Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sweeney Todd

Wow. Just Wow. I was so anxious about seeing this film that it was imperative that I went by myself. The merging of Sondheim and Burton was a risky one“ and I wasn'™t sure that I would be pleased with the results. While I love both Sondheim and Burton in entirely different ways, I was extremely concerned that this film would be over saturation for me, mixing two very important parts of my life (kind of like when you introduce your parents to your significant other for the first time). I knew in advance that I would be overly critical of Burton's adaptation of Sondheim's score and any and all changes made.

So before you are all questioning what I think,“ here it is--“ I loved this film. I really, really loved it. It has taken me a long time to write a review because I've had quite a bit of sentiment, history and emotion to process.

I'll start with Depp as Sweeney. He was good. He was very good. But that was to be expected. Depp has become the new DeNiro or Pacino. Always giving astounding performances that are fun to watch if not over the top. Depp'™s Sweeney was all about revenge. I had no compassion for his character, which worked for me perfectly well (I felt similarly about Cerveris in the recent Broadway production). Depp is beautiful and creepy to look at. Though I did think his characterization was very internalized -- not that it was a bad thing at all -- his Sweeney was brutal and seething and angry. But I have seen this done before. And his singing was very good. I don'™t understand these critics who say that his voice was weak.

For me, the most beautiful moments in the film were watching Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett. Her voice, namely her lack of formal vocal training, worked in such a powerful and Brechtian way. Her voice was reminiscent of Sally in Nightmare Before Christmas -- passionate and heartfelt focusing more on the character than hitting the notes of Sondheim's difficult score. Her facial expressions, and her ability to make Mrs. Lovett sexy without trying or vamping around onstage (like Patti Lupone) was so perfect. She was scary and sexy and for the first time I empathized with Mrs. Lovett and her unrequited love.

Sydney says:
I way over hyped this in my head so I was only slightly disappointed. Sarah and I agreed that the humor was a wee bit sucked out of the Sondheim songs. That is the only reason I didn't give it 5 stars. It's a bloody good movie.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Sweetest Thing

4 out of 5 Stars
Hilarious. Any film that includes glory holes and musical montages about penises is fine by me.

And for your viewing pleasure, I present the PENIS SONG!!!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Conversations With Other Women

3.5 out of 5 Stars
I enjoyed this film a lot. Good script, good acting, and the split screen worked.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Eastern Promises

3 out of 5 Stars
Not my favorite of Cronenberg's films. I found the story a bit predictable. Still, Viggo Mortensen was fantastic, not to mention nekkid, so...yeah, bonus points for that. Don't mess with the Russian mafia. Come on, Naomi Watts' character...are you stupid?!? You'll never win. They are powerful mother f&*ckers!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

No Country For Old Men

4 out of 5 Stars
Mmmmm...Javier Bardem. So creepy yet still so sexy. Josh Brolin was also intriguing. I have a hard time understanding Tommy Lee Jones - I find that he mumbles so I had a difficult time focusing on his monologues. Still, an excellent story by Cormac McCarthy made into a riveting and stressful theater experience by the Coen brothers. Good work.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Dead Girl

3 out of 5 Stars
Not bad. Very good performances by Toni Collette and Marsha Gay Harden. These circular plot line films with the stories intersecting (a la Pulp Fiction) makes it difficult to feel strongly about any of the characters, though.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

I Know Who Killed Me

3 out of 5 Stars
3 stars for being (in my opinion) a good bad movie. The reason this film earned such a high rating (from me) is due to Lohan. Listen all you Lindsay haters -- this girl has something. Admit it. You love her. Or you love to hate her. Or something about her made you pay money to see this piece of crap film in theater (or encouraged you to put it in your Netflix queue). If not for Lohan I may have turned this film off halfway through. But the plot was just *that* guess-able -- yes, I knew who killed her within 14 minutes. That it made me realize the brilliant potential of this as a clever 'Parent Trap' follow up. Oh so fitting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

El Orphanato (The Orphanage)

3 out of 5 Stars
This was a solid film. I loved the story and it was a good script (though perhaps I could have done without the multiple 'Peter Pan' references). It's refreshing to watch a film that manages to be disturbing and scary without being overly grotesque. I do think the director 'borrowed' some of his scariest moments from Carpenter's 1978 'Halloween'. But even so, this film captivated me -- I loved Belen Rueda -- would love to see her in other films.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

The Quiet

3 out of 5 Stars
I thought this was going to be a 'Poison Ivy' type horror/suspense flick, or even a Lifetime made-for-TV type film. So I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was a disturbing and well written script. Very well done.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Arctic Tale

2.5 out of 5 Stars
2.5 stars for Queen Latifah's soothing voice lulling me into a semi sound sleep on a long flight from Tokyo to Atlanta

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Invasion

3 out of 5 Stars
3 stars for being an entertaining airplane movie. Held my interest and occupied a good 2 hours of my very long flight.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

My Kid Could Paint That

4 out of 5 Stars
Wonderful and well done documentary that left me feeling sad and confused. It was a real life example (in some ways) of what John Waters expressed in 'Pecker'. Whether or not young Mara was 'coached' or 'helped' by her father doesn't take away from the fact that her art is different and new. I mean, really. Even if her dad verbally assisted her, it was still Mara holding the brush and producing large, 'popping' canvases that are both innocent and intriguing. As an early childhood educator, I paint with young children all the time and I have never had a student of that age with such steady motor skills, brush strokes, or color choices. And I do believe that Marla painted 'Ocean'. Would I buy her paintings? The question is, do art collectors buy modern art because they truly love it or because it is a 'must-have', like a Birkin bag? It's like a case of 'I have it and you don't.' I'd absolutely go to an exhibit of Marla's work. Just as I'd go check out any modern artist. Because no one can answer the question 'What is modern art?'. I've seen art painted in blood and art painted with feces. I've seen photo exhibits that more than push the line of pornography. So how is the 'gimmick' of Marla (being a 4 year old painter) any different? Even the fact that a documentary was made and she created a small scandal in the art community says something.
The documentary made me feel especially sorry for her mother, who came across as the antithesis of a stage mother. She struck me as really genuine and concerned about her children. I feel bad for the children to have been unknowingly put through such publicity, but I don't think that was ever the parents' intent and I also believe that they really did put the money into Marla's college fund.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Knocked Up

2 out of 5 Stars
I try and try to find these films funny. But Im in the minority of people in my age range who are the target audience for these comedies. Knocked Up is not unfunny, per se, and Seth Rogan has his moments, but his character transformation (which occurs in under 90 minutes) was so unbelievable that I laughed out loud (finally) during the credits.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Stephanie Daley

3.5 out of 5 Stars
I've been enraptured by Tilda Swinton since 'Orlando'. And I've always Amber Tamblyn had potential to be one of the better younger actors of this generation (though on a side note I also think Rachel Miner has a lot of depth and chooses more challenging and adventurous roles than Tamblyn does). The script was sharp and sadly all too relevant. The power of the scene lies in the listener and both Swinton and Tamblyn had me riveted by their subtle facial expressions and the honesty that they portrayed. I thought this was an excellent film -- I'm only sorry that I watched it on DVD rather than in the theater.