Thursday, December 27, 2007

Sweeney Todd, No Country For Old Men - Bloody Good

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Written by John Logan
Directed by Tim Burton
Based on the original stage musical by Stephen Sondheim, Hugh Wheeler and Christopher Bond, originally directed by Harold Prince

No Country For Old Men
Written and Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen

I get squeamish quite easily. Never been a big horror fan, and blood makes me faint. So I think I watch both Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and No Country For Old Men with my eyes closed half the time, but from what I saw and heard, I thought they were excellent, although at a certain point while watching No Country For Old Men, much like I did last year while watching The Departed, I was thinking, it's an excellent movie but why the hell am I putting myself through all this stress? Javier Bardem is one crazy muthaf#$kin scary ass killer. I don't think I watched a single scene he was in, he was that good (and I was that scared).

As for Sweeney Todd, it did help enlighten some of the things I missed from the excellent stage version, and while the casting was aces, I only wished Helena Bonham Carter sang a little better. The duets with Depp covered her weaker voice but I wish she was a better singer because as crazy Ms. Lovetts, she was terrific at least in the acting department. At least the young'uns they cast, Jayne Wisener (from the AMAZING stage version of Parade I saw in London this year) and Jamie Campbell Bower as Johanna and Anthony, were beautiful in both voice and serenity, adding the heart to the show against the madness of everyone else surrounding them.

Also, kudos for Carter's Harry Potter veterans Alan Rickman and Timothy Spall (also having a damn good musical year with Enchanted) as Judge Turpin and the Beadle, rounding out Tim Burton's dark company.

But the movie really belongs back to Sondheims original music, and while I was sad they cut the lyrics to the opening song "The Ballad of Sweeney Todd" for narrative reasons (I still think it could have been done over the opening credits), I began to start loving the music, which I hadn't yet when I saw (and heard) Sweeney Todd for the first time on stage. Sondheim has always been a composer whose music gets better with repeat listenings and the movie helped flesh out some of the things I missed from the pared down stage version John Doyle had brilliantly directed (but maybe not the best version to see if a complete virgin to the musical).

Anyways, at this point, I haven't been able to get out "Johanna" out of my head. Nor some of the visuals of all the blood squirting out from the necks of Todd's victims. The macabre of it all makes the musical all the more fascinating, but I guess you needed to know it was a musical in the first place, unlike the incredibly rude couple (that came late after the theatre went dark and was one of those people determined still to get the best seats in the house asking everyone to move down some for seats together right in the middle) next to me that gasped and loudly voiced their annoyances every time a song started, totally clueless that it was a musical (they finally left just as I had enough and was about to say "shut up". God, people. I can totally see why Sweeney Todd did what he did.)

On the other hand, I won't go as far as Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh, the sociopath on the hunt for Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss after Moss finds a stash of money from a drug deal gone bad.

I had avoided the critically acclaimed movie No Country For Old Men for a while now, mainly just cause of the violence I heard about it scared me but after enough readers and comments told me I had to, I did. And now you must pay...

Thanks for psychologically damaging me forever folks. I'm going to be haunted for a long time now.

At a certain point I'm not sure I could have taken the suspense any longer (and it didn't help that they cast one of my favorites, Kelly Macdonald as Moss' wife who becomes endangered just because of her marital status) and again, I'm not sure I liked the movie WHILE I watched it, but I will admit it was an excellently made movie in it's simplicity and thrilling affectedness.

Anyways, both these films, directed by directors known for certain stylings, seemed the most unlike their regular styles. I mean, Sweeney Todd still felt like Tim Burton to a point but much less than most of his films and again, I forgot it was Tim Burton directing and cared more about Sondheim's original. Meanwhile, I felt no Coen Brothers usual quirkiness which isn't a praise or a slag. Just a comment I had. I'm still haunted at this point to really make heads or tails of it all.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street = A- or 9/10
No Country For Old Men = A- of 9/10

For My Reviews of the other Best Picture Oscar Nominees:


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

just saw no country for old men; it's unassumingly unconventional and yet (thankfully) never over the top... overall the Coen brothers deserve their Oscars, well done indeed.