In the Company of Wolves

In the Company of Wolves

Right away I want to say, In the Company of Wolves is a weird dark movie even by 1980’s movie standards, which is saying a lot. It is a deeply symbolic movie with some really creepy and disturbing images.

It is based on Little Red Riding hood and was also based on a short story by Angela Carter from The Bloody Chamber anthology . The film came out in 1984 admits a lot of other werewolves movies. It was directed by Neil Jordan who was a writer/producer for Ondine

So how is this movie with all it’s weird creepiness?

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen and Micha Bergese as Huntsman In the Company of Wolves

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen and Micha Bergese as Huntsman

The plot is very untraditional for most movies. The movie’s approach to the narrative is to have stories with story or what the director called “a Chinese Box Structure.” So it’s starts with an adolescent girl, Rosaleen sleeping is her locked bedroom. In her room there are many, many creepy dolls. She dreams that her sister is killed by wolves in a dark yet beautiful forest. She then stays with her Granny who tells her stories about how men, adulthood and sex are all evil and are products of the devil. Rosaleen doesn’t like these stories. Her Granny give her the the soft red knitted cloak.

Rosaleen also has to deal wit the advances of a boy in her village that clearly wants her but she is not as interested in him. On her way to her Granny’s house, Rosaleen meets a charming huntsman. He makes a bet with her that he can make it to her Granny’s house using his compass while going off the path before she can get there using the the path. If she wins she gets the compass and if she loses she has to give him a kiss. He beats her there and kills her Granny by smashing her head off which turns to be porcelain. When Rosaleen arrives at the house she isn’t deceived by the huntsman being a wolf and she tries to shots him. This causes him to scream in pain. This causes Rosaleen to empathize with the wolves and she comforts him with her own story. In the end Rosaleen turns into a wolf and runs off with the pact.

Rosaleen then wakes up from her dream to find wolves breaking in and she screams in terror.

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen with the wolf In the Company of Wolves

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen with the wolf

Generally speaking with movie is weird, much weirder than my attempt at a summery makes it out to be. But to make this movie’s symbolism and theme simple, this movie is about how adulthood and sex are not evil or bad and one must let go of childhood. So often in traditional fairy tales, men and sex are pegged as evil or just dangerous but as Rosaleen’s mother said women can be beast too. In the end Rosaleen can’t return to her childhood or the village because she is something dangerous and has to live in the forest or adulthood.

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen and Angela Lansbury as Granny In the Company of Wolves

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen and Angela Lansbury as Granny

The characters in this movies are mute point. They don’t matter that much in terms being deep or complex. Rosaleen is the only one with a character arc as she learns that the dangerous wolves or men have feelings and emotions and becomes an adult. Rosaleen’s granny is interesting as she herself is actually a doll in Rosaleen room. She is innocent yet sinister but all her stories and advice are hollow like her head. The huntsmsn is intriguing too, charming yet devious but he does seems to like Rosaleen more than just as a snack.

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen in the forest In the Company of Wolves

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen in the forest

The we have the technicals which give this movie all its weird, creepy and unsettling imagery. Most of the disturbing parts deal with the transformation of men to wolves. One guy literally tears his face off. It’s effective especially given the nightmare/dream concept. There are of crazy visuals, like Rosaleen’s dolls which I thought would give me nightmare. But nothing is bad, everything gives with movie a sense style and it a visual language. It’s a good example of a movie showing and not telling as it communicates its point.

Though it unclear why Rosaleen screamed at the end. Speaking of Rosaleen the acting is okay. It feels like an 80’s style of acting.

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen with a nest of eggs In the Company of Wolves

Sarah Patterson as Rosaleen with a nest of eggs

The Company of Wolves is a strange movie with lots of powerful symbolism. It’s not your standard coming of age story. I enjoyed it in an academic way. It’s not a movie I wouldn’t re-watch again and again but I would recommend you check it out if you want to watch something weird, very weird.

Into the Woods Picture image

Into the Woods

Here is a conversation I had with this movie right after I wanted it.

Me: You can’t have your characters sing/say how they feel, that makes me feel angry!
Into the Woods: Look, what do you want?
Me: I want my two hours back!

This is common info but I have to say it anyway, Into the Woods is a 2014 musical fantasy movie based on the musical of the same name by Stephen Sondheim. It’s a parody of classic fairy tales as multiple fairy tale characters meet in the woods, get it?

Apparently this movie was in development for a long time, like early 90’s but it wasn’t till the  another musical that this movie got the interest of Rob Marshall, director of Chicago.

As you might be able to gauge from my conversation with Into the Woods, I didn’t care for this movie, but you would be wrong, I utterly loathed it.

 Emily Blunt as The Baker's Wife, James Corden as The Baker and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack Into the Woods Picture image

Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife, James Corden as The Baker and Daniel Huttlestone as Jack

The “story” goes that this Baker and his wife want a baby but they can’t for some reason. Reason comes busting through their door in the form of a witch who tells them that it was a curse that was put of the baker’s family for his father stealing her vegetables so that the family tree would stop. However he also stole some magic beans which cursed the witch into be old and ugly. So she makes the Baker and his wife get some items, A white cow, a red cape, a gold shoe and yellow hair. And they have to find them in the woods.

Lucky all the characters they meet in the wood have the items they need. Jack an idiot, has the cow. The Baker and wife trade the beans which they happened to find in the Baker’s pocket. Jack uses the bean to climb up the beanstalk and steals from the giant to get his cow back. Red Riding hood, a kleptomaniac with a sugar addiction has the red cloak. The Baker at first tries to steal it from her but she gives it to him after he saves her and her granny from the pedophile wolf. The Baker’s wife then runs into Cinderella, a shy insecure girl who just wanted to go to festival a.k.a the ball. The Barker’s wife tries really hard to get that shoe. The Baker’s wife gets it when on the third night of the festival Cinderella runs away from the prince and she just lets her have it. The barker’s wife also get Rapunzel’s hair, who is locked in a tower and no real personality what so ever. She is locked up there by the same witch who they are getting the items for. Rapunzel is also the baker’s little sister too and his also mixed up in a love story with random prince #2. The hair turns out a bust since the witch can’t have touched the items, that’s a rule and then cow died so Baker had to get another and covered it with flour. But it’s really whatever since the witch just brings the cow back to life and the use corn silk. So yeah wife gets pregnant instantly and witch gets pretty and happy ending for Cinderella for her prince seems to come but then LADY GAINT attacks. She is pissed for Jack killing her husband and robbing them and he’s the good guy.

Then I guess things go to shit. Cinderella and her prince aren’t working out. Jack’s mom dies. The Cinderella’s prince cheat on her with the barker’s wife and then she dies. The witch wants to give jack to giant but no one agrees with her so she just peaces out. And then Cinderella uses her birds to beat the giant and happy ever after with the baker.

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella Into the Woods Picture image

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella

So what makes this movie bad? Well lots of things but let’s just focus on the only positive I had about it. And if you read my reviews with any regularity you might think it’s the costumes but nope, I will get to that later. It would be the actors. I think all the actors try really hard to make it work while movie itself doesn’t care. They all sing well though Little Red Riding Hood’s singing style I find annoying.

Also I don’t really believe Anna Kendrick as the shy demure Cinderella, she does try but I don’t believe it but she sings it well. Really this movie should have been more about the actors conveying emotions than then telling us how they feel.

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood Into the Woods Picture image

Lilla Crawford as Little Red Riding Hood

Which bring us to greatest sin in this movie, this movie at EVERY SINGLE turn just tells the a viewer what the characters feel through narration, dialogue and singing. I feel like a broken record but show don’t tell is a cardinal rule of movie making.

In a stage show you say a little more since there is an energy that is part of the experience but not in a movie. In fact at one point in this movie, the narrator says that Red Riding Hood is suprised but it doesn’t show in her acting and then she SAYS that she feels uneasy. Just fuck you movie.

Chris Pine as Cinderella's Prince and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel's Prince Into the Woods Picture image

Chris Pine as Cinderella’s Prince and Billy Magnussen as Rapunzel’s Prince

This anti show don’t tell concept is a massive step further as the movie tells the audience about the things that are happening to the characters. For instance we never see Cinderella at the ball in fact we never seen Cinderella interact with the Prince at all, save for like two exchanges with them same with Rapunzel and her prince. We do see them talking about it though. In fact the princes sing about the their agony of not being with there lady loves to each other despite the fact that we never seen them together. The two princes whining constitutes more scene time then with their loves. So any character development is told to us after the fact.

This make the musical numbers boring as instead showing us what they talking about in creative ways it’s just basic editing as someone sings about what just happened. Though in one instance there is a flashback but the movie literally presented the same scene like 90 seconds before the flashback so even the flashback is boring and pointless.

I won’t say I’m an expert of musical movies but I alway want to like them. But if you’re just going have a characters sing and spin around you might as well just have then say lines. Musicals in movie form need something visually interesting to help keep attention. Climbing a tree or moving around a set doesn’t work. Play with the lightening, editing, or something. It very bad and telling that at the ten minute mark the movie becomes exhausting to watch and the first song was the most visually interesting as it moved from character to character.

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Emily Blunt as The Baker's Wife Into the Woods Picture image

Anna Kendrick as Cinderella and Emily Blunt as The Baker’s Wife

Speaking of lightening and sets, why does it seem like all recent live-action musical movies are gritty and dark? Why is Hollywood trying to make musical movie real life?

This worked a movie in Les Mis though I still didn’t like that movie because it was all sort of pretentious shlock, but it worked in Chicago but that movie played with Roxie Hart as she imagined the musical numbers. Considering Rob Marshal directed both Chicago and Into the Woods he should had a handle on what a musical movie good and entertaining. People wandering in a dark forest and singing about their feeling without giving a reason for them and cutting all the pesky story parts doesn’t a good movie make, I don’t care what your bubble of Hollywood says. You know Hollywood I hate to tell you this but if you’re a musical where singing is a norm to convey information you kind lost the right to give the movie a weird sense of legitimacy but making it “real.”

Then there are the costumes which I could barely see through the dark lightning of the movie. Though when you can make them out they aren’t really anything. They are just adequate at best at worse they are uninspired. Really they could have just had wearing back unitard with their role written on them and it would have had the same effect.

Meryl Streep as The Witch Into the Woods Picture image

Meryl Streep as The Witch

Into The Woods could have been a good movie if the movie cared enough to tell the story instead of reporting it through songs that were performed with ugly sets and poor lightening. It they had done more interesting things with adapting the original musical into a film it could have been so much better. Skip it but then again the movie skips itself.

Clue 1 and Clue 2