Friday, 30 September 2011
The Corpse Bride
Well, this is new for me, it's a rarity for me to review anything other than books and I think this is definitely my first ever film review. I usually leave that sort of thing to my sons, who can talk intelligently about camera angles and framing shots and I-don't-know-what's. I'm more comfortable with people standing (or hopping) about on stages. But nothing venture, as they say, and you won't be at all surprised that it's RIP VI that made me take the plunge.
Anyway, after years of not quite getting round to it despite having recorded it, we finally watched The Corpse Bride. Now, this may be controversial, but I think my expectations had been a bit too high - for a start, you'd think I might have remembered that I'm not a huge Tim Burton fan - but my overall feeling was of slight disappointment. I never felt really involved with it, and OH, who was watching with me, felt much the same. We agreed that there were things we had enjoyed about it, and that it had made an agreeable evening's viewing, but not a standout one.
What were our criticisms? Well, it wasn't dark enough, it wasn't funny enough (I thought some of the jokes were quite lame) and sadly, it wasn't beautiful enough. The characterisation was too minimal - the most well-rounded character by far was the Bride herself, followed by Scraps the dog, who was admittedly very sweet. OH complained that it was too Disney-ish, me that, despite its cast of voices being largely British, it wasn't European enough (though I doubt if Burton had ever meant it to be that...). We both compared it unfavourably with other films - OH with Miyazaki's Spirited Away (which we loved), me with Coraline and Mirrormask, which we agreed to be both beautiful and dark - and that the use of stop motion in the latter two made it a fairer comparison. We were unanimous that The Curse of the Were Rabbit had been funnier and more engaging, and that we'd both enjoyed that film far more than we'd expected to.
OH gave some thought to the music, which he described as Gilbert and Sullivan for the living, and jazz for the dead. Was there anything about jazz at all, he wondered, which made it an appropriate choice? I thought that perhaps it tied into an American association of death with mardi gras, where jazz is the music of choice. The use of the piano was nice. I was impressed by the treatment of fabrics, particularly the attention given to the way skirts would slide down a staircase, a severally-repeated trope. OH said that he'd been in love with Helena Bonham-Carter ever since Room With a View, so she couldn't really go wrong for him. We both liked the dog.
We couldn't entirely agree on whether it was a good thing that the denouement had been clearly flagged so early in the film. OH thought not; I suggested that it had to be seen to be following the proper arc for what is essentially a fairytale. We established that OH hadn't remembered Tim Burton's oeuvre, so he hadn't really known what to expect anyway, and that the way in which Johnny Depp's character grew up throughout the film was quite appealing, if relatively straightforward. We concluded that it had been a perfectly pleasant film, and that we were glad we'd finally got round to it.
Did I mention that we liked the dog?