Tag Archives: Big Fish

Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

Did you know that Albert Finney was young once? Weird, right? He occupies such the Old British Guy post nowadays that his Young British Guy seems like a completely different actor. Time, of course, has a bit to do with that, as Finney’s had a long career full of great roles (Murder on the Orient Express), not-so-great roles (Looker) and, at present, increasingly smaller roles than he deserves (Skyfall). But it’s not just the passage of time that makes a return to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, a film I first saw in college, a bit of a jarring experience. That’s because the difference isn’t so much Old British Guy vs. Young British Guy at all — it’s Old, Lovely British Guy vs. Young, Dickhead British Guy.

Come on, you say, that’s simplifying it a bit too much. It certainly is. Finney’s Arthur Seaton, the prototypical angry young man at the center of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, in fact has more than a few responses to such “insults” that approach perfection here. His entire social stance is a refutation of the notion that you or I or Doreen (Arthur’s girlfriend) or Brenda (Arthur’s other girlfriend) or anyone else would presume to know the first thing about him. A bit from his famous soliloquy:

Mam called me barmy when I told her I fell off a gasometer for a bet. But I’m not barmy — I’m a fighting pit-prop that wants a pint of beer, that’s me…but if any knowing bastard says that’s me I’ll tell them I’m a dynamite dealer waiting to blow the factory to kingdom come. I’m me and nobody else. Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not. Because they don’t know a bloody thing about me.

Continue reading Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1960)

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Big Eyes (2014)

Big Eyes is about a fringe artist whose Gothic work about depressed, child-like characters becomes wildly popular, copied, and commercialized until it’s rendered a caricature of itself. And no, it’s not Tim Burton’s autobiography. It’s the bizarre true story of Margaret and Walter Keane and the fortune they made in the 1960s on paintings of children with, you guessed it, big eyes. Still, it’s not hard to analyze Burton’s attraction to this story. Each new movie “from the mind of Tim Burton” seems to parody his own aesthetic, turning it into a brand more than an auteur’s style. It would be far too easy  to say that Walter represents the big, money-hungry studios and Margaret is Tim, just victims of their own popularity.  But this is a movie that deserves to stand alone–and after Dark Shadows, I’m sure Burton wants it that way.

The audience might already be familiar with the weird 1970 court case in which Margaret sued Walter for slander while he stubbornly insisted that he was the original artist. But Big Eyes sheds light on the couple’s even weirder marriage. Margaret originated her iconic wide-eyed waifs when she was just a modest painter selling portraits on the street. But it was Walter who took credit for her work and turned them into a massively lucrative venture by selling cheap posters to the general uncultured public. The art world turned up their noses and scoffed, of course, but, as Walter passionately declares, the world is built on the lowest common denominator. Continue reading Big Eyes (2014)