a situation something like contemporary America–the Jews have been in Persia for generations, they are well integrated into society, they have preserved a distinct cultural identity, but they haven’t experienced active persecution and aren’t expecting it.

        Keep the genocide plot because the book is pointless without it. All that is necessary IMHO is to make it clear that Haman has drummed up a Jewish menace to give himself more power and influence and that the king is persuaded because he is gullible or an Othello figure. If it’s depicted as a palace intrigue, you don’t need noble resistance from Persians, you just need a few ordinary people saying, “Why is the king doing this? We have Jewish neighbors; we get along fine.” And there must be a happy ending showing Jews and Persians alike rejoicing at the downfall of Haman, whether that is true to the book or not, because it will make the point that Jews and Persians are not enemies except when some power-seeking SOB stirs up hatred between them, which happens to be historically accurate and would be a constructive cultural point to make.

        • bender

          Another way that a movie could usefully expand on the source material while remaining true to it would be to spend some time depicting Ahashuerus holding court with extremely formal and ornate court etiquette that is worked out in the details and true to Persian culture (something that impressed Alexander). This would involve a lot of spectacle and also show courtiers intriguing in corners.

          I have read something by an Iranian woman about how her culture discourages people from speaking their minds directly. A necessary part of the plot is showing how limited is the number of people who have the king’s ear, the Grand Vizier being the principal one, which means that the king’s picture of the world depends heavily on what Haman and other courtiers tell him. Esther has to give the king something like three private banquets before she dares to even hint at the crisis that she wants to tell the king about. That goes a long way to explaining why the king believes what Haman tells him, and that Esther is taking real risks by telling the king something he doesn’t already know.

          It puts the blame on Haman, not on Persians as a group. It also shows how constrained both Vashti and Esther are despite their beauty and positions as principal wives.

          • how limited is the number of people who have the king’s ear

            And now once a year everyone can afford a fistful of oznei Haman. What a country!

          • This is really detailed, thorough analysis and I approve of all of it. As I said above, I haven’t read the book in a long time, so I need to re-read it before I can provide more constructive and in-depth analysis of how one would go about adapting it, but if you want to communicate more thoroughly about it, I have some contact info in my profile link.

            • bender

              Thanks!

    • njorl

      It’s made to order for an approach closer to Tarantino (though I don’t like Tarantino).

      So maybe the Coen brothers, but with Tarantino following them around and taunting them for being too tame.

  • David Lynch’s Dune has floating wormginas, caverns with doorginas, Kyle Maclachlan and Sean Young twincest, and a 5 year old girl laughing in a killing field. So…

    Do not take shrooms beforehand, you’ll end up in Hazelden. I’ll bring you bagels, though, there’s that.

    • Lurking Canadian

      Wait. Twincest?

      • GFW

        Yeah I don’t get that either. Chani is a fremen woman who becomes Paul’s lover. They’re not related.

        • They’re identical. It would be like humping a mirror for both of them.

  • NBarnes

    The Princess Bride?

    • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

      The inevitable gritty reboot might fit the bill.

      • FridayNext

        Weren’t they working on a Broadway musical?

      • Dr. Acula

        *SNIKT*

        Don’t you dare say such a thing.

        • NBarnes

          Next you’ll be mad at me for pointing out the inevitability of a 20-foot CGI giant to replace Andre as Fezzik.

  • pavj

    You might want to check out a comic book series called “Fables”. It’s about all the fairy tale characters fleeing a war in fairy-tale land and coming to the real world as refugees. They set up a secret community in an apartment complex in a New York.

    Snow White is a hyper competent political leader. Cinderella is a badass femme fatale secret agent. Little Boy Blue has himself a heroes journey. It’s fun.

  • Mike in DC

    Okay, so Cinderella, but:
    1. Instead of a royal palace ball, it’s a women’s MMA tournament.
    2. The glass slipper is actually a fight glove.
    3. The fairy godmother is also a fight trainer.

  • Jake the antisoshul soshulist

    You might try Freeway. Red Riding Hood told as a contemporary crime thriller. Reese Witherspoon as hoodrat Red Riding Hood,
    Kiefer Sutherland as a serial killer Big Bad Wolf.

    • Kimberlycart

      Good one!

  • The Great God Pan

    Try the recent Tale of Tales, which weaves together three dark/weird Italian fairy tales. Directed by the guy who made the Italian mafia drama Gomorrah a few years back. It’s in English with an international cast including Vincent Cassel and Salma Hayek.

    ETA just noticed someone already mentioned it.

  • Kimberlycart

    Try a new Polish film called The Lure. It’s a musical/comedy/horror version of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. The music is mostly set in a dingey burlesque club, it is erotic as all get-out, it is beautiful to look at and it has some nasty gore. It is dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny and pretty damned good, too. I saw it last night and was totally impressed.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5278832/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

  • (((max)))

    (If you say Snow White and the Huntsman I will ban you.)

    I was sitting there watching TV, in 2010, and I was thinking out loud, and I said to myself, ‘What if they made a live action movie about Snow White, but it wasn’t all cheesy and shit, but was actually kind of fucked up hot romance movie?’

    So they made Snow White and the Huntsman, and ERMAHGARD, they fucked it up.

    I feel your pain. Please don’t ban me.

    (In another, maybe better story of anticipation, back in ’93 and ’94, I was writing stories (on BBSes, which were still a thing) about Farfle and Wafflehead. Wafflehead was 7-foot tall elf who was dumber than Jim Holt, and Farfle was very very tiny mule (about the size of a cat) who was a functioning psychotic (he was convinced that he was, in fact, an evergreen bush) with an posh English accent.

    Of course, in their adventures, everyone they came across was a VIP and also even dumber than Wafflehead, resulting in Farfle & Wafflehead generally winning out over any opposition. (Think part Roald Dahl, part Monty Python and part Animal House.)

    Not quite a decade later Shrek came out. Gee, I said, that’s so very….)

    max
    [‘So now I’ll go punch myself in the face.’]

    • Warren Terra

      I’ve never read it, but Shrek is based on a 1990 picture book. Maybe the movie isn’t faithful to it, or the book didn’t contain the elements you highlight, I dunno.

      • (((max)))

        I’ve never read it, but Shrek is based on a 1990 picture book. Maybe the movie isn’t faithful to it, or the book didn’t contain the elements you highlight, I dunno.

        Never heard of it. Parallel thinking for sure. Sorta.

        max
        [‘…’]

  • petemack

    The Counselor, with Michael Fassbender, Javier Bardeem, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz. Brad Pitt in a funny bit role.
    Diaz hams it up ridiculously.

  • Taylor

    For Red Riding Hood, check out Neil Jordan’s In The Company Of Wolves.

    For Beauty and the Beast, check out Merian C. Cooper’s King Kong (and avoid any of the dreadful remakes).

    For literary, second the recommendation upthread for Gene Wolfe. Reading Book of the New Sun should be on anyone’s bucket list.

  • BigHank53

    A writer you might be interested in is Ursula Vernon, who won a Hugo a few years back for her comic Digger. She writes novels and short stories, too, and enjoys riffing on fairy-tale themes quite a bit. Links to the short stories of hers that are online here.

    • NBarnes

      ERMEHGERD Ursula Vernon! Digger was so good. So, so, soooooo good.

  • Aaron Morrow

    “a naughty fairy tale. I want a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall adaptation”

    The Devil and Daniel Webster meets all of those characteristics, I believe.

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    “a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall adaptation of say…Rapunzel.”

    I believe this was Zack Snyder’s elevator pitch for Sucker Punch.

    • Warren Terra

      “funny”?

      • Domino

        “I know, we’ll have Jon Hamm in the film. That guy is hilarious!”

        The only good thing that movie did was introduce people Bjork who hadn’t heard her before.

        • kped

          …he actually is hilarious when allowed to be (great in “30 Rock” and other comedies!)

    • Dennis Orphen

      Ahh…was waiting for someone to mention S.P.

  • Origami Isopod

    Le Pacte des Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf) is … a very mixed bag. It’s visually compelling, with lots of costume porn, lavish scenery, and fight scenes. However, there’s a ton of racism, gratuitous female nudity, and violence against women and children (including incestuous rape).

    If you don’t mind spoilers, this blogger found the movie laughable as well as offensive. To me that’s YMMV, given that most horror movies are pretty cheesy.

    • Origami Isopod

      Another recommendation: Heavenly Creatures, based on a real-life murder case and filmed by Peter Jackson years before he started doing Tolkien movies. In 1950s New Zealand, a working-class teenage girl befriends a rich teenage girl, bonding over their respective traumas. They build, and lose themselves in, a fantasy world. As I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, things go terribly wrong.

  • Cheap Wino

    Excalibur, a John Boorman film from 1981 meets at least some of your criteria. It’s certainly visually lush and beautiful. I remember Helen Mirren (Morgana le Fey) being in it but the cast list also includes Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, and Patrick Stewart!

  • keta

    dark – dystopian visions; murky foreign entanglements
    grungy – Sessions and the Confederate sheen
    sexy – Ivanka, Melania, Big Daddy Donnie (in his own mind)
    lush – Bannon
    violent – ICE; nascent foreign adventures
    funny – not funny-haha, more, funny-we’re-fucked
    balls-to-wall – the destruction of America

    Let’s call it “Dunce Upon a Time,” and oh! that it were only a fairy tale.

    • tsam

      2 SOON

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    naughty fairy tale. I want a dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall

    Taxi Driver? It fulfills a lot of these criteria — maybe not sexy and lush — and Travis does rescue a damsel in distress.

  • Kingfish

    What you’re looking for is an adaptation of a comic book series called “Fables” that is inexplicably not being made yet.

    Seriously, HBO, get on this.

    • Nobdy

      There is a pretty good video game based on the comics, and though I could literally get banned for saying this considering our last discussion, it’s one that’s fairly accessible to people who don’t play a lot of games, because it’s more based on dialog decisions than quick reflexes or complex navigation in a 3D space.

      On the other hand I’m not sure it’s actually what Vacuumslayer wants, because it’s fairy tale characters in a modern gritty setting and doesn’t have the lush visuals and sense of magic.

      King’s Quest might be closer. It’s not really based on specific fairy tales but it has a fairy tale aesthetic and is intentionally based in the fairy tale tradition. I’m not sure it qualifies as dark, grungy, and sexy though. Maybe too heavy on the whimsy.

  • The Temporary Name

    The latest Beauty and the Beast is not so hot. The Cocteau one is much more interesting.

  • kvs

    If you’re willing to stray from classic fairy tales, check out Hanna. And Tale of Tales.

    I’d also recommend The Lobster, even if it’s much farther afield.

  • SadOldGuy

    Let’s go REALLY left field: the recently released Persona 5 for the Playstation 4. Phantom Thieves in fantasy modern day Tokyo. “dark, grungy, sexy, lush, violent, funny, balls-to-wall ” yep.

  • Blathering Christopher

    If you haven’t seen the film adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, you must do so immediately. Robert DeNiro as a cross-dressing lightning harvesting pirate, Michelle Pfeiffer as an evil witch whose body gets older with every spell she casts, four princes murdering each other for the right to succeed their father, a goat is turned into a human to manage an inn. It’s marvelous, and seems to be right up your alley.

    • kped

      Matthew Vaughn is one of my favorite directors working right now. This, Kick Ass, X-Men: First Class, Kingsmen, and Layer Cake. That’s a solid resume.

      (He didn’t do Kick Ass 2…and it is godawful).

      Stardust was the closest thing to Princess Bride in a long line of attempts over the years. Star Charlie Cox is now “Daredevil” on Netflix.

      • I’m going to third (or whatever) the recommendation for Stardust. The book was great, too, though a more bittersweet ending than the film. I prefer the film ending, to be honest. I get what Gaiman was going for in the book, but a story like that just feels wrong if it doesn’t end up with “happily ever after”. That said, the writing in the book was absolutely gorgeous, as is all of Gaiman’s writing.

        • kped

          Yes. Honestly, I’m sooooo over the “hero dies” ending. It almost feels cliche now. It’s good in small doses, but it seems far too many stories end like this in an attempt to fake being profound. And too many fans fall into the trap of thinking the only thing that can make the story work is the hero to die (I can’t even count the number of pieces I read online about how Harry had to die at the end of the “Harry Potter” series. It so…easy. And lazy.)

          • I agree; it’s gotten so overused that it’s honestly become a cliché of its own. Particularly if it’s a diabolus ex machina sort of plot that brings it about (to be fair, Stardust wasn’t).

            • kped

              When done right, in service of the actual story, it works. Like SPOILER:

              In Pans Labyrinth, it’s heart breaking at the end, but it works in the story. It’s not the easy way out at all. It’s a gut punch that works.

              But that is more and more rare. Instead we have crap like “Neo dies for reasons and stuff…uh…he’s like Jesus…war over?”

              • Right. Pan’s Labyrinth worked because it fits logically with the story, setting, and characters. The Matrix trilogy ending, not so much.

                Though the “bittersweet ending” that caused me to rage the most recently didn’t even involve death; it was La La Land. I hated that ending, because (ALSO SPOILERS):

                (1) they didn’t bother to spell out anything about how the characters got there, after being incredibly detailed about their characterisation for the rest of the film, and (2) it touches on two of my pet peeves with relationships: (a) a romantic pairing for one of the leads introduced in the final scene, which is as cheap as a culprit introduced in a final scene of a mystery, and (b) love triangles, which almost never actually even touch on the possibility that everyone involved would be happier with a non-monogamous resolution. (To be fair, it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the characters would be happier, but non-monogamy is almost entirely erased from media in general, and rarely portrayed sympathetically when it appears, and that causes serious problems for its participants.)

                I liked the rest of the film, but the only other ending I can think of that I’ve hated as viscerally as that one was the ending of the Farseer Trilogy (which I also liked apart from the ending). Another diabolus ex machina bittersweet ending, come to think of it.

                Meanwhile, shows like Game of Thrones and Orphan Black have featured gut punches that I’ve loved, because they made complete logical sense with the setting, story, and characters.

                • …come to think of it, both of those diabolus ex machina bittersweet endings I hated involved love triangles as well. Huh. Never noticed that before. The reason I hated the Farseer one was somewhat different, though (the fact that they were both love triangles was applicable to both, but the other reasons I hated it so much were different).

  • cleek

    Hansel And Gretel Get Baked.

    the fable told as a stoner caper.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      Where Jack and Peg are lazy-ass roommates who meet the witch after vein kicked out. Jack’s potential fate is being turned into a sentient bacon supply (cf. Simpsons Bible Stories).

    • kped

      I know it’s not popular…but I can’t help it, I get a kick out of it, “Your Highness”. Danny McBride isn’t everyones cup of tea…but his comedy just works for me. I laughed my ass off.

      “Courtney, will you make funny faces to entertain me. Hahaha..hahaha…hahaha…NO! Not triangle face! I hate triangle face”. It’s so dumb, but I laugh every time.

  • FDW

    Blancanieves (Snow White), Spain, 2012. Gorgeous, silent, B&W film. Haunting, crazy, sexy, and Mirabel Verdu plays the evil stepmother. Won a bushel of awards and deserved every one.

  • Thanks for all these suggestions–absolutely going to check some of these out!!!

  • Coraline is a wonderful book. I never saw the film; what do people here think of it?

    • N__B

      Never read the book, like the movie very much. Ian McShane voicing a Russian put Mrs__B into hysterics.

    • Visually one of the most stunning movies I’ve ever seen. Otherwise, fine.

  • N__B

    On the written front: Sandman by Neil Gaiman. GodDAMN.

    • Noted!

      • kped

        If you are going Neil Gaiman…”American Gods”, which is being made into a Starz TV show.

        Cast includes Emily Browning, Crispin Glover, Cloris Leachman, Peter Stromare, Gillian Anderson, Orlando Jones, Kristen Chenworth, and, playing the one eyed Norse God Odin…

        …Ian Fucking McShane.

        So yeah, I think this one will hit the spot (loved the book too). And if you read up, Gaiman also wrote Stardust, so he seems to be someone you really should be reading!

        (edit: Brian Fuller is the show runner. Hannibal. Pushing Daisies. Dead Like Me. I mean…this show has almost 0% chance of failing, and it will be lush and funny and sexy…starts April 30)

        • Definitely second the American Gods rec and might as well throw in Good Omens too. And if you like that, Pratchett and Discworld if you haven’t read him yet, though I suspect almost everyone knows about him by now.

          And yeah, Fuller was basically a perfect choice to run it. I couldn’t get into Hannibal because it was too gruesome for me, but the artistic quality of the show was amazing enough to make it almost a torturous experience to wait to see what he does with the source material.

          • kped

            Yeah, Hannibal is tough because it has some really gruesome images. But the story is just fantastic. Mads Mikkelsen is Hannibal Lecter to me forever. His take on the character is just so much better than Hopkins, which is not something I expected to say. I’m still shocked this was a Network show ([email protected]!). They got away with…well, murder on that show.

            • Mikkelsen is amazing in that. Hugh Dancy is great too. I wish I could stomach the imagery because the story from what I saw was absolutely fantastic, but people who watched the rest of it said it got even more gruesome from there, so there’s no way I’d be able to get through it all.

              And yeah, I was absolutely amazed with what they got away with on that show. And yet a lot of Americans panic at a woman’s exposed nipple on TV.

              • kped

                Oh, that was a show i often watched with eyes shut, I couldn’t stomach some of the more gruesome scenes (watching a man peel himself out of a “mural” where he is both glued to and stitched to dead bodies…seriously, WTF????)

                Hugh Dancy really was great in it as well. And so was Lawrence Fishburne. Seriously a great cast (and filmed in Toronto. I work right next to the Church they use as the exterior of Hannibals home. The day i realized it i took a picture from the same angle the show uses and texted it to my brother, we both got a kick out of that).

                • Yeah, the whole cast was brilliant. I understand they brought in Gillian Anderson as a regular later on as well. She’s also amazing and often doesn’t get enough credit for what she does.

                  Maybe I’ll have to try watching some of it with eyes closed, but even the mental imagery from some of the dialogue would probably make me physically nauseous by itself. (I’ve gotten nauseous from some of the more gruesome segments of GRRM’s writing, for example. Steven Erikson’s, too. Still finished all of ASOIAF to date and am almost done with Malazan, but I don’t remember if I ever finished Fevre Dream.) I dunno. Maybe I just need to keep a barf bag handy. I may give it a second try at some point.

      • N__B

        One caveat: it’s a little slow to get going. Halfway through the second book, you’ll have forgotten that halfway through the first book you were tapping your foot in impatience.

    • I really need to finish this one of these days. Graphic novels are expensive though :(

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