Sweeney Todd/No Country for Old Men

Murderers are really people whose screws have come very loose. When killing for no good reason, murderers must have a glazed look in their eyes, speak in a monotone and proceed to enjoy the splatter of blood on their blank faces. They prefer longer hair so they can flick their hair from their eyes after a violent attack. In addition, they tend to be obsessed about certain things, like razors and shoes.

The above are insights i have gleaned from a long, dry afternoon of watching a singing sociopath masquerading as a barber and a psychopathic Fei Xiang lookalike with limp hair.

Benjamin Parker (Johnny Depp) was a naive and kind barber, that was until he was arrested for no reason, so that an evil Judge Turpin (Alan Rickman) could get his hands on his lovely wife. Parker, therefore accursed and sent to a far-away land, returned to London 15 years later as Sweeney Todd, determined to seek revenge on the lecherous judge. Depp is magnificent in his razor-wielding glory, scary and anguished all at once. And yes, he sings quite beautifully, and still looks sexy in a crazed way. Jamie Campbell Bower is the dashing Anthony who falls in love with Parker’s daughter- the unfortunate new object of Turpin’s desire. Ed Sanders was endearing as loyal Tobby, a street urchin who was rescued by Mrs Lovette (Helena Bonham Carter).The dark, authentic setting/props brought London’s dark alleys to life.

The rest of the cast came straight out of Harry Potter- Rickman is now, instead of a sneering Professor Snape, a sneering judge. Timothy Spall has progressed from being Peter Pettigrew, sidekick of Lord Voldemort to disgusting sidekick of Judge Turpin. Helena Bonham Carter, looking as gothic as ever, is no longer insane Bellatrix Lestrange, but Mrs Lovette who is quite crazily in love with Sweeney Todd. The non-stop singing and the gory scenes of splashing red liquid convinced me I was watching Harry Potter- The Bloody Musical.

The storyline is in Broadway fashion, dramatic, passionate and quite predictable. The songs were very catchy but after listening to “I feel you, Joanna” a couple of times, i got quite irritated. Tim Burton is someone I can’t decide if i like or dislike. Sometimes, his works are wonderful- i loved Edward Scissorhands, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Beetle Juice. Yet, I hated Big Fish. Sweeney Todd is passably enjoyable, easy to understand, very Burton-ish in its rather queer characters and gloominess, thrilling at times, but really, nothing to shout about.

Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem), a cold-blooded drug-runner who kills by tossing coins in No Country for Old Men, is much scarier than Sweeney Todd. He carries this mean-looking machine and goes around putting holes into anything- people’s foreheads, door knobs, whatever that crosses his path. Bardem is so frightening, i yelp in fear whenever he moves.

And that’s basically it. I am going to buck the trend and declare I have no idea what the hell No Country for Old Men was trying to express. This film is like the Oscar flavour of the year and I am telling you I have no clue why. I don’t get its deep philosophical musings or its artistic direction. I don’t even understand the title. What? That old men cannot live in a particular country? That when one gets old like Tommy Lee Jones, he or she becomes ineffectual and outdated? All I can say is that Bardem scares the living daylights out of me, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin), the main target of Bardem is attractive in a Marlboro Man way, and that Tommy Lee Jones as a tired, old Sheriff looks hot for his age. Wry humour is present in this western thriller, and at times, the film was so suspenseful, I literally felt my heart in my mouth. And then, before i got the real meaning (It’s Oscars! It can’t just be a thrilling catching game!), the film ended with something I don’t quite get. There has got to be something I am missing cos’ to me, No Country for Old Men was about as scary and deep as Wes Craven’s Scream.

I have not learnt my lesson however, and shall catch, if I have the time, There will be Blood, featuring an evil Daniel Day Lewis whom I think will kill many more.

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