Big Fish

Not rated yet!
Director
Tim Burton
Runtime
2 h 05 min
Release Date
25 December 2003
Genres
Adventure, Fantasy, Drama
Overview
Throughout his life Edward Bloom has always been a man of big appetites, enormous passions and tall tales. In his later years, he remains a huge mystery to his son, William. Now, to get to know the real man, Will begins piecing together a true picture of his father from flashbacks of his amazing adventures.
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Mark Steyn2
Fox News



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • Big Fish
    Mark Steyn Big Fish PG, selected cinemas here are some fish that cannot be I caught,' says Edward Bloom, beginning a fishy story he's told friends and family many times in his ever more unhurried Alabama drawl. By the time young Edward (Ewan McGregor) has mellowed and thickened into old Edward (Albert Finney), he's learned that, like a good julep, a good story should be savoured and relished and e
    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Saturday Night and the Morning After
    (”Big Fish” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Albert Finney died on Thursday, apparently from one of those sudden infections generally harmless to youth but swiftly lethal to otherwise healthy old men. His last film was in 2012 - Skyfall, one of the best of all 007 outings, in which he played the
    ...
    (Review Source)

VJ Morton2
Right Wing Film Geek



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • A fish story

    A fish story

    BIG FISH — Tim Burton, USA, 2003, 8

    I’m not a great Burton fan — in my annual Top 10s, there’s only one Honorable Mention (EDWARD SCISSORHANDS) among the eight films of his I’ve seen. So it means less from me than it might from others, but I think this is Burton’s best film. It’s a lovely, happy, whimsical dessert of a film. The opening voiceover, about an uncatchable fish, immediately announces BIG FISH as a film about legend-telling and myth-making. The narrator is up-front cagey in a very practiced manner about whether “this story,” meaning the film, really happened this way and whether it matters. “In my heart, I never lied,” Blanche DuBois says, and appropriately, this pastel-gothic fantasy tale where a boy sees his death in Boo Radley’s witch’s eye is set in Alabama. And when the fact becomes legend … well, go see LIBERTY VALANCE if y’all don’t know how the rest of that sentence turns out.

    Storywise, BIG FISH centers on the relationship between tall-tale-telling father Ed Bloom, played as an old man by Albert Finney and a young man by Ewan MacGregor, and his down-to-Earth son Will (Billy Crudup). Will resents his father’s inability, in realistic terms, to communicate, and his being the star of the world, and overshadowing him with his tall tales and wants “the truth” and all of that.

    But these flashbacks and myths portray Finney’s life, in a very stylized way, like FORREST GUMP without the silly, sophomoric political allegory. It’s like SOUTHERN-FRIED AMELIE, about someone who exists only to spread happiness … only I did not enjoy myself quite as much as I did at Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s masterpiece (the only time I have ever shed tears from a film’s sheer, infectious happiness; coincidentally, AMELIE was also the last film I saw before September 11.) Like Audrey Tautou, MacGregor’s performance skirts the edge of annoyance in his perpetual over-the-top smile, but that’s who this man is — like his French counterpart, can only walk through the world trying to spread happiness, even in the presence of some of the dark undercurrents in this tale.

    But those dark undercurrents surrender when Crudup and the present-day scenes finally hit their stride in the last 15 minutes and my realizing that the annoyance I had felt with Crudup’s pill-like character was the point (although I would have preferred this ending to have been the last 13 minutes … there is a funeral scene that I want deleted from the DVD Special Edition). Those two issues — the funeral and Crudup’s character for most of the film’s length — is why I don’t think BIG FISH a masterpiece. Well that, an inexplicably ungenerous and off-key portrayal of MacGregor’s rival.

    But who cares about such quibbles — what tales Finney tells! And how Burton presents them! Love or hate this film — you will not see sheer, child-like wonder to match these Munchausen-like tales in a theater this year. It’s a kind of heightened offhand surrealism, where the details are exaggerated to the Nth degree, but the film never seems to notice this and so even the freakdom is lovable.

    Innocent wonder is maintained even in the oddest circumstances — nobody considers it remarkable that all the shoes in the Eden town are on a clothes line and it’s filmed in a “just so” manner. These tales, or myths, are of a world where small towns have a 10-foot gentle giant (think Andre the Giant in THE PRINCESS BRIDE); where “Asian” (that’s what the passports say) troops are entertained by a pair of Siamese twins whose two upper bodies share two legs; where a route through the woods has a whole hidden perfect town; where men turn into werewolves or fish; where love at first sight stops the world and even leaves popcorn floating in the air while MacGregor brushes past it on his walk toward his eternally intended.

    Like any flashback by The Teller of Tall Tales, the story gets shaped in retrospective. When telling the story of their lives, even more down-to-earth people tell it to give it an inevitable shape, a teleology or self-providence that things had to turn out as they did because they came out so much the better for the tale-teller. This is especially true in affairs of the heart. I don’t know exactly whether BIG FISH takes an especially polemic stance on this undeniable facet of the story-telling process, which it plainly does emphasize.

    The film skirts around some of the darker subtexts surrounding, e.g., Helena Bonham-Carter as the one woman who wouldn’t sell her home in the Edenic town. Although maybe you have to know “Travelling Salesman” jokes from the 50s to really pick up on this. (Much as I love BIG FISH, it would be false to why I love it, if it really went for the jugular on this sort of self-deception, as Eric Rohmer does in CLAIRE’S KNEE, CHLOE IN THE AFTERNOON and several others). Among much else, the contrast between the high-key lighting and hyper-real colors in the tales and the prosaic settings of the “realistic” present leave no doubt that Burton prefers the teleological fantasy to dull reality. And in a storyteller, if not a man, isn’t that what we want?

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  • Love and hate about the Oscar nominations
    (”Big Fish” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    Love and hate about the Oscar nominations

    Having trouble with my phone line at home (cursed ice storm), so I couldn’t write up my reaction to the Oscar nominations until now (the complete list is here.)

    Good surprises:
    The year’s best film IMNHO was CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS, which was unfortunately was a documentary and therefore in years past its quality and critical popularity would have guaranteed that it would not get a nomination as Best Documentary. But not this year. Not only was FRIEDMANS nominated, but the other candidate for the year’s most widely-praised documentary, THE FOG OF WAR, was picked too. Though I’ve expressed my doubts and crushed high expectations about FOG, it’s also good that finally the Academy acknowledges the existence of the country’s most important documentarian — Errol Morris. And all three of the others were films that I have heard of, that played in theaters, and that was generally well-liked by the few critics who saw them. The documentary branch for years had a nearly perfect record of ignoring the one film that year that *had* to be on the list — Morris’ own THE THIN BLUE LINE, ROGER & ME, CRUMB, HOOP DREAMS, HEARTS OF DARKNESS. But this year and last, they seem to have gotten their heads screwed on straight. Last year, four of the five nominees were BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE, WINGED MIGRATION, SPELLBOUND and DAUGHTER FROM DANANG — all films that, regardless of my varied particular opinions of them, were strong enough *as films* to get substantial critical praise and to win (with the exception of DANANG) a very broad and hugely popular commercial release by documentary standards.

    Some major nominations going to foreign films. THE TRIPLETS OF BELLEVILLE scored a nomination for best animated feature nomination and one for best song. And then there was all the love for CITY OF GOD — four nominations, including two major ones (script and director). I’m under no illusions that either is likely to win anything — for a foreign film, it is really true that the honor is just being nominated (some exceptions duly noted, including last year’s script win for Almodovar’s excellent TALK TO HER). According to the Associated Press, when director Fernando Meirelles heard of the nominations, he asked “Has the Academy gone mad?” No, Fernando: you just did good. I’ll have more to say here about this great film, which will be out on home video in a couple of weeks, when I do my Top 10 essay this weekend.

    The near-shutout suffered by COLD MOUNTAIN in the major categories — film, actress, director, script (yes … adapted script). I don’t begrudge Renee her nomination (and likely win), but what exactly was distinguished about Jude Law? Have I mentioned that I don’t care for this fantasy for the art-house audience? One Southerner of my acquaintance high-fived me, and told me that when he had heard of the film’s Oscar flop, he was dancing on the toilet bowl.

    Finally, a Best Actor nomination for Bill Murray, and he might even win, though my money would be on Sean Penn (insert this rant from yesterday about the Academy giving short shrift to comedy and comic actors).

    While I’m not crazy about most of the particular choices, it is good to note that the Academy actually acknowledged that films get released in the first 11 months of the year. Last year, all five nominees were released Dec. 18 or later. This year: LORD OF THE RINGS 3 on Dec. 17; MASTER AND COMMANDER on Nov. 14; MYSTIC RIVER on Oct. 8; LOST IN TRANSLATION on Sept. 12 and SEABISCUIT on July 25. Perhaps the shortened awards season this year (and the screener ban) made the end-of-year booking strategy not viable. Or maybe the voters just didn’t care for MONSTER, HOUSE OF SAND AND FOG, 21 GRAMS, THE COMPANY, COLD MOUNTAIN, IN AMERICA, BIG FISH, GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and CALENDAR GIRLS.

    Bad surprises:
    The absolute shutout suffered by THE SECRET LIVES OF DENTISTS. That’s not so much a surprise, I guess, as a disappointment about what I think was the best American fiction film of last year. I well realized it wasn’t gonna be a major player, since it was released in August and did poorly at the box office. But it still hurts that there was no room at the inn for its script and that Campbell Scott has nothing to show for the two of the best performances by an American male of recent years (this one and ROGER DODGER — so amazing because the characters in question are nothing like one another). Grrr … oh well: DENTISTS came out on home video last week and I heartily recommend it as one of the most realistic and dry-eyedly romantic depictions of family life I’ve ever seen.

    The nomination of Tim Robbins and his collection of gestures masquerading as a performance in MYSTIC RIVER for anything other than a Razzie. Have I mentioned here before that I *hate* that performance. I suppose I can see the logic … that’s Acting. In fact I’ve never so *much* Acting in a noncomic performance in my life. You see every twitch and halt, and all the blood, sweat and tears that went into this, The Ultimate Performance. It’s discouraging that even professional actors are again mistaking playing a handicap (or someone of the opposite sex, who ages 100 years, etc.) as acting.

    No Scarlett Johansson. She gives two of the year’s best lead female performances — in LOST IN TRANSLATION and GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING — and gets shut out. And not because neither film was up the Academy’s alley — LOST was one of the big winners and PEARL was a December prestige release that did get several (very deserved) nods in the technical categories. Maybe the two performances canceled each other out. Or maybe the Academy just prefers telegraphed collections of body-language tics to using your eyes and face and just *existing* on camera.

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Crosswalk1
Cross Walk



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)

  • A Special Behind-the-Scenes Look at Disney's New Dumbo Movie!
    (”Big Fish” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    Enjoy a special behind-the-scenes look at an extraordinary family film.
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The Weekly Standard Staff1
The Weekly Standard



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