With a character like Cinderella, and with a story of a common girl becoming the princess through the magic of her godmother, one knows how the movie will end before they even enter the cinema. Told through animation, told through movies retelling the same story or a story similar to Cinderella – everybody, more or less, knows what to expect. Therefore, the challenge is not about changing the story but finding a new, a refreshing way of retelling the beloved story again! And I think Chris Weitz and Kenneth Branagh together with Sandy Powell did just that.
This post is kind of a special one because it really doesn’t fit into my well organized system of reviews. It doesn’t really go under the Back On Track feature because I’ve seen Fight Club numerous times before but then it also doesn’t go together with the regular reviews that I usually tend to write about movies I’ve seen for the first time. So as I love symbolic meanings, I can say that to me, Fight Club is not just a special movie but even its review on my blog is one of a kind.
First off, don’t be mad about the rating, I know it’s super low and most likely will anger many Hathaway fans, Jackman fans and Hooper fans as well, but I just couldn’t rate it higher than this. Reasons are quite simple, first off, I myself am not a fan of musicals, I would’ve avoided Les Misérables completely if I hadn’t promised to see all the Best Picture nominations. Second reason being the fact that this movie happened to be in a situation of comparison, and currently the lowest score I’ve given was one point higher than RAW. Therefore, taking into account MY personal preferences and MY experience with the previous nominations, Les Miséreables failed to impress.
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.
Edward 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!
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).
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.
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.
The last Colin Firth movie for me was A Single Man and I thought that he can’t get any better.. oh man, was I wrong! Colin Firth has been climbing the ladder of success these last few years and has been nominated for an Oscar which he probably will get. Why? I think being somebody who has to use his voice for a profession and then portraying somebody who doesn’t have it but should have it and must have it even – it sounds so difficult but some how, Colin Firth made it look effortless.
The King’s Speech is a movie about a future king/the king of England who has a stutter and has to over come it by the help of this speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush who was found by his wife portrayed by Helena Bonham Carter. And that is basically the whole story, the main plot and the rest is carried by those amazing actors, their dialogs and Colin’s ability to stutter with such skill that I forgot his real way of speech.
What makes the movie more close to heart is probably the fact that it is based on true events, true stories – and I even read that the notes by the speech-therapist were used in order to write the screenplay. Things that are true, all those movies that tell a story about a person who overcomes the obstacles in his/her life – those movies are the ones that always make me smile and really smile. They have a unique way making you cheer for that person cause you some how see him as a real person, not a character – because when you have the knowledge that it is based on real life, a true story, you have the context behind it that will alter your mind into thinking that it isn’t the actor on the screen but it is a person who lived and a person who did all those things – this is why The King’s Speech is good and this is why The Social Network is good. People don’t like fantasy anymore it seems , they like the real world and the movies that show that reality to us get to us on a much deeper level.
So basically this was almost a 2 hour movie that I can’t really talk about because there isn’t much else to tell. That being said, there is so much else to watch! Colin being the number one reason, Geoffrey second and you can even watch Helena Bonham Carter because she has some great outfits. While at the same time there is also an enjoyable script and the whole vibe of the movie takes you back in time. I think it would be a great “best movie of the year 2010” because it shows real acting skills among other great things behind making The King’s Speech, not that The Social Network and Black Swan and others didn’t have that.. I just think that Colin stole the last year, he was great and he deserves his nomination and The King’s Speech deserves those other 11 nominations and now it is only a matter of time before the Oscars start piling for them. 5 out of 5.