Nerd Thoughts – Filmmakers that I used to love

It pains me to say this but the I am putting the Wachowski Siblings on the same shelf as M. Night Shyamalan and Tim Burton – I won’t waste my time and money on your projects again.  Let me back up a bit and explain this shelf.  I use this space for artist that I used to love but for whatever reason, I no longer connect with their work.  M. Night Shyamalan was the first on the shelf. When M. Night broke out with “The Sixth Sense”, I thought we – the film world – had an exciting new voice in the Suspense/Thriller genre.  I believe that Unbreakable was a little hick up and he would be back on track any minute. I enjoyed his next film Signs but began to notice a pattern – that his films needed a “shocking” twist. But these twists were shocking but very predictable.  After seeing the trailers for “The Village”, “Lady In the Water” and “The Happening” I believed that M. Night needed an intervention.  Maybe instead of directing his own work, he need to break out and work with other writers.  I am still waiting for that to happen.

My issue with Tim Burton is a little more complicated.  I really love Tim Burton.  He creates these fantastical worlds that are really like no others. My issue with Tim boils down to his frequent collaborations with Johnny Depp.  In the beginning, they created some of my favorite works from the ’90s “Edward Scisscorhands”, “Ed Wood”, “Sleepy Hollow.” By the early ’00s the magic was gone,  works like “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Alice in Wonderland” appeared to show both artist coasting on past ideas.  [Side Note, I haven’t see any either movie and these observations are based on the trailers alone.] While previous films seemed whimsical and color, these newer films were garish and way over the top.  It appeared that the director and actor brought out the worst traits in each other.  A friend convinced me to see “Dark Shadows”, while the movie looked great, the plot was tedious and uninspired.  While, I have occasionally like Burton films [e.g. “Big Fish” and  “Corpse Bride”], other writers were driving force behind the story.

Back to the Wachowski Siblings, “The Matrix” changed the movie game! But since then, I’m going to be generous and say there that their career has been spotty.  I watched the obligatory Matrix sequels. The “Speed Racer” trailer gave me a migraine. Honestly, I found “Cloud Atlas” intriguing but it was faulty. The Wachowski Siblings are fantastic and building worlds and visual images but character and plot development is a major weakness. “Jupiter Ascending” was a mess.  I suspect that the movie was way too long and that the editing of the film made it incomprehensible.  The movie was beautiful but the “plot” was paper thin. So, now we get to the final straw “Sense8.” When this project was first announced, I was super excited because J. Michael Straczynski teamed up with the Siblings to build this world.  I’m four episodes in and I still have no idea what this show is about. I’m official done.  I would let the beautiful of your work fool me again.  I need four friends to vet your work before I ever see anything else by the Wachowskis.

Tim Burton at LACMA


For over 30 years, Burton has had a creative career with highs and lows.  For the past two years, an exhibit has been touring the world giving his fans a brief insight into his creative mind. 

The entrance hinted at the freakiness that await you inside.

Unfortunately, the museum staff kept a vigilant watch and banned all photograph from the exhibit.








A timeline on the first wall outline Burton’s history was one of the first items to greet the visitor, along with a museum attendant barking that no pictures were allowed.  This was to be an annoying recurring theme all night.

I was surprised by the amount of written detail included in the exhibition.  Mementos from Burton’s childhood including sketches and award winning signs produced for local businesses.  One fascinating item a book mock up sent to Disney along with the rejection letter.

Burton studied at CalArts and there were a significant number of drawing and sketches from this period. Rick Heinrichs, a fellow graduate of  CalArts, created three dimension images of Burton’s work.  Together they produced an absolute highlight of the show: Vincent.

Vincent, short stop motion film about a young boy who dreamed of being Vincent Price.  Although only seven, Vincent had ghoulish dreams straight out of the mind of Edgar Allan Poe.  Burton wrote and directed while Rick Heinrichs created the figures for the stop motion film. 

Another highlight were the demented sketches create while Tim worked as a concept artist at Disney.  Standouts included a man’s eyes undressing a woman and what not to do with a constipated dog, which made me laugh out loud.

Of course, there were dozens of props from feature and short films including the carousel hat and extending arms from Beetlejuice; Catwoman’s outfit from Batman returns, costume from Edward Scissorshands, etc.  In addition, there a lot of conceptual drawings, which was great so you can see where the project started and ended.

Interestingly there were a lot of conceptual photography.

I appreciate seeing how Burton’s style evolved through the years. The basic tenants of his work could be seen in his earliest works.  I also forgot a lot of the great work that Burton has down over the years like James and the Giant peach, which was sorely underrepresented. 

 Tim Burton at LACMA until midnight on October 31, 2011. 

 For those of you who can’t make it – checkout the following websites for images:

Tim Burton Exhibit at LACMA

Tim Burton’s filmography