My favorite winter movies


The title says it all, these are my favorite winter movies and before you start listing movies that are left out and far better than these; this is just a list of 10 movies that came to my mind first. Most likely they have some weird memory attached to them, some family thing or something cheesy like that. I do think that every person has a different list, a different kind of memory with snow but these are mine. They are all a bit childish and funny, because I like to cuddle up with tea and laugh with these movies and I really couldn’t recall movies that had snow and were made these past few years…

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# 231 – Tim Burton (Director special)

This is it, my first director special and I chose Tim Burton to have the honor of being the first one I write about. I don’t really know the reason but I thought that since I’ve seen so many of his movies it might be pretty content-rich. Hoping that this wouldn’t be the first and the last director special I’m gonna start off with Burton and his creations.

Born in August 25, 1958 Burton showed early signs of creativity and interest in movies. He started making his own movies in his backyard, for instance he made a short film called The Island of Doctor Agor when he was only 13. Instead of getting good grades in school he focused on arts, painting and drawing that led him to study character animation in California Institute of Arts. After graduating (based on his work in school) Disney was interested in him and he ended up working for them as an artist. Though it was clear from the beginning that his style was so different from Disney. Besides Burton wanted to do solo projects: so in 1982 he made a 6 minute short film inspired by a poem (his poetic influence would be Edgar Alan Poe) he wrote about Vincent Price (who himself narrated the animation) that showed off the type of style that will start to describe Burton the most.

Here is “Vincent”: [youtube=””]

Years of working, Burton managed to produce hits with low budgets and this made him stir interest among big budget productions – in 1989 Batman fell into his lap and he made superhero history. The movie crossed over $250 million in the States and over $400 million worldwide (at that time it was the biggest box office hit of all time) and also shaped the new way of portraying superheros – more darker and psychological.

Batman (1989) starred Michael Keaton as Batman and Jack Nicholson as The Joker. The movie has a great score of 7,6 on IMDb and won the Oscar for Best Art Directing. Although this movie is as old as I am I still remember it, sadly I don’t remember if it was my first experience with Tim Burton but I have a slight hunch that it was Batman. The more clear memory of Tim Burton is definitely Edward Scissorhands (1990) which I re-watched just a couple of years ago – this marks the beginning of a duo that all of you are probably familiar with – Burton and Depp.

Poster for Edward ScissorhandsEdward Scissorhands also marks the beginning of what I think, Burton’s career cause it wasn’t just directed and produced but also written by him. It tells a story about a so-called science project who happens to be a man with scissors instead of his hands. The quite unrealistic story is a heart warming human version of the ugly duckling. This movie showcases well some of the elements that start to characterize Burton’s work through out his career. The positioning of dark and colorful, the unusual leading role (amazingly portrayed by Johnny Depp) and dark humor. At this time Burton’s work wasn’t recognized by the big Oscar but IMDb’s 8.0 score shows that the movie is far more that just your average entertainment.

1992 Batman Returns was directed by Burton but his signature was also put on a full-length stop-motion animation that came out a year after. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) was directed by Henry Selick who studied with Burton in California Institute of Arts. The movie is a fantasy musical with 227 puppets that tells a story about Christmas in a Halloween way and has also an 8.0 score on IMDb. As an interesting twist, the puppets have unusually long legs and arms and to grasp the idea of a stop-motion movie there’s an interesting fact for you: the lead character Jack the skeleton had over 400 different heads that allowed him to have every possible emotion there is!

Still from Sleepy Hollow

Then followed many other works by Burton (some only produced) like Cabin Boy (1994), Ed Wood yet again with Johnny Depp (1994), the third Batman (1995), another collaboration with Henry Selick called James and the Giant Peach (1996) and the well known comedy about aliens Mars Attacks! (1996). The 90’s end with one of my favorite Burton films –  Sleepy Hollow (1999). Again together with Johnny Depp Burton brings us a fantasy crime story which also stars Christina Ricci and Christopher Walken. Legend of the headless rider is somehow stuck in my head but I’m not surprised, I’ve seen the movie about 5 times and I’m surprised it only won an Oscar for Best Art Director and ironically for the same guys who helped Burton out with Edward Scissorhands.

Here’s another interesting fact, during the next 10 years (from 2000 to 2010) Burton made 6 movies out of which I’ve seen 5 (some of them more than once). Out of which I loved 2 and liked 1 – sadly I had some issues with 2 that happened to be two of his latest works.  2001 Planet of the Apes came out, I haven’t seen it but I do know it marks the beginning of the second most productive duo (in movies and in real life), Burton and Helena Bonham Carter. To be honest I’m not sad I haven’t seen the movie, it has a 5,6 score on IMDb and compared to other Burton’s works it’s pretty low. But in 2003 Burton directed another favorite of mine, Big Fish (8.0) which is a fantasy-drama featuring Ewan McGregor, Billy Crudup and Bonham Carter as well. Just so you’d know, Helena Bonham Carter has appeared in every Burton movie after Planet of the Apes (except Frankenweenie which comes out in 2012).

Still from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Then four Burton and Depp collaborations follow – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd and Alice in Wonderland. First two are definitely among my favorites: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) brings back the vibe of Edward Scissorhands and Johnny Depp creates another dorky and memorable character. Even though the movie is based on a children’s book Burton manages to bring entertainment for grown-ups as well (for my review go here) and same goes for Corpse Bride (2005). Burton returns to stop-motion animation which was written by the same woman that put to paper Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before Christmas which of course brings back the puppets that have the same unusually long legs and arms.

The amazing trio: Depp, Bonham Carter and Burton

Then follows, what I think is a down-fall for Burton, with Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and Alice in Wonderland (2010). I don’t exactly know what made me dislike Sweeney Todd which featured dark comedy and singing – maybe it was the complete darkness of the movie that didn’t appeal to me or maybe it was the singing. With Alice in Wonderland my problem is clear – the computer-animation that robbed Burton from his creativity. In my mind, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are perfect on their own and don’t need alteration that Alice in Wonderland gave to them. I find it ironic that it does have one of the lowest scores among Burton’s movies (6,6) but it managed to snatch not one but two Oscars. It is clear that Burton is loved by his fans but isn’t recognized by those who give away the Academy Awards – shows how little the Oscar actually means when it comes to these types of movies Burton does. Also, I did wrote a couple of sentences about Alice in Wonderland in the beginning of this blog (#6) where it seems that I hated the 3D and promised to see the 2D version which I haven’t done.

But Burton has two upcoming projects listed as well, one already mentioned Frankenweenie (2012) and Dark Shadows (2012) with yet again Johnny Depp. The last one is a promising supernatrual drama that features a vampire (Depp). I’m hoping this will bring back the Burton I started to love over the years.

So this is the end of my first director post, it turned out to be quite long and thorough which only means great things for following director posts. The bar has been set high and not only by this post but by Tim Burton as well – an amazing director, producer and a writer of our time.

# 111 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Before I came a critic (almost have the paper to prove this fact) I watched a lot of movies. Now that I have some extra knowledge about the movie world I have re-watched my favorites. Mostly, I have noticed, I still like them and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is no exception.

The first thing people should know is that this movie is directed by Tim Burton – one of my favorite directors out there. He is different, he is yes a little bit weird but he also has a vivid imagination that brings something extra to his movies. He likes to play with colors and oppositions – you’ll know what I’m talking about when you have seen his movies, he also has done a lot of work with Johnny Depp. Their first collaboration was of course the well known Edward Scissorhands which stole Johnny’s pretty boy image and made him gorky and yes, also a bit weird – which I love about him. There are other movies where they have come together but I’m not gonna get into them because I have Charlie and the Chocolate Factory to review.

The story is based on a book which I haven’t read but I imagine to be just as crazy as the movie was. It tells a story about a boy named Charlie (Freddie Highmore) who lives in poverty with his parents and grand-parents. Their house is something out of a horror movie: dark, crooked, broken (doesn’t this sound familiar, remember where Edward Scissorhands grew up?). In the town they live is the biggest chocolate factory owned by Willie Wonka (Johnny Depp). After many other chocolate makers try to steal his recipes he closes the factory down, but years later it re-opens mysteriously while nobody is allowed to enter the factory. Until one day Willie Wonka decides to let five children who find the golden ticket see he makes chocolate and other candy in his factory – outside it looks dark and cold but inside…. you’d have to see it with your own eyes.

What I like about this movie is the interior of the factory inside, the colors, the chocolate river (which is real chocolate!) and the umpa-lumpas – only Tim Burton can bring a children’s book alive like that and only Johnny Depp can play Willie Wonka like that! The thing about this movie is that while its story is for children it seems that the whole production of it is for everybody who enjoys the beauty of visual images that are captured to film. That being the reason why I have no problem watching this movie over and over again in the hopes of discovering something new every time I do – it happens sometimes and when id does, I get a rush of excitement. For that, I give it a solid 4,5 out of 5 – because I’m hoping that Tim Burton will make a movie that is even better than this one.