Saturday, June 2, 2007

June 2nd Log

2006, Christiane Cegavske, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

Blood Tea and Red String is a wonderful film. It is a stop-motion animation film made without dialogue and a running time of only 71 minutes. Each minute is a treat as we are taken into a fairy tale world of imaginative creation. This world was created by filmmaker Christiane Cegavske. She worked on the film for 12 years, and her commitment and personal expression is evident in the beauty of this film. The lack of dialogue gives the a dream-like feeling, and the music and sounds heighten what is a truly surreal experience. The story is simple as well are taken to a world of mice and the doll they fight for. The white “upper class” mice order the creatures who live under the oak tree to create the doll. After doing so, they fall in love with the doll and a fight between the two begin. The film takes us on a magical journey through its fantasy world with a vision that recalls Alice and Wonderland or perhaps David Lynch. The film opens and closes with a pair of marvelous sequences that are both seemingly separate forms of expression for the film. Beautifully detailed, Blood Tea and Red String is a great achievement of animation filmmaking.

2005, Tim Burton, United States / United Kingdom
Repeat Viewing, HBO

To me Tim Burton's reimagination of Roald Dahl's classic novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a far more imaginative and ultimately better film then the beloved 1971 original. This is really an entirely new film that is heighten by a greater sense of wonder, visual imagination, tongue-in-cheek humor, and overall less psychedelic campiness. Sure the original film had much to admire, but it lacks the sheer enchantment and wonder of Burton's vision and imagery. Burton is an artist who's films are strengthened through visual details and isolated atmosphere which blends humor, fantasy, and nightmares. The set designs (like many Burton films) recall that of German Expressionism of the silent era. Also adding to this is the performance of Johnny Depp who's Willy Wonka shares more in common with a silent film actor (like Lon Cheney for instance) then with Gene Wilder. He truly is brilliant in every way here. As are the supporting roles by the children, their parents, Christopher Lee (who's perfectly casted), and Deep Roy, who the film wises duplicates rather then creating CGI Oompa Loompas. One of the big changes in this film is the additional of Wonka's background. Burton presents a greater sense of his childhood and this perfectly works within the emotion and themes of the film, because ultimately Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a story of childhood and most notably of parenthood. Not to go without mentioning is the musical score of Danny Elfman. Not only does Elfman provide some inventive musical numbers, but it is the musical score of this film that is most brilliant. Elfman has mastered his work with Burton and in many ways is another character of his films, and this should be placed as another great one. It really does add another dimension to the depth and imagination of the film. Charlie and the Chocolate Factorymay not be in the class of his finest masterpieces (Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, Pee Wee’s Big Adventure, Beetlejuice) but it certainly recalls the sense of beauty and wonder that made those films so special. Maybe I just love Tim Burton too much, but to me, this film is an absolute joy!!


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