Friday, December 28, 2007


Wow.  Yet again I walk into a movie theater in 2007 and yet again I am blown away. SWEENEY TODD, one of visionary director Tim Burton's absolute finest efforts, was a mesmerizing movie musical, the best of any of the recent tuners to hit the screen.  Macabre, gothic, and beautifully realized in all production departments, SWEENEY TODD is, in many ways, a masterpiece of tone, style, filmmaking, and storytelling.  The actor/director bond that Johnny Depp and Burton have formed has hit a new crescendo.  Depp is in complete command of his vocals, delivering a richly compelling performance.  Burton is firing on all cylinders here, working with themes that he's been exploring for years in films as diverse, yet strangely similar, as ED WOOD, PEE WEE'S BIG ADVENTURE, BIG FISH, BATMAN, SLEEPY HOLLOW, and CHARLIE & THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY.  He fuses his grand filmmaking techniques with an intimate story of love, revenge, and murder.  Working with the phenomenal cinematographer Dariusz Wolski (PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN 1-3), Burton brings a near monochromatic look to much of the film; SWEENEY TODD is painted in varying shades of grey, black, and white, with a surreal red darting across the screen as Depp's Sweeney slices throats and spills blood on his way to salvation.  Horror films and musicals are two of my least favorite genres, but with Burton and Depp doing something wild and genre busting like SWEENEY TODD (a lovingly bloody R-rated musical),  it was impossible for me not to get sucked into this world immediately.  Grand guignol of the highest order, John Logan's adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's original play is bracingly nihilistic yet strangely cathartic by the end; the film's final images are unforgettable.  Add another four star film to the pile for this year, one of the best I've ever experienced at the movies.  My full review will appear soon. 

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