Tim Burton is all about extremes. Though his most recent film, BIG EYES, was a fairly straightforward biopic, his earlier films were stylistically far departures from our typical realities. Often his films feature two opposing factions, and the fun part begins when the two halves meet. BEETLEJUICE is where the dead met the living. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (which Burton produced, but did not direct) is where Christmas meets Halloween. The fissure between worlds in EDWARD SCISSORHANDS is much easier to see and feel than it is to describe. While there are many obvious ways to contrast Edward’s (Johnny Depp) world with the suburban pressure cooker he briefly visits, it can be especially interesting to look at the role of industry and mass production in these two worlds, as that is where Burton is especially murky.
Tag: Tim Burton
In the 25 years since the Michael Keaton-starring BATMAN came out, comic book movies have taken over. They’re no longer the rare breed they were in the 80s. Now they’re housecats—a standard sometimes-cute sometimes-annoying presence, stationed constantly and arrogantly within our multiplexes. BATMAN didn’t start that though. Even multiple reboots later, this ‘89 entry stands apart from all the other films in the comic book genre. That’s because, first and foremost, this isn’t even a Batman movie. More than anything else, it’s a film by Tim Burton. Yes, it’s about a guy who wears a cape and beats up muggers and fights another guy who dresses like a clown, but it’s still more Burton than Batman. This is the work of a wacko auteur who, in the pages of comic books and in the mythos of cartoons, found a dance partner for his own intensely strange sensibilities.
Like a wave of fresh, spring air following one of the rottenest winters on record, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE wafts into the Brattle like a warm rain, green grass, fun and flowers. Its bright candy colors are sure to wake you from your long black-and-white hibernation. Its non-stop frivolity will cause you to skip and run and jump. It is food for the soul, and what fool is going to turn that down after all the rain and hail, cold and snow of Old Man Winter, 2014.
What a gift the Brattle is giving us!
Beetlejuice – 1988 – dir. Tim Burton
You often hear that movies are a “visual medium,” but a list of the most popular movies that emphasize the power of what is seen would start off with animated children’s films, comic book adaptations, and Transformers. Though at times their avid visual invention can become glorious spectacle, ideologically these movies usually limit themselves to reiterating conventional bromides about love and loyalty winning the day or tolerance being a virtue.
But what would a film be like if it reveled in dazzling entertainment without also resorting to moral comfort food?
Edward Scissorhands – 1990 – dir. Tim Burton
We first meet Edward Scissorhands when Peg, the Avon lady, decides to visit the shadowy mansion overlooking her suburb and only manages to find someone lurking in the attic. Edward (Johnny Depp) is pale white and covered up to his neck in all manner of black vinyl and leather, but Peg (Dianne Wiest) is immediately sympathetic to this creature-man. As soon as she sees him, she begins her attempt to initiate Edward into the suburban life, despite the most obvious obstacle: Edward has blades for fingers.
USA, 1985. 90 min. Warner Brothers/ Aspen Film Society. Cast: Paul Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton, Diane Salinger, Milton Berle. Music: Danny Elfman; Cinematography: Victor Kemper; Production Design: David Snyder; Produced by: Richard Abramson, William McEuen; Written by: Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens, Michael Varhol; Directed by: Tim Burton.
Living high up a mountain in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire in the late 1980s, I had no cable and absolutely miserable television reception, which meant that I began listening in earnest to National Public Radio and took to watching a few of the shows available on the two network channels I was able to get. Though I adored the quirky Days and Nights of Molly Dodd and The Wonder Years, I also watched a few shows to which I probably would not have been drawn had my selection been more diverse–I developed a Who’s the Boss? habit, once it was syndicated. Oddest of all was the show I’d occasionally switch to on Saturday mornings, when I was just returning from a grocery run and starting to put things away in the kitchen. Pee-wee’s Playhouse turned out to be a sort of cross between a live-action Warner Brothers cartoon–both fun for kids and zinging much of its humor straight over their heads–and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.