High- and low-brow cultural goings-on in the Second City, brought to you by a roving microtechnoanthropologist

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Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Saw Charlie & The Chocolate Factory in IMAX on Saturday (as part of our, Very Nice Day in Interesting Times). I know I told S that I'd try my hand at a real review of it, but I just keep coming up with finding it really charming.

One of M's hoodlum friends opined that (no screaming, K) the movie would have been perfect for him if he could've taken Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and put him in Burton's movie. Not only do I think that's whack because I loved Johnny Depp in this, even loving Gene Wilder's version, too (I SAID no screaming, K!), he'd have been completely out of place in this. Crazy as the 1971 Willy Wonka is, he's an erratic adult.

This Willy Wonka, much more true to the Dahl spirit, I think, is really a child, and it's the children who are wrong---gluttonous, avaricious, violent, competitive. They don't get any joy out of the candy or the factory, and they can't relate to Willy. His logic is as twisted as only children's can be, his social skills are nil, and he's never learned to mask his reactions. Charlie, being the only one of the five who is allowed to be a child (though his family's circumstances are such that he'd usually have to grow up much faster), is the only one who can halfway relate to him. I still feel like there are still things that I haven't quite digested yet. For example, there are certain points when the children are shot through heavy filters that make them look perfect to an unreal degree, but they're not always shot that way, and near the end, we see Willy Wonka in the same way, and I'd like to better understand which instances those are, but that's the beauty of even the worst Burton film (not that this is anywhere near that [not that I can really think of "the worst" {hell, I even liked "Planet of the Apes"} Burton movie], but I do agree with the undoubtedly-still-screaming [info]blondeheroine, who noted that this is much more Burtony than the last few Burton films).

I also have to plug Sky High, which we saw tonight (and on the way we diagnosed the real problem with Harry Potter: It's Pretty White Wizards With Problems. It's a low-rent-even-for-the-WB-WB-Show stretched out over 5000 pages and 7 movies). When we first saw the trailers for this, both M and I rolled our eyes at the seemingly tired plot. A longer trailer revealed the presence of Bruce Campbell, Dave Foley, and Kevin McDonald, and we thought "Hmmm, we've probably just seen all the funny bits, then." But who were we trying to kid? It's a superhero movie and, thus, we're there.

It was really quite good. The plot will not wow anyone with its originality, but it's an excellent take on something tried and true. The young actors were excellent across the board, with the possible exception of the popular girl. She wasn't terrible by any means, but she doesn't quite have the chops for where the character needs to go. More Charisma Carpenter, less Shannen Doherty needed. The hero, of course, has a mottley gang of misfits, but it doesn't have the artificial feel of a forced ad for diversity.

It's true there's not enough of the adults we wanted to see, but that's only because there can NEVER be enough of them. They're hilarious (of course), but also well used and well worked into the main action, rather than feeling tacked on for the hell of it. The soundtrack is mostly covers of 80s music, which is quite appropriate as the M pointed out, because in addition being a big Superhero Underdog cliche, it's also every John Hughes film and every John Hughes knockoff film ever made. It's thoroughly fun, and I highly recommend it.

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