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Big Fish

Big Fish is a 2003 fantasy film and quite possibly Tim Burton’s masterpiece.  Billy Crudup stars as William Bloom, a writer who is trying to connect with his dying father. He feels like his relationship with his dad is like two strangers who happen to know each other extremely well. The problem is that William was never able to connect with his father. His father was a traveling salesman with a passion for telling tall tales and embellishing the truth, and he feels like he never knew the real person behind the stories.

The film is framed by an elderly Edward Bloom (played by Albert Finney) who is bedridden and slowly fading away. The story flashes back to a younger Edward (played by Ewan McGregor) doing fantastic things and having amazing adventures. He meets a giant, a werewolf, Siamese twins, a witch, and has a few encounters with a particularly big fish. On the surface this is a modern fairy tale. But it’s really about reconciliation. Edward and William have a broken relationship. Everything Edward ever told William was embellished and elaborated. William thinks that everything his father told him was a lie. They are bonded by blood but don’t have much in common.

This film is more sophisticated than Tim Burton’s other films. It’s more adult and decidedly less gothic. There is a great supporting cast including Jessica Lange, Danny DeVito, Steve Buscemi, and apparently a young Miley Cyrus. Helena Bonham Carter is in it too and Danny Elfman provides the score. Johnny Depp is the only Burton Regular who doesn’t show up.  I guess there wasn’t a part for a pale pedophile. This is the type of movie that you can watch with your parents and feel like you’ve bonded. Real art effects emotion. This film is art.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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American Horror Story: Murder House

American Horror Story: Murder House is the first season of the acclaimed FX series. Dylan McDermott and Connie Britton star as Ben and Vivien Harmon, who move into a haunted house in an attempt to repair their broken marriage. Taissa Farmiga plays Violet, the brooding teenaged daughter. The Harmons have to deal with a nosy neighbor with a hidden agenda and the many deceased occupants of their new home.

McDermott and Britton do a good job as the main characters, but Jessica Lange steals every scene that she’s in. She plays Constance Langdon, the next door neighbor with an obsession for the haunted mansion. She used to live in the mansion and quite a few of her dead children call it home. Her son Tate (Evan Peters) is her pride and joy, despite the fact that he’s a homicidal high school shooter and a ghost. Naturally, Tate and Violet start to fall for each other.

There are quite a few dead residents living in the mansion. There’s a maid that appears to be old to some people and appears as a sexy minx to other people. Ben’s ex-fling gets murdered and moves in. Zachary Quinto and Teddy Sears play a dead gay couple. Even Mena Suvari found time to play a ghost.

As with most shows, the characters make or break the show. American Horror Story: Murder House has great characters. Most of the episodes are interesting enough to keep watching, but the show fizzled at the end. The last episode was downright terrible. Yeah, it tied up loose ends, but it was really cliché and a let down. It sucks getting to the end of a season and being disappointed. It makes you want to give up on the series. Luckily the second season is like a whole new show. It takes place in a different time with different characters and with an asylum as the setting.

Murder House is a good start to a good show. It’s kind of scary and kind of creepy, but it’s more of a character-based thriller with ghosts. The first few episodes suck you in and get you addicted pretty quickly. There are cool characters and crazy twists and interesting backstories. But that last episode really sucks.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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