film club: big eyes

Our family are big fans of public libraries. It suits our budget (free!) and our lifestyle. Sometimes we make requests for books, music, and movies, but, more often than not, our library borrowing habits consist of a quick peruse and go. This ensures that we see a wide assortment of movies. Take, for instance, the film we picked up that spawned this new blog category – Big Eyes.

Big Eyes is the retelling of the true story of artist Margaret D. H. Keane (played by Amy Adams) and how it came to be that her unique “sad eyes” paintings were passed off to international art ‘fans’ as being those of her husband Walter Keane (played by Christoph Waltz). It is a sad tale of a woman who lets herself be small in the shadow of her second husband’s large personality and talent, and of her eventual courage to be the woman and the artist she wanted to be.

Before being scooped up at the library, I had never heard of this film nor had I heard of Margaret or Walter Keane. In a bonus “making of” interview, director Tim Burton, talked about the popularity of Keane “big eyes” in the 1960’s in his hometown of Burbank, California. “It was like, suburban art. It was the only kind of art you’d see. It was in people’s living rooms, bedrooms, offices, supermarkets..” For me, that was the part of the story I kept coming back to – the proliferation of certain kinds / works of art. There is a scene where Margaret turns the corner of a Supermarket aisle and comes up on a huge display of reproductions of her work in all shapes and sizes. It begs the question of how something, especially something many thought peculiar, clumsy, and tasteless, can become a sensation?

Whether or not you agree with the high brow gallery owner (played by Jason Schwartzman) and think Keane’s Big Eyes are “clutter”, this movie is a good film club selection.

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