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Project Milliner

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Project Milliner

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This afternoon, through no fault of my own, I saw Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland



It was part of a negotiated agreement with my eight-year-old, for doing the spelling bee and multiple activities yesterday, and still getting to Hebrew School this morning. He enjoyed it. The four year old was a little scared. As for me….well, I expect the degree to which you enjoy the movie has to do with how much you enjoy Tim Burton as a rule. The only Tim Burton movie I've ever truly liked was Beetlejuice.

Mileage varies, I know, and if you like the Tim Burton aesthetic, you’ll probably like this one. To me, the tone seemed equal parts sour, lugubrious and cutesy. The Lewis Carroll books, which made a huge impression on me when I was a kid, get most of their charge by dealing with absurd (or disturbing) things in a matter-of-fact way. Now, I doubt that it was any part of the intention of the Burton movie to capture the feeling of the books, but it was still a striking contrast: it seemed to be trying to get that same charge by dealing with absurd (or disturbing) things in a bombastic way. With an extra layer of bombast on top.

Which is not to say that it didn’t have its moments. Most of them, needless to say, courtesy of Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. I’ve never really seen an interpretation of Alice in Wonderland that took the Hatter’s profession so seriously, and the best parts of the movie played like some kind of weird mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and “Project Runway.”

There’s a cute running gag about the way every time Alice changes size her clothes don’t fit any more, and have to be ever more cunningly re-cut, re-draped, or re-tied (a couple of times courtesy of the Hatter's mad sewing skillz). Alice spends a chunk of the movie slightly over-sized, stalking around the Red Queen’s castle in some hastily sewn together curtains (a la Scarlet O’Hara), looking like some Amazonian ‘80s supermodel.

And the Hatter gets some great scenes in which he—makes hats. And peddles his hats to the Queen. And fights people with his hats. And hat pins.

I wish I could say that it was all done with a light touch. But I guess that’s not what you go to a Tim Burton movie for.

The boys and I agreed that the CGI Jabberwocky was awesome, though.

  • (no subject) - ex_hansons_
    • If you go for JD, you won't be disappointed--he's such an expressive actor, he's moving even in a kilt and all that crazy make-up--and a Scottish accent (don't ask--it's not explained). The 3D isn't much, but it's a movie that still probably better on the big screen.

      My eight-year-old is often scared of movies--I've walked out of a bunch with him because he just couldn't take it--and he was fine with this one. I did have 40lbs of scared four-year-old on my lap for a lot of it (which might have colored my reaction to the movie, now that I think of it, lol).

      Hope you enjoy it!
  • I told my mother I'd go see it with her next week. I'm not particularly excited about it (I don't know if I can ever forgive Tim Burton for Planet of the Apes or that Willy Wonka remake), but your commentary gives me hope, so thank you!

    This especially:

    I’ve never really seen an interpretation of Alice in Wonderland that took the Hatter’s profession so seriously, and the best parts of the movie played like some kind of weird mash-up of Alice in Wonderland and “Project Runway.”

    Now THAT sounds like fun :D
    • Oh, I'd forgotten about Plant of the Apes! *shakes fist*

      Yeah--I could watch a whole movie of Johnny Depp making hats, even in a kilt and fright wig. Actually, that would probably be a better movie...

      Hope you and your mother enjoy it!

      (on the other hand--SO excited Kathryn Bigelow won the Oscar!!)
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