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12/23/14 1:00pm
12/23/2014 1:00 PM |

frankenweenie

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes could be lumped in with the count-em-three other biographical movies opening on Christmas Day, being that it’s Burton’s first true-ish story since Ed Wood twenty years ago. But it’s also a reunion with Wood screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karazewski, which (for some, at least) shifts the focus from the biography of painter Margaret Keane to the narrative of Burton’s career, which, per conventional wisdom, just hasn’t been the same since, well, take your pick: Sleepy Hollow in ’99, Mars Attacks! in ’96 (his critically disliked flop that at some point became part of his good old days) or yes, Ed Wood, the masterpiece some non-fans seem to love at least in part out of hate for every outright fantasy he’s made since.

Big Eyes is not Ed Wood—not as loopy, not as moving, not as perfect a movie about the making of its beautifully questionable art—and as such may provide further fodder for condescending thinkpieces about what happened to Burton (quick answer: since his supposed prime he’s made, let’s see, a family drama with fantastical elements, a dark musical, a nearly unclassifiable horror-soap comedy, and some family films whose worst crimes are the ease with which they fit into his wheelhouse). But it accompanies Wood and Edward Scissorhands as a portrait of Burton’s native California: sunny pop-art sprawl with undercurrents of dysfunction and menace.

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12/17/14 4:59pm
12/17/2014 4:59 PM |

Photo courtesy of Disney

Into the Woods
Directed by Rob Marshall
Opens December 25

For Stephen Sondheim obsessives, the news that his sublime 1986 musical, Into the Woods, was finally making its way to cinemas was cause for celebration and concern. Sondheim’s material typically hasn’t been treated well in movies; he’s a major theater artist whose multilayered music and lyrics somehow seem diminished on the big screen. (Search Elizabeth Taylor and A Little Night Music on YouTube for an especially horrifying example.) That Rob Marshall was helming the composer’s beloved fractured fairy tale was even more distressing; as suggested by Chicago (2002) and Nine (2009), he’s the 21st century’s answer to lifeless theater-to-film transplant Joshua Logan.

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