Ha. Yeah–Burton’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Ol’ Chop actually bought that one to study exactly what went wrong. What a waste of great production design. And it was actually called Charlie and the Chocolate Factory like the book. Although it was more about Wonka. Yet the first is called Willy Wonka but is more about Charlie – D’oh!

Depp as Michael Jackson's Dream Self -- minus the kid obsession

Wonka’s backstory in Burton’s film was nothing short of idiotic. How can you keep a mythic character mythic when you demystify their past? If they were gonna do that it should have been bugnuts abstract – Burton could even have gone insane with the German Expressionist stuff he loves so much (as do I)! He coulda gone full-steam Dr. Caligari with that shit. Stylise the crap out of it so you still don’t know whether it’s actually the truth or not – at least then you’d be deepening it yet not actually giving any more clarity – which is TOTALLY Dahl! But best not go there in the first place.

I do have inside knowledge that after many assurances to the Dahl family, Depp and Burton basically just went off and did their own thing, and the Dahl’s  family was not happy with result.

Speaking of which–THE CHOPPAH loves the original WONKA film (though it does struggle with sap factor–e.g., “Cheer Up Charlie”).

I also love the original novel by Dahl.

A Tale of Two Wonkas

Interestingly enough, though, Dahl despised the first film, despite being the primary screenplay author.  My guess is that he–like Stephen King with Kubrick’s The Shining–felt marginalized and alienated by the adaptation (which was amended quite a bit from his original screenplay draft). 

Dahl “remained convinced that his first choice – comedian Spike Milligan – would have been better for [Wonka than Wilder].”

and

“He thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie.”

HA! He would’ve just LOVED Burton’s adaptation then!

Dahl was also particularly pissed of that, “…the movie turned sweetshop rival Slugworth into a Wonka spy and encouraged Charlie and Grandpa Joe to belch their way to salvation.”

Go figure.  I think the Slugworth subplot was one of that film’s greatest assets.  And the concentration on Charlie almost killed it for me.

Oh, here’s an ironic quote by Burton sometime before his Wonkabortion was released: 

I don’t want to crush people’s childhood dreams, but the original film is sappy,” Burton said. 

“I responded to the children’s book because it respected that children can be adult, and I think adults forget that.”

As he began to create a 192,000-gallon chocolate lake to engulf character Augustus Gloop, and training 40 squirrels to pounce upon Veruca Salt, Burton said the new film would feature “a sort of foreboding”.

“Very sinister things are very much a part of childhood,” he said.

What do you do when your kid is a brat? If you're Wonka, you incinerate them.

Yeah, ironic that–considering that the original movie was 100 times LESS sappy and LESS goofy than Burton’s adaptation. In fact, although the first film did struggle with “sappiness,” it ALWAYS was tempered by a healthy creepiness factor–a very black (macabre at times) humor. 

CHOPPAH’s papa was the manager of a movie theater when the original Wonka was released, and he occasionally relays the story of numerous little brats leaving in the middle of the film, crying hysterically in terror at the fate of some of the less pleasant children.

WIN.

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Okay…so yesterday evening ol’ Chop watched THE WILD AND WONDERFUL WHITES OF WEST VIRGINIA.  This is a documentary produced by Johnny Knoxville (y’know JACKASS) that chronicles a year in the life of the infamous White family of Boone County, West Virginia, who were first made (in)famous by the PBS doc THE DANCING OUTLAW.

For those not in the loop: OUTLAW was focused mostly on Jesco White, the “last of the mountain dancers”, and came into the Choppah’s hands in probably the same way it came into many others: a grainy, 20th or 30th generation videotape that was watched over and over in a frenzy of disbelief that yep….people REALLY live that way.

WILD AND WONDERFUL isn’t the same beast. It pretty much confirms that folks living hard and fast with little to no education, no respect for ANY outside authority, and a knowledge of how to work the welfare system for their own benefit are not usually gonna end well.  Or end up very pretty, to be honest. Where DANCING OUTLAW was entertaining in a very real “HOLY SHIT, did he/she just say/do THAT?” kind of way, WILD & WONDERFUL was actually….a bit sad. It sort of made ol’ Chop feel bad for finding OUTLAW funny at ALL.  It doesn’t flinch from showing you the normal fruits of a life of booze, pills, larceny, and flat-out hell-raising as a family tradition.

However, on its own, it really is a good doc…a sort of cautionary tale. And a peek inside a family that pretty much lives by their own rules, for good or bad…lotsa bad. Worth a look for those both familiar with the Whites already, or those who have never been exposed their brand of bat-shit.  And yep…there’s a bit of ol’ Jesco in there.  But honestly, I don’t think his subsequent ‘fame’ has done him a DAMN bit of good in the long run.

Blurf

Oh boy, so CHOPPAH took one for all you li’l CHOPlings out there. That’s right, ol’ CHOP subjected himself to the new KARATE KID (nee KUNG FU KID) last weekend. CHOPPAH knows it’s sacrilege, and CHOPPAH hopes my old TalkBack adversary/chum Cobra–Kai isn’t ashamed of me. But hey, THE CHOPPAH’s a fucking professional, and what do professionals do? They know their fucking enemies, and this movie is an enemy of all those who would rather shit on mediocrity than indulge it.

This flick is pretty much a beat-for-beat remake, but with loads of noticeable flab around the edges. For instance, instead of letting Daniel figure out why Mr. Miyagi is all drunk and depressed, Li’l Smiff (you are no Ralph Macchio, young man!) and his Mr. Miyagi (Jackie Chan’s Mr. Han, a name that lacks the endearing poetry of Miyagi) have a weepy scene that tells us everything we could have figured out from a few newspaper clippings. The mom’s role is also expanded, but CHOPPAH didn’t mind it that much since Taraji P. Henson is damned fine. CHOPPAH’d like to see more of her, if you catch CHOPPAH’s drift.

Read the rest of this entry »

CHOPPAH has been SUCKER PUNCH'd

Posted: November 4, 2010 in Uncategorized

and is now officially happy for this film…

 

Hey everyone.

So, THE CHOPPAH recently read TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA for the first time and was blown away by Verne’s encyclopedic knowledge of the world’s seas and the life dwelling within. It was a magnificent achievement of imagination supplemented with scientific fact–all the more so because of its narrator’s undeniable, erudite authority on all matters concerning marine biology. Verne pulls off here what Lovecraft pulled off in AT THE MOUNTAINS OF MADNESS. Both narrators are so well informed, so competent and logical/scientific in describing minute details throughout those stories that the reader can’t help but to respect (and, thus, believe) them.
Moreover, Captain Nemo is a wholly remarkable character–one of the great, mysterious characters in English literature. We as readers are given only hints as to where he came from, what his political/military aims are, and what made him the misanthropic, marine-obsessed genius Verne’s novel presents. And much of Nemo’s dialogue is really magnificent:

“The sea is everything. It covers seven tenths of the terrestrial globe. Its breath is pure and healthy. It is an immense desert, where man is never lonely, for he feels life stirring on all sides. The sea is only the embodiment of a supernatural and wonderful existence. It is nothing but love and emotion; it is the `Living Infinite,’ as one of your poets has said. In fact, Professor, Nature manifests herself in it by her three kingdoms–mineral, vegetable, and animal. The sea is the vast reservoir of Nature. The globe began with sea, so to speak; and who knows if it will not end with it? In it is supreme tranquillity. The sea does not belong to despots. Upon its surface men can still exercise unjust laws, fight, tear one another to pieces, and be carried away with terrestrial horrors. But at thirty feet below its level, their reign ceases, their influence is quenched, and their power disappears. Ah! sir, live–live in the bosom of the waters! There only is independence! There I recognise no masters! There I am free!'”

 

This is actually one of the lesser excerpts of a handful of memorable monologues throughout the book. Through Nemo, Verne makes a powerful, persuasive case for living out one’s life wholly underwater (and the evils of life on land).

And–again–the details describing the sea life seen through the thick, glass windows of the Nautilus are simply enchanting:

The Nautilus floated in the midst of a phosphorescent bed which, in this obscurity, became quite dazzling. It was produced by myriads of luminous animalculae, whose brilliancy was increased as they glided over the metallic hull of the vessel. I was surprised by lightning in the midst of these luminous sheets, as though they bad been rivulets of lead melted in an ardent furnace or metallic masses brought to a white heat, so that, by force of contrast, certain portions of light appeared to cast a shade in the midst of the general ignition, from which all shade seemed banished. No; this was not the calm irradiation of our ordinary lightning. There was unusual life and vigour: this was truly living light! 

In reality, it was an infinite agglomeration of coloured infusoria, of veritable globules of jelly, provided with a threadlike tentacle, and of which as many as twenty-five thousand have been counted in less than two cubic half-inches of water.

During several hours the Nautilus floated in these brilliant waves, and our admiration increased as we watched the marine monsters disporting themselves like salamanders. I saw there in the midst of this fire that burns not the swift and elegant porpoise (the indefatigable clown of the ocean), and some swordfish ten feet long, those prophetic heralds of the hurricane whose formidable sword would now and then strike the glass of the saloon. Then appeared the smaller fish, the balista, the leaping mackerel, wolf-thorn-tails, and a hundred others which striped the luminous atmosphere as they swam. This dazzling spectacle was enchanting! Perhaps some atmospheric condition increased the intensity of this phenomenon. Perhaps some storm agitated the surface of the waves. But at this depth of some yards, the Nautilus was unmoved by its fury and reposed peacefully in still water.”

The action is exciting and engaging and (usually) plausible, and the exploration the narrator and his companions experience onboard feels surprisingly novel, considering that this story was written in the mid-19th Century.

And that’s the thrill of the novel that I couldn’t get over. Here was a writer half a century (and more!) before his time. Verne doesn’t just use the (what was then) science fiction in his stories to meet his plots’ ends. He describes and indeed explicates HOW his new-fangled devices function, from top to bottom.

I’m no marine biologist or physicist or engineer, but I finished TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA with a sense of awe and a feeling that Verne’s submarine (and many of Nemo’s original steampunk devices) COULD have been implemented with the proper tweaking and effort in the fucking 19TH CENTURY when he wrote the damned thing. Extraordinary.

There are flaws of course. The narrative sometimes gets TOO mired in details, going off on tangents about this or that explorer or getting carried away in describing minute, scientific details about a certain rare type of mollusk. Some readers will find some chapters rather dry and somewhat redundant. But–as I indicated above–these are elements that also help create that wonderful sense of reality and authority and INTEGRITY that the novel creates.

Unfortunately, the last fourth of the novel is somewhat of a disappointment, as Verne makes a turn with Nemo that I thoroughly disliked and thought was a bit of a cop out. I won’t spoil it. Suffice it to say that this unexpected plot turn–which seemed a bit artificial and rushed to me–certainly didn’t ruin the greatness and importance of the overall story.

 

And the story is indeed important.

This novel SCREAMS sequel, and it’s a wonder Verne didn’t write one. OTOH, it’s little wonder that contemporary masters like Alan Moore have used Captain Nemo and his extraordinary Nautilus in support of their own artistic creations. It is fertile ground to work, and is–to me–simply one of the very most innovative and visionary science fiction novels I’ve ever read.

So, yeah–people.   Read this fucking book if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.

Aint been too much to chop on, not much cool stuff going on in the world of movies, so The Choppah must stimulate your senses with another hottie from the world of adult films……….the sweet sexy and oh so yummy…..Lexi Belle

P.S.- The Choppah and AICN are not responsible for any mess you may make on your keyboards……

FIRST PICS FROM TINTIN

Posted: November 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

From Empire Magazine:

Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson have chosen Empire to reveal the first look at The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn. Headed our way next October, the film adapts the enormously popular books by Hergé in performance-captured, 3D form.

Our exclusive and specially-Weta-created cover is a riff on the iconic image of Tintin (Jamie Bell) and his dog Snowy picked out by a spotlight as they are running. Then we have a couple of stills from the film, one showing you Andy Serkis’ Captain Haddock and another with Haddock and Tintin adrift at sea and signalling for help.

“With live action you’re going to have actors pretending to be Captain Haddock and Tintin,” says Peter Jackson. “You’d be casting people to look like them. It’s not really going to feel like the Tintin Hergé drew. It’s going to be somewhat different. With CGI we can bring Hergé’s world to life, keep the stylised caricatured faces, keep everything looking like Hergé’s artwork, but make it photo-real.”

So what can we expect from the story? Here’s what Spielberg told us. “The first part of the film, which is the most mysterious part, certainly owes much to not only film noir but the whole German Brechtian theatre — some of our night scenes and our action scenes are very contrasty. But at the same time the movie is a hell of an adventure.”

The film also stars Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as Thompson and Thomson respectively (“When people first heard that bit of casting they thought that we’d gone barking mad,” says Jackson. Adds Spielberg, “The Thompson Twins can’t be clones of each other. Nick and Simon provided all the differences we needed to foil for each other. They have a wonderful moment in the movie where they start to have an argument about whose sidekick is whose.”) and Daniel Craig as Red Rackham. It also features Cary Elwes, Toby Jones, Mackenzie Crook and Daniel Mays.

 

And for those of you thinking really far ahead, what has Jackson got planned for his Tintin adventure if and when the planned sequel happens? “One of my favourites is The Seven Crystal Balls, so that’s the one I’ve always been thinking of,” he says. “I also really like the Eastern European ones, the Balkan ones like King Ottoman’s Sceptre and The Calculus Affair. I think it’s a terrific setting for a thriller, the weird Balkan politics and the mysterious secret service agents. I think the Moon ones are terrific, but they’d be good for the third or fourth Tintin film, if we get that far. We want to keep his feet on the ground just a little bit longer.”