Tim Burton and John August's film of Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (starring both Johnny Depp and the digitally bazilliafied Deep Roy, and Danny Elfman's spectacular Oingo Boingoriffic soundtrack) is oh my is is is...yes, is wonderful, but is...
Is like REVENGE OF THE MOTHERIN SIXTIES. Not the fake Sixties...the real Sixties, back when there were like human values and stuff? You know, back before humanity began systematically marshalling arguments against its own worthiness to survive. Yeah that's right that Sixties...the one I write about, that is resolutely exiled from teevee (and most films, and even books, come to that).
Anyway, your Old Hippieish Reporter (and his Bride) -- to their not-inconsiderable surprise -- just loved it.
In fact, the film so captures Dahl's own Weltschmerz -- if not actual fury at humanity -- that I suspect I understand why Burton hates to hear people say that it's a "remake of Willy Wonka" (which I haven't seen yet and which may have been swell but I gather this one surely ain't a remake of it, so be thou warned).
As it happens, I left the film with a sudden insight:
Human survival now literally depends on smart, broadminded people defeating dumb, narrowminded people, and the sooner the better: the toys have got big and dangerous enough that it's come down to that. Since even the best of human societies are ruled by abysmally stupid people (of all political persuasions*), we tend to lose sight...not only of that basic fact (about survival), but, sometimes, of why there's no choice but to win this war, the real war humanity is in: why precisely humanity is worth fighting for.
The only part of human effort which survives us is human culture. Morons, particularly those who use religion as their excuse, will always try to destroy it; whether it's the Taliban detonating ancient Buddhas (at which point, long before 9/11, I decided somebody needed to depose the Taliban with all deliberate speed), or the GOP's good friends the Iranians (now cheerily adding Iraq to their fanatical holdings), or those lovely Chinese folks trying (with the support of stupid liberals and stupid conservatives alike) to buy our oil companies with this hand, while censoring the 'Net with the other...or, y'know, benighted maroons a little closer to home? (You may have noticed 'em. They're on teevee themselves now and again, barely able to stand upright or compose sentences in their native tongue? Yeah, those guys. C-SPAN's chock full of 'em, breathing through their mouths, squinting at the bright lights, dragging their knuckles all the way.)
To hell with them. To hell with them all. (1) Make sure they can't hurt anybody, then (and only then) (2) Let them believe whatever sorry idiocy floats their boat.
But first, y'know, make absolutely sure they can't hurt anybody.
So we're fighting the real war for Shakespeare and Lady Murasaki**, and Crowley and Jesus***, and comic books and movies and, yes, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. May God bless all freedom-loving human beings, worldwide, and get all the others of whatever stripe the hell out of their way. :D
Dammit. Film review turned into an editorial. Hey, it's also a fun couple hours at the movies, dang it! Go see it! ;)
(Okay, back to work. :/ )
93 93/93 -- AJ
* Just in case I seem to be mellowing with age, Q: Had Michael Moore outed the CIA officer, how long do you think it would have taken to slam him in the federal pen, if not Gitmo? Just askin. Back to being apolitical, sorry. :/
** Author of the elegant Tale of Genji, around a thousand years ago. To quote St. Virginia Woolf: "Perpetually fighting, now men, now swine...our ancestors applied themselves to the pen...or burst rudely and hoarsely into crude spasms of song....Meanwhile, at the same moment, on the other side of the globe the Lady Murasaki was looking out into her garden, and noticing how 'among the leaves were white flowers with petals half-unfolded like lips of people smiling at their own thoughts.'" (Gratefully quoted from Prof. Barbara Ruch's lovely introduction to the reissue of Ivan Morris's captivating The World of the Shining Prince.)
*** Not, alas, always for their fans. So it goes.