Tuesday, January 08, 2008

More of the same

Yesterday I blogged about music in movies. Today I’d like to talk about something completely different: movies about music. I know, my versatility is astounding.

This weekend I saw both Across the Universe and Sweeney Todd. I’m not a huge fan of musicals, but cute girls were involved in both events and I’ve never been one to turn down interesting movies or cute girls.

Now I must admit, I’m not a huge Beatles fan. They have my respect, but very rarely have my ear, i.e. I very rarely put on my Beatles playlist. I find their early work a bit simplistic, their later (translate drug-induced) work a bit intangible and for whatever reason they have just never clicked for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, but they’re probably not in my top 50. But I’ve noticed that Mormon girls think they’re great, so accordingly I have a vested interest in their work.

I quite liked Across the Universe. The conceit of the movie is interesting, and the Beatles has perhaps the best repertoire of lyrics around which to write a movie. Though I did think a couple times during the movie that a Queen version would be more fun. Though the movie was too long (it could easily have lost 30 minutes), I enjoyed some of the meandering that was required to fit songs in. I really watched it more as an extended music video than a film. And in that light, it succeeded in spades. The visuals were fantastic and the music top notch. And while I just indicated my lukewarm feelings about The Fab Four, I quite enjoy covers in general, and the covers herein ranged from good to great.

Some people didn’t like the acid trips, which didn’t bother me. Some people didn’t like the moderately unnecessary lesbian cheerleader story, which didn’t bother me either. Though, I can think of few lesbian cheerleader scenarios that bother me. The plot and acting were fairly inconsequential to me, so while they aren’t likely to win any awards, they were more than sufficient for my needs. All in all it was an enjoyable and successful experiment. And a Queen movie would be AWESOME. Take note Hollywood.

The next night I saw Sweeney Todd. I had missed a chance to see it over Christmas break due to my mystery illness, so I was glad to find a chance to see it on the big screen. I saw it with two girls who were fans of musicals and Johnny Depp, neither of which were my purpose in being there. I was there for Burton and blood.

I’m a pretty big Tim Burton fan. I don’t think he’s the best director in the world, and he certainly could stand to stretch himself a bit. But you know what you’re going to get when you go to a Burton movie. It’s going to be dark and it’s going to be interesting. Sweeney provided both in abundance. I thought the tone of the movie was perfect. The pale, dirty London looked fantastic and fit perfectly. The humor was a bit sparse, but was appropriately black and surprisingly effective. I laughed out loud several times (as a gage I didn’t laugh once during Chuck and Larry.) Though I wasn’t familiar with the play before seeing the movie (I’d seen it as a child, but didn’t remember a thing) as I’ve looked at it a bit afterwards I think his adaptation worked very well.

To say I went to see blood is an exaggeration. But I was interested in how the gore would factor in. Turns out that the last year and a half of looking at diseased and infected bodies have rendered movies a bit mundane. The throat slitting didn’t bother me in the slightest. But it was pretty and watching one of the girls squirm was an added bonus. The blood certainly keeps me from recommending the movie to anyone and everyone, but I can say that it didn’t bother me at all. I definitely wouldn’t rank it any worse than Braveheart or Gladiator, an oft-used benchmark.

I really liked the music of Sweeney Todd. I’m not sure if I would’ve rushed to the internet to find the music of Across the Universe. I already had it so it’s a moot point. But I definitely downloaded both the full movie and stage soundtrack for Sweeney when I got home. Whereas I find the songs in many musicals to be overly long, I thought these were just right. This was in fact due to Burton, who cut the length of many of the songs from their original versions. I also don’t like how the songs in many musicals some artificial and pull you out of the story, I didn’t have that problem at all with these songs. I couldn’t tell you why, but can only say that it felt more like an opera than a musical. The plot always seemed to be moving forward in the songs.

In the end both movies were very enjoyable. Sweeney catered more to my tastes, but both were effective. If you can handle blood, see Sweeney Todd. If you can handle boobs and clowns, see Across the Universe. Enjoy movies while they’re still coming out regularly.

1 comment:

Catherine Elizabeth said...

There is a Queen musical that did very well in London; not sure if it ever made it to New York.