The Advent Calendar of Great Holiday Movies: Day 21 "Edward Scissorhands"

number 21.png

The pre-Christmas Day season of Advent is upon us. Here at SeedSing we love the chocolaty goodness of getting a piece of candy once a day until we get to open our presents. As our gift to you we will present a great movie associated with the holiday season. Many will be awesome, some will be extra awesome. Enjoy.

Day 21: “Edward Scissorhands”

Opened Doors: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4, Day 5, Day 6, Day 7, Day 8, Day 9, Day 10, Day 11, Day 12, Day 13, Day 14, Day 15, Day 16, Day 17, Day 18, Day 19, Day 20

When most of us think of winter we think of snow. The Coca Cola company, Normal Rockwell paintings, and every other piece of western pop culture in between likes to show crisp snow on a cold Christmas evening. It does not matter that a good part of the United States will not see snow on Christmas, or all winter, the image of snow and the holidays is burned into our cultural psyche. If every other part of the holiday season has a legend associated with it’s creation, why not have a legend about where the snowfall comes from?

In December of 1990 director Tim Burton released the movie “Edward Scissorhands”. The story of a kind, not quite finished, man child and his interactions with the modern world was a big hit with critics and the audience. The film has gone on to become one of the most beloved films of the last thirty years. It made a star of Johnny Depp, solidified Winona Ryder as the it girl of the early 1990’s, and was the last major film role for Hollywood legend Vincent Price. The cast also included once and future Oscar winner Diane Wiest, future Oscar winner Alan Arkin, and an unusually buff, and menacing, Anthony Michael Hall. After the success of “Batman”, Tim Burton was given the keys to Hollywood’s best talent, and “Edward Scissorhands” was the legendary end result.

The weirdness of “Edward Scissorhands” was notable, but it was the tenderness of the story that made the movie legendary. Depp gets special recognition for his performance, but the entire cast was hitting homeruns in the movie. The scene of Vincent Price dying in his unfinished creations arms is heartbreaking. The wild topiary, dog grooming, and hairstyle creations of Edward’s are forever iconic. But the true magic of “Edward Scissorhands” comes in the moment when Ryder is dancing in the “snow” coming off of the ice sculpture Edward is creating. The music by Danny Elfman, Ryder’s look, and dance of wonderment, in the “snow”, and Burton’s flowing camera makes the scene a piece of cinematic magic. Ryder and Burton capture the joy of experiencing a quiet snowfall on a peaceful winter evening like no had before or since. In a movie filled with incredible imagery, this scene wins the gold medal.

The idea of snow coming from a Gothic mansion because an unfinished man with scissors for hands is carving an ice sculpture in the image of his beloved he can never see again sounds pretty ridiculous when you put it down on paper. Tim Burton made it into magic. We may know the real reason why the snow falls on Christmas evening, but because of “Edward Scissorhands” we can look at simple snowfall and make it a moment of holiday joy.

RD

RD is the Head Editor for SeedSing. The holiday season is often a time of quiet reflection and hopeful renewal. Dolly Parton sings about these feelings with “Hard Candy Christmas”.

SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.

The Advent Calendar of Great Holiday Movies: Day 4 "Batman Returns"

number 4.png

The pre-Christmas Day season of Advent is upon us. Here at SeedSing we love the chocolaty goodness of getting a piece of candy once a day until we get to open our presents. As our gift to you we will present a great movie associated with the holiday season. Many will be awesome, some will be extra awesome. Enjoy.

Day 4: “Batman Returns”

Opened Doors: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3

The holiday season is filled with beautiful scenery and insane people. There is something magical about the look of fresh snow on late December night, but our boss at work may just kill us. The twinkle of the lights bring a feeling of festive joy, but we also know that some hideous looking forgotten son may arise from the sewer and try to take over the city. The sounds of children singing Christmas carols warms our heart, but a batman is out there having a sensual fight with a catwoman trying to keep the streets a bit more safe for the Christmas season. It is a weird time of the year.

In the summer of 1992 director Tim Burton and actor Michael Keaton delivered the promised sequel to their smash hit movie “Batman”. This time around Michelle Pfieffer and Danny DeVito joined Keaton’s Batman as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman and Oswald Cobblepot / The Penguin respectively. Christopher Walken even joined the action as the villainous Max Schreck, a wild haired character created just for this film. The movie split some critics with many for and against the movie pointing to the surreal atmosphere Tim Burton brought to his vision of Gotham City. The snow was a blueish gray, the lights twinkled against the large impressive Gothic buildings, and the film takes place during the holiday season. ‘Batman Returns” would be the last Burton/Keaton outing for the Dark Knight. The weirdness of the this particular summer blockbuster was not acceptable by the major Hollywood studios of the early 1990’s.

What “Batman Returns” has in strangeness, it pays the audience back with a great story for the holidays. Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are insane, lonely, people. They find each other under a mistletoe in the midst of a struggle. The magic of the holidays takes over. Grotesque, and abandoned, Oswald Cobblepot comes back to a city who is willing to embrace the monster. The holiday spirit asks us to see the good in people. An army of penguins equipped with rocket launchers almost destroys a city, the first born son of every household is nearly kidnapped, but through the chaos and destruction Bruce Wayne and Alfred the Butler know to wish each other a Merry Christmas in the end. The holidays are too strong to let super villains, industrialists, and Catwomen bring it all crashing down. Batman knows this.

Every great holiday movie does not need to be steeped in the mythical figures of the North Pole, we can have a holiday lesson with the mythical figures of our comic books. Tim Burton saw the serene strangeness of the holidays, and he used to to tell a Christmas tale using the Batman. Chaos, quietness, destruction, and togetherness all have a place in every person’s holiday season. Embrace the gifts, and discard the negative. Batman and Catwoman learned this lesson in “Batman Returns”. Let us all bask in their victory.

RD

RD is the Head Editor for SeedSing. Hanukkah is different year to year. Tragedy does not care for respecting the holidays, but people do. See one of the best Christmas stories ever told by one of the best television shows ever. Check out “Death Takes a Holiday from “M*A*S*H”.

SeedSing is funded by a group of awesome people. Join them by donating to SeedSing.

Batman v. Batman v. Batman. A Millennial View on the Dark Knight

Just hanging out waiting for a new Batman movie

Just hanging out waiting for a new Batman movie

With the new Batman and Superman movie coming out soon, which I'm not looking forward to, I went back and watched almost all the "Batman" movies and I have to say, at least for my generation, the Christopher Nolan trilogy is, hands down, the best.

Don't get me wrong, I love the two that Tim Burton did. He created a visual of Gotham City that was 100 percent what I imagined it looked like. Michael Keaton as Batman was absolutely phenomenal. Those movies were great. Keaton was awesome, Jack Nicholson as the Joker was great, Christopher Walken was good, Michelle Pffeifer was very good looking and played Catwoman very well and Danny DeVito's portrayal as the Penguin still scares me to this day. Those were all very good, but they were before my time. I didn't see them until I was in my teens, so I didn't understand the relevance and revival of the "superhero" movie. Tim Burton brought the superhero movie back from the dead after the disaster that was "Superman 3" and "Superman 4".

The first Batman movie I saw, and was excited to see, in the theaters was "Batman Forever". I was excited about this, not for Val Kilmer as Batman, but the fact that Jim Carrey was cast as the Riddler. I also thought that Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face was a weird choice that could be either good or bad, no in between. Needless to say, "Batman Forever" was a disappointment. I did not enjoy anything about this movie. Kilmer was very blah as Batman, Tommy Lee Jones was downright terrible as Two Face and Jim Carrey just couldn't find the common ground between the campiness of the TV show, starring Adam West, which I really enjoy, and the seriousness of the real world that Batman lives in. He tried, but he failed. I was pretty upset that I wasted my parents money and my friends time by making them see this movie with me.

Then, Joel Schumacher made the god awful "Batman and Robin". This movie has been beaten to death, and rightfully so. "Batman and Robin" is an abomination. It is one of the worst movies that has ever been made. Everyone knows it and everyone agrees. It's a pile of garbage. Every decision from the director, writers, producers and actors is baffling and terrible. It is so, so bad. But, the one good thing that came out of the trash heap that is "Batman and Robin", they had to completely scrap whatever Schumacher had planned next and basically start all over again.

They waited a pretty long time, but in 2005, Christopher Nolan released part one of his trilogy, "Batman Begins". This movie came out around the same time that "Star Wars Episode Three" came out. I think readers and listeners of the site and podcast know which movie I was more excited about. But, I didn't really know who Christopher Nolan was. I had heard of him and had seen the movie "Memento", which is great, but I was a bit concerned how he would handle a superhero movie. I also didn't know all that much about Christian Bale. I hadn't really heard of him at that point. I knew he was in "American Psycho" and that he was in the very underrated "The Machinist", but other than that, I couldn't have picked him out of a lineup. So, I was cautious with my optimism about the new direction. Then, I saw "Batman Begins" and it totally revived the Caped Crusader from the dead. This was a very good, well written and well acted movie. What I enjoyed most about the new direction was the fact that Nolan didn't focus on making a superhero movie, instead, he made a crime drama that happened to have a superhero as the main character. Nolan also brought to life how psychotic and how weird Batman truly is. I mean, as a child he saw his parents murdered and then he grows up to become a vigilante that dresses like a bat. That's pretty insane. Nolan and Bale brought that to life. Nolan's version of Gotham was darker than Burton's. He took what Tim Burton created and improved on in dramatically, in my opinion. I love Burton's vision, and he created this world, but Nolan made it better. I also really enjoyed that Nolan didn't feel that he had to have a big time villain as the bad guy in part one of his trilogy. Sure, Ra's Al-Ghul was there, but Scarecrow is the bad guy in this movie and he is terrifying. The scenes where he makes people go crazy are very scary and when Batman turns the tables and infects Scarecrow with craziness, one of the coolest, yet scariest scenes in a movie that I've ever seen. Nalon also set up that in the next movie the Joker would be there. Also, before I get to the next movie, Gary Oldman is awesome as Commissioner Gordon. Great casting choice.

A couple of years later, we got "The Dark Knight". This movie is a masterpiece, a la "The Godfather" or "Goodfellas" or even a movie like "Heat". Nolan took the crime drama and used it so perfectly in "The Dark Knight". This is such a wonderful, classic movie that my son will look back on like I look back on "The Godfather". Bale is, once again, tremendous as Batman. He exudes the psychotic, yet classy side of Bruce Wayne so well. He toes that line to perfection. But, the absolute star of this movie is Heath Ledger as the Joker. I mean, he won an Oscar for this role. How many "superhero" movies can claim that they have an Oscar winner? Ledger's portrayal of the Joker is timeless. He is crazy and ruthless and solely focused on his goal of destroying Gotham City. Scenes like when he makes a "pencil disappear", classic. Or, when the movie opens and there's the big bank robbery and bad guys are killing other bad guys, awesome. The scene where he slides down a mountain of cash, pours gasoline all over it and burns it, wonderful. His cronies look at him with a bewildered look and he plainly and straight faced tells them, that he doesn't care about money, he only cares about destruction, is so great. But, the best scene is when he is in the jail, talking to Batman telling him that they are the same person, I mean, the speech he gives is incredible and the viewer finds themselves agreeing with the Joker. Batman is crazy and it took a speech from an equally crazy villain for all of us to realize it. Batman and the Joker are the same person, with the only difference being that Batman claims to fight for justice, where the Joker just wants destruction. It is such a bummer, on so many levels, that Heath Ledger passed away, because his version of the Joker could have appeared in the third installment of the franchise. He was never killed in "The Dark Knight", in fact, Batman refuses to kill him while holding over a ledge, instead pulling him back and making him suffer the consequence of what he's done and what he has created. "The Dark Knight" is legendary.

I didn't know how Nolan would follow up his true gem, but I feel he did an excellent job with "The Dark Knight Rises". I know it's hard to follow a masterpiece, just look at "The Godfather Part Three", but Nolan did it right. In "The Dark Knight Rises", we were introduced to the real Bane, not the stupid one in "Batman and Robin". This Bane, played by Tom Hardy, was a well thought out character that had a backstory and everything. The great thing about Bane, he was very similar to the Joker, where they both wanted the same thing, destruction of Gotham, but they both tell Batman that they are the same person. Batman is just as crazy as the Joker and Bane and it took Nolan telling us this in two movies and I love it. Bane is such a cool bad guy. This movie had another great opening scene, where Bane and his cronies hijack a plane mid air, is so cool. I was immediately on board for the next 2 and a half hours. I couldn't wait to see where they took this movie and how they ended it. It was so good the rest of the way. Anne Hathaway was very good as Catwoman. Gary Oldman was crushing it again as Commissioner Gordon. Joseph Gordon Levitt was very good as John Blake, AKA Robin. Marion Coittilard was good as the villain Talia Al-Ghul. but, no one was as good as Tom Hardy as Bane. He was the absolute star of this movie. And, much like "The Dark Knight", I found myself siding with the bad guy, Bane, in this movie. I actually wanted him to "take control" and to crush Gotham City. I really enjoyed "The Dark Knight Rises", no, it's not as good as "The Dark Knight", but it's damn close.

Christopher Nolan revived Batman from the dead. Christian Bale did his part, but it was Nolan's directing and writing that really made these three movies great and made them classics for my generation, the millennials. I will watch these movies for the rest of my life, and I will enjoy more each time. Nolan made relatable bad guys that people have rightful reasons to root for and I love that. These three particular Batman movies are classics and will be talked about for the rest of time when superhero and just flat out movies are talked about. They are the best.

Ty

Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He will tell you all about on tomorrow's installment of the X Millennial Man Podcast, make sure you lend your ears. Read more from Ty on his twitter @tykulik.

When Bad Pop Culture Happens to Hopeful People

This is what happens when you mix hope and awfulness

This is what happens when you mix hope and awfulness

Piggybacking on our podcast from Saturday and RD's piece about sports heartbreak, I'm going to talk about a different type of heartbreak.

Today, I'm going to talk about two movies and two albums that left me heartbroken. There's things in your life that you look forward to and, even though movies and music are very low on the list, things as small as that can leave you heartbroken. You look forward to something coming out, you're already a fan and the first, or everything prior in the catalog, is great, and then a movie or an album comes out, and it's just a dud, and that makes me upset. All the build up and it's just a pile of garbage. That's what I'm going to talk about today.

First, let's talk about two albums that left me heartbroken. I was a huge fan of the band Rocco Deluca and the Burden. Their first album, "I Trust You To Kill Me" was phenomenal. Rocco Deluca is a fantastic slide guitar player, playing my favorite type of guitar, a dobro. He had a way with the slide and how he used chord progressions and effects that was pretty astounding. "I Trust You To Kill Me" had everything on it. There was blues, rock, love songs and everything I liked. I tried to teach myself songs off the album. I only do that with records that I really like. It was a great album. I saw the band perform at the Duck Room in Saint Louis, and the concert was excellent. He played all the songs off the record, played old blues standards, and blew me away. I was fully on board with whatever was coming next from Rocco Deluca and the Burden. In 2009, the band released their second album, "Mercy". Of course I bought it on the day it was released. I listened to it immediately, and this is where the heartbreak seeps in. This album wasn't the same. It was more emo and sad. I didn't know that the band was going through stuff, and they did break up after this album, but what they put on record was, quite frankly, garbage. There was no distorted slide guitar. There was no fire and passion coming from Deluca's vocals. The band seemed disinterested and the album was a complete downer. Being OCD, I gave this album many, many chances. I swear, I've listened to it from start to finish at least ten times. I still have the album downloaded on my iPod, but I don't listen to it. It is a bad record. This really bummed me out. I also heard that in interviews, Deluca kind of said that if you don't like this album, you're not a real fan of his. He's portrayed himself as kind of an asshole before this album was released, and this interview further proved the point. That also made me upset, because, I was a fan. I really liked what they did on their first record, but to act like this after you put out a dud of an album is really upsetting. I recommend listeningto "I Trust You To Kill Me", but give "Mercy" a hard pass. It's not good.

Another musician and band that I adore, not so much anymore, Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, put out six great, different albums and then their seventh record ruined all the good vibes I had. I was a huge fan of Ben Harper's in high school. The second show I ever saw, the first under my own accord, was Ben Harper at the American Theater in Saint Louis. I was a junior in high school and me and a friend of mine showed up about six hours early so we could be front row. I spoke about this show on one of our early podcasts. It was great. I was hooked and loved everything Ben Harper was doing. He was my introduction to slide guitar. His music introduced me to a lot of the blues that I still listen to. He has a really good voice. The band can do everything from rock to reggae. They're very versatile. And, like I said earlier, their first six albums are very good. But, in 2006 a double disc was released called, "Both Sides of the Gun". I was a bit older by this time, and my love was wavering just a bit. I really enjoyed his previous album, "There Will Be a Light", but that was more a Blind Boys of Alabama record than a Ben Harper record. "Both Sides of the Gun" was supposed to be Ben Harper getting back to what made me like him so much. He was supposed to put the acoustic guitar down, which he apparently fell in love with, and get back to the slide guitar. He does on "Both Sides of the Gun", but barely. That's what left me heart broken. He was supposed to have a return to form, but he only did on about four songs on a 18 song double record. It wasn't a return to form at all, it was all a lie, at least in my mind. I listened to this record a bunch too, trying to like it, but I just couldn't. It was too poppy. Ben Harper, inexplicably, started to yell sing on songs. The band didn't sound very good. It was a huge disappointment. I even went to see the band tour this album, and it was a pretty dreadful show. They didn't sound good live anymore, and that made me even more heartbroken. They kind of redeemed themselves with the album "Lifeline", but "Both Sides of the Gun" left a bad enough taste in my mouth, that I haven't purchased a Ben Harper record since.

Now, to the movies that bummed me out. In 2012, I saw previews for a movie entitled "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". This preview had my favorite president, Lincoln, and mashed it up with him being a badass vampire hunter. I was on board. I couldn't wait to see this movie. Opening day couldn't come fast enough. I dragged my wife and her friend along with me because they had to enjoy how awesome this movie was going to be with me. I thought it would be selfish of me to go see it alone. I wanted to share it with the people closest to me. So, not only did the three of us see it on opening day, but we saw it in 3D. I don't like 3D movies, but this movie was going to be so awesome, why not see it in 3D. The first hint I should've taken that this was going to be terrible, the theater was basically empty for a rush hour show on an opening Friday. But, I thought, people were going to miss out on the greatness that is "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". Then, the movie started. I was excited, but, that excitement was drained almost immediately. This movie was so awful. The acting was bad, the action was terrible, the fights were poorly performed and the 3D gave me a headache. This was not the movie I expected. This was supposed to be the movie of the summer in 2012. What the hell happened? I should've realized that a lot of movies released in early summer are released then because they're so bad. This was heartbreaking. I so wanted to love this movie, but I couldn't even like it in a way that people like bad movies. It wasn't fun bad, it was just bad bad. How could a movie that looked so cool be so terrible? Previews, that's how. The only good thing that came out of this awful, awful movie was, I don't take previews that serious anymore, going so far as to not watch trailers for movies that I'm excited to see. Don't watch "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter". It's very, very bad and will only disappoint you.

Another movie that broke my heart was Tim Burton's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". I adore "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", and I figured that Tim Burton would do a good job with a remake. Casting Johnny Depp as Willy Wonka seemed like a home run in my mind. That was not the case. First of all, Depp as Wonka was god awful. Instead of playing it with the whimsy and humor that Gene Wilder does in the original, Depp plays the role like a creep. He seems like a guy that shouldn't hang around children, and definitely shouldn't own a chocolate factory. He was dreadful in this role. But, he wasn't the only problem. This movie was an absolute train wreck from start to finish. The kids cast in the iconic roles played them way too over the top. They're supposed to be snotty kids, but these actors took that way too literally. Freddie Highmore, who I think is a pretty good actor, doesn't do such a good job as Charlie. He was too boring. I wanted this movie to be as good as the original, but it was so bad. Tim Burton tried to put his weird vibes on this movie, but this movie doesn't need his touch. This is supposed to be a whimsical movie, but Tim Burton tried to make it dark. That doesn't work here, and it broke my heart. Tim Burton needs to stick to his darker stuff and not ruin another classic movie. I looked forward to this movie, but it was so bad, it just made me upset.

So, there you have it. There's a lot of other stuff besides sports that have left me heartbroken, but these four particular things left me the most heartbroken as far as pop culture goes. Tell me some things that have left you heartbroken in pop culture in the comment section, or tell me why I'm wrong about the stuff I mentioned today. And avoid the things I mentioned today at all costs.

You'll thank me later.

Ty

Ty is the Pop Culture editor for SeedSing and the other host of the X Millennial Man Podcast. He wants to give all these things in big kiss while at a party in Cuba and tell them how they broke his heart. Follow Ty on twitter @tykulik