A drama about the awakening of painter Margaret Keane, her phenomenal success in the 1950s, and the subsequent legal difficulties she had with her husband, who claimed credit for her works in the 1960s.
When Jacob discovers clues to a mystery that stretches across time, he finds Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. But the danger deepens after he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers.
Samuel L. Jackson
In San Francisco in the 1950s, Margaret was a woman trying to make it on her own after leaving her husband with only her daughter and her paintings. She meets gregarious ladies' man and fellow painter Walter Keane in a park while she was struggling to make an impact with her drawings of children with big eyes. The two quickly become a pair with outgoing Walter selling their paintings and quiet Margaret holed up at home painting even more children with big eyes. But Walter's actually selling her paintings as his own. A clash of financial success and critical failure soon sends Margaret reeling in her life of lies. With Walter still living the high life, Margaret's going to have to try making it on her own again and re-claiming her name and her paintings.Written by
The Keanes' house strongly resembles the work of Joseph Eichler, one of America's most influential architects and social visionaries. He helped establish the California Modern style from the 1950s to the mid-1960s by bringing high-end design concepts to the mass market. Signature features of "Eichler Homes" include glass walls, post-and-beam construction, A-frame roofs, and open floor plans. See more »
During the shot of the reporter outside the courthouse, a camera operator shoots the story. The camera is missing the drive belt, which should be connected to the magazine to run the film through the camera to be exposed. It's clearly a non-working prop. See more »
The '50s were a grand time, if you were a man. I'm Dick Nolan. I make things up for a living - I'm a reporter.
[Margaret frantically packing things]
It's the strangest goddamn story that I ever covered. It started the day that Margaret Ulbrich walked out on her suffocating husband, long before it became the fashionable thing to do.
Come on, Janie.
[they get into the car]
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Tim Burton's Big Eyes is a bad film about bad painters making bad art. It's as dreadful as the artwork on view. The film declaims the "true " life story of Margaret Keane, but just how true is true? It purports to tell the story of the artist whose paintings of miserable urchins became the rage back in the sixties. Sadly, just like the unhappy waifs in the paintings, Big Eyes is a sad incomprehensible wreck of a film. (As a teenager, I do remember seeing these prints at a nearby Woolworth and thinking, "Who would want these paintings anyway?") Apparently, everyone did, including Natalie Wood, Jerry Lewis and Joan Crawford. That part may be quite true, but some other facts are pure artistic license.
The film tries to spin the fad into international glory, over-exaggerating the importance of this works of art and the business of marketing art to the masses ala Warhol. There could be an interesting enough back-story about Ms. Keane's life and her sudden wealth, but the mixed-up screenplay by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski never does her life any justice as it wavers between farce and drama. The essence of this "based on a true story" shows the artist too easily giving into her incorrigible manager/husband who claimed to be the sole creator of her schlock art. Ms. Keane's reasons for the anonymity are never fully explained. The script hints at her low self-esteem issues and the societal backlash against female artists at the time, although the latter argument is weak, with other artists like O'Keefe, Frankenthaler, and Krasner achieving fame and fortune back then. The film tends to skim over the more relevant facts of her life.
Burton does succeed, at least, visually with the look of the film from Colleen Atwood's costumes and production design by Rich Heinrich which captures the period details handsomely. However, character-wise, the film is a muddle with the tone of the film caroming from cheeky melodrama to absurd comedy, as in a scene involving a harsh (but accurate) critic and a courtroom scene that is too absurd to be believed. Amy Adams does invest some depth into her ill-defined character, but Christoph Waltz is far too slick and charmless as her duplicitous and scheming spouse.
Big Eyes is a big bad disappointment. GRADE: C
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