Monday, December 05, 2005

Please, no more Tim Burton films

I know it's not going to evoke much sympathy but I just can't take Tim Burton any more! After a dozen feature films he still can't follow a basic story arc and he cares nothing for his characters, unless they happen to represent his eternal naif-like outsider who somehow finds his soulmate in the end: another naif-like outsider.

Tim, we get it: you're sensitive, artistic, misunderstood, a little eccentric but harmless, a lover of twisty, pointy set design and worst of all, an employer of Danny Elfman. Even more than Tim Burton, I can't take Danny Elfman any more. Will he ever create a memorable melody with half-way decent lyrics? Will he stop with the weirdly distorted singing? How did the man from Oingo Boingo, the most annoying band of the 80s, come to be so reverred in fanciful Hollywood films?

Directors: When considering hiring a composer for your fanciful film, bypass Elfman and try to get someone from Sesame Street. I know they're busy over there, but their songs are masterful, humorous, clever and wonderfully produced. Please, I beg you.

I saw the DVD of "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" this week. I was kind of dreading it because I loved Gene Wilder in the '71 film (along with the rest of the world). And while that film had its share of difficulties--low, low budget, boring songs, manic freakout by Wonka over the pilfering of fizzy lifting drink which was actually a sadistic test of Charlie's character, and horrendous oompa loompas (a great big doopity don't)--it did create (in the end) a great relationship between Wonka and Charlie, which was the ultimate point of the book by Roald Dahl.

Great relationship between title characters in his movie? Tim Burton couldn't be bothered. He'd rather concentrate on the weird. Johnny Depp's Wonka finds everything that he doesn't like weird, especially parents. Just because he had a bad relationship with his father, he can't comprehend why any child would want a relationship with his or her parent. What a moron. Show some intelligence and empathy you candy-making genius. I don't blame Depp for the role, that was Tim Burton all the way. Depp just did his trademark: look at me, the eccentric beautiful actor making myself slightly repulsive routine. He's very good at it because he keeps doing it over and over in every film. I'd love to see Depp really play the Wonka of the book, with the goatee and and the twinkle in his eye, along with the sadistic sense of humor. That would have been really great. But you can't "do" twinkle. You either got that or you don't and it's a birth trait. So for all his beauty and talent, Johnny is missing a key element of the fanciful leading man. That's OK. He's still basically very hot and will be working for a long, long time.

And the oompa loompas are tough--I don't envy anyone directing that particular element. But to cast one man and multiply him a hundred times over, while a clever camera trick, is ever-so-slightly racist in itself. I mean, they all look alike, you know?


Oh, Charlie, you were supposed to be better than anyone in the story and you and Willy Wonka would team up for a happy ending, but in Tim Burton's universe you team up with a very creepy guy with green skin and bad hair who keeps your family in his factory in their crappy house with fake snow just so he can live out his happy family fantasy. At least give them a modern kitchen to work with, you narcissist.

1 comment:

Tuckers said...

While generally share your willies and shivers about Tim Burton, I liked the chocolate covered movie. But the original movie wasjust not memorable for me as a kid, I remember seeing it in school in some freezing classroom with a nun breathing fire over my shoulder. I also liked Johnny Depps weirdness. It's true though, that Danny Elfman needs to be exported to Bollywood or another needy film state.