nothing's gonna blog you not while i'm a around

Try some blogger/goes well with a pint of lager! **

Sweeney Todd (2007) Though I’m a fan of Stephen Sondheim, I lack the kind of familiarity true blue musical theatre-types have with his stuff; even so, I think I can say that Tim Burton and Johnny Depp do a magnificient job of adapting Sondheim’s story of the impossibility of love and revenge co-existing for the screen. Indeed, maybe other than Martin Scorsese, I can think of few other directors more qualified to direct a musical than Burton, who seems quite comfortable calling on his unique skill for assembling striking-looking characters on even more striking-looking sets, and in this instance, having them sing. Both Depp – whose high, blown back hairdo evokes a man whose life blew up in his face - and beautiful Burton beau Helena Bonham Carter – blinking adoringly up at Depp through raccoon eyes and over her impressive bosom - do an admirable job of pulling off all that singing, leaning into the melody instead of straining against it (much like the caterwauling we got stuck with in that Nicole Kidman and Ewan MacGregor thing about Paris and burlesque shows), and the producers stick in talented singers Jamie Campbell Bower (Anthony Hope - ho ho) and Jayne Wisener (Johanna) to bracket any shortcomings Depp-as-Todd and Carter-as-Mrs. Lovett might show.

I think that one of the reasons this film is so successful is that it’s a mature work from boy-man Burton: for a while, it looked as though he might stop telling stories about outsiders and start wallowing, but Sweeney – much like his splendid Ed Wood, executive-produced Corpse Bride, and even the oversweet flash of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – represents a shift away from Burton moping alongside his protagonists and instead giving them and the audience an opportunity to see what happens when they try to make their own communities: Sweeney Todd is not about happy endings, of course – as noted, Sondheim is quite clear that there is no place for love and happiness with obsession and revenge in the way – and, just under Sondheim’s wonderful songs, Burton seems to be saying that sometimes, it’s possible to be too far outside.

Southland Tales (2006) A super slick, super super campy metrosexual mess of a music video, a Saturday Night Live cast flick, Skiddoo, and The Muppet Movie starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Boxer Santaros, a politically-connected actor with amnesia and a screenplay, and Sara Michelle Gellar as Krista Now, a pornstar with a pop-liberation agenda and a business plan. Someplace in all this is a story about identity, civil liberties, degenerate media, the 2008 presidential election, tide energy, and the end of the world, but Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly seems more concerned – well, it’s hard to tell what his concern his, as nothing in the flick really contributes to the everything-and-extra-cheese premise he’s ordered up. Making things all the more difficult is the fact that no one during the course of the movie acts a role so much as makes a cameo, the actors don’t make a scene as pose and share the frame, and though there’s a crapton of great one-liners, they never move any of those scenes along. The fun’s all in just being in Kelly’s pretty and pointless little movie and saying those great one-liners.

This is just the sort of movie that little geek girls with perfect features and cute hair and cool glasses and great fashion sense love, and they will drag their hapless, well-meaning boyfriends to suffer through midnight showings of this. So take that anyway you like (though any flick where you get to see and hear Sara Michelle Gellar say, “Okay, I like to get fucked. And, I like to get fucked hard” can’t be half bad. Well, one third bad).

Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006) Unlike Southland, Goran Dukic's lean, intelligent love story steers clear of attempting to shock and awe the audience with star power and weirdness, even with indie goddess Shannyn Sossaman and Duke of Coolsville Tom Waits in starring roles about death, dying, and angels (and what I’m pretty sure is a Gogol Bordello song in there, too). Based on Etgar Keret's novella "Kneller's Happy Campers", Wristcutters follows emo suicide Zia (Patrick Fugit) landing in purgatory – purgatory being a lot like here, except purgatory actually does suck. Zia hears through the purgatorial grapevine that his living girlfriend took the literal plunge, and so it’s road trip time with his goofy Russian buddy Euguene (Shea Wigam) to reunite with her. Along the way Zia and Eugene pick up the hitchhiking Mikal (Sossaman), who swears she’s there only by mistake, and nearly run over Waits, who may or may not be representing other interests in the beyond. Charming and funny; if this movie were a girl, I’d buy her a chocolate milkshake and an MIA cd.

** Lookitme! I'm Stephen Sondheim!

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