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Edward Scissorhands

Director – Tim Burton – 1990 – US – PG – 105 mins

*****

Burton’s first post-Batman outing is essentially a fairy tale set in the modern world.

A rare fusion of big budget American Studio movie and highly personal vision, Tim Burton’s first post-Batman (Tim Burton, 1989) outing is essentially a fairy tale set in the modern world. Its environment is a pastel-shaded suburbia inhabited by gossipy women, largely absent men (they’re at work during the day) and equally absent teenagers (away on a camping trip). This is clearly not so much a naturalistic representation so much as a paradigmatic equivalent, which is probably just as well since at the end of one predictable street is an equally unpredictable, gothic mansion towering into the heavens.

As Avon Lady Peg Boggs (the versatile Diane Wiest) traverses this route, she wanders about first the magnificent castle grounds – adorned with exquisitely sculptured bushes – and into the creepy interior where she finds Johnny Depp’s Edward, the boy previously described in the film’s frame story by an old aged Winona Ryder as “a boy who had scissors for hands”. He also has numerous tiny gashes on his face, to which Peg painstakingly proceeds to apply her craft!… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Edward Scissorhands

Director – Tim Burton – 1990 – US – PG – 105 mins

*****

PLOT

An old lady tells her grandchild a story: “there once was a man who had scissors for hands.” His name was Edward (Johnny Depp), and he lived in the old mansion on the hill where an inventor (Vincent Price) was refining him into a real boy. But before the inventor could add the final touch – replacing the scissors with real hands – he died.

Meanwhile, Peg Boggs the local Avon Lady (Diane Wiest) is doing her rounds when she calls at the spooky mansion to discover the strange boy with the cut face who she makes up and brings home – to arouse the curiosity of the bored, local housewife community.

Edward soon demonstrates amazing creative abilities, carving hedges into statuesque forms and cutting hair on dogs and humans in unique styles. Housewife Joyce (Kathy Baker) is smitten with lust for Edward – with catastrophic results – while the boy himself falls hopelessly in love with Peg’s daughter Kim (Winona Ryder), who is taunted by her boyfriend (Anthony Michael Hall). Disastrous consequences follow.

OPINION

Having delivered a Batman (Tim Burton, 1989) far more satisfactory than anyone dared hope, and taking the inevitable (after all the hype) fortune at the box office, director Tim Burton is given free rein to do whatever he wants.… Read the rest

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Features Live Action Movies

Naked Lunch

Director – David Cronenberg – 1991 – Canada – Cert. 18 – 115m

*****

Originally published in Film And Video – The Magazine. See also my reviews in What’s On In London and London Calling Internet.

PLOT

New York, 1953. Bug exterminator Bill Lee (Peter Weller) runs out of roach powder whilst treating an infested apartment. His initial accusations against his employers’ theft of the substance are revealed as groundless when he discovers wife Joan (Judy Davis) is using the brown powder as a drug. She persuades him to take up the habit. In a downtown interview, two narcotics detectives introduce Bill to his “Case Officer” – a typewriter sized bug with a talking orifice in its back who instructs him to kill Joan, as she is an Interzone agent.

After shooting his wife, Bill seeks counselling from Dr.Benway (ROy Scheider) who gives him a counter narcotic. A Mugwump gives Bill two air tickets to the Interzone where he meets (among others) Swiss expatriate Yves Cloquet (Sands) and writers Tom and Joan Frost (Ian Holm and Judy Davis). Throughout his adventures, friends Hank (Nicholas Campbell) and Martin (Michael Zelikner) encourage Bill to write his book Naked Lunch.

OPINION

Attempts have previously been made to turn William Burroughs’ seminal book Naked Lunch into a movie, but David Cronenberg’s version (produced by Jeremy Thomas of The Last Emperor fame) is the only one to reach fruition.… Read the rest

Categories
Features Live Action Movies

Naked Lunch

Director – David Cronenberg – 1991 – Canada – Cert. 18 – 115m

*****

Originally published in What’s On In London. See also my reviews in Film And Video – The Magazine and London Calling Internet.

INSECT POLITICS

Watching David Cronenberg’s film of William Burroughs’ novel The Naked Lunch, it becomes clear that the two men share a bizarre sensibility for what the protagonist of the director’s earlier remake of The Fly (1985) described as “insect politics”.

To film Burroughs’ “unfilmable” work, Cronenberg adopts the strategy of incorporating biographical details from the writer’s life into an overall fabric also comprising elements from a number of Burroughs’ books. Hence, the “accidental” shooting of his wife at a party (Burroughs was high at the time) jostles with insect typewriters turning into sex blobs (here pink, dog sized insects with prominent flattened buttocks) and animatronic Mugwumps working for the Interzone network.

Once again, Cronenberg is shown as a master not only at directing both actors and special effects but also in his sheer command of filmic vocabulary. The sequence where Joan Lee (Judy Davis) is startled by husband Bill’s “William Tell Routine” going wrong and getting her shot (he takes out his gun after she’s balanced a glass on her head) is as unforgettable as it is unsettling.… Read the rest