Danny Elfman

Big Eyes Movie

Twenty years after Tim Burton‘s greatest achievement, Ed Wood, he’s teamed up once again with screenwriters Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszwewski to tell Margaret Keane’s story. Keane’s art was hugely popular in the 1950s and 1960s. Her bold, beautiful and beloved paintings of sad big-eyed children were even sold at hardware stores and gas stations. The problem was, she didn’t receive any credit for them. Her failed artist of a husband, Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), took credit for her work. He claimed nobody would buy the paintings if they knew they were painted by a woman, so why not instead make a boatload of cash passing them off as his own? The initially timid Margaret (played soulfully by Amy Adams) went along with his story — that he’s the real artist, not her. Walter became consumed by the wealth and acclaim, while the lie ate away at Margaret and, at one point, greatly upset her daughter Jane (Madeleine Arthur), a major inspiration for Margaret’s work. The story grows progressively sadder and stranger. When Margaret finally does stand up for herself, Walter reacts in frightening and ridiculous ways. Most of her husband’s manipulation is played for laughs, but it never detracts from the drama of Margaret’s situation. Alexander and Karaszwewski’s script pulls off a real tonal challenge in that regard. Even when events take an exceptionally silly turn in the third act, the film manages to earn both the huge laughs and emotional catharsis. Like Ed Wood, Big Eyes is often outrageous but totally […]


Nightmare Before Christmas

Ashe never got to see a ton of modern classics from his youth, so we’re making him watch them all as a nostalgia-less adult. Check out the inaugural article for more info. Halloween is over, so my Halloween movie mini-marathon is at an end. And I saved the best (by which I mean my wife’s favorite film) for last: The Nightmare Before Christmas. Yes, I’ve been with her for seven years and somehow managed to never see it. I am a good husband. (I love you, honey!) What’s weird is I’ve tried to watch it before, but something would always happen right after I started it. Someone would call with an emergency. The power would go out. One time I got insanely sick and passed out. (It turned out to be a really bad stomach flu.) This time, nothing horrible happened! That I know of. Anyway, let’s talk about the first impressive thing about this film — it looks totally beautiful. For a movie that’s old enough to drink now, it still looks like it was made last week. Now, I have seen Corpse Bride, Coraline and ParaNorman, so I was already familiar with the style, but I expected this one might look a little dated in 2014. Not at all. If anything, the look of Henry Selick‘s films (Yeah, I know, Corpse Bride and ParaNorman weren’t him) was pretty much perfect the first go ’round, and they’ve just kept it up since. The German Expressionist influence just adds to the effect. This film is, essentially, timeless.



When it was released twenty years ago, The Nightmare Before Christmas was not an immediate success. However, over the following two decades, it has become one of the most beloved holiday movies, and composer Danny Elfman admits that autograph seekers inevitably have The Nightmare Before Christmas merchandise for him to sign above all other films he has worked on. When the 15th Anniversary 2-Disc Collector’s Edition DVD was released in 2008, Elfman joined in with producer Tim Burton and director Henry Selick to record a commentary track. This track, along with many of the other bonus features, is also included on the 3D Blu-ray, which was released in 2011 (and likely all other annual releases as Disney moves forward). Seeing as we’re at the half-way point between Halloween and Christmas, and since it is the 20th anniversary of the film’s release, it seemed appropriate to revisit the film and hear what the filmmakers had to say about the production.



Editor’s Note: Allison’s spot-on review originally ran way back at the beginning of the month, but the film is opening wide today so we’re sharing it once again. Sharing is good. Maybe we are all a bit crazy – whether we are lying to ourselves about the relationships we are in or why we believe holding a handkerchief or having the remote at a certain angle will determine the outcome of a game. But unlike most of us, Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper), has been deemed mentally unstable by both the court and his doctors at the mental institution we find him in at the start of Silver Linings Playbook. Pat may seem fairly sane, albeit unflinchingly honest, but as we learn why he ended up in such a facility and watch him unravel at the sound of a certain song, it becomes clear that Pat is dealing with issues he may not be able to easily control with simple positive thinking. Pat is released to the care of his big-hearted mother, Dolores (Jacki Weaver), and his hot-headed father, Pat Sr. (Robert De Niro), and while their family dynamic is slightly dysfunctional, it is clear that they all truly care about one another.


Batman the Animated Series

Enduring cultural figures like Batman endure precisely because of the slight but notable changes they incur over time. Batman has had a long history in the moving image, and while the character has maintained both the central conceit of being a crime-fighting detective, the cinematic Batman of seventy years ago bears little resemblance to the Batman we’re familiar with today. The character and his myth have been interpreted with variation by a multitude of creative persons other than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. In the moving image, Batman has been embodied by a range of actors including Robert Lowery, Adam West, and George Clooney, and Batman has been realized by directors and showrunners prone to various tastes and aesthetic interpretations like William Dozier and Christopher Nolan. While Batman is perhaps best-known by a non-comic-astute mass culture through the many blockbuster feature films made about him, including this summer’s hotly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises, the character’s cinematic origins are rooted in the long-dead format of the movie serial. Batman first leapt off the page in a 15-part serial made in 1943 titled Batman and another six years later titled Batman and Robin. These serials did not influence Batman’s later cinematic iterations realized by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher as much as they inspired Batman’s representation on television. Batman’s presence in film serials and on television have had a decisive and important impact in terms of how mass audiences perceive the Batman of feature films. At the same time, these serials […]



It’s a wild career Peter Berg has created for himself. The kid from Shocker and Aspen Extreme grew up to have an eclectic mix of directorial offerings. Everything from wicked, black comedies like Very Bad Things and damn solid action flicks like The Rundown. He’s even dabbled in the Summer blockbuster like Hancock and this Friday’s Battleship. I think that movie made Cole angry. Berg’s most important work of art came in the form of Friday Night Lights, arguably the best show in the past decade. You be the judge which side of that fence I fall on. Clear eyes. Full heart. Can’t Lose. But we can’t exactly run a Commentary Commentary on the full series run of that show. That would take too long, and there’s not enough Monster in the world to keep the writing juices flowing. So we’ll do one on The Kingdom, Berg’s 2007 film about an FBI investigation of a suicide bombing in Riyadh. That’s in Saudi Arabia, something you’d know if you’ve seen this film’s opening credits. Or watched The Daily Show more often. Enough about TV. On with the Commentary Commentary for The Kingdom.


Aural Fixation - Large

With Dark Shadows set to hit theaters this weekend, Warners hosted a small Q&A this past Tuesday to highlight what will be composer Danny Elfman and director Tim Burton’s fourteenth film together. I am notorious for getting lost on studio lots (I once accidentally wandered into a background shot during the filming of Private Practice while looking for a screening room), but I was pleased (and relieved) when I arrived and realized this event was being held outside making it easy to find (although the long line of Elfman fans flanking the venue was also a pretty clear indicator). It was a nice change of pace to be outside on a warm afternoon and seemed to put everyone in a good mood. While the Q&A was moderated, the goal of the afternoon was primarily to open the floor up to the fans and have them ask the questions. This can be a precarious opportunity when the questions are unfiltered (and sometimes cringe worthy) as anyone who has attended a Q&A can attest to. However this afternoon the questions (save for a few – no, Oingo Boingo will not be getting back together) were incredibly thoughtful and interesting. Elfman noted that doing events like this are something he gladly takes time to do as he loves interacting with fans and this was clear as he took every question seriously and gave each person his undivided attention when answering. The event was also to commemorate the release of Elfman and Burton’s 25th Anniversary […]



If you’ve ever seen a Tim Burton movie, you know the guy is probably pretty awkward. At the very least, he’s gotta be soft-spoken, right? Which begs the question, “How interesting can a Tim Burton-only commentary be?” Well, we’re here to answer that very question with this week’s Commentary Commentary. In honor of Dark Shadows, Burton’s latest collaboration with Johnny Depp, we’ve decided to go back and delve into their first pairing, Edward Scissorhands. Burton took the commentary duties by his lonesome here, and I’m sure amid all the fumbling of words and general gracelessness there’s enough to pack in here to hold our interest. At the very least it’ll be an entertaining car wreck. So here, without further ado, is everything we learned about Edward Scissorhands from listening to its director, Tim Burton, speak on it. We didn’t learn Tim Burton is a strange guy. We knew that one already.



In just a few weeks we will be getting our first Men in Black film in nearly ten years, and hopefully the Men in Black sequel we deserve. Director Barry Sonnenfeld‘s first installment was a real head-turner, a rare type of blockbuster that could be touted as being something like a modern day Ghostbusters, though it was its own original breed of film. The 2002 sequel, however, was not that, forgetting nearly everything that made the first film unique. Thankfully, Sonnenfeld is well aware of this. The Get Shorty and Addams Family director is hoping to bring the series back down to where it all began: character and plot-driven action, not another aimless gag after gag sequel. From his different 3D approach to having what he calls a real nasty villain again, Barry Sonnenfeld declares Men in Black III a return to where the series started off so well.



By 2020, technology will have advanced to give us even cooler phones and GSP systems, but most impressive (at least according to director Shawn Levy) will be boxing robots. And what does a former (human) boxer do when he is replaced by the technology of robots? Become the operator and promoter of said robots, naturally. But more importantly, what kind of music does he fight and train to? The year might be 2020, but the artists making up the soundtrack for Real Steel almost read like it was released in the 1990s with songs from Limp Bizkit, The Crystal Method, The Prodigy and Foo Fighters. And this is not a bad thing. Real Steel is all about the performance (both in and outside of the ring) and the swagger filled soundtrack will get your adrenaline pumping as you root for the underdog team of former boxer Charlie Kenton (Hugh Jackman), his son Max (Dakota Goyo) and their robot, Atom. From the moment we meet Max he has headphones around his neck and as the story unfolds, music becomes as much a part of the world of Real Steel as the robots.



What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that rounds up junk and stuff. It also likes J.J. Abrams’ movies, but not so much that it can’t laugh at them, as well. It is also currently being written by an author who is distracted with Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2: Rodrick Rules. It’s surprisingly charming. Geek icon Simon Pegg released a book recently, “Nerd Do Well,” chronicling his life as a now-famous nerd. Personally, I can’t wait to read it. In the mean time, one passage about George Lucas and the Star Wars prequels has become a topic of discussion. Did Lucas apologize for the prequels? That’s the question of the day.



Tossing aside what seems to be the current trend in digestible films, Elfman attacks the theater screen with a perverse, black and white fairy tale that seems like it was written by a troubled teenager while switching back and forth between his science fiction magazines and his father’s porno.



Music videos are basically movies these days. More bands are working on films. Here are a few more that should definitely pick up the baton and try their hand at scoring.



Clunky, unfocused, and defying the laws of logic, Terminator Salvation is a complete waste of time even if you love watching things blow up.


Danny Elfman as Satan.

Elfman is in for Terminator: Salvation and Morricone is out for Inglorious Basterds. Does that sound right to you?

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published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.30.2015
published: 01.29.2015
published: 01.28.2015

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