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Tony Grist

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Notes On Tim Burton's Alice [Jan. 7th, 2013|11:00 am]
Tony Grist
OK, I don't altogether hate Tim Burton's Alice. His movies are always good to look at- in a predictable kind of a way. (I'm reminded of the reason Gore Vidal gave for not going to Fellini's latest- "He's a painter. I've already seen his gallery.")

But the crassness of the story-telling really gets my goat. Sending an older Alice back to Wonderland is a goodish wheeze (Carroll had it himself and called it Through the Looking-Glass; why not just film that?) but nothing could be further from the spirit of the original than this banal, Tolkieny epic of usurpation and resistance and bloody revolution .Everything that isn't Carroll is stuff we've seen before in God knows how many other Hollywood movies. Disfigured Villain- check, CGI armies- check. Explosions and things burning- check. Cute animals- check, scantily clad heroine- check. Big CGI monster- check, stirring speeches about liberty and tyranny- check.

Then there's the problem of the Depp ego. Burton and Depp are getting to be bad for one another. They weren't always so but now they defer to one-another's iconic coolness.  Willie Wonka and the Mad Hatter were roles that might have stretched the actor; instead they were tailored to fit the sexually-ambivalent, emo dandy that seems to be his fall-back persona. Depp can be funny- usually when the role doesn't particularly call for it (Hunter S Thompson in Fear and Loathing for instance)- but give him a comic turn and he'll strain- as here- for anything but laughs. What a rum bugger he is! .And Burton indulges him- gifting him with enormous, glowing, CGI eyes like headlamps. This Hatter isn't a character but a big show-off bundle of mannerisms and accents. There's no humour and the audience's sympathy (I'm a freak so love me) is whorishly solicited.  It's a boring performance and there's far too much of it.

Helena Bonham Carter channels Miranda Richardson's Queenie from Blackadder 2, Matt Lucas is rather sweet as the Tweedles, Stephen Fry (instantly recognizable) voices the Cheshire Cat.  Jesus, why does Stephen Fry have to be in everything? Doesn't he have a home to go to?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lblanchard
2013-01-07 02:00 pm (UTC)
I would say you have it backwards. Depp is indeed capable of a lot more, but I'd say he defers to Burton's desire for a certain flavor of weirdness. The great exception to the Burton/Depp genre, of course, is Sweeney Todd, where Depp is just as dark as can be. I'd suggest you try the surrealistic "Dead Man" from the mid-90s. He also did a fine job, I think, opposite Kate Winslet in "Finding Neverland."

Burton and Depp have said/done everything they can say/do together, except of course for Sweeney Todd, at Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or possibly before. I found the trailers for Dark Shadows so annoying that I didn't even go.

I know that Depp has split with the mother of his children, is moving to Nashville TN (or at least buying a property there), and is moving into publishing and back into music. It will be interesting to see what this midlife crisis brings (he will, after all, turn 50 this year).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2013-01-07 02:34 pm (UTC)
It's hard to believe he's nearly 50. How on earth does he manage to look so young?

There are wonderful things in the Depp/Burton canon and some not so wonderful things. I love Ed Wood and The Corpse Bride and quite like Sleepy Hollow. I thought Charlie and The Chocolate Factory was atrocious- even worse than Alice. I haven't seen Sweeney Todd. Dark Shadows seemed (from the pre publicity) to be Burton operating on auto-pilot.

Depp on his own has done a lot that I admire. Dead Man is high on my list of movies I missed at the time and very much want to see. I admit- without shame- to loving him as Captain Jack Sparrow.

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