“Tim Burton is Exhibit A for my unified theory of movies,”
Couldn’t agree more. My first reaction after seeing Alice was that he must have let the VFX guys write the script.
Burton should be a production designer. However, I will always stand by Ed Wood & PeeWee’s Big Adventure.
That link’s not working for me.
I wonder about Ridley; Nolan; Fincher.
I could see Ridley, but Nolan and Fincher? They’re stories are driven by plot.
In the “second thoughts” thread, Jeff says he’ll never live down giving passing grades to Burton’s Planet of the Apes. Likewise, I’m almost terrified of ever revisiting that one because, yes, at the time (one and only time I saw), I would have given it 3.5 stars and thought it was maybe Burton’s best movie (or at least second to Ed Wood.)
It seemed more polished, streamlined, exciting, and in the moment than most of his stuff, a big glossy remake with some heart and great villains and solid work from Wahlberg. And presence of prime-era Estelle Warren (whose brief reign of YEP YEPness was as amazing as her subsequent, mystifying ability to age 27 years between Driven and The Cooler.) didn’t hurt.
For a while I would talk it up as some worthy companion to the original and Burton’s least mannered, most accessibly entertaining movie, but apparently that’s like telling someone Quintet is your favorite Altman. I liked the sunnier widescreen look and it had that Ridley Scott vibe where late in the game he gave ample screen time to the villains’ little power games and humanized them. Again, maybe I was in a charitable mood, but after 15 previous years of carnies, outcasts, goths and powder-faces with scissor hands, a slick straight-shooter remake was like a fresh of fresh air from this ever-so-predictable director.
I think Nolan and Fincher are both concerned with experience first, and story later. You can find examples where they accomplished both, as can i find examples where they didn’t. Fight Club and Dark Knight were all experience, for example.
I consider Nolan to be an excellent storyteller.
I don’t remember Wells giving Apes a pass. I thought he slammed it, blaming Wahlberg’s little eyes.
Wahlberg either nails it or loudly whiffs. if he’s not our most all-over-the-board actor, he’s right there with Forrest Whittaker and Uma Thurman.
Memento was gimmicky, imo, and I thought the one time he tried to lay out an impressive story, The Prestige, it was a dud. Yet some people I respect consider The Prestige a masterpiece, so maybe I’m the wrong one to ask about Nolan.
Tim Burton is an bottomless hole of disappointment as a director. Chris Nolan is wonderful.
The Prestige is my favorite of his works.
Scott & Fincher have both made some really strong films. Can’t say the same for Nolan.
Mark, your comments about Nolan are WAY off base.
You’re an idiot.
Burton isn’t even that much of a production designer. I’ve talked with two guys who were production designers for his movies and they were astounded how Burton really wasn’t that involved in the job.
Burton’s version of Planet of the Apes is pathetic and only beats Battle for the Planet of the Apes in the collection.
I thought Batman Returns had a nifty story. And, last time I checked, the Burton film which everyone else seems to embrace, while, for me, it suffers from the most Burton-ey gimmicks Lex mentioned, was written by him. I’m talking about A Nightmare Before Christmas. And I doubt Selick should get the most credit for that thing, when, without Burton, the only thing he can do is rip off Miyazaki.
On a technical note, the link directs to an error page. It doesn’t direct to the article.
This is ridiculous– Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND is not awful at all– in fact it is quite good. (And his PLANET OF THE APES is his worst film.) Burton is a good storyteller, but I disagree that one has to be a great storyteller in order to be a great filmmaker. If story is an afterthought, maybe it really isn’t that important.
Ouch. Name calling. Feelings hurt. I though film opinions were subjective. Where am I an idiot anyway? For not loving Prestige, or for suggesting that Nolan may be a great filmmaker but only average storyteller?
Nolan is quickly becoming one of the most overrated directors around. Both his Batman films a saggy messes, edited with a chainsaw and full of leaden seriousness, Insomnia was a cure for same….The Prestige had a good premise, and some clever ideas, but dragged out the ridiculous “reveal” – if it was supposed to be obvious what was happening re the Bale character, the film unforgivably has the audience several steps ahead of the characters for ages, twiddling our thumbs waiting for them to catch up. If it wasn’t supposed to be obvious, then jesus it was badly disguised.
Memento is awesome, and the only time his ability with staging was matched with a razor sharp screenplay and genuine emotion.
As much as you can appreciate Burton’s imaginative creativity, is there ANYONE who didn’t know EXACTLY what Charlie, Sweeney and Alice were going to look like visually and play out thematically before you saw them? It’s almost as if he’s daring you to find something different in his films of late…
Mark: Won’t try to dissuade you of your opinions of Nolan or his films. For me, Memento and The Prestige are far and away his very best works. To me, they exhibit a similarity to where I think his passions is, human tragedy layered within an intellectual puzzle made of film. Fingers crossed that’s what’s coming again with Inception. I think his MO for telling these kinds of stories is only going to get better.
BTW, Mark, Mr. Tati was permanently removed from site participation on another post. For the best, I’m sure.
Now that I finally got to read the thing (am I the only one who couldn’t get that link to work? I had to Google it), I do have to disagree with Fine re EDWARD SCISSORHANDS. I do think that one has a strong story; it’s the Frankenstein story, except in this case, the townspeople like Edward (or condescend to him), and then fear him, and the scientist dies before finishing his creation completely.
I can think of 270 million plus reasons why no one in Hollywood is going to give two shits that Marshall Fine thinks Burton is overrated as a director. As someone on this blog said so well, they don’t care about the critical praise or audience respect, they care about getting your money. As long as the money continues to roll in every other movie or so, Tim Burton is going to continue making movies in whatever f’ing way he pleases, with or without the approval of rotten tomatoes or meta-crtic.
I’m beginning to dislike Burton more and more, though I absolutely love Big Fish. That’s his personal masterpiece for me which, surprise surprise, is his most adult storytelling movie to date.
I think I will be the only one here to take your side. But just because we’re in the minority doesn’t make us wrong.
Looks like Transmogrifier is on your side too!
“Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice !”
Is he here yet? My favorite after “Ed Wood”.
Like most directors who achieve mammoth success, Burton is corrupted by the money. Age then takes its toll, and he loses the eye of the tiger.
It’s the same reason why Elton John and Billy Joel haven’t written a decent song in 25 years, why the prequels sucked so badly, and why The Simpsons stopped being hilarious after season seven.
In checking out MoMa’s Tim Burton exhibition, I was taken by the energy and vitality of much of his earlier works – an energy and vitality that hasn’t been present in his film work since ED WOOD.
I think Wood’s underperformance (if not failure) really wounded him. It was a personal story for Burton, and the fact by and large people didn’t respond to it pushed him to back away from that type of filmmaking. He plunged into big, impersonal Hollywood films who’s succes or failure wouldn’t sting as much as a pet project’s demise.
There’s been a decided lack of emotional honesty in his work ever since (BIG FISH smacked of Oscar bait), especially when you look at his first decade of films – PEE WEE through WOOD.
It’s no coincidence WOOD remains his best work (IMO). And sure, as long as boring fluff like ALICE brings in the bucks, he’ll keep working, but he’ll never surpass the first and best years of his career.
I remember watching an interview with Tim Burton in which he said something along the lines of “I wouldn’t know a good story if it bit me on the face.” Clearly.
SWEENEY TODD is a superior stage musical adaptation, one that respects its source while departing from it in significant, personal ways. But Burton is a good-with-the-bad propisition anymore; neither Depp nor Bonham Carter are comfortably cast in the film.
I can think of plenty of great filmmakers who aren’t really great storytellers, fuck this guy
I’ve always thought about this in fact was talking about it with some buddies last night. I’ve not seen Alice but Tim Burton has flair and style to burn but as of late, he’s the most interesting disposable director out there. Sweeney Todd was the exception but that’s because I’m a strong fan of the musical. He used to be concerned with humanity and addressed from his odd perspective. Now it seems like he’s dressing up blockbuster in his own clothes and leaving his heart someone in Ed Wood land. A great director – no, a grand visualist, yes, a grand visionary….no indeed.. Stop with the source material and make something that PEOPLE care about!!!
And, not for anything, isn’t Burton’s visual style getting a little repetitive and predictable at this point?
Mark – ‘The Prestige’ is the only one I like, but that’s mainly because I feel like the “gimmick” makes the movie work as a magic trick, better than any “magic” movie I’ve ever seen. You go into it knowing that you will be tricked, you know?
But, yeah, contrasting the “experience” of his Batman movies (everything is hyper-serious, uber-real, comic books are totally embarrassing) and the “story” of his Batman movies (bad guy poisons Gotham’s water supply) really cements where his head is at. (Or ‘Memento’; my god, talk about a movie that gets over its major plot holes solely by force of emotion.)
Ray: I ain’t blaming Groening for The Simpsons sucking and Futurama having the same mass appeal as Firefly. From what I hear, he lost the rights to the former franchise, like John K. with Ren and Stimpy, and the only thing he can do is get his money from it. And while I was underwhelmed by it, Futurama was clearly an attempt to be an anti-Simpsons, and just didn’t take.
Howlingman: I dunno. Did anyone really expect Ed Wood to be a big hit? Yeah, it should’ve done better, but that other homage “artist” co-opted his style by then, so what could he do? Sweeney Todd still proves the guy has it in him to do something bold, though, so it’s just a matter of opportunity for him at this point.
pmn: Not as much as Spielberg’s style.
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I loved Big Fish. and yes, the STORY is part of the love. Beetlejuice – dang entertaining and imaginative and what an eye for casting.
Many people will walk in and out of your life . . . But only true friends will leave footprints in your ed hardy shop heart.To handle yourself, use your head;To handle others, use your ed hardy clothing heart.
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