February 20th, 2006

SH - Art in the Blood

Bouquets and Brickbats

Excellent day. Met Lily for the Surveillance Camera Players’ City Hall walking tour, then strolled a few blocks uptown to Tribeca Cinemas for the Corpse Bride exhibit (with concept art and some of the stop-motion models used in filming) and Tim Burton retrospective. We arrived too late for Beetlejuice but got free(!) tickets to Edward Scissorhands and Ed Wood, both of which were preceded by a trailer for the upcoming Tribeca Film Festival and Burton’s early 15-minute b&w short Vincent, which I’ve wanted to see for years. Then east to Mott Street for dinner at Big Wong’s.

Looking back over the day’s activities, it occurs to me that they all had one thing in common: passion. Not in the romantic sense, but as in fervor, enthusiasm, zeal. The Surveillance Camera Players conduct walking tours and perform plays in public spaces to support the right to privacy and protest the increasing ubiquity of monitoring devices. The art of stop-motion animation requires incredible dedication. The protagonist of Vincent is a seven-year-old boy who idolizes the film’s narrator, Vincent Price. Price also plays the creator/father-figure of Edward Scissorhands, whose title character, memorably embodied by Johnny Depp, is embraced and rejected as an outsider/artist.

Then there’s Ed Wood, who has the drive but lacks the talent, at least by normal standards. Wood, as portrayed by Burton and Depp, seems to be cinema’s answer to singer Florence Foster Jenkins, who was similarly devoted to her muse and, according to contemporary reviewers, just as deluded concerning her abilities. Was Wood’s and Jenkins’s indifference to their critics bravery, or pathology?