HOW CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY REMAKE DAZZLED AMERICA

The undeniable success of Tim Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory has sparked interest in yet a new version of the film, titled Willy Wonka and serving as a prequel to the story, with the possible role for Wonka including actors Donald Glover, Ezra Miller, and Ryan Gosling. But before the film begins production, we need to revisit the remake that inspired it. Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory served as a fresh take on a classic children’s book, bringing the story and its characters to life in an exciting, mysterious, and thrilling way. It grossed $475 million worldwide,

Gave the children’s book a new spin

Despite the positive reception of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the original Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder, who starred in the classic version of the film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, called Burton’s film an “insult” to the original. He claimed that they produced this film for money, but in reality, Tim Burton intended to give the movie a new take and provide a new adaptation of the book.

It gave us the Oompa Loompas

One of the most notable characteristics and beloved figures of the film are the orange Oompa Loompa’s in Wonka’s factory. As you can probably tell, all those Oompa Loompas are actually played by one actor, Deep Roy. Burton chose to utilize little digital effects or computer-generated imagery, so Roy had to repeat the same movements for several different takes and was brought together on screen using split-screen photography, digital, and front projection effects. Because of his effort and the work it took for Roy to complete his role as the Oompa Loompas, his salary was increased to $1,000,000. 

Those squirrels were actually trained for their role

Remember the cute squirrels that viciously attacked Veruca Salt? They were real. As I mentioned previously, Burton wanted to keep the digital effects and CGI limited, so he decided he wanted the 40 squirrels in the scene in the Nut Room to be real animals. To prepare for their role, the squirrels were trained every day for 10 weeks prior to filming as newborns, learning how to crack open walnuts while sitting on the little blue bar stools and placing its meat on a conveyer belt. 

Gave us a backstory to the chocolatier

While the book and the original film lack a backstory to Willy Wonka, Burton supplemented the need for information on the mysterious factory owner by giving us a look at Wonka’s past and who he is through a series of flashbacks, making him easier to connect with as a character. He even referenced his own childhood by adding the part about Wonka having to wear a huge dental brace. In Burton’s version of the film, we learn that Wonka’s father Wilbur was a dentist who forbade him to eat chocolate, and when he finally tasted it, he left his life and his father behind to pursue his dreams. 

Had incredible sets and visuals

Probably what makes this film so popular and a staple to Burton’s discography are the visuals in the film. Beautiful set designs were made, and Burton took the extra step to make everything appear real. He even used 192,000 gallons of fake chocolate for the river scene to make it appear more delicious, edible, and real as compared to the 1971 film.

BRIEF HISTORY OF TIM BURTON

Tim Burton has been working with The Walt Disney Company since the late sixties, and he’s been doing an incredible job. Cranking out hits like “Corpse Bride,” “9”, “James and the Giant Peach,” Tim Burton has been on a forty-year-long roll. 

Now that we understand what he is today let’s explore where he came from and how he became the man we all know him as today.

Growin’ Up

Timothy Walter Burton was born in Burbank, California on August 25th, 1958 into a family of surprisingly normal people. Other than his mother owning a cat-themed gift shop, his family was quite average. Little Timmy started making his own short films in his backyard by using toys to create stop-motion animation – the same method he has used in almost all of his major hits. 

He attended Burbank Highschool as a young man where he discovered that he’s not a particularly gifted student. He dabbled in a little water polo while he was there, but he really enjoyed painting and arts of any kind – including film. 

I think it’s incredible that Tim knew he had a passion for such a young age. Hell, when I was a kid, I’m pretty sure I wanted to be a homeless man, hopping from cart to cart without a penny of debt, but that’s not a future. I’m sure his mother noticed his special gifts for storytelling and animation at a young age – otherwise he would have never attended college. 

College

Tim Burton attended the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California – where he spent a large amount of his time studying character animation. Eventually, he created a short film of his own. Created entirely in pencil, Tim Burton released “Stalk of the Celery Monster” – a story of a mad doctor who conducts bloody experiments on unfortunate victims.  

Don’t worry; it’s not a gruesome as you might think. It has the same sort of ‘Tim Burton’ feel that we all know and love. It was cute! You should actually look up the film for yourselves – it’s a great watch! It’s insanely impressive that this short film is the piece that got Tim noticed by Disney. 

I mean, have you ever seen a student film before? They’re terrible. I’ve made about 5 of them and tossed each SD card in the river after each class. 

Disney

After viewing “Stalk of the Celery Monster,” Disney stepped in and asked Tim Burton if he wanted to be an apprentice to a real Disney animator. Of course, Tim couldn’t pass this offer up, so off he went. 

Tim trained for a while before working as an animator, storyboard artist, graphic designer, art director, and concept artist. That’s impressive for a number of reasons, but I think the craziest title up there is “concept artist.” 

Creating content for someone that knows what they want, but don’t know how to use words to describe it, is easily the most frustrating process imaginable. That’s why it’s so impressive to hear that he did work under all of those titles for movies like Tron, The Fox and the Hound, and Corpse Bride. 

If you should take anything away from Tims story, I think it should be this; never give up on what you want to do. Getting paid to do a task is one thing, but creating something beautiful and getting lost in your work is something else entirely – so, take a real interest in the things you’re interested in – it just might pay off someday.

TOP 10 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT TIM BURTON

Tim Burton is responsible for some of the best movies ever made. His creative mind and genius brought to life some incredible stories that continue to resonate with people years after they were released. Many people know the movies, but not many know who Tim Burton was.

If you want to learn more about the director behind some of your favorite movies, here are some things about Tim Burton that might surprise you.

He was fired from Disney

If you’ve ever seen a Tim Burton movie, then you know that his style is dark and gothic-like. It’s true in his animated and live action films, and if you were to see one of his movies being played, you’d know it was a Tim Burton movie based off his recognizable style. This style, however, didn’t match up with what Disney was looking for. Maybe you know or you don’t, but Burton worked with Disney shortly after graduating the California Institue of the Arts as an animator for films like The Fox and the Hound and The Black Cauldron. After seeing his talent and Burton expressing his boredom with those type of films, Disney gave him a chance at directing his own short film after his previous first one called Vincent. The film would be known as Frankenweenie, but Disney refused to show it and eventually booted the director being “too dark.”

Of course, we all know now that Burton would get his revenge and pull one over on Disney by becoming the renowned director he is today, and getting the chance to have Frankenweenie become a feature-length film, as well as working with Disney on several other films that were his own vision.

He doesn’t know what that ending of Planet of the Apes was about either

Arguably, the worst movie of Tim Burton’s career is the 2001 Planet of the Apes. Burton admits in an interview with the New York Times that he thinks of the film as a professional low for him. Those not in the film industry might assume that a bigger budget and an open-ended script could make for a better movie, but they usually end up being worse off. In regards to its bizarre ending, Tim Burton remarked that he “had it all figured out,” and that it was private to him, but that he might share it over some LSD.

He helped Obama throw a Halloween Party

Controversy arose around the 2009 Alice in Wonderland-themed Halloween party Tim Burton helped put on for the Obamas at the White House, alongside Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Mia Wasikowska as Alice. The administration kept the party under wraps for as long as they could because of the recession and fearing it would be seen in poor taste to throw an extravagant party when many Americans had lost jobs and were going through financial troubles. Tim Burton decorated the party for the Obamas and even made an appearance in his own Alice-themed costume.

Burton transformed the room the party was held in into the Mad Hatter’s tea party from the film, with a long table decorated with antique linens and huge stuffed animals in the chairs. The party was a success, and the movie released a few after the party took place.

Johnny Depp is the Godfather of his son

Tim Burton and his ex-partner Helena Bonham Carter, whom he met on the set of Planet of the Apes, had two children; Billy Ray and Nell. What most people don’t know about this simple fact is that Depp was actually too shy to ask Depp himself to be his son Billy Ray’s Godfather, so Helena Bonham Carter had to call the actor up herself and do the asking, to which he clearly accepted.

He didn’t actually direct Nightmare Before Christmas

What most people would state is their favorite Tim Burton movie isn’t technically his movie. Burton was busy with another project around the time that Nightmare was being made, so he couldn’t fulfill director duties, and instead, Henry Selick, director of Coraline, took over. Tim Burton is a credited producer, however.

He has a good luck charm

Almost everyone has something they consider to be their good luck charm, and Mr. Burton himself also has one. You might’ve noticed from photos of him at various events, premieres, and other appearances, but Tim Burton always wears a pair of black-and-white pinstriped socks for good luck whenever he makes an appearance at something important.

He and his previous partner Helena Bonham Crater did live together, despite rumors

Burton and Carter’s relationship was a media favorite, and they were always in the public eye with wacky stories about their relationship being made. One of the most notable ones was the rumor that they never lived together in the same home. In an interview some time after the couple split, Carter took it upon herself to clear up those rumors and say that they did live together.

He may be on the autistic spectrum

Helena also diagnosed and claimed that Tim Burton had Asperger’s syndrome while she was researching it for a film she was working on. She realized that her partner shared many of the Asperger’s symptoms and traits, and while the two were watching a documentary about Asperger’s, Burton said that was how he felt as a child.

He’s directed music videos for one band only

We all know Tim Burton is a film director, but he’s also directed a couple of videos for the songs for the songs “Bones” and “Here with Me” by the Killers.

They would be the only two msuic videos he’s ever directed.

He hates how the media perceives him

Tim Burton has built up a reputation of being Hollywood’s weird and dark director, but he actually feels upset that so many people view him to be this gothic, dark weirdo. He’s said to have mentioned in an interview that he could put on a clown outfit and laugh with people, and they’d still call him these things.

JOHNNY DEPP TIMELINE – FROM BLOW TO BREAKUP

When it comes to Johnny Depp, he always seems to be in the news. The guy is constantly threatening paparazzi, dating a high profile woman, sexting girls outside of his marriage, or doing something else particularly newsworthy.

From his iconic start in a Wes Craven flick to starring in a Harry Potter film, here are some important events along this quirky actor’s timeline. 

1984 – Ballpoint Pens, Nick Cage, and Nightmare on Elm Street

Before Depp became the household name that he’s become today, he was selling ballpoint pens while trying to make it in a boy band. While baby-faced Depp could have fit well in a one-direction-style band, I think we’re all thankful he met Nick Cage who hooked him up with an agent who got him his iconic role in Nightmare on Elm Street. 

1990 – Winona Forever

The early nineties were a great time for Depp-heads as he filmed some of his most iconic movies and – who could forget – dated Winona Ryder. This year he filmed the famous John Waters’ film “Cry Baby” and starred in “Edward Scissorhands” alongside his boo.

The relationship didn’t last, but they’ll always be an iconic ’90s couple. 

1993 – The Viper Room

Instead of just focusing on the movie biz, Depp decided that owning a club would be a great idea. This further allowed him to be surrounded by paps and celebs alike.

However, scandal struck when River Pheonix overdosed outside The Viper Room while his brother watched him die as he called 911. 

1994 – Armadillo?

Depp has been known to be a difficult artist type. However, no one expected Edward Scissorhands to go crazy on a hotel room (at least intentionally).

After destroying a hotel room he claimed that an Armadillo was at fault and not him… however, that armadillo was never found. 

1999 – PLANK!

This is a man who values his privacy, however being one of the hottest stars of the past decade the paps didn’t see a reason to leave him alone… untill he thereatened them with a plank of wood. 

2007 – Great Ormond Street Hospital

Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose ended up in the hospital after being infected with E. Coli. The infection could have killed her if not for the staff at the Great Ormond Street Hospital. However, the staff saved her life.

To thank the hospital, Depp donated two million dollars and showed up as the infamous Captain Jack Sparrow to entertain the patients in the hospital. 

2013 – The Trouble with Amber Heard

After his split with the mother of his children – which was very amicable and they remain friendly – Depp started dating Amber Heard whom he then married. 

2016 – Divorce and restraining orders

Their relationship was tumultulous and ended in a divorce and some serious accusations. Heard claimed that Depp beat her and was a violent spouse! 

Now – More Lawsuits and Defamation

Now that the divorce is finalized, Depp, as well as his representation, are coming out and accusing Heard of being the violent one in the relationship. They’re also taking legal action against a publication for calling Depp a “wife-beater.” 

While nothing has been finalized in court, Depp and his representation have put forth some pretty convincing information. We’ll have to wait and see how this unfolds! 

Top 5 Best Tim Burton Movies

by admin on January 11, 2018

1.) Big Fish

This film has an emotionally nostalgic and interesting story about life, legacy, and the constant need to know where you come from before you know where you’re going. Being one of Burton’s most spectacular casts, which uniquely includes very few of his repeat stars, Big Fish covers over two overlapping narratives that follow Ed Bloom, a man of many quotes and earthly stories. Albert Finney stars as Ed in his old age, a man who’s on his deathbed and also whose stories of splendor have become the only part of happiness between him and his son, played by Billy Crudup, who feels as though he’s never really known his father- he’s honestly only ever known him for his inspiring stories from his life.

2.) Sweeney Todd

Love, revenge, insanity and just so much blood — what could be more essential than Tim Burton directing the adaptation of Sweeney Todd, the Victorian story of an unfairly trapped barber whose weapon of choice is his razor when getting revenge? On the other hand, once gossip got out that Burton was sourcing Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd musical for inspiration, critiques immediately laughed at the concept of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Alan Rickman singing the tunes of a Broadway masterpiece — specifically Depp, whose musical abilities had always been really with the guitar. While  Burton’s Sweeney might not have had the most stage-worthy singing, it was more than made up for everything else.

 3.) Beetlejuice

This film is truly a breakthrough classic, and a crucial and blockbuster hit for Burton and his future colleagues, Michael Keaton and Winona Ryder. Beetlejuice actually started as a much darker drama about a deceased couple that was just married. However, Burton rewrote the whole entire story into a more kooky afterlife slapstick absurdity, helping to construct his signature style. Keaton’s scene-stealing title character only uses up less than 20 minutes of total screen time.

4.) Edward Scissorhands

Referred to by Burton himself as being the epitome his most autobiographical work, Edward Scissorhands has both claimed cult status among its gigantic fanbase and has lasted through the years for new generations to explore and love as well. This film is decorated with practical and ridiculous makeup effects and costume designs in addition to fantastic performances by its actors, especially the dreamboat Johnny Depp. And finally and most importantly, Edward Scissorhands is known as the original embodiment of a Burton film and will probably be the one movie to which his films are compared to the rest of his career.

5.) Nightmare Before Christmas

Everyone knows the stories, and everyone is familiar with the rhymes too. Every time you watch this movie, since October of 1993, you are always hoping you’ll have all 66 minutes of it memorized. The story features the misadventures of Jack Skellington, Halloweentown’s well-known pumpkin king, who is bored with the same old yearly routine of scaring people in the “real world.” When Jack stumbles upon Christmastown by accident, he gets a new perspective of life — he plans to take Christmas under his control by kidnapping Santa Claus and claiming the throne of Christmas. However, Jack soon finds out that even the best-laid plans of mice and skeleton men can go pretty, pretty horribly..

Watch the video below to learn about the Tim Burton theory!

Planet Of The Heartless, Arrogant Humans

By Rondi Adamson

From The Ottawa Citizen, 07.27.2001

The great writer Isaac Bashevis Singer once told talk-show host Dick Cavett that he would not kill even a mosquito. “Are you saying,” asked the incredulous Cavett, “that you think the life of a mosquito has the same worth as the life of a man?” Singer replied, “I have seen no evidence to the contrary.”

Nor have I.

Earlier this month, a boy was attacked by a shark off the coast of Florida — while he was swimming in the shark’s habitat — and had his arm bitten off. I hope the boy continues his recovery, but I was dismayed when the shark was taken out of the water and shot, in order to get the boy’s arm back, and bystanders applauded.

How would humans feel if every animal we killed/maimed/ mutilated came chasing after us to get back their missing body parts — often their skin and coats? And what if they brought along a gaggle of their own kind to cheer them on? We would be outraged, because, you know, they’re just animals and who, exactly, do they think they are? We can do as we please to them. We can walk into their ever-dwindling territories and if one of them — bear, cougar, shark — should dare object, he had better watch out.

On Monday, I saw an advance screening of Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes. The 1968 original, directed by Franklin J. Shaffner, was a powerful indictment against the way people treat animals. From the harrowing sequence in which Charlton Heston and his fellow astronauts are first hunted down by the apes, to the way the humans are treated like criminals — or used for scientific research — the message is clear. We are barbaric in our disregard for the feelings of other living creatures, creatures that experience fear and pain and love just as we do. If the tables were turned, we would be plenty unhappy.

Ultimately, Heston discovers they are not on an alien planet, but back on Earth. Man destroyed the world he knew, and brought about the simian world in which he now finds himself trapped. The new Planet of the Apes offers criticism of man’s fundamental inhumanity, but provides humans a far more comforting explanation for the existence of an ape-world.

However, one scene stands out. An assortment of chimps, orangs and gorillas is seated around a table, enjoying dinner as human servants mill about. An enlightened chimp (played by Helena Bonham Carter) says she believes humans have souls, to the shocked gasps of those around her.

Sound familiar? Those of us with Christian friends know full well the arrogant attitudes of some members of that society. Only humans have souls, and an embryo in a petri dish is more important than a living, breathing animal already roaming the planet. I wonder what Jesus would say about that? I wonder what he would think about six billion of us taking more and more habitat away from animals, and then being astonished when the animals occasionally make a foray onto our turf. Ottawa police recently shot and killed a moose in the city. Though the moose apparently took a nap, authorities said they couldn’t get close enough to it to use a tranquilizer gun, so the cops ended up shooting it dead. Hey, why make any special effort? It’s an animal.

We humans are insensitive to animals’ welfare or comfort, unless somehow it affects us. We eat them, wear them, use them for research and entertainment, hunt them for sport and hang parts of them on our walls — without any of it being necessary.

We are free to inflict torture on many of them without fear of legal reprisal. Things are changing in that area, but far too slowly. A man in California was recently sentenced to three years in prison for killing a dog, a ridiculously short sentence, and yet this was nothing short of a breakthrough. In Canada, Bill C-17, which would have been a step forward towards criminalizing animal abuse, died on the table last year. Efforts are being made to ensure that its successor, Bill C-15, is more successful in passing through Parliament. I’m not holding my breath. There is, I fear, no end to our lack of compassion.

And why not? Animals don’t vote, they have no money, and — don’t forget — they have no souls. I am not suggesting that we should give animals free reign. I am simply suggesting that we shouldn’t have it either, and that we ought to seriously rethink how we treat living beings who don’t happen to be human. Gandhi made the high and mighty wait to speak with him while he fed goats and tended to other animals. Like Singer, he saw no difference in their relative worth.

I’m afraid I sometimes do, and it’s usually people who come up short. Last week, out for dinner with a friend, I looked around the restaurant and saw a lot of slobbering, overweight jaws wolfing down big slabs of dead animals and all I could think was, “Damn you all to hell!”

IN THE KINGDOM OF CRANKS: ED WOOD ROAD TO WELLVILLE

By Richard Alleva

From Commonweal, vol 121 n 21, 12.02.1994

America, being the Emersonian land of self-reliance and self-invention, is also a nurturer of spectacular cranks. Think of Brook Farm and Oneida, Bronson Alcott and Aimee Semple McPherson, Christian Science and Scientology. And cranks have always been charming fixtures in the supporting casts of American movies, especially comedies. But, in the last two decades, as American films have become more freewheeling and kooky, cranks have often been the protagonists of Hollywood scripts rather than subordinate characters. And their crankishness often turns out to be justified. What is Warren Beatty as Bugsy but a visionary among thugs, and isn’t the glorified Jim Garrison of J.F.K. a would-be savior of his country?

Now, two minor, eccentric movies give us two more real-life cranks as their heroes.

Ed Wood is the story of Hollywood’s worst director, the man who gave us the sci-fi dud of duds, Plan Nine from Outer Space and the transvestite atrocity, Glen or Glenda? , ineptitudes so klutzily personal that their maker has become a pillar in the pantheon of camp. Tim Burton’s film treats Wood as a sweet simpleton who cannot see his own transvestism as weird or his own lack of talent as anything other than originality. As portrayed in this film, Wood is the patron saint of all who choose to do their “own thing” in the teeth of convention, tradition, or accepted good taste. An Emersonian hero of B flicks.

Ed Wood displays the three most salient qualities of Tim Burton’s previous work (the Batman movies, Beetlejuice, Edward Scissorhands): his visual skill; his unshakably sweet nature; and his fundamental disdain for, or indifference to, truly dramatic storytelling.

First, Burton’s skill. Ed Wood had no real visual flair, but he revered the great stylist Orson Welles for his stubborn individualism in the face of studio pressure. Accordingly, Burton and his cinematographer have created a black-and-white look that miraculously echoes both the underlit, cheesy appearance of Wood’s output and the glorious expressionism of Citizen Kane. Somehow, Burton keeps the two styles from colliding, partly by never allowing either to dominate for too long a time. And, for Ed Wood’s big moments, the Wellesian texture rightly prevails. For instance, when Ed runs down the aisle of the theater that’s about to premier his latest bomb, the choreography mimics Kane’s run into his newspaper office upon his return from Europe. But whereas Kane is hailed by his adoring staff, Ed’s arrival is booed and hissed by a mob of juvenile delinquents. The glory of the A’s has become the humiliation of the B’s.

Burton’s sweetness is evident in his depiction of the bond between Wood and Bela Lugosi, dope-addicted and semi-crazy in the last years of his life. It’s a loving, mutually parasitic relationship in which the old has-been depends on the young producer for roles, income, and a sympathetic ear, while Wood needs Lugosi’s name on his credits to entice investors, but shows real compassion for the fallen star. Delivering the only performance of distinction in this movie, Martin Landau endows Lugosi with ruined theatrical magnificence, Central European gemutlichkeit, and doped-up, boozed-out misery. Because of Landau’s performance, the several close-ups of the hypodermic tracks on Lugosi’s arms aren’t merely disgusting but also redolent of pitiable mortality.

But now the down side. Ed Wood, for all its charm, is ample proof that Burton can’t shape a story to any real dramatic purpose, isn’t interested in character development, and can’t bring his narrative to a true climax. Ed has a few moments of doubt about his abilities after his first fiasco, dismisses them, doubts himself again after the next bomb, revives, and so it goes. The structure of this movie is a seesaw, not a mountain climb. Our hero’s meeting with Orson Welles in which the great man tells Wood to follow his dream against all odds, is meant to be the story’s dramatic peak but only reinforces our perception of Ed as a freak of fatuousness.

Locked into this fatuousness is Johnny Depp, a game actor. He has been allowed (or forced?) by his director to wear an idiotic rictus of a smile from first shot to final credits. This smile embalms Depp’s performance.

Jonathan Swift’s genius for satire was fueled by his disgust for humanity, and that disgust had one source in his revulsion from, and fascination with, bodily functions. Similar revulsion and fascination permeate The Road to Wellville, but certainly haven’t resulted in a satire of Swiftian brilliance.

Set at the nineteenth-century Battle Creek health spa of the vegetarian crusader and antisex fanatic, Dr. John Kellogg, this T. Coraghessan Boyle story is composed of three plot strands: the marital woes of Bridget Fonda and Matthew Broderick, which Fonda believes will be cured by Kellogg’s regimen; a con man’s plot to use Kellogg’s recipe for corn flakes to make a rival product; and the enmity between the doctor (Anthony Hopkins) and his adopted son (Dana Carvey). I don’t know what Boyle made of these situations in his novel, but they go absolutely nowhere in this Alan Parker adaptation. The most interesting one, the Hopkins-Carvey conflict, is resolved by a cuddle and kiss. (This, after Kellogg, Jr., blows his foster father’s establishment to kingdom come!)

It’s easy to see the satirical point of The Road to Wellville. It’s the same point made nonsatirically by Oliver Sacks in his chapter on the drug L-DOPA in his book, “Awakenings”:

. . . the delusions of vitalism or materialism, the notion that “health,” “well-being,” “happiness,” etc., can be reduced to certain “factors” or “elements” — principles, fluids, humors, commodities — things which can be measured and weighed, bought and sold. . . The fraudulent reduction comes from alchemists, witch-doctors, and their modern equivalents, and from patients who long at all costs to be well.

Thus, in this movie, Dr. Kellogg: “The bowels are our passage to health!” But, once this point is made in the first fifteen minutes, Alan Parker can’t develop it, only elaborate and overelaborate on it. All story developments, most characterizations, all social observation and historical insight are overwhelmed by Parker’s obsessive need to gross out the audience. Viewers are treated to scenes of vomiting, enema insertion, clitoral massage, farting, masturbation (female variety) on a bicycle, masturbation (male variety) within a kind of electronic jock strap, and much examination of feces. I know that Alan Parker began his career in the late sixties and has made at least a dozen movies (three of them — Fame, Shoot the Moon, and The Commitments — excellent). But his latest film prompts just one question: Is Alan Parker fourteen years old?

Anthony Hopkins emerges with credit, not his usual glory. His characterization is a triumph of physical transformation: a Bugs Bunny grin, a Teddy Roosevelt stance, a voice trapped and roaring in the adenoid — you’ve never seen this Anthony Hopkins before. But, I’m afraid, once the lights come up and the final credits roll, you don’t continue seeing him in your mind’s eye. It’s an artfully crafted performance but lacks resonance.

To be sure, no actor can completely survive a director who has lost all perspective on his own material. The tooth-sucking self-satisfaction that Anthony Hopkins quite rightly projects as Kellogg’s is also, I’m afraid, the most salient quality of this movie. While making a film about a supreme crank, Alan Parker apparently turned into one

Something Simian, Something Sinister

By John Anderson

From Newsday (New York, NY), 07.27.2001

(2 STARS) PLANET OF THE APES. (PG-13) U.S. Air Force pilot, sucked up by a celestial wormhole, is spit out on a planet ruled by fascist primates. Tim Roth dominates as the big bad ape, the set design is inspired, but you might say the human element is lacking. And that ending? Possibly written by a chimp. With Mark Wahlberg, Helena Bonham Carter, Michael Clarke Duncan, Paul Giamatti, Estella Warren, Charlton Heston. Screenplay by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, based on the novel “Monkey Planet” by Pierre Boulle. Directed by Tim Burton. 1:40 (violence). At area theaters.

SLINKING, SNARLING AND sniffing his enemies with murderous intent, Tim Roth’s uber-primate General Thade gives the new and not quite improved “Planet of the Apes” nearly the juice it needs to save itself, if not the entire movie summer. But in trying to reverse the plotline of the original five films, director Tim Burton has also reversed their attitude, too: Instead of clumsily executed, overly serious sci-fi, we now get something glitteringly facile, and cripplingly glib.

Flipping the apes-as-slaves motif of “Conquest of” and “Battle for the Planet of the Apes,” Burton’s film proposes an ape-run planet in which humans are not just enslaved but, in Thade’s view, dangerous enough to warrant total extinction. Into this totalitarian nightmare rockets Air Force pilot Leo Davidson (Mark Wahlberg), refugee from the space station Oberon, who valiantly follows one of his ship’s worker chimps through an electro-magnetic time warp and finds himself hip-deep in monkeys and metaphor.

Burton’s film, marked by the visual grandeur that has always been his calling card, is saddled with a script by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner and Mark Rosenthal that goes for the gag every time it can – often feebly, sometimes desperately. This is done largely, but not always, by quoting liberally from the celebrated 1968 ancestor of the entire cult, the film in which Charlton Heston – who appears here to deliver an ironic, albeit self-serving anti-gun message – found his destiny in the Forbidden Zone.

Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. “Damn them all to Hell!!!” Heston bellows, as Thade’s ailing ape father, who knows the legacy of humankind. “Take your stinking hands off me, you damned dirty human!!” a soldier ape tells a beaten Leo, the latter struggling to his feet. “Can’t we all just get along?” asks the sniveling Limbo (Paul Giamatti), the comical slave trader whose Rodney King line resurrects, with little apparent thought, the race-relations subtext of the old “Apes” series.

Roth aside, the cast is a handicap: Wahlberg can’t carry a movie like this; the ubiquitous Estella Warren, playing a human, is singularly unconvincing. But what makes Burton’s ape world more compelling than the original is that the gap between primate and man is so much smaller than it was back when Heston crash-landed. His character, Taylor, found an ape civilization advanced to about the point of the early Renaissance; had Galileo been an advocate of human rights – humans being mute and mangy – he would have been excommunicated by the movie’s fundamentalist orangutans/guardians of primate culture.

In the new film, the apes are pre-Hastings, post-Athens, a little to the right of the Caesars’ Rome. Apt, given the movie Burton is really remaking.

It may simply be that Stanley Kubrick’s presence is as palpable this summer as it has been in 20 years, but Burton’s “Apes” isn’t just a classic western (Leo drops in, fights evil, rides on). It’s also “Spartacus.” Thade, like Laurence Olivier’s Crassus, uses the slave revolt instigated by Leo to consolidate political power. Leo, reluctant hero, is able to organize the human swarm into a fighting force willing to confront the overwhelming power of the empire’s “legions” and die for freedom. Ari (Helena Bonham Carter), child of a senator and with a pretty obvious cross-species attraction for Leo, sides with the enemies of her race (see Jean Simmons). There are scenes in obvious homage to Kubrick’s gladiator movie, but to explain them further would give away the ending upon which the enjoyment of this “Apes” no doubt depends.

And yes, there is a “surprise ending.” The guess is here that knowing laughs will anticipate that final befuddling shot, with irritation to follow: While most of this “Planet of the Apes” is built on a fairly solid, inventive narrative structure, the twist Burton leaves us with is just a joke – something in keeping with the rest of his film, but somewhat unworthy of the decades-long devotion on which he and Fox are hoping to cash in.

VIRILITY RULES

By Nigel Andrews

From Financial Times (London), 02.01.1992

The New Man, as we all know, is gentle, caring and Politically Correct. He helps with the washing up and changes baby’s nappies. He makes sure the goldfish has fresh water, the dog has a good book and the cat is on a high-fibre vegetarian diet. He croons his wife to sleep and then spends all night studying Dr Spock.

We have to ask at this point: Where is the New Man in modern cinema? The film heroes on video this month include Arnold Schwarzenegger stomping around futuristic Los Angeles smashing everything and everyone in sight in Terminator 2 (Guild); Bruce Willis brawling and ladykilling across New York and Europe in Hudson Hawk (20:20); a whole lot of gun-toting blacks blasting us out of our sofas in New Jack City (Warner); and Gerard Depardieu battering Isabelle Huppert into romantic submission in the French film Loulou (Artificial Eye).

Popular ideology likes the New Man. Popular entertainment loathes him. And video culture may be part of the reason. With its stress on short-attention-span storytelling, where every scene must pack a punch to keep the home viewer’s finger off the fast-forward button and his mind off the rival TV channels, video demands high-definition heroes with no-nonsense virility.

The world sometimes makes penance for this by throwing charity money at a film like Dances With Wolves (Guild). But there is a deep and essential Jekyll-and-Hyde duality in the simultaneous rise of the caring male in modern sociological fashion and the Cro-Magnon super-hero in modern cinematic fashion.

Indeed in today’s movies the sensitive male must be surreal to be believed. He must be the crazed, poetic, topiarising youth created by a mad scientist in Edward Scissorhands (Fox), where he is played by Johnny Depp in all-Gothic leather as if he were Harpo Marx mugged by Kenneth Anger. Tim Burton’s fantasia in small-town America comes to us from the same writer-director who gave us Batman (Warners). In this, you recall, the hero is a masked avenger by night (all-male superhero) and a home-loving fellow by day (New Man), played by a Michael Keaton best-known previously for man-with-apron roles like Mr Mom.

In Edward Scissorhands the New Man is a gentle, adorable freak. In period guise he is much the same in Peter Medak’s film of the Craig-Bentley case Let Him Have It (1st Independent), where Bentley is a sweetnatured fellow of deprived IQ driven towards violence by his evil twin Craig. Medak builds a stylish, moody picture of 1950s Britain in this true-life tale of travestied justice–Bentley was hanged for a policeman’s murder he neither committed nor probably abetted–and he sharpens without caricaturing the contrast between the gangling, slow-witted hero and his pintsize Mephistopheles pal.

As the sum of these films shows, the cinema has a wonderful counterbalancing instinct. Every ideological posture that a new age brings provokes an equal and opposite counter-posture. For every gentle chap brought shyly towards the centre of action from screen left, his opposite is sent stomping in from screen right.

Which brings us back to the Stone Age superheroes we started with. I have tried to dislike Terminator 2, with its preposterous superhunk throwing his weight around post-nuclear L.A. But dear me, I would rather have Arnold Schwarzenegger in this mad, mythopoeic, metamorphic form than Kevin Costner tending the winsome Indians in Dances With Revisionism.

I cannot so keenly recommend Hudson Hawk or New Jack City: sometimes thick-eared machismo is just thick-eared machismo. But you should try the European thinking man’s answer to Mr Schwarzenegger, namely Monsieur Depardieu. In Maurice Pialat’s Loulou our Gerard is not so much a New Man, more an ageing hippie driven by Bachanialian demons. He sweeps a stunned-looking Isabelle Huppert off her feet, pushes aside her maturer boyfriend (Guy Marchand) and generally behaves as if he would not recognise Political Correctness between the sexes if it fell down from the sky and beaned him.

MOVIE REVIEWS: TIM BURTON’S DEFT ‘FRANKENWEENIE’

From The Los Angeles Times, 03.06.1992, Home Edition

Playing with Blame It on the Bellboy only at the El Capitan on Hollywood Boulevard is Tim Burton’s 29-minute Frankenweenie (1984), which is such an inspired, deft pleasure that it is almost worth the price of admission–almost because of today’s steep ticket prices and because Bellboy is not that good.

Shot in a luminous black-and-white, Frankenweenie anticipates subsequent Burton features–Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands in particular–in its love of the poignancy of old horror movies. Inspired by a school experiment on a frog, a small boy (Barret Oliver) turns the attic of his family’s home into a lab rigged up with household electrical appliances with which he intends to bring his beloved but recently deceased dog Sparky back to life. (It’s not for nothing that his family’s name is Frankenstein.)

Frankenweenie, written by Lenny Ripps from an idea by Burton, is a subtle parable on the fear of the unknown. It has terrific style, an appropriately thunderous score (by Michael Convertino and David Newman) and boasts Shelley Duvall and Daniel Stern as the boy’s initially perplexed parents.