Sam Strange Remembers: WINTER’S TALE

Learn to love again, you sick bastards.

Movie audiences have grown cynical. This is bad not only because it creates too many annoying pessimists at parties, but because it makes storytelling much more difficult. You can get away with all kinds of nonsense when hearts are pure. When people get interrogative and overly skeptical about narrative, you end up spending whole movie scenes teaching science class. I only tell stories because I flunked out of science class in the first place.

So with Winter's Tale, I wanted to take as much implausibility as possible and just shove it down people's throats. By the time the film ends, I want your suspension of disbelief stretched so thin that it actually snaps and you have to grow a new one, a younger friendlier one that does not yet know the awful, inhumane traffic jam that is human existence.

The film begins with and immigrant family looking for asylum in America after being chased out of Ireland for their annoying tendency to believe in miracles and look on the bright side of things. Unfortunately, a doctor diagnosis them with "foreign" and sends them right back to the Titanic. Before departing, however, the father asks if New York has any low-security boat museums he can look at real quick. The doctor gives him a list of five and detailed directions to each one. The father uses this information to find a baby-sized boat, which he steals and hides under in his pants. New York is so busy, no one suspects that his giant boner is actually a vessel.

Back on the Titanic, the mother and father put the baby into the baby-sized boat and cast him into the water, hoping to use him as bait to catch a fish that will feed them on their voyage home, just like they did with his brother on the way over. Unfortunately, the dad forgot to tie a line to the baby's toe and, alas, the little tyke is now out of their hands forever. They celebrate so hard that they have a totally new child by the time they hit shore.

The little baby is found and rescued by a noble and dignified Native American actor who used to be in much better films. He names the kid Bono and immediately puts him to work as a street hustler. Over time, Bono learns to be a very good thief, so good that he gains the friendly attention of a demon, Bonobos. But when Bono tries to introduce ways of robbing people that don't involve rape, torture, and murder, Bonobos casts him out, gives him a ten minute headstart, and spends the rest of his existence hunting him down.

Luckily, Bono has angles on his side: One in the form of a guy who is crazy good at flipping coins, and another who is a horse. See, one day, Bono is going to make a miracle happen. Angels like miracles. Demons do not. Their constant passive battle with each other has been going on for centuries. It is rife with rules. But since that's exactly the kind of exposition I longed to get away from with Winter's Tale, I went great lengths to make sure I explained none of them.

I can tell you this, though. Miracles in Winter's Tale are not acts of God like we're used to. Instead, the happen only when someone pure of heart really really really really wants something to happen, like when Anne Frank finally got her first book published.

One day, Bono's horse makes him rob a big house. Inside he finds a beautiful girl and falls in love instantly. You'd fall in love with her too. This girl, Beverly, is so smoking hot that she has to sleep outside in the nude or she'll literally burn to ashes. Unfortunately, she also has a terminal illness which forces her to see blinding lens flares upon even the dullest surfaces.

Bonobos tracks Bono to the girl's house, but they escape on Bono's flying horse. They take refuge in her father's country home just outside of New York City, a place Bonobos cannot enter because [ANGEL/DEMON RULES]. There, Bono meets Beverly's father and wins his affection by not making a whole big deal out of his mispronunciation of French words. At one point, the mansion's boiler threatens to blow up the entire building due to built up pressure. Beverly's father is resolved to stay with it until it explodes because he refuses to let all his wife's furniture die without a fight. Bono is really good with mechanical devices, however, and can therefore open a valve no one else knew about even though it was right next to all the other valves. Because of this, the family takes him in as a son and Beverly lets him into her bedgina.

Unfortunately, a life on the streets has made Bono extremely good at sex, and poor virginal Beverly dies almost instantly afterwards. This confuses everyone. Bono, Bonobos, Horse, and Coin-Flipping Angel all figured saving Beverly's life would be Bono's miracle. Unsure what to make of this, Bonobos beats Bono to near death with his forehead and throws him off the Brooklyn Bridge.

But Bono does not die. Instead, he wanders New York for the next one hundred years, making money from stealing, doing chalk drawings, and occasionally performing as the frontman for Creed.

Then one day, he meets a little girl who looks just like Beverly and also suffers from lens flare-itis. The girl's mom takes a liking to Bono almost instantly, thus granting him unprecedented access to her personal life. She really really really really really expects to have sex with him at some point, but that is not to be her miracle, if only because, as a food columnist for a newspaper, the Angels know she has a more pressing miracle needed in her future.

A miracle is brewing, though, and this brings Bonobos back into things. To figure out exactly what the heck is going on, Bonobos has to hold council with Lucifer. Things are not going so well with Lucifer. He appears to be a time-stuck classic rock fan trapped in a sewer with lots of hanging, unshaded lightbulbs. Lucifer tells Bonobos that he totally fucked up on the stopping miracles front. See, while Bonobos assumed Bono's miracle was to save Beverly's life, the real miracle was hers when she saved his. That's why he remained alive for a hundred years while she only turned into a star. But Bono does have a miracle in his future, and if Bonobo doesn't want to fuck that one up, too, he must fight Bono man to man, which will momentarily cost him his demon-hood because [ANGEL/DEMON RULES].

So Bonobos goes after Bono, the new girl who looks like Beverly, and the new girl who looks like Beverly's mom. They have a big fight on an iced-over lake which Bonobos loses handily thanks to his new lack of demonic powers. Then Bono puts the dying kid on a miracle bed and gives her a erotic kiss that even her mom feels. This brings her back to life. With that done, Bono's horse flies him into outer space where he becomes his own star.

He tries to hook back up with Beverly, but unfortunately her star married another star almost fifty years ago. They have a family together, and she doesn't want to lose all that. So Bono goes back to Earth where he makes a living putting sick virginal ladies on that miracle bed and making out with them until their diseases die. This not only makes him a billionaire but provides the angels with enough miracles to finally kill off all demons forever. Except for Lucifer, who remains hidden in the sewers, writing and rewriting Jimi Hendrix's Wikipedia entry until he gets it just right.

(three stars)