What did I think of Tim Burton's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? (Warning — there may be spoilers ahead, if you're one of the four people who've never seen the 1971 Gene Wilder version or read either of Roald Dahl's novels — proceed at your own risk!) What did I think? I think this is one of those films where I try to tell someone how much I liked it and only wind up embarrassing myself with expletives. It was wonderful, campy brilliance. It was gorgeous and hilarious and delightfully weird. This is not your daddy's Willy Wonka (that does sound dirty, doesn't it?). It's closer to the novels, yet manages to pay homage to the '71 adaptation. I even liked the oompa-loompas, which I hated in the original film. Johnny Depp isn't the same sort of Wonka that Gene Wilder was, but plays off some other facet of the character. The squirrels freaked me out. Seriously. In the end (which this is not), I think the film uncovers the genius of the novels, by revealing their continued relevance. Outside the walls of Wonka's factory, Charlie Bucket is the lone voice of authenticity among children, in a world (like ours) where consumerism and cynicism have often muddled and sometimes simply destroyed childhood. But, see, that makes it sound dull and preachy, and it's never that. If I have a gripe, and I don't, really, it's that the tunnel scene which was so very creepy in the Wilder version, isn't really creepy at all the remake. It's something else, instead. As for the Micheal Jackson thing, yes, it's hard to miss, but so far I'm undecided on whether or not it's an accidental parallel, Burton striking some weird gold while mining the collective cultural consciousness. Wilder played Wonka as an aging eccentric, while Depp plays him as neurotic man-child, and I think one may draw both takes from the novels. In the end (hold on, it's coming), this film doesn't so much supplant the first film version, as augment it. They each have their place, at least for me. Your mileage may vary. Oh, charmingly sadistic. I knew there was an expletive I was missing. In the end (yes, this is it, really), you should see the movie, because I doubt anything else this cool's going to show up in theatres until the releases of MirrorMask and The Corspe Bride (we got trailers for both)...oh, and Terry Gilliam's new film.
Anyway, the film let out at about 6:30 p.m., and we still had all of Kid Night stretching out before us. So we rented a couple of DVDs, since writing like I've been writing often leaves me with the need to gorge on film (and candy, and alcohol and...other things). We watched Scott Kosar's El Maquinista (The Machinist), which features an appallingly thin Christian Bale as a guilt-ridden machine-shop worker plunging headlong into a particularly horrific sort of insanity. It's not really the sort of thing you should watch right after Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but it was exquisite, nonetheless — a little Kafka, a little Hitchcock, and various other deeply unsettling things. We followed it with Greg Pak's Robot Stories (2003), actually an anthology of four short sf films revolving around robotics. Well, one of them wasn't really sf, but the film was quite good, especially the last bit, "Clay," which dealt with a dying sculptor's unwillingness to accept supposed immortality in a future where simply dying is a crime.
And then things got a little odd. Spooky and I opened a bottle of absinthe that a friend had sent us. A bottle of homemade absinthe. Homemade absinthe is ever an unpredictable thing. When we started drinking it, about two a.m., we were listening to Radiohead and talking about Destroy All Humans (and video games, in general). When I awoke, about 9:30 a.m....well...Henryk Górecki was blaring from the stereo, and my head felt like someone had been kicking it about, and Spooky was wearing a blue bunny suit and a very large dildo. Lots of stuff must have happened in-between, but it's probably best that neither of us can quite recall what it was. The bottle is empty.
Now I have to write. Somehow, that seems unreasonably anti-climactic, doesn't it?