Tim Burton is best known for his films with Johnny Depp and for creating odd monsters, and eerie environments, for the movies. Now the Museum of Modern Art offers a retrospective of his career as a director, producer, and writer, as well as a look at his lesser-known work as a photographer and an illustrator, with both an exhibition and a film series. Burton will be present at at least one of the screenings.
Burton’s films include Vincent (1982), Pee-wee’s Big Adventure (1985), Beetlejuice (1988), Batman (1989), Edward Scissorhands (1990), Batman Returns (1992), The Nightmare Before Christmas (as creator and producer) (1993), Ed Wood (1994), Mars Attacks! (1996), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Big Fish (2003), Corpse Bride (2005), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), and Sweeney Todd (2007); writing and Web projects include The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories (1997) and Stainboy (2000).
Here’s the schedule of screenings with MOMA’s description of the films:
Pee-wee’s Big Adventure
1985. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Phil Hartman, Paul Reubens. With Reubens, Elizabeth Daily, Mark Holton. With his first feature, Burton established himself as a director with a unique personal style. Pee-wee embarks on a cross-country search for his missing bicycle, a scenario that allows Burton to indulge in whimsical set pieces and extravagant sight gags. Like the elaborate Rube Goldbergâ€“esque contraption (a familiar Burton motif) that facilitates Pee-wee’s morning routine, the simple plot unfolds in visually complex ways. The climactic ride through the Warner Bros. back lot is a montage of zany fun as Pee-wee and his beloved bike zoom through a 1960s beach-party, the North Pole, a Godzilla rampage, a Twisted Sister music video, and Tarzan’s jungle. 90 min.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Burton)
1988. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Michael McDowell. With Michael Keaton, Winona Ryder, Alec Baldwin, Geena Davis. A recently deceased small-town couple are required to haunt their own house for 125 years, but when they are unable to frighten the insufferable urbanites who move in, they hire a â€œbio-exorcistâ€ to reclaim their home. The director’s cynical version of hell as a bureaucratic waiting room is leavened by such sophomorically gruesome delights as shrunken heads and flattened corpses, creating an atmosphere that shuttles between the world-weary attitudes of adulthood and the unbridled imaginative possibilities of youth. 92 min.
Thursday, November 19, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1989. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Sam Hamm, Warren Skaaren. With Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson, Kim Basinger. Eschewing the campy aesthetic of previous Batman movies, Burton’s cerebral, witty take on the Caped Crusader reinvigorated the Batman franchise. Burton, along with production designer Anton Furst, applied his eye for inventive set design to psychologically darker material than in his previous films to create an iconically twisted, phantasmagorical Gotham Cityâ€”a place unrecognizable to citizens of any city in the real world. 126 min.
Friday, November 20, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1982. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Tim Burton. With the voice of Vincent Price. This stop-motion animated short, in which a bored little suburban boy imagines a world worthy of Edgar Allan Poe, anticipates Burton’s flair for dramatic visuals and witty wordplay. 6 min.
1990. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Tim Burton, Caroline Thompson. With Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest, Alan Arkin, Vincent Price. Arguably Burton’s most personal film, Edward Scissorhands delves into one of his most recurrent themes: disconnection from the world at large and the search for true identity. Edward, left alone in a hilltop castle after his creator’s sudden death, is Burton’s most literal stand-in for Frankenstein’s monster. Incapable of directly touching others with his razor-sharp fingers, he is the physical manifestation of spiritual isolation. When a kind Avon lady discovers him and introduces him to suburbia, his ability to shape thingsâ€”hedges, hair, iceâ€”into wondrous sculptures engenders a brief welcome. But his acceptance is short-lived in this parable of teenage angst and alienation. 105 min.
Saturday, November 21, 2009, 5:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1992. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Sam Hamm, Daniel Waters. With Michael Keaton, Danny DeVito, Michelle Pfeiffer. The sequel surpasses the original as Burton plumbs deeper into the Dark Knight’s psyche. The complex villains Catwoman (a mousy, put-upon secretary who unleashes her inner ferocity while teetering on the edge of sanity) and the Penguin (who embraces his rage and penchant for chaos while secretly craving the acceptance he never received from his parents) contribute surprising emotional depth to the comic-book setting. 126 min.
Saturday, November 21, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas
1993. USA. Directed by Henry Selick. Story and characters by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Michael McDowell, Caroline Thompson. With the voices of Danny Elfman, Chris Sarandon, Catherine O’Hara. With its ghoulish imagery and manic-depressive antihero, The Nightmare Before Christmas straddles the line between grim children’s fable and gentle horror story. Jack Skellington, the Pumpkin King of Halloween Town, has grown weary of his crown. Obsessed with his recent discovery of this thing called â€œChristmas,â€ he attempts to shake off his malaise by usurping the mantle of â€œSandy Clawsâ€ instead. 76 min.
Sunday, November 22, 2009, 3:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1984. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. With the voices of Shelley Duvall, Daniel Stern, Barret Oliver. Transporting Mary Shelley’s classic tale to Southern California, Burton imagines Frankenstein’s monster in the form of a reanimated family pet. 29 min.
1994. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, based on Nightmare of Ecstasy by Rudolph Grey. With Johnny Depp, Martin Landau. In this offbeat biopic, Burton depicts the titular â€œWorld’s Worst Directorâ€ with equal amounts of mockery and sympathy. Although unquestionably portrayed as a filmmaker who relied more on gumption than talent, Burton’s Ed Wood is also an earnest man with an absolute belief in his vision and craft. Armed with pure optimism in the face of abject humiliation and rejection, he is the embodiment of hope, Burton’s nod to uncompromising artistic integrity in the face of daunting obstacles. 127 min.
Sunday, November 22, 2009, 5:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1996. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Jonathan Gems, based on the Topps! trading-card series. With Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Annette Benning, Pierce Brosnan, Danny DeVito, Martin Short, Sarah Jessica Parker, Natalie Portman, Michael J. Fox. Aliens (of the green, bulbous-brained, bug-eyed variety) come to Earth, and they do not come in peace. Burton’s hilarious homage toâ€”and parody ofâ€”1950s sci-fi B-movies features an ensemble of A-list actors who gamely inhabit outrageous characters in a series of vignettes that build to an apocalyptic climax. 106 min.
Monday, November 23, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
1999. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by Andrew Kevin Walker, based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. With Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Christopher Walken. Burton’s film transforms Irving’s folktale into a supernatural whodunit, and the original meek schoolteacher, Ichabod Crane, into a priggish New York City constable who is sent up the Hudson River to investigate a series of bizarre murders. The film’s macabre humor melds perfectly with the â€œstylized naturalismâ€ of Burton’s sumptuous production and the addition of Expressionist flourishes to the Dutch Colonial setting. 105 min.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
Planet of the Apes
2001. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by William Broyles Jr., Lawrence Konner, Mark Rosenthal, based on La PlanÃ¨te des Singes by Pierre Boulle. With Mark Wahlberg, Tim Roth, Helena Bonham Carter. This adaptation of Boulle’s novel about humans in an ape-dominated world departs dramatically from Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1968 film versionâ€”so much so that it was coined a â€œreimaginingâ€ rather than a â€œremake.â€ Burton’s recurrent archetypes abound: his hero finds himself a misunderstood outcast among the native humans and their simian masters; and his ape ally Ari, a part of the established order who nonetheless calls for â€œhuman rights,â€ is a variation on the progressive women common in Burton’s films. 119 min.
Friday, November 27, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
2003. USA. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by John August, based on the novel by Daniel Wallace. With Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup. On his deathbed, Edward Bloom retells his life through exaggerated tall tales. This lifelong habit of subjective recollection alienates him from his son Will, who longs to know his â€œrealâ€ father. Burton’s adaptation shifts the focus and sympathy toward the elder Bloom, a character who fits the mold of Burton’s archetype of the flawed and imperfect, yet revered, father. Edward is finally redeemed in his son’s eyes only when the younger Bloom realizes that manipulated and invented reality is often preferable to “the real world.” 125 min.
Saturday, November 28, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
2005. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by John August, based the book by Roald Dahl. With Johnny Depp, Freddie Highmore, Helena Bonham Carter. Simultaneously one of Burton’s funniest and most poignant films, this perfect union of the sensibilities of Burton and Dahl is filled with unapologetic whimsy, a delight in gruesome humor, and the enduring appeal of the fancies and freedoms of childhood 115 min.
Sunday, November 29, 2009, 2:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
2005. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Tim Burton, Mike Johnson. Screenplay by John August, Caroline Thompson, Pamela Pettler. With the voices of Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Emily Watson. For his second feature-length stop-motion film, Burton transformed a nineteenth-century European folktale about a man caught between two womenâ€”one breathing, one not so muchâ€”into a musical filled with exquisitely crafted characters who prove that what appears frightening is often just misunderstood. 76 min.
Sunday, November 29, 2009, 5:30 p.m. , Theater 1, T1
2007. USA/Great Britain. Directed by Tim Burton. Screenplay by John Logan, based on the musical by Stephen Sondheim. With Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman. Burton’s filmic adaptation of Sondheim’s tale of tonsorial terror is replete with the filmmaker’s recurrent visual and thematic motifs. The musical numbers allow for fantastic set pieces that alternate between light and dark, revelatory and horrific, and the twisted narrative sets comedy amid the grotesque. 116 min.
Monday, November 30, 2009, 8:00 p.m. , Theater 1, T1