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Timothy Scissorbrains

THE KILLOUGH CHRONICLES | REVIEW

by James Killough

Most directors just direct: they make a series of decisions and hope the myriad variables intrinsic in the process all line up to make a decent product, which in the case of feature narrative film is not easy.  Akira Kurosawa believed all directors should master scriptwriting before taking the helm, and as a writer-director I agree with him.  A few directors come from the editing or cinematography departments.  Even fewer emerge from a photography background, which can be as hit and miss as any other; Lynne Ramsay (Morvern Callar, We Need to Talk About Kevin) is probably the most successful photographer that I can think of ever to transition to film.

And then there are the ones who map their quests hand-drawn: the illustrators, the doodlers, the cartoonists, like Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton.  I love their work visually—it’s always highly entertaining even at its bleakest—but I can never connect with it emotionally.  I enjoy realism, not caricature.

Edward Scissorhands defined hairstyles for the Noughties fifteen years beforehand.

I believe that not only should a director have a high degree of proficiency in scriptwriting, but he should also have some experience performing.  He needs to understand viscerally, experientially what it means to take on another character and make that real, to hit your mark and say your line the way it was written, not the way you want to say it, then say it this way, then that way, turn more to the light, please… right, that’s it… However, if you are just directing an adaptation of a cartoon or a horror film, then the above is overkill.  A background in high-end commercials is sufficient because that is all the producers are looking for: technical know-how.

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The Venerable Johnny Depp

Praise the Lord.  I have seen Johnny Depp’s apotheosis and it is named Rango.  It’s like he’s pulled together all of his work since Edward Scissorhands into one masterpiece symphony in the form of an animated feature.  It all makes sense now.  Rango tips its mottled cowboy hat to Ed Wood, to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, but most of all, intentionally or not, to Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man, the last Jarmusch film I truly enjoyed, as opposed to feeling flattened by enervation.

I don't know why they kept calling Rango a lizard when he was in fact a chameleon. I know, chameleons are lizards, but lizards makes them sound so pedestrian. Maybe the studios felt that American audiences would be too tempted to pronounce the "ch."

If you haven’t heard by now, Rango is truly trippy, brilliantly written, gorgeously animated, superbly voiced, and I have serious doubts it will ever make its real cost back.  If the studio reported a budget of $135 million, it’s bound to be much more than that.  Rango is basically an art film with a big Hollywood finish, which you really don’t mind because the whole journey is so jaw-droppingly audacious and bizarre.  It’s certainly the first time I’ve ever been sexually attracted to a rattlesnake.

One hot motherfucker. If you ignore the fact he is voiced by Bill Nighy, this is the sexiest cartoon character since the Beast in "Beauty and the Beast."

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