Gilliam makes excellent points, and that quote is one of the reasons I've always doubted the posthumous claims that Spielberg and Kubrick were best buddies.
Well, OK, that had more to do with Jack Nicholson than Tim Burton...but you get the idea.
The rest of what I’ve seen- everything from Batman (1989) to Big Fish, excepting Mars Attacks!, is crap. Edward Scissorhands, Batman Returns, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sleepy Hollow, and Planet of the Apes (2001)- all crap. I avoided Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, knowing that it couldn’t be any good, and that I didn’t really want to see him assrape one of my favorite childhood movies, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He’s an aesthete moreso than a storyteller, and that’s his main problem.
I haven’t seen anything he’s done since- Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), nor Alice in Wonderland (2010). I also haven’t seen any of his pre-Batman films- Pee-wee’s Big Adventure nor Beetle Juice.
It is almost impossible to grasp what the 19 year old man had accomplished -at least technically- in 1931: The movie has long uninterrupted tracking shots in the middle of the sea, unconventional camera positioning and close ups, non-linear narrative ... etc. Peixoto must have been a technical genius, many years ahead of everybody else: he built special camera supports for fluid 360 degree motion and long tracking shots, manipulated the lens optics to achieve fast "crisp" zoom effect for close ups...etc.
The movie opens with three young persons (a man and two women) in a small boat in the middle of nowhere. It will take some 20 minutes into the movie to realize that all "water" scenes relate to the present while the "land" scenes relate to the past of each character. There is no demarcation between the past and the present (very daring for 1931). The story is revealed progressively with almost no dialogue (dialoque screens can be counted on one hand over the 2-hour long movie) and we get to know why each character had grown tired of his/her own life. In a surprising (for 1931) way, the director would conclude the movie after two hours with no hints of how these people ended up on one boat after they reached the "limite" of their tolerance for life. Does the boat and the ocean really exist? or is it a metaphor for loss and despair? the dream-like quality of the images in mid ocean support the fact that this is just a dream (a nightmare) that the three total stranger are sharing, or "converging to" this one inevitable end: death ?
Even the conclusion of the movie is widely open-ended (again, this was 1931), the man chose to jump into the water and swim (and will never be shown after that) right before a storm hit the boat (the storm smartly suggested by close ups on waterfalls and waves) leaving one woman on a piece of floating wood (while the other one is totally not mentioned!).
Style-wise the movie is a lesson in symmetry, the opening and concluding shots are similar, just like the accompanying Satie (amongst other) music. The director at times opens a shot by very close zooms on objects (scissors, light poles....), few decades before Antonioni did that.
In Cinema there are movies that will never be touched by time, its quality will never be diminished, simply because they overcame the limitation of time and genre. Movies like Mirror, The Seventh Seal, Satantango will be watched and will be perceived with the same strength they evoked when they were first made. Limite is NOT one of those; just like Metroplois, Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane...etc its own importance is heavily based on it being an avant-guarde work that sooner or later would become the norm for plenty of mainstream movies.
Limite is an absolute must see, it is one of the best silent movies ever made.. and by itself it is an excellent work.
“Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, all the way in 1993…William S. Burroughs wrote the screenplay for a wretchedly bad film called The Junky’s Christmas. Now for those of you who are unaware of who Burroughs was, I envy you…but since I was forced to sit through this calamitous monstrosity of regurgitated mental diarrhea, I’ll do a bit of complaining. Burroughs was a talentless hack of a writer who shot to fame in the 1950s after murdering his wife. A bit of good publicity and behind-the-scenes manipulation from his fans and publishers somehow reduced the charge to “culpable homicide”, although it’s a known fact that Burroughs loathed his wife, and he knowingly and deliberately aimed a loaded gun at her head—William Tell or no. who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993… who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993… who Burroughs was, far away, all the way in 1993…He proceeded to join a group of literary losers with little to no talent called the beatniks. OK, Ginsberg and Gregory Corso had some talent…but that is it, and even they managed to squander it after a while. Burroughs, however, was talentless, and never wrote anything approaching greatness. Ironically, the only reason anybody knows of him is that he was a murderer. Imagine if a decade from now Ted Bundy were more famous for being a “great poet” than for being a serial killer…despite being a damned awful poet.
This brings us to his awful POS known as The Junky’s Christmas. It is a truly horrendous film, replete with bad stop-motion, a gimmicky plotline that is dull, uninteresting, and pointless, and a bunch of “cool” gross-out moments and weird stuff intended to show us what a Brilliant Genius Burroughs is, but that is simply bizarre and strange. I was surprised looking at the packaging, to see that the executive producer was none other than the great Francis Ford Coppola, who directed such masterpieces as The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, and Apocalypse Now, as well as writing the great screenplay for Patton. I am genuinely annoyed! What were you thinking, Francis? You are so much better than this!
Without a doubt, the film is just Burroughs being snarky and giving the finger to Christmas. Wow! You are so mature, Billy Boy! The film is so bad that it makes one yearn for the puerile antics of Tim Burton’s dull yawn The Nightmare Before Christmas. That was similarly a dark and twisted Christmas tale done in stop motion, but at least that had some interesting visual effects, some good and memorable songs—helped by composer Danny Elfman’s great singing voice, and while no one over the age of ten or twelve would find it very entertaining, there’s much there for children. Moreover, that actually had an interesting premise, unlike The Junky’s Christmas. Admittedly, Burton, being the overgrown infant that he is, squandered that premise, but at least it has SOMETHING. Burroughs’ rubbish has NOTHING.
Now, given all the complaining I have done, you doubtlessly want to know what the film is about, right? Actually, you probably do not want to hear anymore, as you have already made up your minds, but tough luck. I sat through this radioactive brain fart of toxic waste, so you must listen to me complain about it! This cinematic anus of cruel and unusual punishment begins with a bunch of close-ups of an old person. Why do we want to see this? Well, as you may have already guessed, we do not want to see this—Burroughs wants us to see this. Why he wants to show us and fetishize over his atrophied form is beyond me. I went on a twelve-hour drinking binge, chain-smoked six joints, and I still drew a blank.
So anyway, we cut to Danny, a poorly animated stop motion figure who just got out of jail for being stoned in public. Already, the stop motion effects are worse than the effects in Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon, released over a hundred years ago. Forget comparisons to The Nightmare Before Christmas, released the same year. After Danny Boy’s release from jail, the pipes, the pipes start calling—IF ONLY! No, he decides that he wants to break into a car and steal it. Why are we supposed to care about this wretched and disgusting person? Oh right, I forgot! Depravity fascinates Burroughs and he revels in it! How silly of me!
Unfortunately, Dan-O fails to break into the car, and the film goes on a while longer. Eventually, he comes across a suitcase, which he decides to steal. He takes it to Central Park and decides to look inside of it. Once he opens it, Jack Nicholson pops out with an axe, starts chasing him around a hedge maze, and yelling “DAN-AY!” Well, that is what would happen if Burroughs had an ounce of humor. Instead, he finds a pair of severed human legs. That is nice. Seriously, I stopped caring when we got the five-minute fetishizing of Burroughs’ face.
So he decides to stuff the legs back into the suitcase—apparently, reporting it to the police wasn’t an option?, and decides to sell it to some scumbag in a cheap diner. Wow, Dan the Man is really a worthless person, isn’t he? Afterwards, he decides to go see a doctor to obtain some dope. After doing some facial gymnastics that even the aforementioned Nicholson could not top, the doc decides to give him some drugs, despite apparently knowing that our friend and terminal cretin is a faker. Whatever, I do not care.
After going to his shack where he presumably lives (?), he gets ready for his trip…until he hears moaning and groaning coming from next door. Apparently, he is a perv, so he decides to go see who it is. President Clinton never forgave him for this, and had the Secret Service shoot him on the spot.
No, it is actually someone who genuinely is sick. After some bad 2001: A Space Odyssey-wannabe effects that serve no real purpose, lack the majesty of the scenes in the Stanley Kubrick masterpiece, and aren’t half as convincing as the effects which actually came a quarter-century before it, our favorite obnoxious idiot suddenly changes heart, and decides to give his dope to the person actually in need of it.
What a copout! This ending is crap. I mean, what came before it is bad, gimmicky, and dull, but this takes the cake! You mean to tell me that some third-rate visual effects, which are not half as good as what I could do with Photoshop, suddenly cause this worthless wretch to become an actual human being! No. NO! THAT DOES NOT HAPPEN! Think of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Granted, he too was vastly overrated, and needed to learn concision, but he at least knew how to create well-wrought characters. His work had actual social commentary, not the self-indulgent mental masturbation that Burroughs engages in. Scrooge starts as a seemingly worthless miser, but we see throughout the course of the tale that this was not always so, and that there is some imminent goodness left in him. That is because Dickens was a master of a little thing called CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, an area in which William S. Burroughs is clueless! He realistically and believably limned the character of Scrooge, so that we not only believe the ending where he redeems himself, but we actually understand it and root for it. We understand and see his regret at alienating all his friends, and him finally coming to grips with himself. This is simply natural progression of character. Burroughs, however, simply has his character as a stupid, despicable person until the very end. Neither understanding nor insight changes his character—cheesy visual effects change him! Tell me who is better.
It is a bad film, and obviously so. In fact, it is so bad that it even terrified my computer. When I started to write this review, my computer was so horrified that Microsoft Word actually crashed. I could not make this up if I tried. It is a god-awful, worthless disaster of a film with no nearly no redeeming qualities that did nothing but strangely and bizarrely waste twenty minutes of my life. I will never get those twenty minutes back. Truly, the only good things I can say about this horrendous and evil crime against humanity are that it was relatively short and that I actually enjoyed eviscerating it. I am a sadist. This is clearly a Thumbs Down, and if you can avoid this Holocaust of a film, do so! Watch The Nightmare Before Christmas instead. That is all!”
Fortunately, a camera was able to capture my reaction to this hideous Satanic monstrosity. Here it is, in all its glory (my reaction, not the worthless movie):
Of course, the final nail that Manhattan has over Lolita is actually somewhat obvious...Gershwin! Allen’s use of Gershwin creates a certain romantic poesy that no version of Lolita has matched. Perhaps if Kubrick had made it post-2001: A Space Odyssey, he would’ve done it. In fact, Kubrick himself openly regretted making it when he did- wishing he’d made it after the Production Code had fallen, so that he could get more risqué material in there. It would’ve been a better film, as long as he’d still cast Peter Sellers.
Speaking of which, the only advantage that any version of Lolita has ever had over Manhattan is, in fact, Peter Sellers. Sellers was probably the funniest film actor in history, and no one in Manhattan can match him for flat-out hilarity and laugh-out-loud moments. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that Sellers is the only reason Lolita is NOT Kubrick’s worst film- that’d be Barry Lyndon. James Mason was also terrific, but his performance was dramatic, and as dramatically great as he is, there’s not enough material for him to elevate it. Comedy can often do far more to enliven a dull story. Mason’s was a great performance searching for a better film. Sellers’ was a great performance enlivening a wae
Here’s the famously great opening:
Here’s the famously great ending:
And here’s Peter Sellers:
Always thought James Mason was a better film actor than Olivier was. He was as good dramatically as Peter Sellers was comedically in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita- arguably Kubrick’s worst film, but Mason and Sellers make it good. Tellingly, Mason and Sellers were among a mere handful of actors whom Kubrick truly respected and allowed to improvise.
Basically, David travels around and meets a variety of interesting characters, notably the painter--Sophie, played by Joan Plowright. Also, the boy is a good actor--he's not so cute and nor is he a wise ass, but a believable kid. He stumbles across people along the way, dips into their lives and then moves on. While this isn't a greatly deep film, it is one of the better "plot driven" ones I've seen, notably because the characters he meets are memorable.
The film could have benefited from a bit more deep moments or some rumination and observation, but it was well done for what it was and far better than cliched shit like Schindler's List.