Saturday, 30 November 2019

Hachi: A Dog's Tale

Number 151 on the top 1000 films of all time is the 2009 drama: Hachi: a Dog's Tale.

A remake of the 1987 Japanese film Hachiko Monogatari, in itself based on the real life Akita dog, Hachiko, this film follows the story of Hachi.  Upon becoming lost at a US train station, Hachi is found by Professor Parker Wilson (Richard Gere.) Over time, an unbreakable bond forms between the two.

I'm going to say it now.  This film should not be on the top 1000 films of all time.  It felt like a failed children's story.  What should have been a truly emotional, heart-breaking tale was either completely flat or overly-sentimental.  Hachiko was a real Akita dog in Tokyo who was adopted by Japanese professor Hidesaburo Ueno.  After Ueno dies of an unexpected brain hemorrhage, every day for 9 years, Hachiko would return to the train station to wait for him to come home from home.

This true story is revealed after the film ends and it made me more emotional than the actual film did.  Just like the real story, whenever Professor Wilson went to work via the train station, Hachi followed him and waited for him to return home.  He even becomes a bit of a local celebrity.  While this has definite potential to be emotional, it didn't land for me at all.

I think there should have been far more work done to develop the relationship between Wilson and Hachi.  There were some montages of Wilson trying and failing to train Hachi, but slow-motion and happy smiles wasn't enough to invest me in the movie.

Like his real-life counterpart, Parker Wilson suffers an unexpected brain hemorrhage and dies.  I don't know enough about the real life story or how hemorrhages work, but this seemed too sudden.  It had so little grounding that it felt like a plot device rather than anything natural.  It was a contrived way of forcing things forward.  But then again, maybe I'm ignorant of the true nature of brain hemorrhages.

The film ends with a montage of Hachi reflecting on all of his happy memories with Parker Wilson.  This was overly-sentimental and had me rolling my eyes rather than feeling anything sad. 

Akita dogs are very cute and there were moments when I felt very sorry for Hachi, but these were few and far between.  What should have been a truly tragic film completely missed its emotional mark.

Cool Hand Luke review

Number 150 on top 1000 films of all time is the 1967 prison drama, Cool Hand Luke.

Luke Jackson (Paul Newman) is a likeable and relaxed war veteran.  When he is caught drunkenly destroying municipal property, he is sent to a Florida prison.  There he quickly becomes a hero to the other prisoners, in particular to the formidable Dragline (George Kennedy,) when he refuses to bow to the prison rules.

When I started looking into this movie, I thought it would be something like One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest.  Luke Jackson is McMurphy standing up to the Nurse Ratchetesque guards.  Except the film didn't play out like that. 

Although the film is supposed to be in a prison, it didn't feel like that.  The prison guards didn't have the tyranny or the hostility I was expecting.  I thought they would be absolute despots abusing their power and their prisoners, but they seemed more like bored college kids at a holiday camp.  True, they weren't overtly cruel, but they were also quite indifferent to the prisoners.  They were more like acquaintances than prison and guard.

While there was the punishment of spending the night in the "box" -  a tiny cell with barely enough room to sit - and the prison bosses, but I don't think they were utilised enough for them to be any serious threat.  If we had seen more of them - more of the true horrors of the box, then the drama of this film would have been more apparent.  But as it stood for me, I didn't find it particularly tense or engaging.

What I preferred watching was the relationship between Luke and the other prisoners particularly Dragline.  George Kennedy won Best Supporting Actor for his role and it was well-deserved.  Kennedy was a powerhouse in this film.  He brought a great energy to the role and was very charismatic.  Although the two initially are at each other's throats, they quickly win each other's respect. 

And with Dragline's respect, the rest of the prisoners quickly follow.  There is a particularly powerful section where after Luke is recaptured after an attempted escape, the guards give him extra rice to eat at dinner.  If he doesn't finish his plate, they will punish him.  The prisoners all take spoonfuls of rice and help him to finish.

I imagine I'm going to get some slack for this review, as I usually do, if I don't positively review one of the best 1000 films of all time, but Cool Hand Luke didn't land for me.  While I liked the relationship between the prisoners and George Kennedy was great, this film didn't have enough dramatic tension to keep me engaged.

Sunday, 24 November 2019

The End review

Dear Reader,

we have reached the end  So you can stop reading.  Right now.  Look away.  Goodbye.

I want to start this review by saying this was a great ending to a great adaptation.  Dare I say it's the definitive adaptation.  Certainly more definitive than the train wreck of a film anyway.

If anything the End plays out like an extended denouement with the main narrative having been wrapped up in the Penultimate Peril.  Questions were answered in a satisfactory way and there was enough content that things never felt stretched out.

With the Hotel Denouement burning to the ground int he last episode, the Baudelaires escape with Count Olaf via a boat.  Moral dilemmas abound as the Baudelaires contemplate pushing Olaf overboard but they are interrupted by a storm that washes them onto a desert island.  The island was supposed to look like a tropical paradise, although the CGI was less than convincing.  But then again, the CGI has never been spectacular on this show.

The Baudelaires are discovered by a young girl called Friday who is scavenging what the storm has washed up on tidal shelf.  Friday invites the children back to her home.  However, when Olaf tries interfering, Friday fiercely rebuffs him.  This marks one of the few occasions that a character has so easily seen through Olaf's nefarious deceptions and signifies a decline in his hypnotic control.  He is left behind with the rest of the flotsam and jetsam on the tidal shelf.

The Baudelaires meet the rest of Friday's colony - a rag-tag bunch of people who has all washed up on the island.  They are all dressed exactly the same in simple robes and are presenting their finds to their leader Ishamel.  With his fluffy white beard and a long hair, Ishmael almost looks like God or at the least, a shepherd.  And his ultimate concern is the safety of his flock.  This is why whenever he is presented with a scavenged item, he manipulates his flock into thinking it is dangerous and should be thrown away.  he makes a warm exception for the Baudelaires, inviting them to join the others, under the condition that they don't rock the boat.

However, he isn't so generous to Count Olaf.  Whee he tries to take control, Ishmael orders he be locked in a cage and left to drown by the tidal shelf.  Once again, the Baudelaires question the morality of this.  Olaf is their great villain, but is is right to leave him to die like this?

They see him and give him food.  He offers them crucial information about their parents and VFD if they release him.  They ultimate refuse and leave him to his fate.  From here, we see an interesting take on the trouble in paradise trope.  Everything appears to be idyllic on the island, but that is because there is no individuality.  Everybody has to dress the same.  They have to eat the same bland food and drink the same coconut cordial.  Suspecting something is amiss, the Baudelaires investigate.  They discover footprints leading to a secret cove.  In this cove is everything Ishmael claims is too dangerous for the island.  There are all manner of mechanical devices, books and things for biting.

But most intriguingly there is a huge book -  a book that contains the handwriting of the Baudelaire' parents.  Upon closer inspection, the children discover their parents were residents of the island.  Ishamel appears and explains that he created VFD to fight the figurative fires of the world.  it was here where he met and recruited Olaf into the organisation.  But after schism, Ishmael left the group and exiled himself on the island.  Later on, the Baudelaire parents washed up.  They had Violet on the island and after a while, despite Ishmael's warnings, they leave the island.  They claim they can only do so much to shelter themselves from the evils of the world, before they have to stand up for what's right.

It's also reveal that the coconut cordial is slightly alcoholic, helping to he keep the colonists subdued.  There is also a big apple tree.  Ishmael reminds the Baudelaires that it is Decision Day tomorrow.  This is the one day of the year when the tide rises high enough that a boat can surpass the coastal shelf.  He offers them some cordial before encouraging them to stay on the island.

Decision Day arrives and nobody chooses to leave the island, but the Baudelaires.  Ishmael strongly argues they should stay and as things become heated, Friday spots another castaway.  A heavily pregnant Kit Snicket on a raft made of books.  As Violet and Sunny run to her, who should appear but Olaf.  He is crudely disguised as Kit.  The islanders immediately see through his disguise.  The two argue, but Olaf threatens to unleash the Medusoid  Mycelium the island.  Ishmael threatens to shoot Olaf with a harpoon gun.

But seeing Kit's pregnant belly makes Violet realise that Olaf is hiding disguising a diving helmet containing the Medusoid Mycelium as his pregnant belly.  Violet runs to stop Ishmael, but she's too late.  He harpoons Olaf, inadvertently unleashing the Medusoid and poisoning everyone, including Olaf, the colonists and the Baudelaires.  The children say that horseradish is the cure.  But Ishmael is unwilling to relinquish control and so he orders the colonists to sail to a horseradish factory in Lousy Lane.

The Baudelaires suspect the cure for the cure for the Medusoid is in the secret cove.  They discover it is in the apples of the apple tree, but are too weak to reach them  Just when things look lost,t he Incredibly Deadly Viper appears, bringing the orphans an apple.  They eat and are instantly cured.

They bring the apple to Kit, but she doesn't eat it for fear of hurting her baby. Knowing they need to take her down from the raft, but being too weak, they have no other choice but to ask Count Olaf fro help.  he is weak from the Medusoid and refuses to help.  Btu when he discovers Kit is in danger, he snaps into action. he eats the apple and brings Kit to the shore.  The two share a tender moment where the depth of Olaf's love for Kit is revealed.  And then he succumbs to his harpoon wound.

The Baudelaires rush kit inside where later that night, in a surprisingly tense moment, she dies giving birth to a girl who the Baudelaires name after their mother Beatrice.  But before she dies, she reveals the secret of the Sugar Bowl.  inside is  sugar that is a botanical hybrid that immunises you against the Medusoid Mycelium.

The Baudelaires take care of young Beatice for a year before Decision Day comes and they decide it is finally time to leave.

But that's not the end.  Not quite yet.  We get a montage showing the fates of the different side characters.  The Quagmire are reunited.  Fiona and Fernald find their step father.  Olaf's former henchfolk find artistic fulfillment.  Finally we focus on the subplot bookending this episode.  A young girl is following in the footsteps of the Baudelaires.  She invites Lemony Snicket to share a story over ice cream.  And this young girl is none other than Lemony's niece Beatrice Baudelaire.  The episode ends on Beatrice and Lemony connecting over stories of the Baudelaires.  This was a particularly heartwarming note to end on.

And the same goes for the whole episode.  It was full of emotional pay-offs - Olaf and Kit's deaths, Lemony discovering his niece.  And none of these payoffs missed their marks.  What made this episode work so well was how it was only 1 episode, as opposed to a two parter.

While the two-parters are good, they often did feel padded, but this episode was perfectly plotted. It didn't lag and it didn't overrun. Everything was tied off nicely and there were some truly poignant moments.  This was great ending for a great series.  And I do hope the Baudelaires get the happily ever after they so truly deserve.  

Saturday, 19 October 2019

It Chapter 2 review

In 2017, I reviewed chapter 1 of It so it only makes sense that I review the second part now.

Every twenty-seven years, the inter-dimensional, supernatural creature Pennywise the Clown (Ben Skaarsgaard) preys on the citizens of Derry, Maine.  Having defeated Penny wise as children, Bill Denborough, (James Mcavoy) Beverly Marsh, (Jessica Chastain) Richie Tozier (Bill Hader) Mike Hanlon, (Isaiah Mustafu) Ben Hanscom, (Jay Ryan) and Eddie Kaspbrak (James Ransome) return to defeat It once and for all.

Although It is supposed to be a horror film, the horror elements were the weakest part.  This was because of the sheer over-reliance on CGI and jumpscares.  From the mutated creatures hatching from fortune cookies to the young Beverly Marsh (Sophia Lillis) being depicted as a flaming skeleton, I was more repulsed/ amused rather than scared.  Instead of hiding behind the sofa, I was rolling my eyes at the silliness of it all.  At some points, I almost wanted to laugh out loud.

The truly scary moments were when we were faced with plain human evil – no CGI, jumpscares, just good writing and acting.  The film opens with gay couple Don Hagarty and Adrian Mellon being brutally beaten up by some homophobic teenagers.  The grown-up Beverly Marsh is married to an abusive husband who whispers instead of shouts.  The adult Stanley Uris (Andy Bean) kills himself, as he is too afraid to return to Derry with his friends.  Even the build-up of the stupid ‘Beverly Marsh as a flaming skeleton’ scene was scarier than the actual scene itself.

In a flashback, Ben Hanscom gets a quiet moment with his unrequited love, Beverly.  He misreads the situation and tries to kiss her.  She brutally rejects him, asking how she could want to kiss an ugly, stupid, fat boy like him.  Afterwards, she turns into a flaming skeleton.  This version of Beverly Marsh was really Pennywise in disguise but seeing one of our heroes being so cruelly abused, by what should be his friend, was far scarier than some silly CGI.

All four of these scenes were far scarier than the best special effects that Final Cut Pro had to offer, because these scares were earned.  Rather than trying to repulse or shock, director Andy Muschietti subtly built atmosphere.  After all, what’s scarier? Being the victim of an unprovoked hate crime, being torn apart by the love of your life or some silly little monster that you can squish under your thumb.

This isn’t to say that Ben Skaarsgaard wasn’t great as Pennywise.  He was very creepy, but Muschietti was over-reliant on CGI.  Some of the best parts came from the characters and the chemistry they shared.  The scene where we see all 6 main characters reunite in the Chinese restaurant is great evidence of this, if you ignore the fortune cookie scene afterwards.  Bill Hader was perfectly cast as the adult Richie Tozier and his rapport with James Ransom, Eddie Kaspbrak, gave the film some much light-needed relief.  It also made for the remarkably poignant bittersweet ending where Eddie dies saving Richie’s life.

Similar to its predecessor, there is a definite over-reliance on CGI and jump scares, but solid character work makes this is an enjoyable if uneven watch.  At almost 3 hours, you can argue that it is over long.  But with the book being over 1000 pages long, far longer than it needs to be, almost 3 hours doesn’t seem that bad now. 

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood review

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (OUTIH) isn’t on the top 1000 films of all time, but I recently watched it in cinemas and here’s the review.

Rick Dalton (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a Hollywood actor who’s afraid that his career is at an end.  Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt) is his stunt double and driver.  Together they navigate the changing landscape of 1960’s Hollywood.  Meanwhile, Charles Manson and his cult machinate a plot to begin a race war by killing Roman Polanski (Raful Zavierachi) and his wife Sharon Tate (Margot Robbie.)

As well as directing this, Tarantino also directed Kill Bill.  My main criticism of that film was that it was more style than substance.  The same criticism applies here.  Rather than offering a strongly plotted narrative, Tarantino presents a mostly nostalgic vision of Hollywood and stretches it to its limit.

Where Kill Bill is a homage to martial arts films, OUTIH is a homage to 1960’s Hollywood.  It’s overly seasoned with gratuitous real-life allusions, from Dicaprio being digitally imposed into the Great Escape, to Brad Pitt fighting Bruce Lee (Mike Moh) to Steve Mcqueen (Damien lewis) appearing for 5 minutes to even the title: Once Upon a Time in Hollywood being a reference to Sergio Leone’s ‘Once Upon a Time in the West” and … “in America.” Of course, Leone is best known for his spaghetti westerns with westerns featuring heavily in this film.

However, all these references felt more like Tarantino patting himself on the back, showing off how much he knows about Hollywood, rather than actually doing anything for the plot.  The real narrative lay in the conflicted mind of Dalton – a washed-up movie actor trying to revive his career.  Dicaprio was great in this role.  He imported true humanity to Dalton and prevented him from becoming just another of many Hollywood has-beens.  The scene where he breaks down in his trailer is the best example of this.

What’s left of the plot focusses on Booth being mixed up in the Manson family.  Although this is more of a sub-plot that should have received more attention than it did, the outrageous ending notwithstanding.

Three of Manson’s cult go to kill Tate and Polanski.  Instead they decide to kill Dalton and Booth.  The plan goes wrong as all three are brutally killed in progressively over-the-top ways.  This stylisation of violence is quintessential Tarantino, but it does become silly at times.

And we need to take a moment to talk about feet again.  Tarantino is just trolling us at this point.  He knows that his foot fetish is common knowledge and doesn’t give a damn anymore.  From Margot Robbie’s feet at the forefront of the frame, to Margaret Qualley’s feet pressed right against the windscreen, it was all a bit much.

While the film has all of the classic Tarantino hallmarks, I fear it is another example of style over substance.  And I get it, Tarantino! You have a foot fetish.  You don’t need to remind me of it in every single movie. 

Kill Bill Volume 1 Review

Number 200 on the top 1000 films of all time is Quentin Tarantino’s martial arts thriller ‘Kill Bill Volume 1.’ I just happened to see this film on TV, hence why I’m reviewing it out of order.

The Bride (Uma Thurman) awakens after an assassination attempt by her former hit squad goes awry.  She vows revenge on her former colleagues including her boss.  (David Carradine)

Kill Bill pays homage to many of the grindhouse and martial arts films of the 60s and 70s.  However, I think it is more homage than actual film.  Of course, you would expect there to be elements of the genre present, but I think it was overdone.  Don’t get me wrong, the martial art scenes were brilliantly choregraphed, the Crazy-88 fight being the obvious example, but they became over-long and tedious.
I understand that the film focusses on martial arts, but the extended fight scenes did little to push the narrative forward.  And that is my main criticism of the film.  It was all more style than substance.

The narrative, as it was, was stretched very thin.  The Bride has a fight with the first member of her hit squad, Vernita Green, and then travels to Japan and has another fight with the Crazy-88 and then a final fight with the next hit squad member O-Ren (Lucy Liu.) Throw in some feet shots for good measure.  We’ll talk about this later.

I did think that the staging and cinematography were brilliant, especially with how the Crazy-88 fight was in monochrome and later silhouetted.  Also, while O’Ren’s backstory being depicted as an anime cartoon was certainly innovative, it became very familiar, after a while.  I was hungering for some actual narrative and fleshed-out characters.

Now is the time to talk about Uma Thurman’s feet.  It’s well-known that Tarantino has a foot fetish, but this is the first time that I’ve really been aware of it.  Did we really need to spend so much time looking at Thurman’s feet?

Ultimately, this is an enjoyable film to watch once, but how any substance gives way to style, does make it tedious after a while.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

The Penultimate Peril Review

Dear reader,

we are thankfully nearing the end of the suffering of the Baudelaires.  But there is no reason you have to suffer with them.  Press alt and F4 and shut down your computer so your pain can stop as well.

As you might expect from the penultimate episode, this installment was bigger and better than anything we've seen before.  The narrative is complicated and there are a lot of characters - quite a few we know.  There's a lot to unpack so le'ts just jump into it.

What was most interesting about this episode was what it revealed about the backstory of not just the Baudelaires but Count Olaf and Lemony Snicket.  In a series of flashbacks, we seet Count Olaf, Lemony and Kit Snicket and Esme Squalor at the opera.  They're friends and Kit and Olaf are lovers.  After the opera finishes, the female protagonist joins them and is revealed to be Beatrice (Morena Baccarin.) The same Beatrice that Lemony Snicket dedicates every episode to.

Beatrice and Esme then have a heated discussion about the sugar bowl.  Esme wants it for herself but Beatrice says that something that powerful shouldn't be in the hands of one person.  She and Lemony plan to sneak it away, but Esme and Olaf catch them.  They prepare to throw poison darts just as Beatrice and Lemony do the same.  But then stepping into the crossfire is Olaf's father.  He dies as a poison dart hits him - a poison dart thrown by Beatrice and Lemony, triggering Olaf's hatred for them.

Although it was Beatrice's dart that killed Olaf's father, Lemony takes the blame sending him on the run.  We learned some very important backstory and we've had some big questions answered.

From here, we'll back to the main narrative.  After surfacing at Briny Beach, the Baudelaires are approached by a heavily pregnant Kit Snicket.  She offers to drive them to the Hotel Denoument and they accept.  On the taxi ride there, they deduce she is Jacques Snickets' sister and reveal the sad news that he has been murdered.  Kit drops them off at the hotel Denouement.  She tells the Baudelaires to disguise themselves as concierges.  VFD are meeting on Thursday and Kit wants to know if it still safe for them to do so.  If it is not, the Baudelaires should send a signal warning others to stay away.  Aiding in their quest is hotel manager Frank, but working against is his identical twin brother Ernest.

Meanwhile, Kit leaves to take care of her own business.  And who should be waiting for her in the back of her taxi? But her brother, and our narrator, Lemony Snicket.  Or a far younger version I should say.  Considering we've only seen Lemony in flashbacks on in 4th wall breaks, it was interesting seeing him directly inserted into the show.  He and Kit share a tender moment, before promising to rejoin the fight by watching over the Baudelaires.

Next we cut to Olaf, Esme and Carmelita.  The three of them are on land figuring out their next move, when Fernald and Fiona betray him by stealing his submarine.  With little other choice, they go to the Hotel Denouement to stop VFD's meeting.

Can I just say the Hotel Denouement looked spectacular? Full props to the art department who always knock the neo-gothic settings out of the park.  The Hotel Denouement looked like a Victorian or Edwardian 5 star hotel. 

And lurking within it are the many questions, the Baudelaires have.  Is the Last Safe Place really safe? How do they tell Frank and Ernest apart? And who is the JS who invited them here? Through a clever sequence, we see the Baudelaires carry out separate tasks.  Violet goes to the rooftop salon, where she sees Esme, Carmelita and the very disgruntled Count Olaf.  For the past few episodes, we have seen cracks in their relationship.  There is also an amusing cameo from Vice Principal Nero who was last seen terrorising the Baudelaires at Prufrock Prep school.  This marked the first of many cameos.

Esme orders Violet to collect a harpoon gun for Carmelita who is being her usual bratty self.  Violet tries to eavesdrop on Esme and Nero's scheming, but to no avail.  She has to go back to the reception and discuss the request with Frank or is it Ernest? next we follow Klaus who has to go to the sauna where he sees none other than Babs - the administrator of Heimlich Hospital and his previous guardian Jerome Squalor.  SPOILER ALERT

In the book, Jerome Squalor is one of the identities of JS and it's revealed that after failing the Baudelaires, he resolved to help them in anyway possible.  But here, his role is very much reduced to a cameo.  This was a disappointment.  Rather than being in another well-intentioned, but ineffectual authority figure, he could have become something more.  But anyway, Babs and Jerome are pretending to be a couple, but before Klaus can determine why or why they're here, he is called away by Ernest or is it Frank? He has to hang a role of flypaper out the window.

Finally, we go to Sunny who has been called to help mr Poe.  The two go to the hotel resutarant where they are served by none other than Larry Your Waiter.  I completely forgot about this character and even looking at my previous reviews, I cannot remember what happened to him.  After exchanging cryptic messages with Sunny, he leaves for the kitchen.  Count Olaf turns up disguised as Jacques Snicket.  He reveals that he contacted Mr Poe for a dossier containing all of the information pertaining to the Baudelaires and the crimes of Count Olaf.

While they're speaking, Sunny sneaks into the kitchen where Larry-Your-Waiter is talking with Frank or is it Ernest? They are discussing the upcoming VFD meeting.  but before Sunny can hear anymore, Frank or is it Ernest spots her and requests that she help him put a special lock on the Laundry Room door.  While they're doing this, Olaf confronts Larry.  The two of them tousle, but Olaf wins and drowns Larry in a pot of curry sauce.  This was a disappointing end to a disappointing character.  Larry was built up to be an important person, but he just didn't amount to anything.

Anyway later that night, the Baudelaires try and fail to make sense of everything they've found out.  Just as they are about to give up on the mystery of JS, Justice Strauss enters or JS.  She explains that after failing the Baudelaires, she has followed the children, gathering together every report and scrap of evidence, compiling it all into a massive dossier.  From here, she has invited every member of VFD and every person who has ever known the Baudelaires to the Hotel Denouement for a trial with the High Court.  She intends to bring Count Olaf to justice.  A laudable goal I'm sure, but not the most logical.  As we have learned, Olaf is not the only villain in the world and wouldn't it make more sense to bring everybody else to justice as well.  If they had the chance, why would they try not to imprison Esme Squalor, Carmelita Spats, the Man with a Beard but no Hair and the Woman with Hair but no Beard.

Anyway, Justice Strauss leaves the children.  Although they know who JS is, they don't know why Frank or was it Ernest asked them to perform their own respective tasks.  Klaus deduces there is a hidden section to the hotel, which is revealed to be a sub-basement.  They discover an anteroom and Frank or is it Ernest? But Klaus realises that the brothers are not twins, but triplets.  They are speaking to the third brother Dewey.  Dewey explains that VFD have compiled together every single document possible into a huge hidden library.  He announces that he and kit Snicket will leave together after Olaf's trial.  he invites the Baudelaires to become the library's next librarians after he leaves.

Having all of their questions answered but one, the Baudelaires ask "what is in the sugar bowl?" Just before Dewey can answer, Olaf, Esme and Carmelita join them.  Olaf orders Carmelita to shoot Dewey with her harpoon gun, but she refuses until he teaches her how to spit.  Sensing tension between the three, the Baudelaires and Dewey taunt Olaf and Esme, causing an argument so big that Olaf breaks up with Esme.  Esme swears her revenge.

Olaf now has the harpoon gun and threatens to shoot Dewey.  The Baudelaires step in the line of fire and tell Olaf that he doesn't need to do this.  With a poignant "it's all I know how to do," he relinquishes the harpoon gun to the children.  Mr Poe appears and in shock, the Baudelaires drop the gun, triggering it and harpooning Dewey.  He dies saying Kit's name.  This is followed by a gorgeous shot of the camera panning upward through the submerged library to Dewey's body floating on the pond on top.

With Mr Poe and the others decrying them as murderers who should appear but Lemony Snicket in a taxi.  He promises to drive the children away explaining that he is Kit's brother.  This was an interesting deviation from the source material.  In the book, the stranger remains unnamed, although it is is implied that it is Lemony.

The Baudelaires consider leaving with Lemony, but decide they cannot run away from their crimes nor give up a chance to put Olaf in jail.  They stay with Justice Strauss while Lemony leaves.  Olaf is caught trying to sneak away and the trial is held the next day.  However, the High court chooses to literally interpret the statement "justice is blind."  And thus everybody must be blindfolded while taking their seats.  What follows is an amusing but dawn-out physical comedy sequences where we see many familiar faces from the Baudelaire's past.

After this Justice Strauss calls the Baudelaires to the stand.  They give an impassioned testimony which is followed by a round of applause.  And that was a bit of cheese I could have done without. Anyway Justice Strauss think that she has enough to convince the High Court to convict Count Olaf.  But the Baudelaires disagree.  Knowing that nobody has ever believed them before, they call Count Olaf to the stand, betting that his narcissism will betray him.

This was a silly decision which quickly backfires when Olaf tells the court of the crimes that the Baudelaires have committed in particular the murder of Dewey Denouement.  Why would Olaf incriminate himself when he could incriminate other people? Things only get worse when the other High Court judges wants to know how the Baudelaires plead.  To the charge of murdering Dewey Denouement, they plead innocent mostly.

Everybody puts their blindfolds back on to await the verdict.  But sensing something is amiss, the Baudelaires peek to see Olaf is kidnapping Justice Strauss and the other two High Court Judges are the Man with a Beard but no Hair and the Woman with Hair, but no beard.

The Baudelaires try to warn everybody but as usual nobody listens.  They chase Olaf and Strauss downstairs to the Laundry Room.  Here they realise that Carmelita wanted a harpoon gun to shoot down the carrier crow carrying the sugar bowl.  The crow will stick to the flypaper that Klaus hung up and the sugar bowl would fall into the Laundry Room.

However, Klaus deduces this to be a decoy and he helps Olaf override the lock.  He is proven right when the sugar bowl is nowhere to be found.  Not beaten yet, Olaf vows to unleash the Medusoid Mycelium, poisoning everybody in the hotel.  He will escape by pushing the boat on the rooftop salon into the sea below.  knowing the world is safer without Olaf, Violet volunteers to help him.  lastly, Sunny suggests burning the hotel down.  She knows that this might be enough to convince everybody that something is amiss.  She also knows it can be a signal for other volunteers to stay away.

Olaf wrestles away Justice Strauss' dossier and uses it to start the fire.  But Strauss rescues a picture of the Baudelaires.  As they take the lift upstairs, the children stop  at every floor to warn as many people as possible.  They reach the top where Olaf collects the Medusoid Mycelium and he and the children escape the roof via the boat.  But Justice Strauss decides to stay behind.  They sail away into the sunset, but their story is not at its end yet.

But here we jump back to Justice Strauss who has escaped the fire.  She's approached by Lemony Snicket and laments on the fate of the children  Lemony takes the photo of the Baudelaires kicking off his own quest to find the children once again.

VFD and Cultural references

1. Lemony Snicket references the humanist John Godfrey Saxe.
2. The famous author Richard Wright is also referenced.
3. Count Olaf claims that Dewey Denouement is a mythical figure like the Italian composer Giuseppe Verdi.
4. "Do you expect me to talk?"
"No, Larry Your Waiter, I expect you to boil.
5. In an ultimately pointless and stupid plan, Esme vows to get her revenge on everybody at the trial by tricking them into eating meatballs made from crows.  She cries out "let them eat crow," referencing Marie Antoinette's famous "let them eat cake."
6. Dewey's name is a reference to the Dewey Decimal system which is the standard system libraries are run by.