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Shadows of the night

I’m surprised by my reaction to this:

I’ve been looking forward to Tim Burton’s Dark Shadows. Yes, I was a teenage nerd – still am a teenage nerd although my outward appearance might lead you to believe I’m someone’s grandma (I’m not BTW).

While watching the trailer for the first time I was surprised and somewhat dismayed at the irreverent tone – the comedic veneer that Mr. Burton set on top of my teenage vampire story. The makeup on Barnabas is unreal, his hair absurd, the dialogue over the top …. and, and ……. and then it hit me, and I became dismayed at my own dismay. I started remembering my Dark Shadows as it truly was. It was loveable shlock. It was never great art in any sense. The effects were cheesy (the burning of Trask’s Worthington Hall consisted of a cardboard cutout and a couple of matches from what I remember). The writing, while engaging as a soap opera for teenagers at that time, was uhm, oh lets find a nice word for it … haphazard … sometimes it was inventive and even poetic but most of the time it was redundant and slow. The acting could be over the top melodramatic a la Lithgow’s Master Thespian one day and the next day you were watching actors stumble through their lines or try to ignore pieces of makeup latex that had come unglued and fluttered as they emoted.

BUT with all that said, I loved Dark Shadows. I ran home after school to watch it. I loved Quentin Collins and creepy old Barnabas. Burton must have loved it also ’cause from the above trailer you see detail that only someone who watched the show as a kid would pick up on. I can only imagine that all the little Twilight ‘tweeners in about 30 or 40 years (omg sob I am old) will be going through an experience similar to mine when Edward and Jacob are reincarnated in all their glittery and shirtless glory.

I remember running around trying to find the 45 to this – Quentin’s Theme:
Click here



Here be spoilers… if you haven’t seen the film, avert your eyes….

I went to see Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland  in 3D.  Let me preface all my comments by saying I enjoyed the film and wish to see it again but it is as others have stated “a bit uneven.”  I won’t even begin to compare this movie with the book because really, it is not Lewis Carroll’s story but a sort of sequel to that story.   The film starts up slow, telegraphing what is soon to be coming up in the not-so real-world, and with scenes coming off slightly awkward and forced, jumping from one foreshadowed event to another.  But once Alice falls down the rabbit hole, the movie opens up and becomes spectacularly beautiful.  I’d like to see it again without the dimming effect of the 3D glasses (if you see it in 3D, occasionally peek around the glasses to get a sense of the true color of the film).  I am a fan of the visual world of Tim Burton and in that respect this movie does not disappoint.

Once in Wonderland, we are introduced to the familiar characters that Mr. Burton has re-interpreted with a less childish perspective. The 1951 Disney animated Alice portrayed Wonderland through a child’s perspective and this, what we are seeing now, is Wonderland seen through a young adult’s perspective… which leaves me wondering what Wonderland would look when Alice hits forty (or fifty) and falls down the rabbit hole once more…. hmmm, the mind reels… perhaps we don’t really want to go there….

As for the performances, well, Mia Wasikowska is truly Alice but Helena Bonham Carter is over the top as the Red Queen — the woman plays crazy exceedingly well.  She blasts her way through the role yet let’s you feel a little sorry for old Red, too.  My favorite line from the film is “I need a pig here.” I joked that I was going to use that as my new ringtone and look – you can get it as your ringtone:  Here Piggy… now if they only had a proper Cheshire Cat clip.  Stephen Fry is magnificent as the Cat – ubiquitously delicious.  I read somewhere that he supposedly based his vocal stylings for the Cheshire Cat on George Sanders.  I have been an admirer of Stephen Fry for some time and wish I had access to his vocal talents reading the Harry Potter series (UK audio books).  Don’t get me wrong – love Jim Dale (U.S. Potter audio book narrator) but not when he is reading the Potter series.  Absalom, the caterpillar is voiced by Alan Rickman.  Of course, we all know I have a very strong bias when it comes to Mr. Rickman’s voice.  I’ll just say his caterpillar is mesmerizing and reminds me of how much I would love hear more narration, poetry reading, etc. from Mr. Rickman … Er…. excuse me, I seemed to have digressed… where was I… oh Alice.

As to Johnny Depp’s Hatter – yes, I enjoyed his performance but was rather confused by the lisp or affectation that he used some of the time (it was almost a Boris Karloff meets Ralphie from Christmas Story type lisp) and then, all of sudden, in once scene in particular, where he is reciting Jabberwocky, the lisp disappears completely, the crazy goes away and we see a darker side to the Hatter – an almost political militant Hatter.  This is where the film gets that whole uneven quality, trying to find motivation for actions where there should be none.  At times, too much logic is cast over the sheer lunacy that Wonderland is supposed to be and succeeds only in slowing down the pace.  I believe the movie finds its full strength when Alice stops wandering around Wonderland insisting she doesn’t belong, proclaiming that all is a dream and decides to go with the flow and play along with the insanity.

Bottom line – visually beautiful, inventive, magnificent vocal performances – but this generation’s Wizard of Oz?  I’d say no, but then who really knows – it took the Wizard of Oz a few years before it became the celebrated film it is today (interesting WoO article here).  Let me be clear that I will be purchasing the dvd and single framing and screencapping so that I can take a long and detailed look at the wonderful images, the flowers, and frogs and furniture holding monkeys that Tim Burton has produced for us as well as making audio clips of the caterpillar and the Cheshire cat for my own amusement.  Oh and stay for the end titles – they are neo-Victorian gorgeousness….

Feliz Navidad

A Christmas present new photos from Tim Burton’s Wonderland available on line – here’s the Caterpillar:

Go here Alice in Wonderland to see the whole schmeer (banner) or here to read about it:  Alice

Merry Christmas to all!

Curiouser and curiouser…

The latest trailer is available for Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland.  I didn’t realize the plot is not that of Alice in Wonderland but tells the tale of an older Alice returning to Wonderland.  I’m not sure how I feel about the liberties taken but it does look rather magnificent.  Tim Burton’s artistic sensibilities suit the subject well.  The film has the look of a slightly faded Victorian valentine illustration.  I can almost smell the powdery odor of old books and roses past their prime when I watch the trailer…. or perhaps that’s just me …. you decide, take a look:

By the way, I think the phrase “I need a pig here” maybe my new favorite quote to repeat endlessly to people that don’t have a clue what I’m talking about.  It may even eventually take its place along side …”Better.  Better get a bucket” and “Don’t call me Shirley”

Smoking caterpillars

Here is another wonderful clip from Katie Benedict of Alan Rickman at the Hudson Union Society talk.  In this clip, he is talking about Tim Burton, Alice in Wonderland and his character the smoking caterpillar.  Once again thank you so much Katie and to Ben who puts these together.  Click here please:  One Scheme of Happiness

I wish the Tim Burton exhibit at the MoMA would last just a little bit longer so I could see it on my annual pilgrimage to NYC (or I may have to move up my annual pilgrimage so as to see it).  I’ve been a fan of Burton’s since Vincent and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  I think the only Burton film I’ve not seen is, believe it or not, Sweeney Todd – I’m a big baby, I know – I get scared easily and really can’t take much blood and gore.  Some day I’ll work up the nerve to watch it (maybe).

Mad you say?

Mad as a hatter perhaps…

I am very much looking forward to Tim Burton’s next cinematic outing – Alice in Wonderland.  These pictures have been all over the net since yesterday and I post them here so I may enjoy them (and you can have a look if you’d like too).  I just love the details, the hat pins, fabric textures used for the hat, the over-the-top use of color.  Its almost as if you took Edward Scissorhands and colored him using the palette Burton used for the suburbanites in that movie.   Click on the foto to go to Johnny-Depp.org if you want more Johnny Depp info.  The illustration below is just so gorgeous – it makes me wish I had the talent to produce work like this:

Go here to USA Today for a upclose, interactive, hi-res version to get the full effect.

Pee Wee and the Snakes

1. rescue the snakes
To do something you’ve been putting off. To do something you don’t want to do. …
Reference: from the movie “Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.” The scene wherein Pee Wee Herman is rescuing animals from the burning pet shop. He does not like snakes, and rescues them last after every animal is safe, with a grimace on his face while screaming.
by Rick Anders Mar 19, 2008      From the Urban Dictionary

I didn’t think anyone else used this reference.  Its one I often use when faced with something I’d rather not do – I’ll do everything else before I rescue the snakes….. you know you have to but (shudder) not just yet….

I am in the process of motivating myself to go into my garage and sort through and organize and clean boxes of dusty, moldy memories and books and art supplies.  Its bad in there – there are huge spiders – I’m not kidding HUGE spiders…  I ignored the garage for way too long.  I went in yesterday and there were spider webs hanging from the florescent lights and on the garage doors and the walls.  It was like a house of horrors.   The garage looked something like this:  

 I grabbed my trusty Eureka vacuum and went in there sucking up webs right and left and then they started to come out… spiders… BIG spiders (think a cross between Aragog and Shelob for those Harry Potter/LORT geeks amongst us). I don’t think they’re black widows (webs aren’t crunchy enough) and they don’t really look like black widows.  I’ve decided they are brown recluses.. yup, yup that’s what they are…  One of them even had the nerve to jump me for cripes sakes!!  Normally I have no problems with spiders.  I will grab a cup, scooch them in and walk them out of the house but even I have my limits – trying to jump on me is my limit (uhg I got the willies all over again) In the spider’s defense I was trying to suck him and his web with my trusty Eureka at the time)…. 

So with a dew rag on my head, rubber gloves, bandana around my neck, socks tucked into my pants and ventilator mask on  I grabbed the poison and started to spray – unfortunately the only bug spray I had didn’t list spiders as one of the host of creatures it would kill.  I more or less drowned one of the spiders.  The one that jumped me ended up in a plastic tub – I sprayed him down but it was like a scene from a horror movie – he lay still for awhile all crumpled up and then I turn around and he was coming back out of the tub!  I yelped and sprayed enough poison in there to drown him (I’m not proud of it but it had to be done).  The other spiders just kind of got mad at me and skittered away … and they’re still in there (said in my most dramatic “I see dead people” whisper)…. 

Oh, alright… maybe the spiders are just an excuse – I only saw four live ones and I did buy some appropriate bug spray… I guess I have to go in there … but I’m still tucking  my pants in my socks ….  and wearing my dew rag  ….. and bandana  ….and gloves… and ventilator …   hmm… but first I think I’ll do a load of laundry….

Here’s the scene from Tim Burton’s Pee Wee’s Big Adventure in case you’ve never seen it.  The pet shop scene is way at the end of the clip around the 7:28 mark- but watch the whole thing – its well worth it (especially if you’re avoiding going into the garage…)


I found out about this movie while roaming around in other people’s blogs and went straight to YouTube, the repository of all, to pick up the trailer:  Take a look

Its kind of creepy, huh?  Its a children’s story and its directed by Henry Selick who directed Tim Burton’s Nightmare Before Christmas.  The film is based on a Neil Gaiman book, Coraline, which I’ve never read.  The Amazon review (click on Coraline to read) says its for kids 9 through 12.  Really?  Again, I’m only basing my opinion on the preview above and the trailer does look visually and stylistically exciting and enticing but at the same time extremely CREEPY!  I know, I’m a big baby about scary books and movies – perhaps I have an overly vivid imagination but it all seems real to me when I read about and/or watch horrible things.  Frankly, the original Frankenstein still kind of creeps me out.  I had wanted to see Burton’s The Corpse Bride but the whole premise sounded so disgusting I couldn’t make myself watch. 

Fairy tales have always been rife with imagery depicting horrible things, tragic events, and despicable monstrosities.  For example, from Disney we get the Evil Queen asking that Snow White’s heart be brought back to her in a little wooden box!  And if you’re looking for tragedy, look no further than The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen!  (Oh great, now I have that danged song going through my head again…)  And these are the type of stories that have been told to children probably since people started gathering around a fire at night. 

Perhaps its just the opposite – perhaps instead of an overly active imagination, I’m just losing my imagination as I get older.  I guess I’ll have to go see Coraline just to give the old imagination a rejuvenating boost.

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