Sunday, 21 October 2012

A Blog Post for Burton

With his new stop-motion animated film, Frankenweenie, released in the UK this week, I thought it about time I dedicated a blog to my favourite director, the estimable Mr Burton. The creator of the man with the scissorhands, that skeleton who sings a lot and the Batman movie franchise. Yes, that's right. Bow down to him.

I'm not quite sure how I first encountered Burton's work but I know I found his films not just entertaining but fascinating as a child. And also pretty scary; his horror film Sleepy Hollow - which I probably shouldn't have been watching at a young age - certainly made an impression on under-10 me. I imagine it was his singular style, making the macabre and the grotesque lovable which interested me. I'm not the biggest fan of films (I do like films though, don't get me wrong) but I've always connected with Burton's work and can still say - and I think I'm in a minority here - that I haven't seen a film that he's directed I don't like. Yes, some are certainly better than others and some I only like while others I really like but all of them are good, original, entertaining films. Mainly because they are directed by Tim Burton.

In case you're not familiar with his films but would like to give them a go (and as you can probably tell, I would recommend it) here's my top five films directed by him (so there's no Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - ironically not actually directed by the man). So why not book yourself a holiday in a gothic castle or haunted town and take some of these films for company... And watch out for those things lurking in the night. Though they may well just be misunderstood.

Edward Scissorhands

Seen by many as Burton's masterpiece, Scissorhands sees the innocent, abandoned creation of a mad inventor, Edward, a man with - well, you know that part - taken from his castle home to a bright, sunny town where he unwittingly causes a stir among the neighbourhood. Its a wonderful expressionistic film upon which every following Burton film is judged next to. Johnny Depp is superb while Winona Ryder also performs exceedingly well alongside him. Engrossing, funny and tear-jerking.

Batman Returns

While Burton's first Batman film is still fun, its sequel, Returns, is an improvement even though/because its one of the director's darkest offerings. Not the superhero blockbuster many were expecting, its largely a film about a strange batch of severely oddball, psychologically-interesting characters, particularly its villains with De Vito's Penguin, Pfieffer's Catwoman and Walken's Shreck chewing up most of the screen time away from its star. It doesn't have much of a plot but its still great to see the Batman world through a Tim Burton kaleidoscope.

Ed Wood

While not exactly a box office hit, this is probably Burton's most critically lauded film - and deservedly so. Its a biopic telling the tale of 1950s sci-fi/horror director Ed Wood (Johnny Depp - who else?), known by many as the Worst Director of All Time. Filmed in black-and-white (a trick Burton is using again for Frankenweenie) it properly captures the feel of the sort of movies the real Wood made and avoids the obvious route of making fun of Wood. Instead it views him as an optimistic individual with dreams bigger than his talent could match.

Sleepy Hollow

A rare proper horror film from Burton, Sleepy Hollow is a lavish production that looks great as well as being a genuinely well-told story. Based on the classic spooky tale by Washington Irving, lateral-thinking detective Icabod Crane is called to the creepy New England town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate tales of the fabled Headless Horseman - and has his beliefs tested to the limit. Part-horror, part-whodunnit supported by a fantastic cast, this remains one of Burton's most entertaining films.

Corpse Bride

Truth be told, even if I could include Nightmare on this list, Corpse Bride would still get the place. Although I'm extremely fond of its counterpart, I prefer Corpse's style and think Burton's experience shows in the film's confidence. It also possesses a stronger story; Victor Everglott has been forced into an arranged marriage, terribly nervous about his upcoming wedding he practises his vows in a forest only to accidentally wed Emily, the corpse bride, and becomes embroiled in the ironically lively world of the dead. At the moment, it's my favourite of Burton's stop-motion films but I'm hoping Frankenweenie will give it a run for its money.

In other news: I write for WhatCulture! now Whatculture! is cool.

If you're interested, please read my first article for the good people at Whatculture! titled '7 Doctor Who Monsters Who Most People Forget.' Go check the site now to see which of the show's array of beastly baddies made it on to the list. Oh, and watch that space for future articles. See you there.

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