Archive for the ‘Tim Burton’ Category

The Circus has Come to Town

Dumbo

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Eva Green, Alan Arkin, Nico Parker, Finley Hobbins, Roshan Seth, Lars Eidinger

Director Tim Burton reunites his stars Michael Keaton and Danny DeVito from the 1992 smash hit sequel Batman Returns in Disney’s live action remake of Dumbo also starring Colin Farrell and Eva Green.

The setting is a travelling circus in post-war Missouri where Dumbo is born to a mother elephant and whose long ears enable the baby elephant to fly at the coaxing of a feather with the help of children Milly and Joe Farrier played by Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins.

The children’s father and returning World War I hero Holt Farrier is played by Colin Farrell (Roman J. Israel Esq, The Beguiled, Widows).

Danny DeVito (Big Fish, The War of the Roses, Get Shorty) stars as Max Medici who comically runs the travelling circus. Screenwriter Ehren Kruger does take a while to get the story of Dumbo off the ground and the first half of the film does appear to be slightly unexciting.

Luckily, the moment Michael Keaton and Eva Green appear on screen, Dumbo becomes a fascinating tale of intrigue, dreams dashed, benevolent dictatorships and corporate greed which allows for the wholesale exploitation of animals for circus tricks which naturally is an overarching theme in this Disney tale of reunions, captivity, animal cruelty and entertainment.

In any case, what is a Disney movie without a moral cause and Dumbo is no exception.

Visually, Dumbo is fascinating and the production design and costumes are brilliant and slightly garish which is what to expect in a Tim Burton film who directed such classics as Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Ed Wood, Big Eyes and Alice in Wonderland.

As the action moves swiftly from the Missouri plains to New York where Keaton’s flamboyant entrepreneur V. A. Vandevere played with a chilling panache by Oscar nominee Michael Keaton (Birdman) buys Medici’s circus to be supposedly incorporated into Vandevere’s lavish amusement park Dreamland financed by a ruthless banker J. Griffin Remington played by Oscar winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine) .

It’s at Dreamland where Dumbo has to perform daring circus tricks which prompts him to fly around the tent with precarious set pieces collapsing all around the poor elephant. It’s also at Dreamland that Vendevere’s wicked intentions are revealed much to the horror of Medici and the one armed Holt Farrier.

Eva Green’s sympathetic Parisian acrobat is a breath of fresh air amidst the CGI heavy retelling of Dumbo which is entertaining and certainly spectacular but does fall short of the mark.

Unfortunately director Tim Burton misses the mark with Dumbo but the gorgeous production design outshines the lacklustre story line which might not produce tears in viewers’ eyes.

Dumbo gets a film rating of 7 out of 10 but as a lavish post-war circus film it could have been absolutely phenomenal but remains adequately entertaining. Ideal viewing for children and is definitely a film worth seeing on the Big Screen.

The Keen Reproduction of Art

Big Eyes

big_eyes_ver2

Director: Tim Burton

Cast: Amy Adams, Christoph Waltz, Danny Huston, Jason Schwartzman, Terence Stamp, Krysten Ritter, Jon Polito

Golden Globe winner Amy Adams (American Hustle) gives a sterling and nuanced performance as the American artist Margaret Keane in director Tim Burton’s 1960’s San Francisco set drama Big Eyes.

Whilst Margaret Keane was more commercial and was certainly not in the same vein of other celebrated female artists like Frida Kahlo or Georgia O’Keefe, her rise to fame as the painter of the Big Eyes series is certainly extraordinary and filled with intrigue. In a chauvinist society of the late 1950’s it was unheard of for a woman to leave her husband, and this is what the brave Margaret Keane does leaving upstate California for the more liberal art community of San Francisco with her young daughter Jane in tow, the true inspiration for her Big Eyes series.

In San Francisco Margaret becomes enchanted with the smooth talking Walter Keane, a budding artist but a commercial realtor by trade. Walter Keane, claiming to have spent some time in Paris, is wonderfully if slightly overplayed by Austrian actor and Oscar winner Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained, Inglourious Basterds). After a quick marriage, Walter soon recognizes the commercial potential of his wife Margaret’s art, which mainly consisted of paintings using oils and mixed media of women, children and animal with unusually big eyes.

big_eyes

After an initial showing of the works in a San Francisco nightclub, Walter Keane claims that he is the artist of these works and when commercial success strikes thanks to the purchasing of several painting by the heir to the Olivetti fortune, Walter Keane soon opens his own gallery, simply called the Keane Gallery where the posters of the paintings sell more than the actual art itself.

Before Andy Warhol, Keane was the pioneer of pop art and although the works weren’t particularly imaginative, there was something inspiring and commercially viable about the big eyes paintings.

However the plot twist to Burton’s film Big Eyes, is Margaret Keane’s desperate bid for freedom from her deranged husband after she discovers that Walter was not the artist he claimed to be. Margaret Keane with daughter in tow flees to Honolulu in Hawaii and then after a sort of spiritual rebirth whereby she ironically becomes a Jehovah’s Witness, she claims that she was the original artist of the Big Eyes series on Hawaii radio much to the horror of the American art world. The rest as they say is artistic legal history.

As a film about art, Big Eyes does not match up to similar films such as the brilliant Pollock, Frida or even the late Robert Altman’s film Vincent and Theo, but as a story about the crazy commercialization of art over any form of visual integrity, Big Eyes is a fascinating cinematic adventure, more so because its true.

Amy Adams is mesmerizing as the tortured and vulnerable Margaret Keane, and makes this real life story as bizarre as it really occurred, believable and informative. Watch out for priceless cameos by Jason Schwartzman (Marie Antoinette, The Grand Budapest Hotel) as a snobby art dealer, Terence Stamp (Valkyrie; Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) as senior New York Times art critic John Canaday and Danny Huston (Hitchcock, Birth) as San Francisco journalist Dan Nolan who initially befriends the charismatic yet crazy Walter Keane.

Big Eyes is recommended viewing for students of Pop Art, lovers of films about artists and for those that appreciate an informative tale of a really extraordinary woman, Margaret Keane –http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Keane who despite the age she lived in eventually become famous in her own right.

Madhatters to A Single Man…

Alice in Wonderland

Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderlandis clever, unconventional, but essentially not darker enough – although saved by Tweedledum & Tweedledee and the Red Queen… Johnny Depp is wonderful as the Madhatter and Helena Bonham Carter is brilliant as the Red Queen. Anne Hathaway also features as the White Queen along with Mia Wasikowska as Alice Kingsleigh in the titular role.

Ruling Wonderland one Queen at a time!

Ruling Wonderland one Queen at a time!

Remember Me

 

Tower of indestructible Love

Remember Me is surprisingly good although does tend to drag in the 2nd act, but wait for the finale – its a stunner… And as for Robert Pattinson – of course he is brilliant and holds his own in the film amongst such support talents as Pierce Brosnan, Academy Award winner, Chris Cooper (Adaptation) along with Oscar nominee and Swedish born actress Lena Olin (Unbearable Lightness of Being, Enemies: A Love Story). Recommended viewing.

A Single Man

Tom Ford’s luscious and sexy A Single Man is pure cinematic pleasure, every shot is like a Vogue fashion shoot and whilst the supporting cast are to die for, its really Colin Firth’s wonderful and sensitive central performance that lingers long after the lavish final shot!! See it just for the Spaniard in the Phone Booth scene!! Utterly breathtaking… especially Nicholas Hoult as the young and gorgeous Kenny skinny dipping in the Pacific at Midnight. Also starring Matthew Goode and Ginnifer Goodwin.

Lover and the Lush!

Lover and the Lush!

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