"We're still at war, Plissken. We need him alive."

"I don't give a fuck about your war... or your president."

Posts Tagged ‘Tim Burton’

Pee-wee’s Big Adventure

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020

August 9, 1985

In an attempt to put a finger on the ineffable singularity of PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE, let us consider the Rube Goldberg machines of Summer of 1985 so far:

THE GOONIES. First scene after the prologue. Mikey pulls a string that drops a bowling ball into a bucket and sets off a chain reaction that involves a balloon, a hen, a football and a sprinkler, just to pull open the gate for Chunk. Why? I don’t know. Because it’s cute. Its cool. Kids like it. No reason needed.

BACK TO THE FUTURE. Opening titles. A series of timers act as Doc Brown’s breakfast machine. The coffeemaker turns on, an alarm swings an arm that flips a switch that turns on the morning news, the toaster is toasting, a can of dog food slides down to a robot arm that swings around to a can opener that opens it and it dumps into a dog bowl. It’s not as elaborate or chain reaction based as the GOONIES machine, but it’s more organic to the story because it’s the work of an inventor who’s a genius and a nut and interested in time. And also maybe Steven Spielberg is just into these things, since he produced both movies.

And now, PEE-WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE. Again, the first scene after the prologue. Another breakfast machine. After getting out of bed in the morning, Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens in his followup to MEAT BALLS PART II) tells his dog Speck, “Come on, let’s get some breakfast!” He turns on a fan and lights a candle under a string. The reaction involves a row of interlocked pinwheels, a dropping anvil, a toy ferris wheel… this one could be an homage to the one in CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG, but with the addition of kitsch: an egg rolls through a tube and is cracked open by a Drinking Bird, wooden models of dinosaur skeletons carry bread slices and squeeze oranges, an Abraham Lincoln statue flips pancakes. As the meal is made (and the dog food is served) the orchestral score builds from dreamy, tinkly chimes to a booming, stomping anthem. And in the end the food is somehow plated with eggs for eyes, a strawberry for a nose and bacon strips for lips. Pee-wee calls him “Mr. Breakfast,” and they seem to already be acquainted. For his own breakfast, Mr. Breakfast requests Mr. T Cereal. (read the rest of this shit…)

Frankenweenie

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Frankenweenie is a 26-minute long black-and-white Disney live action short that was not quite, as far as I can tell, a Summer of 1985 release. It was made in 1984, planned to play with a re-release of THE JUNGLE BOOK that summer, then production was delayed, moving it to PINOCCHIO in December, but when it received a PG rating they couldn’t play it with a G-rated movie, so it got shelved until playing with only the U.K. release of BABY: THE SECRET OF THE LOST LEGEND. I couldn’t find proof of a date, but if it was the same as the U.S. then it was in March of ’85.

But I decided it was an important backstory to fill in, because it keeps coming up. It was one of the projects then-25-year-old Disney artist Tim Burton switched to after the company didn’t use any of his designs for THE BLACK CAULDRON. It was the short they considered releasing with MY SCIENCE PROJECT. And it was what brought Burton to the attention of Paul Reubens to direct a classic Summer of 1985 movie we’ll be discussing tomorrow.

It’s a simple story. Barret Oliver (D.A.R.Y.L.) plays Victor Frankenstein, a normal suburban kid who enjoys making Super-8 monster movies with his dog Sparky. But one day while playing fetch, Sparky is run over by a car – off screen, in a beautifully crafted sequence of visual storytelling that ends with a baseball rolling to the curb and Victor rising to his feet in shock. (read the rest of this shit…)

The Black Cauldron

Thursday, July 23rd, 2020

When it comes to Summer of 1985 fantasy movies that might be a little too dark and scary for their family audiences, RETURN TO OZ was not all Disney had up their sleeve. They also had an animated feature about swords and quests and undead armies that tried to push their artform into new territory. It was the most expensive animated movie that had ever been made, the only one besides SLEEPING BEAUTY that was shot on 70mm, Disney’s first that was rated PG, and the first to integrate some computer generated imagery. It’s adapted from a series of children’s novels called The Chronicles of Prydain by Llloyd Alexander, and they chose not to turn it into a musical (which took some restraint, since one of the main characters is a bard who carries a harp around). It has a mostly serious tone, with a score by Elmer Bernstein and a willingness to start out quiet and ominous, with slow fades between scenes.

Its hero is Taran (Grant Bardsley, George Cukor’s THE BLUE BIRD), a dorky young “assistant pig-keeper” unhappy with his weird job of helping his boss Dallben (Freddie Jones, FIREFOX, FIRESTARTER, WILD AT HEART) take care of one single pig named Hen Wen. He thinks he should be “a famous warrior” having adventures and shit, which he practices for by swinging a stick at imaginary enemies, narrating about how fearless he is and how scared and cowardly they are. (read the rest of this shit…)

After Hours

Friday, April 24th, 2020

“I just wanted to leave my apartment, maybe meet a nice girl. And now I’ve got to die for it!”

AFTER HOURS is Martin Scorsese’s take on the “staying up all night and a bunch of crazy shit happens” movie (see also INTO THE NIGHT, MIRACLE MILE, EDMOND). This one follows Paul (Griffin Dunne), a young word-processing drone who lives alone in a small apartment in New York City. After a boring day at work he goes to a cafe to re-read what he says is his favorite book, Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller. A woman named Marcy (Rosanna Arquette, same year as SILVERADO) is by herself at a nearby table, notices what he’s reading and says “I love that book.” He doesn’t even hear her at first. But she starts trying to quote it.

Suddenly she moves to his table to get him to look at the weird cashier (Rocco Sisto, INNOCENT BLOOD, ERASER, THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT), who seems to be practicing dance moves. She’s about to leave but they have a short, weird conversation that includes 1) telling him she’s staying with her friend Kiki Bridges and 2) giving him Kiki’s phone number so he can inquire about her sculptures of bagels and cream cheese. (read the rest of this shit…)

Batman

Friday, June 21st, 2019

Tim Burton’s BATMAN is a movie about a feeling – a feeling called Batman. It’s a lonely, broken, hanging out in a cave with the bats feeling. A sad about my dead parents but trying to be me feeling. A doing a bad job of passing for a normal person but fuck you I’m gonna dress and drive how I want and do what I want at night feeling. An okay it’s true that I am legitimately crazy and even sometimes hang upside down like a bat when I can’t sleep but does that have to mean I can’t have a girlfriend feeling. The feeling is evoked by shadowy alleys, towering gothic structures (thanks to brilliant production design by FULL METAL JACKET‘s Anton Furst), matte black metal and Danny Elfman’s low, murmuring horns that climb to the rooftops, step to the edge and spread their gargoyle wings in a thunderous explosion of marching drums and rococo instrumentation.

Man, that score. There aren’t many I like better than this one. It’s as eternal as the concept of Batman itself.

Now, just as we’re in a groove here – as Batman (in a place that looks sort of like the ’40s, sort of like the ’80s, sort of like a future that never happened) is terrifying muggers, chasing gangsters in fedoras, dodging old timey reporters with similar hats, sitting in his cave looking at scans of old newspaper articles on his computer that looks sturdier than a submarine, or out of costume hiding away in his big empty manor, stewing in a mood that’s black, blue and overcast – here comes this walking splatter of white, green and purple called The Joker. The nerve of this asshole to hold himself as a parallel to Batman! Sure, we understand the need for self expression, the rebellion against conformity, the back and forth between masking and glorying in his disfigurement. And yeah, he knows how to be a funny jerk. His arrogance can be kinda charming. “You look fine.” “I didn’t ask.” (read the rest of this shit…)

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

Friday, October 7th, 2016

tn_missperegrineMISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN takes place in a quirky, goth-y world of young outcast monsters, a story for young people who enjoy the macabre, a premise that sounds like X-MEN but plays more like THE ADDAMS FAMILY. It seems tailor made for a Tim Burton comeback film. Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe he needs to find something off the rack that looks good on him. No, actually that’s probly what he did here. Maybe he needs to sew something himself. I don’t know. This metaphor got away from me.

Asa Butterfield (HUGO) plays Jake, our protagonist and first person narrator, who lives a boring life in a Scissorhandsian Florida suburb until one day he finds his Grandpa (Terence Stamp, ELEKTRA, THE PHANTOM MENACE) dead in the woods with his fucking eyeballs plucked out. (The police soothe him by explaining that dogs ate ’em.) Also he sees a giant.

Kinda like BIG FISH, he finds himself tracing the seemingly-fantastical tales Grandpa told him and left behind in letters, journals, photos and maps. (Burton has been past his prime long enough that he’s harkening back to movies from past his prime.) He convinces his dad (Chris O’Dowd, CALVARY) to bring him to Wales to see this children’s home where Grandpa once lived. (read the rest of this shit…)

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

From the time I heard about the book Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter until the second before I saw the trailer for the movie version, I had no interest in the concept. Yeah, I get it – history and horror cliches moosh-up. Wocka wocka wocka. But one second later I saw that trailer and I realized that I hadn’t gotten it at all. As far as you could tell from the trailer, this movie was gonna be treated dead serious. A historical drama that for some reason is also a horror action movie. It looked amazing.
(read the rest of this shit…)

Dark Shadows

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

tn_darkshadowsa.k.a. TIM BURTON’S WHITE BLACULA

I didn’t expect to write a review of this movie, but I think I liked it more than everybody else, so I figured I should stick up for it. I mean, I don’t necessarily plan to watch it again in my life, but it has an odd tone that I enjoyed and shows signs of life in ol’ Tim Burton. (read the rest of this shit…)

Planet of the Apes (2001 remake)

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011
tn_pota2001
chapter 10

logo_summer2001smallreleased July 27, 2001

Well, so far this summer of 2001 we’ve been having hasn’t been too hot. But at least we got that new Tim Burton movie coming out, right? I don’t know why they gotta remake PLANET OF THE APES but it’s a great cast and that guy knows what he’s doing, I’m sure he’ll do something interesting with it.

Nope. 10 years later I’m not sure I need to explain why the PLANET OF THE APES remake is no good. I don’t remember there being an argument about it at the time, or ever encountering anybody that liked it in the decade since. It was a bad idea, it was not good, let’s all pretend it never happened. The end.

But I’m doing this thing so let’s do it. (read the rest of this shit…)

Alice in Wonderland

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

tn_aliceinwonderland2010ALICE IN WONDERLAND by Louis Carroll or whoever is one of the most beloved and iconic children’s literatures of our times. It has also been one of the most adapted, referenced and re-interpreted. Ever since the books Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland and A2: Rise of the Looking Glass were first published in such and such a year, I myself as a child growing up was inspired by, blah blah blah and you know the rest. In 1951 Walt Disney, etc.

As an adaptation of the original book, ALICE IN WONDERLAND is not entirely faithful. Like many versions it combines characters from the first book and the sequel (Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and Humpty Dumpty were from the second book according to Wikipedia, a popular websight). However it’s not meant as a straightforward translation of the book, but more a riff on the world of Wonderland, using our familiarity with some of the imagery and characters from previous adaptations and trying to be clever about re-interpreting them in a different context. (read the rest of this shit…)