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Flash Movie Review: Big Eyes

They reside together as if they were long lost relatives. With some people they may be siblings or half siblings; in others they could be first cousins twice removed. Inside of me they are definitely related; sometimes they are stepbrothers, other times they are half siblings. Either way I find creativity and therapy have a strong connection to each other. My strongest example would be when I used to play piano. It made no difference if I was playing a classical, popular or improvised piece; piano playing always had a calming effect on me. I know several individuals who are quite artistic, one makes jewelry and another designs company annual reports. Each one finds therapeutic value within their creative process. Even though a person may claim they are not creative, I still see them doing an activity that incorporates the right side of their brain for creativity, with a touch of therapeutic value thrown in. An example would be someone who acquires unique earrings, not the usual mass produced kind. The simple act of looking and judging the earring takes some creative license for them to incorporate them into their wardrobe. This is not a cop-out on my part, but there is some truth to the term: retail therapy.    BACK in the 1950s an artist emerged onto the scene named Walter Keane, played by Christoph Waltz (The Three Musketeers, Water for Elephants). His large eyed subjects lead the way to a new way of marketing art. The only problem was he did not know how to draw them. This film festival nominated drama was based on a true story. Amy Adams (American Hustle, The Fighter) who played his wife Margaret was the focal point for this biographical story and she was outstanding. I enjoyed watching her character grow from point A to point B; it was a fully acted out journey. Unfortunately I could not say the same thing for Christoph; his character became too cartoonish for me. Part of the fault had to be placed on the director, Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Big Fish). If I had not known, I would have never guessed he had directed this movie. There were uneven parts throughout, going from Christoph’s odd performance to laser sharp acting from Terence Stamp (Wanted, Unfinished Song) as John Canaday and Krysten Ritter (Listen Up Philip, What Happens in Vegas) as DeeAnn. Besides Amy’s wonderful acting, the story was outrageous enough that it kept my attention throughout the picture. I just wished there had been more consistency in this film; but on the other hand, just watching it in the theater was still therapeutic for me.

 

2 3/4 stars

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Flash Movie Review: Frankenweenie

Each person handles differently the loss of a loved one. Some people withdraw into themselves while others have the need to express their feelings in a creative way. My grandfather’s passing was the first time I experienced the death of a person in my life. Upon hearing the news, I remembered sitting down at the piano and played a favorite song repeatedly for a couple of hours, with tears rolling down my cheeks. The loss of a beloved pet can be just as hard. In this stunning and stylish movie, Sparky the dog was the only friend of Victor Frankenstein, voiced by Charlie Tahan (Charlie St. Cloud, I am Legend). It was heartbreaking for Victor when his cherished pet died in a car accident. With such a heavy loss, every day was lifeless for poor Victor; if only circumstances would have been different. However, everything would change when a substitute teacher performed a science experiment in Victor’s class. Inspired by the electricity experiment, Victor recreated the test at home and successfully brought his beloved Sparky back to life. The problem now would be how to prevent the townsfolk from finding out. That would not be the only problem Victor would encounter, along with the entire town. This film was a wickedly fun take on the Frankenstein story, complete with similar references and scenes. Director Tim Burton (Alice in Wonderland, Corpse Bride) brought his own wild twisted sense of humor to the story, making this black and white animated film a visual feast. The use of Catherine O’Hara (For Your Consideration, Home Alone), Martin Short (Primetime Glick-TV, Father of the Bride) and Winona Ryder (Black Swan, Edward Scissorhands) to voice multiple characters was an auditory treat. Be aware this movie may not be appropriate for younger children. I had a great time seeing this film, both as an adult and a kid at heart.

 

3 1/4 stars

Flash Movie Review: Dark Shadows

The time really has come for those two boys to stop playing with the make-up and just put it away. I am referring to Johnny and Timmy. Johnny Depp (Finding Neverland, Alice in Wonderland) was Barnabas Collins, but he could have easily been one of his other characters from his past movies. Tim Burton, the director, made some poor choices when he directed this confused film. It flipped back and forth between being a comedy and a thriller, resulting in a lackluster update of the old television series. Angelique Bouchard, played by Eva Green (The Golden Compass, Casino Royale), placed a curse on Barnabas, turning him into a vampire; then had him buried alive for all eternity. When he unexpectedly was dug up 200 years later, he was determined to revive the family business with the present matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, played by Michelle Pfeiffer (Batman Returns, Hairspray). I found the humor feeble with only a few funny parts–you may already have seen them in the trailer. Having Johnny’s character taking a stream of vomit in the face was not funny to me. As for Michelle, I thought she should have been used more, giving some heft to her weak character. My disappointment appeared to match the majority of baby boomers seated throughout the theater. As we were leaving our seats, I heard very few comments; only the disappointed sighs of people remembering how much they had enjoyed the TV show.

 

1 3/4 stars

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