2007 Movies: “Juno” and “Sweeney Todd”
Because everyone loves it when I pan their favorite movies. And to celebrate canceling my Netflix subscription. For now.
Saw these two movies last week.
I have this theory as to why critics always like movies like “Juno”. It’s this: movie critics are nerds. Nerds like to watch movies about other misfits. Even if the main character is too smart to be interesting (let alone believable), the plot is facile, and the jokes are slow in coming, they like seeing “themselves” (but much better looking) on screen. It’s misguided: just because we don’t see a lot of *this type* of character in movies that doesn’t mean that a movie that shows *this type* of character is good just because it features *this type* of character.
Ugh. I didn’t actually hate it as much as all that, just that I’d give it two stars and yet somehow it got nominated for Best Picture. Travesty. It’s the nerds’ fault. The same people who (used to) love all those Wes Anderson movies. The ending was arbitrary, the tension non-existant (you knew she was going to give birth, that’s not tension), the characters unbelievable and flat (but an *unusual* kind of flat), and the soundtrack was so very, very precious. Heck, the whole movie was precious. Ugh.
Maybe I *did* hate it as much as all that.
I liked “Sweeney Todd” a whole lot better. I’d seen the recent (2006) Broadway revival with Michael Cerveris and Patty LuPone and came to the (borrowed) conclusion that it was The Only Musical That Ever Needed to Have Been Made. The movie wasn’t as good as the stage show (how could it be?), but it used the medium well to make itself its own thing, IMHO.
There were only two missteps for me: (1) the weird hair and (2) Helena Bonham Carter. I guess both of those are completely the fault of Tim Burton, who (a) wants every movie to look like Halloween and (b) didn’t want to tell his wife she’s not a very good singer. Every time I knew one of Mrs. Lovett’s songs about to start I felt myself cringing. Her voice was so wispy — she sang like a ghost. Maybe that completed the Halloween motif for her husband, but couldn’t they have fixed her voice in post-production somehow? It was especially awkward when she was singing alongside any of the other actors, all of whom had bigger, better voices than hers. Even the kid. Ach, ja.
And I didn’t quite get the makeup and grooming that seemed intended to make Anthony look like a hermaphrodite. But he sang well and ultimately — heck, why not a hermaphrodite?
Other than that, it was good, angry, vicious fun. I’d read a review or two complaining that the movie was so *dark* that it took all of the humor out of the musical. Those reviewers were wrong (and, more importantly, I Am Right). I’ve never laughed more at seeing someone get their throat slit than I did watching this movie. No joke. The gore was over-the-top laughable. All of the spots that were supposed to be funny were, in fact, funny. There were also parts that were, for me, better on screen than on the stage (“Have a Little Priest” and “Down By the Sea” fared better on the big screen — and were funnier — than in the stripped-down recent Broadway production).
And I still don’t think “The Departed” was the best movie of 2006.