Genre Grandeur – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) – Digital Shortbread


Hey everyone, I’m featured once again over on MovieRob for September’s Genre Grandeur (favorite ’70s movies). Come check out my thoughts on Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory!


1970gg For this month’s first review for Genre Grandeur – Movies of the 70’s, here’s a review of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) by Tom of Digital Shortbread.

Thanks again to Sherise of The Girl That Loved to Review. for choosing this month’s genre.

Next month’s Genre has been chosen by me.

In honor of the month when Marty McFly came to visit us here in 2015, I have decided that we will be reviewing our favorite movies featuring time travel.

Please get me your submissions by the 25th of October by sending them to  Try to think out of the box! Let’s see what Tom thought of this movie:



Number of times seen: dozens, though the most recent watch was probably about 10 years ago now


Brief Synopsis: A poor boy wins the opportunity to tour the most eccentric and wonderful candy factory…

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TBT: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971)


Holy Gene Wilder, it’s an actual, legitimate “throwback” post for once! 😀 (Yes, this is not that new Johnny Depp remake, the one that looks more like a horror movie.) This one currently stands as the oldest film I’ve reviewed so far but it might also strike a second landmark as being one of my all-time favorite films and one I hold in highest regards. This loyal adaptation of Roald Dahl’s beloved children’s novel (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory), in my quiet opinion, epitomizes classic cinema. You cannot have a list of the greats and not have this title on it, it’s that simple. This fascinatingly bizarre tale of kids touring an eccentric candyman’s factory likely has gathered dust at home because, well let’s face it, there’s just a ton of other really great films from the era, enough for this title as well as many others to be easily obscured. But here I am going to jot down a list of reasons what makes this one of the best children’s book adaptations of all time, hopefully shaking some of that dust off those video cassettes in the process for those reading at home.

Today’s food for thought: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory


Release: June 30, 1971


So this is going to be a fairly difficult task: condensing my favorite elements of this wholly satisfying movie into a Top Ten list. Yikes! That’s like going into Wonka’s factory and picking out your favorite candy. I figured we all know the way this story plays out by now so it would be a little redundant to simply summarize my thoughts on the film that way. (Well, the truth is. . .lists are just easier.) So without further ado, here’s the reasons why this should be the only Chocolate Factory movie ever made (this is in no particular order):

  1. gene-wilder-picture-9Gene Wilder’s Willy Wonka is arguably the best example of a movie fully-realizing what a book only managed to create mere sketches of in the mind of the reader. In the eyes of a viewer, the great and unpredictable Mr. Wonka is brought to life in all his whacky glory, and Wilder could not have been a better fit.
  2. willywonkaandthechocolatefactoryBringing the Oompa-Loompas to life was an aspect to this story that director Mel Stuart did not fudge. (Cute pun, I know.) Each of these curious little. . . . . guys. . . . .added such an air of mystery and fantasy to the movie, and may also have been a superior version to whatever we may have pictured for ourselves while reading Dahl’s book.
  3. charlie-golden-ticketThe moment Charlie discovers he has found one of the five Golden Tickets goes down as one of the most joyous, genuinely heartwarming moments of any film. The song he sings as he skips merrily down the street, carelessly getting in the way of whatever (because he’s got a golden ticket), that’s pretty classic, too. We all know that no one deserved this opportunity more than the kind-hearted Charlie Bucket.
  4. anigif_enhanced-buzz-23405-1361219959-2Mel Stuart’s film captures the beyond-desperately impoverished conditions within the Bucket household. But after learning of Charlie’s miraculous find, Grandpa Joe (Jack Albertson) leaps out of the bed to which he’s been confined by his ailments in his senior years. Charlie needs a chaperone for his tour of Wonka’s factory, so he asks old Joe if he’ll join in on the adventure. Another wonderfully moving moment. Meanwhile, everyone else remains in bed.
  5. charlie-then-and-now1Peter Ostrum’s sole film performance as Charlie Bucket was again, perfect. (This seems to be shaping up to be some kind of rave post, doesn’t it?) Whether Ostrum was unable to find other roles after growing out of being a child actor, or that he wasn’t interested in film acting anymore is another matter entirely but in this movie he made one of the biggest impressions. He encapsulated the sweet innocence of this very poor kid, a kid with a much brighter future ahead of him.
  6. willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-image-02-600x337Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is nothing if not a role model for kids who are trying to do the right thing, who are well-behaved, good-mannered and amiable, instead of competing to be the most attention-grabbing, materialistic brats that they can be. The morality play at work is hard to ignore as we follow the group on Wonka’s tour of his factory. The film visually emphasizes the differences between someone like Charlie versus the other spoiled kids, multiple times over. Violet Beauregarde’s body turning into a giant blueberry perhaps remains the most vivid example of a kid failing to earn Wonka’s love and respect.
  7. The_Boat_Ride_Willie_Wonka_the_Chocolate_Factory_1971Who doesn’t appreciate a free boat ride, especially when it comes courtesy of Willy Wonka and his hard-working Oompa-Loompas? Hope no one gets scurvy too easily because the tunnel scene is one of the trippiest, most bizarre scenes in a film I’ve ever witnessed. Especially when I was a kid watching it. That chicken getting it’s head chopped off always got me. What freaked you out about this moment?
  8. 5Perhaps the character that has shown just how much this film has aged is the obnoxious, television-obsessed Mike Teevee. I phrase it like that because still images of the kid who plays the part in the Tim Burton remake show that this kid is nothing more than a videogame-obsessed, future reality-TV addict who trades his kicks in with characters from a monitor rather than having real-life experiences. The original kid, though hardly more likable, seemed to be preoccupied with Westerns and cowboy shows on television, a comparably more “innocent” obsession. The essence of the problem is more or less the same, but the outlets have changed, clearly indicating the shift in technology and what that is doing (and is going to do) to kids present and future.
  9. Willa-Wonka-and-the-Chocolate-Factory-willy-wonka-and-the-chocolate-factory-17593307-640-480Even despite the fizzy lifting drinks incident, Wonka decides that his search for a perfect successor has indeed ended, with Charlie Bucket being the most deserving kid to take over the chocolate factory. The second book in the series, Charlie & the Great Glass Elevator may not have been quite as classic as its predecessor, but the way in which this film ends perfectly captures this transformative moment in this kid’s life and proves that truly good things come to those who wait.
  10. A scene from the film of 'Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.Few films can match the fantastical spectacle that is Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. From the many classic numbers that permeate this fanciful tale of a poor kid going from rags to riches (but not in the way you typically think of); to the visual splendor of the set pieces (Wonka’s factory is brought to life in ways that Tim Burton wished he didn’t destroy with his version); to the performances, this is a film for the ages.

4-5Recommendation: Featuring a childlike wonder unparalleled in many films of its day and in movies that have tried to duplicate the magic, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is an incredibly charming, unique production that somehow manages to find ways of transcending its strong source material. Not only that, but every time one watches this film, they are instantly transported back to a time of innocence that no longer seems to exist. A wonderful, wonderful movie.

Rated: G

Running Time: 98 mins.

Quoted: “Time is a precious thing. Never waste it.”

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Closed Circuit


Release: Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Shortly after seeing Closed Circuit, my brain short-circuited.

After a serious cerebral work-out trying to figure out why any of the events that occur in this British pseudo-psychothriller really matter, I may have injured myself. I apologize if this review doesn’t come out all that coherently and/or if details are botched.

Despite the film’s best intentions to remain an involved, tense and compelling examination of the effects of what happens when concerned citizens get involved in an oppressive government’s affairs — all it can really muster up the strength to do is tease an audience willing to participate. Indeed, the film has a very interesting concept and the cast is relatively inspired. As well, it contains potent subject matter: who doesn’t love a good government-bashing every now and then? There are even several considerably compelling sequences, though they are rather scattered throughout an intensely dialogue-driven narrative. But the film goes nowhere, often veering off course into some yawn-inducing segments that wind up providing more loose ends than tying current ones up. At the end of this film you’re likely to be asking yourself why you just sat through that.

The more basic issue with the film is that there’s almost no payoff at all; that’s mainly due to the narrative being largely unsatisfying — equal doses distancing and too convoluted for one to care much about it or for the individuals in supposed crises.

Closed Circuit is the unsettling story of a corrupt court case that goes public in London, ostensibly set in the present-day. After an explosion kills over one hundred people in the downtown area, two lawyers — Martin Rose (Bana) and Claudia Simmons-Howe (Hall) — are called upon for an unusually tricky legal defense concerning one of the suspected bombers. The British attorney general (Jim Broadbent) has announced that there will be two sessions in which information shall be disclosed concerning the incident — an open court session proceeding a closed one; if that sounds a little fishy, a little disconcerting, well that’s the main selling point Closed Circuit is nagging you with here. It’s no new strategy, but in this case it’s a pretty interesting situation given the events.

As per the instructions given to Martin and Claudia by the presiding judge, the two go a long period without communicating with each other by any means, nor do they receive information through each other or are seen in public together; they are only to meet independently with a third party — a man named Devlin (Ciarán Hinds) who will discuss matters in private with each lawyer. Given some history between the two, it’s even more crucial that they remain out of contact with each other, in case they get too emotional around each other and threaten an already delicate legal situation. Of course, the two go as long as they can separated before they naturally break that code when their situations go from bad to worse.

To make things more complicated (and this is where your brain’s computing power really starts to kick-in here, hence your future headache), one of Britain’s top security enforcers, a government-run agency called MI5, could be implicated in the investigation into what’s generally being regarded as a terrorist attack against the country. As Claudia and Martin continue to dive into their investigation, several suspicious individuals begin lurking around in their vicinity, even despite the two’s initial willingness to comply with the conditions of their assignments. In Claudia’s case, a shady Middle-Eastern agent named Nazrul (Riz Ahmed) is perpetually looking over her shoulder, trying his best to be polite and as “friendly” as possible. At least, those are the initial appearances.

When the convoluted plot fully reveals itself somewhere near the end of the middle third of the film, it’s clear that he’s only a pawn in this elaborate government conspiracy that now threatens the lives of both lawyers.

Had the film not been obsessively talking to itself for most of the time, getting into the minds and lives of these characters would be surely worthwhile (and achievable). It would’ve provided this film a level of psychological dysphoria unmatched by many films coming out of Britain as of late. Instead, because there’s little character development or demonstration that any one person really is ever in danger at any time, the journey with the characters comes across catchpenny and largely devoid of emotion.

Bana is more or less a decent excuse to see the film, though his character is as haunted by his past towards the tail-end of the film as he is in the beginning. Rebecca Hall as his would-be partner here has a few moments to really shine, and she ends up coming to the rescue in terms of delivering a few of the more compelling lines and owning some of the crucial moments. Hall is actually quite good. Despite the cast’s best efforts to elevate the dull script, the tone continues to isolate and bore. If we were the jury sitting in on this case, we’d require substantially more evidence to see if this movie should be charged guilty of fraud or not.


2-0Recommendation: The title ‘Closed Circuit‘ suggests more about the degree of participation you might feel throughout this film: you could feel a little left-out and isolated from it all. That’s not your fault. On that basis alone, this film is difficult to recommend to many who actually enjoy being a part of the film. If you’re okay with sitting back and being well aware of watching a film, this might be worth checking out. There are some tense moments but these are so sporadic its not even really worth it for that, either.

Rated: R

Running Time: 96 mins.

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