Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Tim Burton

Tim Burton is an auteur.  He doesn't do anonymous studio hack-work. All his films announce themselves as his. Even when he takes on a very commercial, kiddy-friendly project like Willy Wonka the outcome is unmistakeably Burtonesque- even if- as happens in this instance- it's also quite atrocious.

Auteurism is no guarantee of quality- only of characterfulness. Even Ingmar Bergman made stinkers- in fact quite a lot of them. Burton's record is very mixed.  Edward Scissorhands is a little too emo for me and Beetlejuice too busy and hyperactive. I'm not fond of superheroes, so don't expect me to be much of a fan of the Batman movies. Mars Attacks- which the critics were lukewarm about- amuses me greatly.

Burton's talent is for telling small, strange, piquant stories- he's an Edward Gorey of the big screen- and very big budgets do him no favours; his ideas get swamped by the scenery. Sleepy Hollow,  good as it is, would have been even better if it had been cheaper and shorter.  His masterpieces are small films:  Ed Wood and the Corpse Bride- both of them as close to perfection as a film can be.   I saw The Corpse Bride for the first time last night. What a charmer!  Who'd have thought decomposition could be so funny, or the reunion of a little boy with his grandfather's corpse so moving?

Next up is the new Alice in Wonderland. This is a sacred text for me and I'm nervous.  Putting Burton and Carroll together might seem like a marriage made in heaven - but the same could have been said about Burton and Dahl-  and look what a mismatch that turned out to be.  Yoke Burton to a writer with an imagination as strong and quirky as his own and he fights for dominance. I've seen the trailer. It looks amazing, but the story- something about the Red Queen taking over Wonderland- sounds really, really stupid. We'll see. One thing's certain; even if it's a very bad film it will be bad in a way only one man could possibly have achieved.
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