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Non-Review Review: Dark Shadows

I really liked Dark Shadows. Of course, the film comes with the proviso that it’s probably nothing at all like anybody is expecting, at least based on the trailers. While there are elements of a comedy about a vampire lost in time, Tim Burton is far too busy constructing an elaborate spoof of a gothic melodrama to every really develop that thread. Instead, it’s a movie that seems wry and self-aware more than it is side-splittingly hilarious, an old-fashioned homage to the melodramatic horrors of old rather than a compelling story in its own right. I don’t think anybody could argue that this is truly “classic” Burton, measured against Ed Wood or Batman Returns. However, it is a director who seems to be having a great deal of fun playing with some rather esoteric toys.

Collins family values…

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Non-Review Review: Mars Attacks!

I have a genuine affection for Mars Attacks! It’s certainly not Tim Burton’s best work, but it’s also miles above some of his more disappointing output. It feels like an affectionate homage to Ed Wood, putting together the kind of movie that the old B-movie director would have approved of, except with the judgement to play it as a comedy rather than entirely straight (although Wood’s filmography is typically “so bad it’s good“, one could scarcely accuse the director of being in on the joke), and made with a more significant budget. Seen in that light, it’s hard to resist the movie’s (admittedly uneven) charms.

The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, they say...

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Non-Review Review: Ed Wood

One gets a sense that Tim Burton is one of those people who feels a deep connection with famously awful director Edward D. Wood Jr. His bio-pic on the (in)famous director is saturated with a sense of deep nostalgia and almost earnest respect for the man, who it paints as an enthusiastic and inoffensive loon. In fact, coming out of the film, it’s really hard to feel that describing the master of schlock as “the worst director of all time” is actually an insult – but rather an endearing little nickname, a half-joke half-serious remark amongst friends. The movie does share an odd laugh at the expensive of its protagonist, but it also can’t help but admire a visionary who just wouldn’t compromise with the studio system. Even if it didn’t always (or ever) work out, you get the sense that Burton admires the actor/producer/writer/director for that.

A Wood(en) performance?

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