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Friday, 2 January 2015

A rag-bag of bits (not yet a review) about Tim Burton's Big Eyes (2014)

More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2014 (28 August to 7 September)
(Click here to go directly to the Festival web-site)

2 January (Tweets added, 6 and 10 January)

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There's a point where the latter, maybe, over-reach themselves in their enthusiasm for their story : is it worth telling just because true ?

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Actually, it's gonna stay like this - mimetic of the dead weight to which probably ~250 souls were yoked... :

Introductory : Tim Burton and MDH Keane :

guilt / eyes on stalks / supermarket / confession
-> Dalí / Spellbound / David Lynch

Yes, she is in shadow – in the dark, till she leans forward with her portfolio to force out a pitch for this unsuitably demeaning job, a feeling hammered home by drawing back to show countless others painting that image on the head of a cot : oh, but no explaining how the cots all got in and out of that big room, once each one had been finished…

And, hey, people seemed to have staple-guns in the late 1950s, and to use them to display posters on tree-trunks, so where were the (high-quality) transfers that, in this age - endlessly stressed to be of mass production à la Warhol (it’s a wonder that his ‘fifteen minutes’ utterance was not shoe-horned in !) - would have superseded most hand decoration ? The point being that there were impossibly too many workers (i.e. painters) to sustain whatever market for hand-decorated furniture there would likely have been…

So what is it, then, to draw back to show Margaret Keane amid so many fellow workers ? A momentary Hello to Welles’ The Trial (1962), or Gilliam’s Brazil (1985), which plays unnecessarily heavily, just for a moment, the ‘one amongst many’ card, the pathos / the destitution of Margaret’s position – and to hell with (as above) it makes any sense, because it is a sort of irresistible sight-gag, best resisted ? After all (in this joke of an interview), the boss of the furniture business could just as easily have said The job’s yours, but you’re just painting motifs on bedheads like everyone else :

Why not ? Well, the film’s writers / makers are too busy thinking that everyone will have fun with their half-hearted telling of what is based on a true story, complete with opening endorsement (no doubt, if real, written for him by someone at The Factory ?) of Walter Keane from Warhol. In the scene in the gallery with Ruben (Jason Schwartzman, trying very hard with some very slim script pickings), where Keane loses him a sale and then fatuously implausibly proceeds to try to get Margaret’s and his work taken, it is just so that the two men can have a conversation about fashions in art.

When Walter opens his own gallery, which proves to be directly opposite where Ruben is, we have another limp sight-gag – and we were supposed to keep in mind, Tim Burton, the throw-away remark that (very occasional) narrator, journalist Dick Nolan (Danny Huston), makes about the nature of his writing in relation to this ragbag of a film (to signify a doubtful reliability) ?


Gives us a break but even Clive James, calling one volume of his Unreliable Memoirs (and known to entertain), flags up the possibility of invented content more adeptly* - or Martin Scorsese (in an overlooked speech by Jordan Belfort at the opening of The Wolf of Wall Street), drawing attention to how, as he speaks, he can change the colour of the car that we see…

At root, the argument is : should we praise Holy Motors (2012) for (the fun of) its inter-textuality and reference, or say that it is an uninspiring sequence of essentially similar impersonations, tenuously linked, with casual, picaresque-style looseness, by who cares what ? Even if the mask at the near end, as all the white limousines are parked (and wink at each other), is, as is said, that from Eyes Without a Face (19??), so what… ?

In this film (as, in many ways, with Wolf), Leos Carax is so gratuitously flashy that one mistakes it for no sort of naturalistic presentation (of whatever it is, Kylie or no Kylie with a comatose cameo...)

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But, if it (instead) is homage, all is forgiven… ! :


* Let alone the quips as to textuality, historicity and authorship throughout the trilogy Molloy / Malone dies (Malone meurt) / The Unnamable (L’Innomable) by the great Samuel Beckettt…

Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)

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