Tag Archives: Big Eyes

What Big Eyes You Have

Big Eyes

by George Wolf


Do people buy art because it touches them, or simply because they are “in the right place at the right time?”

The often combative relationship between art and commerce, and between two people who personified it, lies at the heart of Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s eccentric take on the story of Walter and Margaret Keane.

Walter rose to fame in the 50s and 60s as the artist behind those massively popular portraits of “big-eyed waifs” staring out from behind a frame. He became the Thomas Kincade of his age, savaged by critics but embraced by the masses… and it was all a sham. Margaret was actually the talent, while Walter took the credit and honed his considerable skills in self-promotion. She finally ‘fessed up and claimed her works in 1970, igniting a legal tussle between the former spouses that lasted years.

One look at Keane’s big-eyed characters will tell you Burton is a fan, and the film often benefits from his whimsical vision. Like a mix of Edward Scissorhands and A NIightmare Before Christmas, Burton gives Big Eyes a setting that looks historically familiar, yet slightly other-worldly.

Amy Adams delivers another captivating performance as Mrs. Keane. We feel the conflicting emotions present as Margaret agrees to stay out of the limelight, with Adams creating her own finely crafted portrait of a woman’s quiet struggle against the submissiveness expected of her gender. Margaret is an underdog, and Adams makes it easy to root for her.

It’s a stark contrast to Christoph Waltz’s over-the-top depiction of Mr. Keane. Waltz is a gifted two-time Oscar winner, but Burton and the writing team of Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski (Man on the Moon/The People vs. Larry Flynt) don’t give him room to let Walter become anything more than a one-dimensional con artist.

Big Eyes is an entertaining period drama held back by Burton’s broad stroke. The very nature of the Keane’s story begs deeper questions, but they’re ultimately abandoned in favor of those crowd – pleasing happy trees.





Counting Down Holiday Must-Sees

Both Whiplash and Rosewater open this weekend at the Drexel and Gateway Film Center respectively. Both are must-see independent films with Oscar buzz aplenty, but they also signal the end of the fall films. Next weekend, things move toward holiday hoopla, and the awards-baiting indies flow alongside giant blockbuster contenders – indeed, the two sometimes even intersect. What are the holiday films to look out for?

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1 (11/21)

Not every adolescent novel series turns into quite this strong a film franchise. Much credit goes to the boundless talent of Jennifer Lawrence, whose surly heroine goes beyond games and into real revolution in the third of four installments.

Horrible Bosses 2 (11/26)

Will it garner Oscar nominations? No. But early word on the sequel to the surprisingly hilarious Horrible Bosses looks to have upped its game, and I want to play.

The Theory of Everything (11/28)

Get to know Eddie Redmayne. This guy can do no wrong, and he may finally get the notice he deserves in this film. Redmayne plays young Stephen Hawking in the magnificent James Marsh’s dramatization of Hawking’s relationship with his first wife, Jane (Felicity Jones).

The Imitation Game (12/5)

Benedict Cumberbatch is impressing early audiences in his turn as Alan Turing, an Englishman who helped break the Enigma code during WWII. Director Morten Tyldum’s last film Headhunters was too enthralling to miss his follow up.

Wild (12/19)

Reese Witherspoon is already the frontrunner in a an Oscar race not yet underway, but her turn as a woman who walks 1100 miles alone to get her head straight is impressing early audiences that much.

Unbroken (12/25)

Angelina Jolie goes behind the camera again, this time to direct the biopic of Olympian and POW Louis Zamperini. Actor-to-watch Jack O’Connell stars, but what’s more impressive is that Joel and Ethan Coen adapted Laura Hillenbrand’s nonfiction text.

The Interview, (12/25)

This Is the End proved that Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg were solid comedic filmmakers. The two return to their spot behind the camera and pen, with Rogan and BFF James Franco starring as two shoddy journalists who head to North Korea to interview/assassinate Kim Jong-un. No taboo shattering there! It should prove to be uncomfortable, but smart money says it’ll be funny as hell.

Big Eyes (12/25)

Perennial Oscar contenders Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz star in Tim Burton’s biopic of artist Margaret Keane. Early predictors put Adams in the running for best actress, but if this is the film that returns Burton to solid directorial ground, it’s a victory already.

Into the Woods (12/25)

Rob Marshall brings the Sondheim musical to the screen, spinning a yarn that knots Brothers Grimm tales together and sees Meryl Streep, Johnny Depp, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendrick and Chris Pine playing recognizable fairy tale characters. Early word is that the cinematic version boasts inspired performances, particularly from Depp and Streep as The Wolf and The Witch, respectively. We’re in.

Come January we can expect a couple late-running heavy hitters including Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice and Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper before the winter blahs hit theaters. Foxcatcher’s been a moving target, but it looks like local audiences will finally get a chance to see that by mid-January. But you know what? As far as we know, the Browns may still be in contention in January, so we may still have something to watch!

Wait, did we just jinx us?