# 231 – Tim Burton (Director special)

This is it, my first director special and I chose Tim Burton to have the honor of being the first one I write about. I don’t really know the reason but I thought that since I’ve seen so many of his movies it might be pretty content-rich. Hoping that this wouldn’t be the first and the last director special I’m gonna start off with Burton and his creations.

Born in August 25, 1958 Burton showed early signs of creativity and interest in movies. He started making his own movies in his backyard, for instance he made a short film called The Island of Doctor Agor when he was only 13. Instead of getting good grades in school he focused on arts, painting and drawing that led him to study character animation in California Institute of Arts. After graduating (based on his work in school) Disney was interested in him and he ended up working for them as an artist. Though it was clear from the beginning that his style was so different from Disney. Besides Burton wanted to do solo projects: so in 1982 he made a 6 minute short film inspired by a poem (his poetic influence would be Edgar Alan Poe) he wrote about Vincent Price (who himself narrated the animation) that showed off the type of style that will start to describe Burton the most.

Here is “Vincent”:

Years of working, Burton managed to produce hits with low budgets and this made him stir interest among big budget productions – in 1989 Batman fell into his lap and he made superhero history. The movie crossed over $250 million in the States and over $400 million worldwide (at that time it was the biggest box office hit of all time) and also shaped the new way of portraying superheros – more darker and psychological.

Batman (1989) starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The movie has a great score of 7,6 on IMDb and won the Oscar for Best Art Directing. Although this movie is as old as I am I still remember it, sadly I don’t remember if it was my first experience with Tim Burton but I have a slight hunch that it was Batman. The more clear memory of Tim Burton is definitely Edward Scissorhands (1990) which I re-watched just a couple of years ago – this marks the beginning of a duo that all of you are probably familiar with – Burton and Depp.

Poster for Edward ScissorhandsEdward Scissorhands also marks the beginning of what I think, Burton’s career cause it wasn’t just directed and produced but also written by him. It tells a story about a so-called science project who happens to be a man with scissors instead of his hands. The quite unrealistic story is a heart warming human version of the ugly duckling. This movie showcases well some of the elements that start to characterize Burton’s work through out his career. The positioning of dark and colorful, the unusual leading role (amazingly portrayed by Johnny Depp) and dark humor. At this time Burton’s work wasn’t recognized by the big Oscar but IMDb’s 8.0 score shows that the movie is far more that just your average entertainment.

1992 Batman Returns was directed by Burton but his signature was also put on a full-length stop-motion animation that came out a year after. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was directed by Henry Selick who studied with Burton in California Institute of Arts. The movie is a fantasy musical with 227 puppets that tells a story about Christmas in a Halloween way and has also an 8.0 score on IMDb. As an interesting twist, the puppets have unusually long legs and arms and to grasp the idea of a stop-motion movie there’s an interesting fact for you: the lead character Jack the skeleton had over 400 different heads that allowed him to have every possible emotion there is!

Still from Sleepy Hollow

Then followed many other works by Burton (some only produced) like Cabin Boy (1994), Ed Wood yet again with Johnny Depp (1994), the third Batman (1995), another collaboration with Henry Selick called James and the Giant Peach (1996) and the well known comedy about aliens Mars Attacks! (1996). The 90’s end with one of my favorite Burton films –  Sleepy Hollow (1999). Again together with Johnny Depp Burton brings us a fantasy crime story which also stars Christina Ricci and Christopher Walken. Legend of the headless rider is somehow stuck in my head but I’m not surprised, I’ve seen the movie about 5 times and I’m surprised it only won an Oscar for Best Art Director and ironically for the same guys who helped Burton out with Edward Scissorhands.

Here’s another interesting fact, during the next 10 years (from 2000 to 2010) Burton made 6 movies out of which I’ve seen 5 (some of them more than once). Out of which I loved 2 and liked 1 – sadly I had some issues with 2 that happened to be two of his latest works.  2001 Planet of the Apes came out, I haven’t seen it but I do know it marks the beginning of the second most productive duo (in movies and in real life), Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. To be honest I’m not sad I haven’t seen the movie, it has a 5,6 score on IMDb and compared to other Burton’s works it’s pretty low. But in 2003 Burton directed another favorite of mine, Big Fish (8.0) which is a fantasy-drama featuring Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup and Bonham Carter as well. Just so you’d know, Helena Bonham Carter has appeared in every Burton movie after Planet of the Apes (except Frankenweenie which comes out in 2012).

Still from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Then four Burton and Depp collaborations follow – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. First two are definitely among my favorites: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) brings back the vibe of Edward Scissorhands and Johnny Depp creates another dorky and memorable character. Even though the movie is based on a children’s book Burton manages to bring entertainment for grown-ups as well (for my review go here) and same goes for Corpse Bride (2005). Burton returns to stop-motion animation which was written by the same woman that put to paper Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas which of course brings back the puppets that have the same unusually long legs and arms.

The amazing trio: Depp, Bonham Carter and Burton

Then follows, what I think is a down-fall for Burton, with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010). I don’t exactly know what made me dislike Sweeney Todd which featured dark comedy and singing – maybe it was the complete darkness of the movie that didn’t appeal to me or maybe it was the singing. With Alice in Wonderland my problem is clear – the computer-animation that robbed Burton from his creativity. In my mind, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are perfect on their own and don’t need alteration that Alice in Wonderland gave to them. I find it ironic that it does have one of the lowest scores among Burton’s movies (6,6) but it managed to snatch not one but two Oscars. It is clear that Burton is loved by his fans but isn’t recognized by those who give away the Academy Awards – shows how little the Oscar actually means when it comes to these types of movies Burton does. Also, I did wrote a couple of sentences about Alice in Wonderland in the beginning of this blog (#6) where it seems that I hated the 3D and promised to see the 2D version which I haven’t done.

But Burton has two upcoming projects listed as well, one already mentioned Frankenweenie (2012) and Dark Shadows (2012) with yet again Johnny Depp. The last one is a promising supernatrual drama that features a vampire (Depp). I’m hoping this will bring back the Burton I started to love over the years.

So this is the end of my first director post, it turned out to be quite long and thorough which only means great things for following director posts. The bar has been set high and not only by this post but by Tim Burton as well – an amazing director, producer and a writer of our time.

# 153 – 2011 Oscars

And here is the list just one more time, now with only the winners listed! PS: Congrats to The King’s Speech and Colin Firth !

Best Motion Picture of the Year

The King’s Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin – FAV (I listed this as my favorite from all the nominees – well done, me).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role

Colin Firth for The King’s Speech (2010) FAV (Same thing with Colin, YAY! for Colin, I knew he’ll get this one!)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role

Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010) FAV (I think this was too obvious to be even a surprise, it was just – ahah, I knew it, blah).

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role

Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010) (Wasn’t my FAV for a reason, I haven’t watched this movie yet – it’s next on my list..)


Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role

Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010) (Same story as with previous winner, Christian Bale..)


Best Achievement in Directing

Tom Hooper for The King’s Speech (2010) (I gave this to The Social Network since I tried to even the playing field, TKS gets the best movie, TSN gets the director.. Academy Awards apparently don’t fallow the rules that way.)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

The King’s Speech (2010): David Seidler FAV (I like when I’m right and with TKS I’m almost always right it seems..)


Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published

The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin FAV (Thank god it wasn’t in the same category as TKS, all else it would’ve been even harder to pick my favorite..)


Best Animated Feature Film of the Year

Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich  (Haven’t seen it.. don’t intend to watch it either, sorry Toy Story..)


Best Foreign Language Film of the Year

Hævnen (2010): Susanne Bier(Denmark) (No comments.. god, I should really pay more attention to European films..)


Best Achievement in Cinematography

Inception (2010): Wally Pfister (Wasn’t my favorite but at least Inception got something for it’s visuals…)

Best Achievement in Editing

The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall FAV (I was right again…)


Best Achievement in Art Direction

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O’Hara (Wow, it got an award for something. Not the best from Tim Burton though!)


Best Achievement in Costume Design

Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood (Another one, apparently the art and costumes were the best.. while of course other nominees didn’t have that kid of imagination in hand – Wonderland pretty much can be everything and anything.)


Best Achievement in Makeup

The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey (Same thing as with Alice in Wonderland I think.. Making a man into a wolf pretty much sets the bar high.)


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score

The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross (I had my finger crossed for Zimmer cause I like his work but TSN deserves it also.)


Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song

Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman(“We Belong Together”) (Me and this song don’t belong together, haven’t even heard it…)


Best Achievement in Sound Mixing

Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick FAV (If Zimmer doesn’t get an award, the sound mixers get it – yay for them!)


Best Achievement in Sound Editing

Inception (2010): Richard King FAV (The sound is all about Inception this year, great!)

Best Achievement in Visual Effects

Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin FAV (So visuals and the sounds were perfection in Inception.. end of story!)

Best Documentary, Features

Best Documentary, Short Subjects

Best Short Film, Animated

Best Short Film, Live Action

The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom (This is an Estonian!! Like, yay – too bad he didn’t win, but I’m gonna list him anyway cause I can do what ever I want.)

God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny – winner.

# 10 – 3D

I started reading this article that Roger Ebert wrote about 3D movies and how he doesn’t like them. I totally agree with him, not because of him, I actually have thought about the popularity of 3D a lot lately – how it is more like a new way for cinemas to earn money and attract people to the movies. I know from my own experience that I get headaches while watching 3D – I mentioned that I watched Alice in Wonderland in March (it was 3D). Maybe the reason why I didn’t like the movie as much as I like other Burton’s movies – the headache and the uncomfortable glasses which I had to wear with my own glasses – it was unpleasant.

I don’t really care for 3D and it bugs me that I don’t really have a choice, all the movies that are in 3D are in 3D only – so I guess I wouldn’t be as mad if I could still go to the movies and watch 2D if I want to. So I wasn’t surprised of Roger Eberts concerns, he has been around for a while and a fan of the classics – as am I. So what, that I am young and used to the era of computers and technology – I still love to watch movies that are 2D.

And if you want to read an article by a well respected man in Hollywood  who has addressed the same dislike I have, go ahead:

3-D is a waste of a perfectly good dimension. Hollywood’s current crazy stampede toward it is suicidal. It adds nothing essential to the moviegoing experience. For some, it is an annoying distraction. For others, it creates nausea and headaches. It is driven largely to sell expensive projection equipment and add a $5 to $7.50 surcharge on already expensive movie tickets. Its image is noticeably darker than standard 2-D. It is unsuitable for grown-up films of any seriousness. It limits the freedom of directors to make films as they choose. For moviegoers in the PG-13 and R ranges, it only rarely provides an experience worth paying a premium for.

Read more: http://www.newsweek.com/id/237110

# 6

As a movie fan I feel like it is my oblication to go to the movies and I have to admit, I’ve done a pretty good job this year – I know cause I have saved all my tickets just so I can keep count.

January was slow, I went to watch The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Heath Ledger’s last movie which I watched with  respect in my heart. I liked how it was so smooth as a story line and how the fact that Heath died during the filming of the movie didn’t seem to effect it at all. Jude Law, Colin Farrell and Johnny Depp were great to but even now I still remember watching the movie and missing Heath Ledger. But the trip to the cinema was worth it!

Feburary – Luckily I didn’t see Valentine’s Day on Valentine’s Day because I would have been even more depressed than I was when I watched it on Feb. 11th alone while everybody else had a partner or a friend with them. Was it worth it? Well, I think that this movie is for those happy lovy-dovies and I’ve would’ve enjoyed it better if I wasn’t alone. (NB: There where to many story lines and some that didn’t get enough screen time were better than the main story-line between Kutcher and Garner!)

But I wasn’t alone when I watched Did You Hear About the Morgans? and I actually wished I was because I would have left the building! Honestly, what happened to the sweet Sarah Jessica Parker and adorable Hugh Grant? I have written my self a little note – not funny, not romantic, not exciting, not pretty (SJP looked like a skeleton, HG was tired) – basically nothing! So enough said – waste of my precious time.

March – This was a busy month – 3 movies! First of all, I had to drive to a different city to see a movie  in English (others where all in Estonian) and it didn’t have subtitles! (This shows my frustration against Estonian cinemas). Anyway, the movie was Alice in Wonderland, another Tim Burton master piece which in my mind lacked in the “master” department. I blame the visual appeal that lacked the originality that I love in Burton’s earlier movies. But lets be honest, Johnny Depp is still awesome in my books and so is Tim Burton. And who knows, maybe it was the 3D that I didn’t like, I just have to wait for the DVD release.  3 days later I saw Shutter Island and let me just say – brilliant! Not just the story but the visual appeal that the movie had, the colors, the smoke – it all seemed so syrreal and it gave so much to the story. Well done, Mr. Scorsese! But  Legion – I have no words. Not because it was good, but because it was horrible! Every time some one said Jeep (which is a NAME!) I laughed and I actually think I found it lame because I had seen Shutter Island just two days before and compared to that a lot of movies might seem lame.

April – So I managed to drag my butt to the movies twice – first was Date Night and to my surprise it actually turned out to be a pretty decent movie. Tina Fay was funny, Steve Carell wasn’t a 40 year old virgin anymore,  James Franco and Mark Wahlberg both gave a memorable performance. In the end of the month I went to see a more serious movie The Ghost Writer and putting his personal life aside, Polanski is a genius! I loved everything about the movie, the vibe, the paintings in the beach house, the light humor in some situations and the cast. I’d put this movie somewhere next to Shutter Island because of their similarity using visual appeal to connect with the audience.

So these were the short reviews of the movies I’ve watched on a big screen with no popcorn to snack on because the tickets themselves cost a lot. I try to see at least one movie a month but it all actually depends on the movies that come out – hopefully something good this month!