Monday, May 14, 2012

The burden of being Tim Burton.

Remembering an interview Daryl Hall once gave where the subject of music superstars who wanted to hire Hall and Oates to produce their records came up. Hall referred to these unnamed singers as "....vampires who want to vampirize your sound.". And there's Tim Burton, enough of a brand name to be hired to Burtonize projects such as the 2001 PLANET OF THE APES, SWEENEY TODD (which was genuinely good, along with the under regarded CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY)) and ALICE IN WONDERLAND. During the past decade, there was also BIG FISH, which I'd like to think of as producer Richard Zanuck encouraging Burton to make an uplifting, non macabre, Oscar-friendly project. And there's the unevenness of DARK SHADOWS, where Burton was apparently expected to treat Dan Curtis' gothic TV/film franchise as THE ADDAMS FAMILY--given Burtonesque treatment by Barry Sonnenfeld two decades ago. What now exists in my short-term memory: Johnny Depp's heroic gravitas, the waste of Helena Bonham Carter (in a role changed from strong female on the TV series to comic lustful drunk) Chloe Grace Moretz and Michelle Pfeiffer, Bella Heathcote looking like a character from Burton's stop-motion and CGI-animated films come to life and Eva Green gamely maneuvering all the film's shifts in tone. Somewhere, the ghost of Dan Curtis weeps as Tim Burton continues a two-film artistic slide which will hopefully end (UPDATE 10/18/12: The slide did end, with FRANKENWEENIE turning out as Burton's best post-SWEENEY TODD film, but suffering at the box office due to being the last in a threesome of animated horror comedies out this summer and fall--and perhaps paying for the sins of DARK SHADOWS too.) with this fall's animated remake of a short film called FRANKENWEENIE (the original was made when Tim Burton was considered subversive and relatively avant-garde by the standards of 1980s Hollywood).

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