Sunday, January 4, 2015

Big Eyes: Leaving Husbands is Her Speciality, the Art is just for Fun

When I first heard about Big Eyes I thought, damn Christoph Waltz is hot and this trailer really looks like Tim Burton's earlier work. You know, before the corpse obsession and Johnny Depp bromance got out of control. There is a lot of talent and story that seems to be going into this and I was very excited to check it out.

Lime green carpet? Really Burton?
Down and Dirty [Just How You Like It]:

This was so far from Tim Burton's work that if he didn't slap his name on it several times, I might have mistaken this as some one else's creative baby. Even Danny Elfman's signature musical style was different in this film. It was a straight forward story, following the life of Margaret Keane as she leaves her first husband and meets Walter Keane, starting their beloved, yet crazy romance.

The story goes through their ten year period rise to fame and ends with the resolution of her winning the lawsuit against her husband for slander. Christoph Waltz is amazing in this movie, but can feel over the top or cringe worthy. He just gives you the creeps all the way through where you can't even stomach watching him. Amy Adams does an OK job, but the feelings aren't as strong as Waltz which seems to over power her in every scene. This could be intentional since Walter was more of a dominating figure. Overall I liked it and it had a great conclusion with Margaret kicking that liar's ass!


The story followed Margaret Keane who married a man she barely knew to compensate for the times where females had little options without a man. She allowed him to help her sell her artwork and before they knew it, he is passing it off as his own. What started out as a simple lie to help her obtain money due to cultural norms, became a conspiracy that Walter believed fervently as his own. The fibs grew bigger, the artwork became more desired and Walter is consumed by his greed in building the empire based on his wife's artwork. Ive never been a big fan of people that plagiarize work, not even character wise. There is something about that just burns me to the core. The fact that this was based off of a true story disgusted me. The nice part is the fact that Margaret got 4 million in damages due to her slander case against him and a reveal to the world that she was the true artist, crushing Walter's image and turning him into a hack in the public's eyes.

Christoph Waltz:

This scene just screams pervy, rapist, sex offender.
Is there anything this man can't do? He seems to enjoy playing the villain. Christoph is pretty creepy and dominating in this film and just crushes other actors performance wise. That was probably the negative part about the movie. He was just too strong and the others were too weak. His portrayal of Walter Keane gave me the shivers, like I wanted to punch him in the face for how slimy, weasel shit he acted. The real Walter better be glad he is dead because if I saw this guy on the street, I wouldn't care he was 8O something years old, I would clock him.

Tone and Feel:

I got a STRONG Edward Scissorhands vibe due to the movie being set in the 195Os. The clean cut lawns and the bright, lumbering cars gave me that old school Burton feel. Why he decided to do something so different from the rest of his work I am unsure. However what I do know is that he is a huge Margaret Keane fan and so this could have been his opportunity to give back to her since she was commissioned previously by Burton to paint a portrait for him. Yet he was not attached to this movie until at first as a producer and then a director.

I also enjoyed the underlining discussion of a female's place during the era of the 195Os. As the movie stated, Margaret was ahead of her time. Leaving her husband before it became fashionable to do so. Now I am not saying that this was super because it was so feminist. I think it was super because of the situations women had to face compared to today. It makes you kind of appreciate the era you live in.

Big Eye Thoughts:

1. Did he say Keaton?:

There was a scene in the movie where I swore he accidentally said his name was Walter Keaton instead of Walter Keane. It threw me for a loop. I'm fairly sure he made a mistake in stating his name wrong, but I don't think anyone else caught this in post production!

And get a comb for that hair, Saruman.
2. Tim Burton...We Know You Made the Movie:

So...his name was plastered all over the title credits. I swore he wrote his name twice for the specific credit of "directed by." It was super annoying how many times his name showed up. I think he wanted to make sure we didn't mistaken this film for some one else's film. It really doesn't resemble much of his body of work.

3. The Narrator:

There is some narration in the story, but its not as intrusive as one may think. I think it enhanced the story and gave it a sense of charm and context.

4. Back Seat:

There is a discussion of how Margaret's child sat in the back seat in both scenes with the car. Even though a lot of kids sat in the front seat in that era, the shot probably had a better set up if she was in the back seat. Margaret reaching back to her child sets up a certain hierarchy, scene wise. Set the child up in the front seat, they are equals. Set her in the back seat, she is the matriarch and she is the child, the follower and the second piece in the shot. Plus when she reaches back to her daughter to reassure her, it looks better aesthetically. I know it's not realistic to the times, but I think visually its fine.
Outlived lying ex-husband and lives off of art. I say she wins!

5. The Real Margaret is in the Movie!:

According to IMDB: When Margaret and Walter are painting in front of the San Francisco palace of Fine Arts, the real Margaret Keane can be seen reading a book on the park bench behind them.

6. Courtroom Examination:

According to the writers, the courtroom scene was toned down considerably compared to the actual trial of Walter Keane vs Margaret Keane. What she saw in this guy I have no idea. He was obviously crazy. That back and forth between himself just made me go, WHY, Margaret? Why?

7. Margaret is Pretty Ballsy:

Twice she left a husband due to their abuse. She may not be the best picker of men, but she's still a very strong woman to pick up and leave like that. I know some women today that don't have the strength to do it.

8. My Peoples!

There were more Asians in this film than I had seen in a while. Granted part of this was based in Hawaii, but it was nice to see some more Asian actors getting out there. Go my peoples!

This guy served zero purpose in this story.
9. That Douche from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is in the Movie:

And he is still playing a douche. Does this actor have any other bodies of work besides looking like a smug dickhead? Also I have no clue what role he served in the movie besides turning down Keane's work. Talk about wasteful characters.

1O. Her Daughter: did they raise their daughter again? She really felt like a portrait on the wall and less like a character. Walter was out all the time rubbing elbows with celebrities and Margaret was chained to her room like a prisoner creating art all day. Makes one wonder how this girl didn't become more screwed up. Did this girl just make herself breakfast, lunch and dinner? There is a lot of questions about how this girl was raised.

11. How is Walter not Arrested?:

So he gets busted for fighting the club manager and hitting him with a painting. But he gets nothing out of almost stabbing a famous art critic in the eye with a fork? I still considered that attempted assault.

12. The Fire in the House:

How does the rest of the house not burn down? He sets a room on fire in his drunken anger and the rest of the house is just fine? He couldn't get into the room. I can't imagine how he fixed that, nor the smell coming out of there. Also that is SO much lost artwork! How drunk do you need to be to burn up all of the paintings that are making you money?

13. Margaret is a Crappy Negotiator:
How about I steal your work, is that OK with you?

So Walter asks for all of the rights to the paintings in exchange for the divorce. She doesn't even put up a fight. No wonder women get paid less. They don't even bother to negotiate. Then he demands 1OO more paintings before he signs the papers. Luckily she got smart and signed them all under her name, but really? 1OO more? Are you kidding me?

14. Is She Living off of Big Eyes Money?:

There is a part where Margaret ran off with her daughter to Hawaii. A year later she owned a home and still paints, but how does she make a living? It is never explained if she is just living off of the Big Eyes riches from her husband's account or she is working a full time job.

Overall the film was definitely worth seeing. Even though Christoph Waltz's character was a bit on the strong side, it was a nice, straight forward story. This piece is so far from Tim Burton's path, but its a nice change from his usual work. I hope to see Burton do more things like this in the future. I was happy to see that Margaret got justice in the end and the world is better off knowing about this beautiful artist. Because nothing sucks more than some one taking credit for your work. So get cracking, hack jobs! Do your own work! Stop copying.

What did you think of the movie, Big Eyes? Did you like it or hate it?

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DnD Rating: 7/1O

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