Into the Big Eyed Woods

Christmas day was jam packed with new releases at cinemas with options as diverse as can be. I have not yet seen The Interview (and will most likely wait awhile on that..) and I've already shared my thoughts on Unbroken HERE ... but somehow still there's more to discuss! One major release was the star-studded adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's Broadway musical hit Into the Woods. Another was Tim Burton's latest directorial effort called Big Eyes, a fascinating true story about artist Margaret Keane and her cad of a husband Walter who took credit for all of her work. So did either one of these films do their source material justice? Mini reviews for both below.

I'll start with the bigger release of the two: Into the Woods. Look. Even though this is a movie based on various fairy tales, this movie isn't for everyone. No one could tell you that better than the stranger  (or psycho) sitting next to me. First and foremost this movie is a MUSICAL. If you have a problem with people singing for roughly 85-90% of the movie, this movie is not for you. Secondly this is not only a musical...but a Stephen Sondheim musical. AKA that guy who wrote Sweeney Todd. Even though this movie is being put out by Disney, it is hardly a Disneyfied tale in the end. Though not as dark as the original musical, the film still doesn't end with the neat bow you'd expect. In fact, it keeps going for another 30-40 minutes after you think it will end...much to my seatmate's dismay. Managing one's expectations is important to your enjoyment of this film, but not necessarily crucial. In my book, the film is a lot of fun, if not a little long. But when it's based on a 3-hour musical there's really only so much you can do. I'm not a musical critic, I'm a film critic...so I'm not gonna get into the voice performances of each actor. It's clear they're not all Broadway stars. But performance wise I liked what everyone brought to the table. But hey what do I know? Maybe you'll agree with the guy I sat next to and feel the need to boo in the end. True story. EMILY RATING: 8

Now for Big Eyes. In my opinion Tim Burton hasn't done anything truly worthwhile since 2007's Sweeney Todd (coincidentally the other Stephen Sondheim musical,) and before that Big Fish. When you hear that Tim Burton had a movie out for Christmas and also know that Into the Woods was coming out, you'd almost naturally assume that he was tied to that fantastical movie...not the unusually understated Big Eyes. The Amy Adams vehicle is unlike anything the gothically quirky director has ever done...because it's actually pretty normal! Collaborating with some different actors than his usual duo of Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter brought a lot of fresh energy to this outing. Amy Adams as always gives a mesmerizing performance. Someone get this girl an Oscar already. Unfortunately though this is a more subtle role, so I doubt she'd be recognized this go-round. Christoph Waltz's performance, on the other hand, is anything but subtle....but for me it totally works and is even necessary. For what he's capable of, he has to come off as the smarmiest of businessmen and he pulls it off completely. I've seen other critics accuse him of scenery chewing, but sometimes that kind of performance just works for me. Especially when contrasted with Ms. Adams less showy performance. But it doesn't hurt that the story is incredibly interesting either. As a type of artist, I felt a definite connection to the film and left pondering the many questions posed by ol' Tim. Should kitsch be considered art? With this movie, I say yes. EMILY RATING: 8.5

Well as far as the Christmas releases go...that's a wrap. Until I put myself through The Interview.


Sarah said...

I was a huge fan of the Broadway version of Into the Woods. I am very curious to see how they handled the film adaptation.

Big Eyes sounds very interesting. I wonder if the artist actually painted her paintings after framing them (as portrayed in that picture), or if that is an error...because to my knowledge, most canvases aren't framed until after the canvas dries. Hmmm.

Johanna said...

Ha ha. That guy next to you was hilarious. Sprawled out asleep as soon as the first song started, not to mention the potty mouth language throughout. How on earth did his wife get him to go? And they probably fought all the way home.

I really liked it. It's got a lot of depth, but don't mistake it for a child's movie unless you pull our old "Young At Heart" trick and end the movie partway through.

Johanna said...

I went to see "Big Eyes" tonight. I really liked it. AA is amazing and it was hypnotizing to watch her character get, well hypnotized almost. Sort of Gaslighting.

The one note that was odd to me was that when it got to the courtroom, it turned comedic and felt like a different movie altogether.

I really want Laurie to see it, since she is such the artist. However, she will see the art as kitsch; but will understand the artist emotions. Sounds like a girl's night out to me.