[Sca-cooks] OT & OOP: Sweeney Todd movie

Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius adamantius1 at verizon.net
Thu Nov 29 12:29:18 PST 2007

On Nov 29, 2007, at 2:48 PM, Lilinah wrote:

> My subject is out of period and pretty much off topic. However, it is
> food related, in a way.
> Some time ago I'd heard there was a movie being made of "Sweeney
> Todd". The music-&-lyrics by Stephen Sondheim are superb. So i was
> quite excited about finally getting to see the play on film.
> Now, in the past couple days, i've seen ads for it on TV. I think Tim
> Burton could be a good choice of director - his works are almost
> always both dark and disturbing, and often quite touching.
> But i'm wondering about the star choices. Don't get me wrong, i'd be
> willing to watch Johnny Depp do almost anything (i do have some
> limits :-). And Helena Bonham Carter (Tim Burton's SO) has a good
> look for Mrs. Lovett. But are they really the best choices to present
> Sondheim?
> Has anyone heard anything of substance about the film? In the end, i
> will undoubtedly go see it, but i'm feeling a bit skeptical about it
> as a "star vehicle".

There are practically no words to express the trepidation I feel as we  
approach the release of this travesty of one of the greatest musicals  
ever written. Part of it is that Tim Burton is not able to touch  
anything without Burtonizing it. He has to make it "his", and what is  
his cannot be Sondheim's, or Harold Prince's. This is, for practical  
purposes, Burton's retelling of the plot of the musical, with a few of  
its songs thrown  in as punctuation.

Depp is still too much too young to have spent fifteen years suffering  
in Botany Bay, no matter what Bride of Frankenstein shock wig you want  
to put on him, and then when you consider that the character is a  
friggin' BARBER, you can be reasonably sure the man owns a comb and  
knows a Bad Hair Day when he sees one, even in the mirror. And as for  
the Captain Jack Sparrow thing he's got going, well, I find him  
insufficiently powerful and intimidating, let alone scary. And then  
let's not forget the fact that he can't sing a note and has been  
handed one of the most musically demanding roles in theatrical  
history. Len Cariou permanently damaged his vocal chords performing it  
every day for a year; Depp seems to be channelling the last days of  
Johnny Cash, speaking in conversational tones in time to the music.

Carter, well, she seems to manage to pull off the whole amoral thing,  
but I have a hard time buying her as an early Industrial Revolution  
pastry-cook. You gonna run an oven with a dress like that for more  
than 20 years and still have that skin? At least she has an excuse for  
her own fright-wig -- split ends will do that to you.

Borat as Pirelli could be a stroke of genius, _IF_ he can sing, ditto  
Rickman. If.

I've seen most of the major American productions: Cariou and Lansbury,  
Hearn and Lansbury, Hearn and Loudon, Cerveris and Lupone (boo, hiss),  
Hearn and Lupone. Cerveris and some wooden boxes...

Hearn and Lupone "in concert" is probably the second best production,  
but a distant one. Nobody ever touched Cariou and Lansbury.

Honestly, I think Burton has a sufficient fan following that he could  
win an Oscar for best picture with him manipulating Lego characters  
with his hands from off-camera on YouTube, with people humming and  
going, "Dinky-Dinky-Dink" in shrill voices in the background for music.

Well, lest I appear opinionated, I'll stop here.


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