Obscurity Knocks

Earnest, empathetic, industrious, unpretentious, gay Virgo in Milwaukee with a great life, amazing friends, and a wonderful family.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street

Barbie and I saw "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" last night. I should be clear right away that I'm not a big fan of Stephen Sondheim. I'll be the first to acknowledge that he's a very key and important figure in the history of the American musical. And Sondheim is probably the most accomplished living musical composer and lyricist. That said, I've never been able to get excited about his music. How I feel about Sondheim is similar to how I feel about Bach: I can appreciate the genius of the work, but it doesn't touch me on a deep level. I know that if you're a true musical aficionado, you're supposed to bow down anytime someone mentions Sondheim. And as a gay guy, I'm supposed to get even more excited. But I just can't get passionate about Sondheim.

Those things said, I enjoyed the film. Tim Burton is always able to transport the viewer to a fantasy world of the bizarre, the ghoulish, and the fantastic. Plus I think that he's a fatalistic romantic, which appeals to the sentimental part of me. Johnny Depp proves that he is indeed one of the greatest actors of our time. His career is packed with innovative roles, and "Sweeney Todd" adds another gem to his resume. Helena Bonham Carter does Angela Lansbury proud in her portrayal of Mrs. Lovett. The supporting cast do a fine job, although I can't stand Sasha Baron Cohen because he thinks he's much funner than he actually is.

The Sondheim music works well with this type of macabre story. Yet there was something lacking for me in the film that I can't really put my finger on. Perhaps it's because I like a more Technicolor-type musical, and this was much more grey. I enjoyed it, but wouldn't want to see it a second time.

Mostly, I'm glad that "Sweeney Todd" continues the resurgence of the musical in this decade. While not as good as "Moulin Rouge" or "Chicago," "Sweeney Todd" is right up there with "Dreamgirls" and "Rent."
And I was glad to be able to see this movie with Barbie, since she's a huge fan of Tim Burton, Johnny Depp, and Alan Rickman. So that made it a nice evening.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sacrilege! Although you may be on to something -- there is something about the music of both Bach and Sondheim (although obviously totally dissimilar) that becomes instantly connected with you once you've played it. For non-musicians I could see how they might be somewhat inaccessible.

I'm looking forward to seeing Sweeney Todd!


9:08 AM  
Blogger Steve said...

JRP, Right - I wasn't trying to imply that there's anything similar about Bach and Sondheim. Rather, I wanted to make the point that neither composer connects with me emotionally. I appreciate the genius of Bach, but I prefer the emotion of Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky. Bach is too mathematical and perfect, while Beethoven, Brahms, and Tchaikovsky affect me on an emotional, transcendent level. Bach is never transcendent for me. As for Sondheim, he just doesn't connect with me, although I appreciate his talent.

11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm all ready to give my detailed opinion of this film because I'm a huge fan of the musical. Um...but maybe I should see it first.



1:23 PM  
Blogger carrie said...

johnny depp is the man!
tim burton, too.
they rock the hizzouse.
can't wait to see this movie.
thanks for the review.

6:07 PM  

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