Sweeney Todd

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Angela P Smith
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Sweeney Todd

Post by Angela P Smith » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:01 PM

I got my paws on Tim Burton's version of Sweeney Todd. It's everything I expect from a Burton movie. Dark dim depressing but Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter are quite good though Carter's singing voice is a bit weak.....
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue Apr 15, 2008 11:08 AM

Didn't it win Best Picture?

Rosie and Terri saw it in the theater. I sounded too bloody for my taste, but Rosie just got the DVDs so I will probably sit down and watch it at some point.

Johnny Depp never disappoints, and neither does Stephen Sondheim, so once I get over my squeamishness I'll probably enjoy it.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Tue Apr 15, 2008 13:21 PM

Depp was nominated for an Oscar but didn't win, best film honors went to No Country for Old Men, actually. But I am as amazed at Johnny Depp as you are - he is by far the most diverse and talented actor out there, probably the best of his generation (i.e. our generation). I first saw him on 21st Jump Street on a new network called Fox, thought he had star potential. But where I really saw him break out was as Edward Scissorhands, a performance that to this day I know could not have been equaled by any other actor alive and was the kind of rare acting "tour de force" you rarely see in film, and I mean all of film history.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Wed Apr 16, 2008 12:21 PM

I guess I better to rent Edward Scissorhands. He frequently is directed by Tim Burton, so those two are something of a pair now. That was the case with Sweeney Todd. It may be that Burton brings out the best in him.

I saw No Country for Old Men and frankly I don't understand how it ended up with Best Picture. It was definitely better than average but the performances overall were quite wooden, nor was it particularly suspenseful. And the rambling ending at the end kind of ruined it for me.

What were the people voting for Best Picture thinking? Did I miss something?
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Wed Apr 16, 2008 13:39 PM

Yeah, just like Dinero/Pacino and Scorcese, for example. Often directors and actors get comfortable and work together via many projects for many years - and we are the beneficiaries of such wonderful collaboration. Burton/Depp are precisely the same, as you noted.

So you've not seen Edward Scissorhands yet? You're in for a treat, it's a very special movie - you'll see Vincent Price in his final silver screen appearance, and a very young Wynonna Rider (who dated Depp at the time). Plus a great performance once again by Alan Arkin.

Did you see No Country for Old Men in the theatre or on DVD? I ask because it's much more enjoyable with an audience. Anyway, I agree the whole industry had a weak year in terms of dramas - but you have to be a Coen Brothers fan to appreciate their offbeat editing and storytelling. So regardless that it won best picture or not, it's still a great film. Not just above average, but a modern classic. You'll see, this is one they'll be talking about years from now - especially the performance of the killer played by Javier Bardem and his crazy haircut and modus operandi for flipping coins and using that air cannon. Just like we talk about Fargo and its quirky cast (re: wood chipper scene) and also the infamous Hannibal Lecter after all this time since the original release of Silence of the Lambs roughly 18 years ago.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Thu Apr 17, 2008 11:08 AM

I watched the first 40 minutes of Sweeney Todd last night and was immediately hooked. I can't wait to see the rest of it.

I had a different opinion on No Country for Old Men. I didn't think that much of Javier Bardem's performance. Playing a steely psycho killer is not that hard, and he basically came across as very one dimensional. I did see it in the theater shortly before it closed. I tend to like the Coen Brothers but I don't think this was close enough to some of their other much more deserving films, like Fargo. This one disappointed.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Thu Apr 17, 2008 18:32 PM

I'm with ya if you compare it to Fargo. But on your belief that Bardem's performance was one dimensional and that playing evil isn't challenging for an actor, you and I are going to have to part ways on that one! Playing the anti-hero or the heavy in any film is by far the most interesting part in the movie (always) because often the integral character's background story isn't conveniently inserted into the script, most scenes require a combination of physical and emotional intensity that is tough for continuity throughout a shoot and of course often black humor is part of the character's devices - a tough balance for any actor. Not to mention the unconventional wardrobe, mannerisms and nuances that make evil characters unique and interesting. I mean you probably didn't think about all of this stuff that actors consider - well I refer to the good ones, of course. Bardem played against type as he normally does the good guy, sexy romantic lead or a detective, etc. This performance was extraordinary which is why he won his Oscar, Mark. In real life, assassins with a twisted sense of morality really are cold, one dimensional and terrifying relentless. The Coen brothers extended that with some humor and odd physical traits (the haircut) to visualize the unsteadiness and imbalance the character is based upon. It's all intentional, and brilliant.

Now to be clear, I said playing the heavy is traditionally the most interesting part in any movie (or play, TV show or book, come to think of it). I didn't say it was the overall hardest, obviously comedy and song and dance require alot more skills and timing, and great comedians are born with it, it's not teachable to the extent anyone can be a Buster Keaton or Ben Stiller or Jim Carrey and so on.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Fri Apr 18, 2008 10:08 AM

I agree that playing the bad guy usually means you get the most interesting parts. Consequently we are drawn to performances like Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter because he is unusual. Clearly I didn't see the depth in Bardam's performance that you did. He played crafty rather than angry. And of course he played peculiar: using that oxygen canister to blow out door locks was a classic Coen brothers device.

The film was fully of steely, deadpanned characters which I assume is consistent with the western, tough cowboy motif. These include Josh Brolin and Tommy Lee Jones' performances. If you ask me Tommy Lee Jones was just as creepy portraying his character as Bardam. Here's a guy who finds millions of dollars and he is so matter of fact about it.
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Post by Jim Goldbloom » Sat Apr 19, 2008 6:42 AM

Yep, it takes place in west Texas and in the DVD extras I recall both actors noted they were both born and raised there or near there, and people really are like that. The girl who played Brolin's uneducated and somewhat submissive wife isn't even American, so her performance - in terms of the accent and mannerisms - was first rate as well.

I replied here just so you get a sense that even though the film was not your typical Hollywood action film instead with unusual pace and many stories all taking place in a parallel manner as they merge at the end (a la Tarantino) - it had wonderful acting, cinematography and great, first class editing so it deserved the win. Yes, in whole the film industry could have done better this year, but you'll see over the years people will still be talking about this film over many of the others. It really is a modern classic.

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Sat Apr 19, 2008 13:52 PM

West Texas is one of those areas of the country that Hollywood has pretty much ignored, so it was good that it got some screen time. The country looks both desolate and lovely in its own way. Someday I will have to travel that part of the country.

I did finish Sweeney Todd last night. I never saw it staged so it was all new to me. Depp was excellent as was the rest of the cast, but it was way too gruesome for my tastes. I have a feeling seeing it on stage is less stomach wrenching. Except for the violence, well worth my time. I will blog on it.
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Post by Angela P Smith » Wed Apr 30, 2008 15:11 PM

I won't watch Sweeney Todd and eat so I haven't made my way through the whole thing yet Mark. But I am enjoying Sacha Baron Cohen's small role as Pirelli the Italian barber with the outsized ego and socks in his breeches.... :lol:
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Post by Mark D Hamill » Thu May 01, 2008 11:29 AM

Angela, he was great. Aside from the gruesomeness it was really quite an excellent film, so Jim is right to praise it. It deserved best picture.
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Post by Angela P Smith » Mon May 18, 2009 14:52 PM

I got green with Sweeney's first murder of the egotistical Pirelli so I have given it a break for now.
"The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for."

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Post by Mark D Hamill » Tue May 19, 2009 11:39 AM

Played by Sacha Baron Cohen, a.k.a. Borat.
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