Friday, April 22, 2011
Liking the idea of a person, if not the person
There are few people in the movie industry who've received more scorn on this blog than Tim Burton.
I won't rehash my complaints about him here. If you are a simpatico reader, I'm sure you already know what Burton's problems are without me having to go into detail. (Also, you can follow my timeline of ripping Burton by checking out my "tim burton" label.)
However, apparently there's still something about the idea of Tim Burton that I like.
For several months now we have had a postcard on our refrigerator advertising an upcoming exhibit at LACMA, or the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The eponymous Tim Burton exhibit is summarized in the following way:
"On view at LACMA from May 29 through October 31, 2011, the exhibition brings together over 700 drawings, paintings, photographs, moving-image works, storyboards, puppets, concept artworks, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera, including art from a number of unrealized and little-known personal projects. Many of these objects come from the artist's own archive, as well as from studio archives and private collections of Burton's collaborators."
If I hate this man so much -- or, I should say, I hate what he's become -- then why do I feel so drawn in by the potential of this exhibit?
I guess it's because Burton himself has always had potential, potential that he has been consistently squandering for the past decade -- a lot longer than that, some would argue.
A person's hatred of Tim Burton is always a complicated thing. It's not that he's just some hack who has no talent. It's that he's become a hack from very talented beginnings. The possibility is always there for the Burton we once fell in love with to return. As each new project confirms that this Burton is not returning, at least not yet, our frustration with the man takes on increasingly epic proportions.
But there's something about going back into his old catalogue, when he was more like Edward Gorey and less like a guy trying to make a theme park ride, that excites me. Even just that image of that boy with crazy hair walking up those craggy stairs excites me. It's gothic and minimal and potential quite fulfilling from an artistic standpoint.
Here's another image that LACMA has up on its website:
This images perfectly summarizes what I wish Burton were doing, that he's not: producing original material. Instead of the latest on-the-nose choice from among the gothic literary properties in our collective consciousness, why not make a move about woolly creatures with buildings on their heads? Just a thought.
I guess we'll probably go. Let's just hope the Tim Burton exhibit doesn't make us hate him more -- or hate ourselves for being fooled by him again.