~’BIG EYES’ – BIG FLOP / ‘BIG EYES’ vs JAMES BROWN, by way of ‘THE DROP’ with a final stop at ‘THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’


the JAMES BROWN, bio flick – ‘GET ON UP’ – wins hands down, no contest.
so does . . ‘THE DROP’ and of course, WES ANDERSON’S ‘THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’ – is the loveliest of – them ALL !! !!

TIM BURTON . . at an advance screening of ‘BIG EYES’, DEC 13, 2014, NYC.


of course, I was intrigued & happy to see ‘BIG EYES’. it’s a fascinating true-life story of deception, outsize egos, borderline autistics, gender domination, troubled marriages, an outsize con artist, brilliant showmanship, and last – but not least .. intellectual property theft (don’t get me started – photo copyright theft being one of my biggest issues & personal thorns), and most curious above all, and the least addressed aspect of the whole film & accompanying ka-babble – how and why – those previously reviled & spit upon, demeaned by the mainstream art world, kitschy BIG EYED WAIFS BY KEANE – so loved by the unwashed art masses – have not only prevailed, and need to be re-defined in art’s canon, finally endured to go on and worm their way into pop culture, big time. esp in the fields of animation, cartoon art and of course: Japanese anime. not to mention popping up the colorful trendy, wrapping paper I got on one of my Xmas presents this year !! (and, inside a book on quilts !!)
if you want to define ‘Post-Internet art’ .. look no further.

yes, the film is drenched in Panoramic retro-color, but when you come out in the same year as the most magical & brilliant, talented and gifted retro-color ‘THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’ – if your storyline can’t sweep the cinematography off it’s feet – you’re looking like a mighty big loser.

and it’s not just the lame storyline, because there is a great great story to be told here, it all comes down to the clunker-of-junker of Mr. Burton’s directing, where one has to ask, new young blonde personal assistant “mid-life crisis” flame, and all – was his mind just not on the ball ?

could there be a worse match-up in movie heaven than AMY ADAMS and CHRISTOPHE WALTZ ? nobody in the world is going to disagree with me. CHRISTOPH WALTZ and AMY ADAMS were never, ever on the same page. acting-wise. even MR. BURTON referenced this, as if to, or probably . . hoping to ‘pre-empt’ the obvious – in fact it was the first thing out of his mouth: “was CHRISTOPH TOO OVER-THE TOP ?” – and then he shrugged his shoulders. no going back now, and the thing is, when you saw archival pix of the REAL IMPOSTER ARTIST/SHOWMAN WALTER KEANE running alongside the final credits . . . . he did look over-the-top, so was it AMY ?
let’s put it this way – she did a great impression of MERYL STREEP with a retro blonde haircut & make-up . .
there was absolutely no extra-terrestial radiance, no inner illumination of the real please stand-up MARGARET KEANE, in the building. nobody home. Elvis, I mean Margaret had not just left the building, she had never even knocked on the door. and god I so loved AMY . . in ‘AMERICAN HUSTLE’, so god of the movies – please forgive me.

you just could not fall into the movie – there was no getting past the cinematic conflict on screen – between the acting styles of these two. there was no chemistry, there were no sparks of life beyond these facade, Christph and Amy going through their retro masquerade at different speeds. a career downer for both, I think the blame has to fall with Mr. Burton ?
an Indie classic – no. nope. no way. but a fascinating art story – almost got told.

which is pretty is all pretty strange. Mr. Burton supposed to be such a brilliant director and all. great story and all. All I can say is the minute Mr. Waltz showed his face on the big screen – the whole theater burst out laughing out loud. we wanted Christopher to take wings and F-L-Y !! but it was all down hill from there., he never settled into the role. except maybe the ‘BIG LIGHT BULB GOING OFF IN HIS HEAD’ scene when he realizes, aha: the common masses of adoring fans who love the ‘BIG EYES’ paintings, but don’t have a dime to their names to buy an original canvas, can easily scrap together a buck, and buy a print. yep, everybody laughed the minute Christophe showed his face – it’s pretty damn basic obvious, a director either has to channel that huge great energy, or lose it. Mr. Burton lost it.
let’s face it when the 2 minute cameo of those 2 Hawaiian Jehovah Witnesses – are the most right on moments in a trumped-folly, you know ‘TWIN PEAKS’, ‘BLUE VELVET’ . . this is – NOT.

as for everybody saying Amy was so great.
all I can say is: go see ‘GET ON UP’ the radiant and illuminating film / story of the great JAMES BROWN. if you want to see great, cinematic character brought-to-life, a brilliant unfolding – this is your baby.
so, why is CHADWICK BOSEMAN- who plays, inhabits, projects with authenticity and verve .. the late great JAMES BROWN – not up for an OSCAR ?
shame shame shame on Hollywoood, and here they are all lamenting how racially un-diverse the Oscars are this year. and the most brilliant performance of the year – was right in front of their very noses. executive produced by MICK JAGGER, no less.

must be all those old foggies still creaking & creeping around. not quite behind the ball anymore, but well enough to drop a bad ballot or two. we have the same problem in the art world, so tell me about it.
I mean, not only was CHADWICK BOSEMAN a-l-i-v-e and truly James Brown kicking, but even in the short span of the movie we got an incredible insight into his darker sides, his complexity and ego tripping, as well as a deep understanding of where his music sprang from, a real nice cameo of deep South balck magic . . gospel church-going . . and a great great musical history picking up the trail, with a nice side dish of the nascent civil rights struggle going on in the background. we got to understand a compicated talented artist – in way that sad AMY with her hairdo never sparked for Margaret. and funny come to think of it, on eof th things that set JAMES BROWN apart – was just like WALTER KEANE, his innate flair for self-promotion & management. and, he JAMES, also had a dark twisty nasty side !!
throwing the whole thing off-the-charts to infinite greatness . . was the small (screen-time wise) but ultra-brilliant & way-inspired performance of a truly gifted . . BRANDON SMITH as LITTLE RICHARD !!
oh my god, and I thought I was a touched-in-the-head tarot card reader !!
ya gotta go see it.
the only flaw in the entire production was the way-off-his-mark, DAN AYKROYD as James’ real-life old-school Jew of an agent. what ?
MICK !! wtf – you can come up with a full roster of talented black artists, every which way and back and forth, including the gorgeous women in Mr. Brown’s life – but you can’t cast a decent old-school music talent agent ? Hollywood used to be full of them. guess they are all too busy being old foggies, bad voting, and apparently . . going extinct.

talking about which, going e-x-t-i-n-c-t . .
the real MARGARET KEANE is still alive and kicking. damn yes, that is her in the first moments of the film, sitting on a park bench in the very San Francisco park where Amy meets Christoph as Walter at a street art fair – where Margaret is trying to sell her big-eyed ‘selfie’ portrait/caricatures to ‘tourists’ !! she, the real Margaret Keane such a compeeling, poise I got distracted right away -who is that woman. then you see the archival photos and slips of ‘history’ trail past at the closing credits and you realize it was . . her.
tuns out Tim Burton actually knows her pretty well, and commissioned some paintings from her decades ago !!

damn damn damn in a world of increasing stupid-o . . can somebody please go and interview her & film her and let her for ONCE AND ALL – HAVE HER OWN REAL VOICE !! she’s old, but she’s got great posture, great spine and I bet the mystery of those haunting BIG EYES . . will slowly come forward if she can just speak for herself.
boy, talk about doomed, bad karma – what did this poor woman do in a past lifetime – that nobody lets her tell her OWN story !!

I mean, we can’t wait forever, or are we doomed to end up with a “NANNY PHOTOGRAPHER” – TAKE TWO ?!!

I mean it is kind of rich that NEW YORK TIMES CRITIC – JOHN CANNADAY couldn’t call it, no surprise there. . . what incredible, magical ‘legs’ those KEANE ‘BIG EYE’ have had. how interesting that her naive outsider ‘cartoon art’ – her ‘lost’ waifs live on. and on, and on. and how interesting the roll of her husband in their marketing, mass appeal, branding and almost damning promotion.

oh lordy, how the outsiders always come in from behind – to win the day.
I wonder if that’s what the art critics of his day thought of VINCENT VAN GOGH, or EDVARD MUNCH’S – THE SCREAM ? both very cartoon, comic book like. and of course that was the game. trashed by the pros, but living the afterlife – big time.

which brings us to ‘THE DROP’ – if you want to see just how badly MR. BURTON dropped the ball re a small ensemble film – beyond a bio pic like ‘GET ON UP’, go see ‘THE DROP’ – totally fell through the cracks – but bet it’s going to have a great long life, ‘legs’ !! on the small screen in your house.

and, if you want to see how just much magic and creative thinking-beyond-the-box was missing from ‘BIG EYES’ – well you know, a night at the ‘THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL’ – is just what the doctor ordered !!

should I start doing my hair up like TILDA SWINTON’S – or what ?!!!

don’t you just love when RALPH FIENNES says old people just have .. so much FLAVOR !!
ok, let’s be clear. I can say that – because I’M NOT . . . THAT – OLD.
but my god-given hair . . sure could rock like that.
somehow, apparently I too am doomed to be an outsider, no matter what.
artlovers, and all.
maybe there’s no (artistic) gain – without the (borderline autistic / social) pain.
MARGARET KEANE, THE NANNY PHOTOGRAPHER, and me. great. just great.
Tilda Swinton, move over !!