Friday, March 4, 2011

Tim Burton Exhibit in Toronto

I went to the Tim Burton Exhibit which is currently in Toronto at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. I expected to be underwhelmed ...not because I have anything against Burton, but because exhibits sometimes have the tendency to be overrated and low on actual quality content. That wasn't the case this time around, thankfully.

Burton has been one of my favourite directors since childhood. Some of my fondest film memories are of his unique and quirky films. I could recite (and probably still could) every word of Batman (1989). I also loved  Beetlejuice (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990). His weird, demented sense of humour and German Expressionist-inspired set pieces were a perfect blend of dark comedy and eerie fantasy.

As I got older I grew a greater appreciation for his art, both in terms of concept and design and lonely and strange central characters. I fell in love with Ed Wood (1994) and found an appreciation for his short films, especially Vincent (1982). Seeing all his script notes, early sketches and clay figurines made me realize that the man is a true auteur and a genuinely talented artist. I only wish his latest films would reflect that talent. Although I loved Sweeney Todd (2007), I've been disappointed in his other more recent films. I want him to get back to the dark, lonely dreamworlds of Edward Scissorhands or even Beetlejuice. Here's hoping he goes back to his roots.

If the exhibit ever makes its way to your city, check it out! There are some real gems in that collection, from costumes (one of Johnny Depp's Edward Scissorhands outfits), set pieces (those creepy musical plastic children from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and bits and pieces from his own personal collection (photography stills of his stop-motion characters and, one of my favourite things -- his old high school notebooks and projects). Long live Burton!


  1. I've been putting off going to see this, and I don't know why because as a TIFF member I get i for free. Maybe I'll go in two weeks when I'm at The Lightbox to see GREMLINS.

    Glad to know you dug it!

  2. I did too. I'm actually surprised it took me this long to finally go and see it. If you get to see it for free than you definitely have nothing to lose. I think the best thing about it is seeing all his early drawings and sketches of characters that never made it into a film.

  3. There have been advertisements for this exhibit in the local Montréal press, so it definitely must mean quality. I don't know if the show is intended to make a tour of various cities however. I get that it should land in Toronto, the biggest city in the country, but it would be a slight shame if it just happened there.

  4. This sounds really cool. I'll have to do some preliminary research to see if they're going to run this exhibit in NYC. I'd love to check it out.

    Much like yourself, I'm more a fan of Burton's earlier work. Edward Scissorhands was one of the first films I ever caught in the theater. And Beetlejuice still conjures up great childhood memories.

    I too hope he regains his old form with his future projects. The guy has immense talent.
    Thanks for the share!

  5. @edgarchaput: I'm not sure if it's touring either. I think it will eventually be going to London but, other than that, I'm not sure. I hope it makes to you guys in Montreal, though.

    @Matty: I think it was put together by MOMA, so I'm sure it will be in New York. I hope he returns to his glory days although it might not be for awhile ...I heard he has a vampire movie in store with Johnny Depp. Err ...

  6. Sleepy Hollow is by far my favorite Burton film. So dark, gloomy and gothicy. They are his trade marks and you are right his latest efforts arn't quite as dark as his earlier stuff.
    But I still loved Alice in Wonderland, and I am seriously not an Alice fan! Could never stand the book.
    Like you I'd like to see him return to his earlier style of darkness. I just love his gothic style, and no one did it better than him.

  7. @Brent: Interesting choice. You don't hear many people mention Sleepy Hollow but it definitely was one of his stronger ones. They had a few props and sketches from that film in this exhibit.

    Thanks for the Follow!

  8. Big Fish is also one that is somewhat over looked. It got panned by critics and hasn't the darkness he had done before but I have always liked it.
    It is quirky and different and that is what I like about Burton the most. He makes unconventional films and is not too bad at it!

  9. Hi Laura - came across your blog via Twitter, reading about hockey today (ugh, Matt Cooke) clicking away at links, and fell into City Lights. Really love the posts I've read so far, especially this one! I've adored Tim Burton since seeing Beteljuice all those years ago, and then fell in love with his shorts and sketches. Will have to see if this gets down to Chicago. Do you have the "Art of Tim Burton" book that came out a coupe of years ago? 400+ pages of his sketches - it's pure Burton porn. I mean, not literally, but I think you know what I mean. And on that note...

  10. @Rich: Hey! Welcome. Thanks for stopping by. Do we Follow each other on Twitter? What's your handle?

    Batman was my first Burton film and I still love it to this day. Beetlejuice is another fave (I also watched the cartoon). No, I don't have that book, but they've been selling it in the TIFF gift shop here in Toronto.

  11. Thanks! No, we don't follow each other on Twitter... Hmmm, starting to sound like a stalker now. I'm fascinated by the discoveries you can make by following random links - I think you might have commented on someone's post who I found after they commented on some other hockey related subject, so I guess it's getting into the realm of all things six degrees of Kevin Bacon. But I love it, and I love discovering new blogs, new people, new ideas... makes me realize what a wonderful world we live in.

    Anyway, I digress... @coleythegoalie is my Twitter name - I'm not hugely active on it, because as you can probably tell, I struggle in the world of 140 characters. But it did lead me to this blog, and your talented way of expressing your passion for film, and for that I can thank Twitter. And Kevin Bacon.

  12. @Rich: I love that you found this link through a hockey discussion. Film and hockey are two of my favourite things. Gotta love the world of Twitter. I'll Follow you now since I'm signed to Twitter at the moment.

    Thanks again! To you and Kevin Bacon.

  13. Movies and hockey are my main two passions too. Movies since before I can even remember, and hockey later in life - in my late teens, but then I was hooked and can't get enough of it.

    I have always surrounded myself by movies, literally, and I've never found any other medium that affects me as much - I love reading, music, art, but none of them can instill the emotion in me that movies do. Movies can inspire you, humor you, teach you, and humble you. It's why I love finding blogs like this - it thrills me to read about the passion that others demonstrate when talking about movies, and it think that is where my passion for hockey differs. I love hockey, and I am passionate about it, but I'm also opinionated about it to a point of 'selfishness'; I read about hockey, but reading about it doesn't inspire me in the way that reading about movies does. I think that I know what's wrong with hockey, what's good about it, what can and can't be fixed. I get angry when I feel that the league are doing dumb things, but that's a very different passion.

    I play hockey, quite poorly, but I get an immense buzz from doing so. I don't think I'd get the same buzz if I worked poorly in the film industry - in fact, I'd probably feel somewhat shamed: I've developed such a love for movies, put the industry on such a pedestal, that to be involved (and I would LOVE to be involved) would require me to be involved at an expert level that the industry deserves. Crap hockey is still fun to play, crap movies less so...

    And that leads me to a not-so-interesting story about Sidney Crosby (SEAMLESS integration there) ... One of the areas that I had no clue about hockey, was the junior level - watching the NHL draft would be frustrating for me, because I had no idea who these kids were. So I decided to do something about it, and read about the junior leagues (not an easy task from jolly ol' England). The first year I did this was 2001, and while learning about the prospects, I also read a story about some 13 year old kid who the league didn't allow to play midget hockey with boys 4 years older than him. The following year, he scored 217 points that year for his AAA team, and I heard the comparison of "Mario" being mentioned a few times. So I decided to start following this 'Sidney Crosby' character almost as much as I was following my beloved Pens.

    Cut forward to the 2005 NHL entry draft, the "Crosby Draft", and hockey in Pittsburgh was going through tough times, with rumblings that the team might move to Kansas City. Due to the lockout the previous year, every team had a chance for the #1 pick - the Pens had something like a 1-in-16 chance in the lottery to get that pick. I was sitting in a bar in Wichita, KS, and looked up at a TV and saw the ESPN ticker was showing the draft lottery results - when I loomed up, #3 Hurricanes were sliding across the ticker - the Pens don't come up in the remaining picks. I had to wait another 20 minutes for the ticker to repeat itself, and there it was, Pittsburgh had won the lottery, and the kid I'd followed for the past 5 years was going to be a Penguin, and as fate would have it, would also be a key factor in keeping hockey in the city of Pittsburgh.

    And that is my less-than-interesting Sidney Crosby story.

    And even less interestingly, I share a birthday with Kevin Bacon.

  14. Ha! Just read through this again... Wow, do I like to ramble?! I feel like I need to apologize to you, and to the blogspot servers for such a pile of nonsense. Well, other than the Kevin Bacon bit. There's nothing nonsensical about Kevin Bacon...

  15. I'm shooting a horror film in ontario-- maybe you want to come on set and write something up for your blog?

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