thank you, carrie fisher…

(crossposted from Facebook)

I have a weird relationship with the Star Wars universe. Many of my friends have heard this story, but for those who haven’t…

When Star Wars first came out in 1977, I really didn’t care about it. It just wasn’t on my radar. I was 11 years old, living in El Centro, CA, and deep into the world of the Hardy Boys, swooning over Shaun Cassidy and Parker Stevenson.

That fall (or maybe it was winter), my father took my entire family to see “Star Wars” at the local drive-in. I went reluctantly because, darn it, I was missing the second half of a two-part Hardy Boys episode! I needed to know what happened to Joe!

I’m pretty sure that I watched it, but I pouted the entire time.

Fast forward a couple of years. In that time I became an avid Star Trek fan, as well as Sherlock Holmes fan. I also adored the Hammer horror movies. When I realized Van Helsing/Victor Frankenstein was also Grand Moff Tarkin in “Star Wars,” I thunked myself in the head for being such a pouty girl lo, those several years before. Especially since Tarkin didn’t survive the first movie, so I was going to miss seeing the glorious Peter Cushing again on a movie screen.

Then, in 1980, I got involved with theater at my school in San Diego, where my family had moved to in 1978. I was in my very first play: a one act melodrama called, “Begone, Begonia.” I was the mysterious Madame Naomi Seesall. And my romantic interest in the play was Mayor Hiram Halfcrat, portrayed by Pat Hamill – Mark Hamill’s younger brother. Pat and Mark came from a Navy family, like myself, so it’s not surprising that we all ended up in San Diego at some point.

Pat and I continued to be friendly while I lived in San Diego, but we were never friends, and after my father retired from the Navy and we moved to the Los Angeles area, we never spoke again. (And that’s okay.)

As teens can be, I became vociferous in my allegiance to the Star Trek universe and rather dismissive of Star Wars (though, hey, that Harrison Ford sure is handsome). Eventually I mellowed, but Star Wars never really called to me.

Yet.

I appreciated its role in pop culture and how it brought science fiction back to the forefront. I always thought it was a fascinating universe that was, unfortunately, ruined by George Lucas’ tin ear for human dialogue and emotion. (Thank Lawrence Kasdan, Irving Kirshner, and Richard Marquand for bringing some humanity to the initial trilogy.)

And I deeply appreciated Carrie Fisher’s portrayal of such a strong, badass woman as Leia Organa. She may not have been my role model growing up (I was too busy idolizing Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson, Spock, and Doctor McCoy), but she was a positive role model for so many young girls and women who desperately needed one. I later saw her from afar at my first concert: Simon and Garfunkel Reunion Tour at Dodgers Stadium in 1983. She had just married Paul Simon, so she joined them on the tour and threw wedding bouquets to the audience. (Yes, I wanted to catch it. No, I didn’t have a chance in hell.)

As I got older and heard more about Carrie Fisher, I came to appreciate that she was, indeed, a strong, badass woman in her own right. I appreciated her wit, her blunt manner, and her refusal to bow to Hollywood’s youth culture as she “aged out of desirability” or whatever the fuck it’s called (Amy Schumer’s “Last Fuckable Day” skit comes to mind.)

Ms. Fisher’s openness about her demons of addiction and mental illness made many of us who fight either one – or both – realize that we weren’t “less than” because of our struggles. We may fight against a chemical imbalance, but we are worthy humans. Such openness is invaluable.

In her youth, her portrayal of Leia Organa inspired young girls and women to be badass. In her older adult years, Carrie Fisher inspired young and older women – such as myself – to be unashamed of getting older, of being feminists, of fighting the good fight in our own ways, whatever that way may be.

Her death is sad, especially in a year that has taken so many iconic figures of our youth. But her legacy is forever.

And I will be forever grateful for her time on Earth.

Thank you, Ms. Fisher. Fair winds and following seas to you.

carriefisherforceawakens

martha marcy may marlene

Many moons ago I wrote a little something about John Hawkes, whom I had briefly met a number of years ago following the performance of his former band Gangster Folk at the now-defunct Highland Grounds. Since then his acting star – which was always a fascinating one to follow even before Buttleman – has steadily been on the rise with brilliant turns in such projects as Deadwood and Me and You and Everyone We Know, with him finally garnering an Oscar nomination for his role of Teardrop in Winter’s Bone – a chilling and affecting performance that richly deserved the nomination in a very tough and talented field.

Well, friend of John Hawkes and one-time acquaintance of mine Stephen Falk linked to a video of Mr. Hawkes singing a song from his new movie Martha Marcy May Marlene. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love with the song. And the movie trailer makes me want – nay, need – to see this new movie.

Oh, John Hawkes. Who knew that when I spied you singing onstage that February night in Aught-Three, wearing that powder blue polyester tux and barely buttoned ruffled shirt and looking for all the world like a delinquent behind the gym during prom, smoking and drinking Jack Daniels, that I would become an avid fan of your tremendous acting talent? I sure didn’t. And oh, man, I was certainly short-sighted.

other pursuits…

…were engaged this past weekend. Three movies were seen, all with CuteFilmNerd. (Yes, considering we’re no longer a couple, we do still spend a lot of time together. We’re still very close friends and he doesn’t live far from me, so, yeah, we still enjoy hanging out a lot. But unless certain things change – and I have no idea how likely that will be – I seriously doubt we’ll get back together.)

Friday evening I insisted on seeing Fright Night. I was going through some serious David Tennant jonesing and had to have my fix. So off to the Arclight we went. I was experiencing some trepidation once I found out that Marti Noxon had written it, seeing as she had written some of my least favorite Buffy episodes (“Bad Eggs.” “Beauty and the Beasts,”, though to be fair, she also wrote “The Wish”, which was excellent) and oversaw the series during its worst seasons. Despite my many reservations, the movie was actually fun. It kept the bare bones of the original, but was successfully updated for the 21st century.

Anton Yelchin was fine as Charlie and, while I vastly prefer the suavity of Chris Sarandon as Jerry, Colin Farrell’s more animalistic bad boy Jerry hit all the right notes. Also, Toni Collette should be in pretty much every movie. I just really like her.

And yes, my beloved David Tennant was marvelous. It took awhile before his character popped up and stayed (though there were little hints of Peter Vincent sprinkled all over, starting with the very beginning), but once he stuck around, the movie – in my not so humble and not at all biased opinion – really took off. My G-d, that man would have chemistry with a doorknob. If only he were a little less skinny. I’d be afraid to hug him for fear of breaking him in half (not that I foresee that happening any time soon). But he’s a skinny framed guy and still nicely toned (hello, lovely shirtless scenes!), so it works for him. *sigh*

[…]

Um, sorry, I had to have a little bunk time there. Now, where was I? Oh yeah.

The next day – after Sarriah and I went for our long walk – I met up with a youngish man (okay, he’s actually 60, but has a youthfulness about him) in Hollywood for a coffee date. Yep, my first date since the break up. It went well enough. He was very nice, intelligent and complimentary to me (said I looked even more attractive in person) and we spoke very easily, having several things in common. But I just wasn’t drawn to him physically, though he’s a nice looking gentleman. He expressed an interest in another date, which I kind of backed away from, citing my recent breakup (cowardly, I know, but I didn’t want to be mean). Now, I wouldn’t mind being friends with him. I’d actually like to be friends with him. But that physical connection that I need just wasn’t there for me and I don’t want to lead him on. I’ll probably email him and let him know that, if he’d like to be friends, I’m open to that.

Saturday night was another movie with CuteFilmNerd, this time seeing The Help through the SAG Film Society. Parts of it were excellent and parts were formulaic – I think I’m getting jaded in my old age, as I know this has gotten excellent reviews. But while the acting was uniformly excellent (oh, Allison Janney and Sissy Spacek, you must also be in nearly every movie as far as I’m concerned), the stand out was Octavia Spencer. Damn, that woman can act!

Sunday morning saw me going on another walk, this time with CuteFilmNerd to get bagels from a bagel shop that’s about a mile and a half from his place, so we got in about three miles. And while this walk didn’t provide the lovely sights of Lake Hollywood, there were a few things that caught my photographic eye:

Paramount Studios - Homage to Star Trek IV
Paramount Studios - Homage to Star Trek IV

I love this mural!
I love this mural!

Newly fallen flower.
Newly fallen flower.

An unusual sight in the age of smart phones.
An unusual sight in the age of smart phones.

We also went shopping for various apartment related things. And that night was another SAG Film Society offering: Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Much was good about it (again, why is John Lithgow not in every movie ever? Though I may be biased after my 3rd Rock from the Sun days…), but after a while I just get very, very tired of long action sequences, no matter how well done. However, count me in amongst those calling for an Oscar for Andy Serkis. Oh. My. G-d. He is amazing. See this movie for his portrayal of Caesar, if for nothing else (though you should also see it for John Lithgow – just saying).

There were a few things I had to push off until the next weekend because I was just exhausting myself. I’ll be ready for them in a few days!

“i’m gonna pop your cherry.”

When I first heard that Fright Night was being remade, I had definite reservations. I’ve always enjoyed the original, with Chris Sarandon as the handsome vampire next door and the inimitable Roddy McDowell as the horror show host Peter Vincent (named in honor of Peter Cushing and Vincent Price). Then I heard that David Tennant was cast as Peter Vincent. Wha-? And the character was being changed into a magician.

Nonononononono!

Don’t get me wrong. I love me some David Tennant. They say you never forget your first Doctor and, as I stumbled upon the series very late, David Tennant was mine. And, quite frankly, the main reason I was drawn into it (I’ve now seen all the Christopher Eccleston episodes and am avidly following the Matt Smith episodes). He’s a talented actor, seems to be quite down to earth and just a lot of fun in interviews. Not to mention that he IS a very nice piece of eye candy.

But Peter Vincent as a magician? And, as I would much later find out, one in the mold of Criss Angel (who just doesn’t appeal to me)? So very wrong. Having Peter Vincent as a horror show host was a stroke of genius, but they are a long gone breed and I just couldn’t imagine how they could rewrite the character to be appealing.

Now I know. And, thanks to these three scenes, I may have no choice but to watch this new incarnation.

Oh, David Tennant, you are a yummy treat indeed.




not completely terrible

On Sunday CuteFilmNerd and I went to see Sherlock Holmes. It was definitely a Guy Ritchie movie – very early on we saw some very stock Guy Ritchie shots that were new and exciting with Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Luckily he didn’t go overboard with those shots – just enough to work with the film.

On the whole it was a fun movie. I didn’t cringe as much as I feared I might. Jude Law was an acceptable Watson, one that made sense within the movie, but had his roots in the Canon. I liked the denouement – it made complete sense, even if there were parts of it I had already deduced. I even liked the inclusion of the building of the Tower Bridge in the movie. It showed some sense of history.

However…

Robert Downey, Jr. was fun to watch, with a pretty good English accent, but he wasn’t Holmes. Despite the many nice touches in the movie that showed that somebody had read the stories (Holmes shooting V.R. into the wall, having him box McMurdo onscreen, which was mentioned in Sign of the Four, as well as others touches), I saw nothing of Holmes in his performance.

Still, I didn’t hate the movie. I can deal with that.

unbelievable generosity

Well, my participation in Holidailies didn’t last long, did it? Obviously I just can’t get myself to writing these days, so I’ll just move along to the main point of this entry: Christmas and CuteFilmNerd’s unbelievable generosity.

CuteFilmNerd and I went up to Fresno to visit my mom, my sister and her family. This time around we opted to stay at a motel, since last year we had to sleep separately when we stayed at my sister’s place. In the main rooms. With children and dogs traipsing through early in the morning, which isn’t conducive to sleeping. It made it a much more relaxed visit for me and, I think, for CuteFilmNerd. And, even though CuteFilmNerd isn’t big into holidays, he appreciated being around my family for the second Christmas in a row. It was very sweet.

I thought I was doing pretty good with the Christmas present getting (got him a number of things that he’d been talking about for awhile, including a film splicer used at MGM decades ago, which he had been looking at on eBay over the previous months), but CuteFilmNerd went a little crazy with the presents for me. I’m still stunned.

Beautiful toaster oven, which I've been wanting forever, and a very cool cookbook.
Beautiful toaster oven, which I've been wanting forever, and a very cool cookbook.

A few politically themed gifts, which makes a lot of sense with us, as we originally bonded over politics.
A few politically themed gifts, which makes a lot of sense with us, as we originally bonded over politics.

Browncoat goodness! Yay!
Browncoat goodness! Yay!

A Sherlock-tastic Christmas, including a couple of DVD sets of rare Holmes recordings. CuteFilmNerd certainly knows my love of Holmes.
A Sherlock-tastic Christmas, including a couple of DVD sets of rare Holmes recordings. CuteFilmNerd certainly knows my love of Holmes.

And the pièce de résistance:

An amazing camera. All of the previous photos were taken with the CoolPix that CuteFilmNerd gave me. I'm still kinda reeling.
An amazing camera. All of the previous photos were taken with the CoolPix that CuteFilmNerd gave me. I'm still kinda reeling.

What a sweet, wonderful man. How did I manage to luck out with this guy?

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Now I’m taking the rest of the week off to get things done around the apartment (we were working only two days anyway). I haven’t been around much this past week, what with work and shopping and parties and travel, so the cats have been really missing me. Right now I’m surrounded by cats on the sofa. I’m going to be around so much this week that by the end of the week these cats are going to be ignoring me.

you have a grand gift of silence, watson…

…too bad Michael Robert Johnson, Anthony Peckham, Simon Kinberg and Guy Richie don’t.

Who are they? The writers and the director of the latest film incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, titled – cleverly enough – Sherlock Holmes, due out on Christmas Day.

Of course I’d heard of the coming film for some time, but hadn’t checked out the trailer until GruvLoungeGoth (who, I’m thinking, needs a new nickname – it’s never quite sit right with me, but I’m too creatively bankrupt to come up with a new one) asked me via Twitter if I had seen the new trailers. His question stirred up an inadvisable curiosity within me that had to be sated. And so I viewed this:

Oh, how painful it was. And how painful it still is, especially for a long-time Sherlock Holmes fanatic like myself. I briefly considered harakiri to erase the memory.

Unfortunately the release date is almost upon us, which means that marketing for the movie has significantly increased. Billboards, bus shelters, sides of buildings have sprung up all over the city, the charmingly weathered visage of Robert Downey, Jr. painfully reminding me of that which is to come. Not to mention such logical tie-ins as:

7-11 breakfast sandwiches
7-11 breakfast sandwiches (though, to be fair, Holmes was known to slap together a quick (cold) sandwich and stick it in his pocket for later when on the trail of a criminal)
7-11 white chocolate caramel lattes (because Holmes and Watson were famous for ordering such drinks when dining at Simpson's)
7-11 white chocolate caramel lattes (because Holmes and Watson were famous for ordering such drinks when dining at Simpson's)

and

scratcher lottery tickets (because if they gambled with their lives for England, surely you can gamble a measly $2)
scratcher lottery tickets (because if they gambled with their lives for England, surely you can gamble a measly $2)

The weird thing about this is, I would normally be excited (though slightly weirded out) about all this marketing if the trailer promised a good movie. I love me some Sherlock and think it would be great for the characters and stories to have another resurgence.

So…what is it about the trailer that has got me so twitchy? Not what you would think.

It’s not all the action. I actually don’t have a problem with Holmes and Watson being plopped into a big budget action flick, as long as the action feels natural to the story and the characters (though, yes, it does feel a bit too action-y). As originally written by Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes was a boxer, fencer, single-stick expert and master of baritsu. It was his knowledge of baritsu that saved him from Moriarty’s clutches at the Reichenbach Falls. Watson was also a man of action, ready with a pistol or a fist when needed, as well as being a veteran of the Second Afghan War. Much as I hate to say it: Nigel Bruce, he wasn’t.

Speaking of which, Jude Law looks like an acceptable Watson to me. A man who spoke of having “an experience of women which extends over many nations and three separate continents” (The Sign of Four) was bound to be handsome (the appropriate Watsonian mustache lessens Law’s distracting prettiness, making him more manly), plus he seems to have a nice bit of non-stodgy gravitas which suits the character, as does the twinkle of intelligence and mischievousness in the eye.

I reserve judgment on Rachel McAdams as Irene Adler. She looks far too tartish, to be honest, and relies on a kick to the groin where I believe Irene would have used her admirable brains, charm and wit. But as this is a re-imagining, I’ll wait.

Okay, so I don’t have a problem with the action or with Watson and am willing to play wait-and-see with the femme fatale of the piece. Just what is my problem?

holmesposter1

Yep. Robert Downey, Jr.

Never mind that, frankly, his nose is too small (so was Jeremy Brett’s, who is my favorite Holmes of all, narrowly edging out Basil Rathbone, who had a proper Holmesian aquiline nose).

What gets me is…I don’t see Sherlock Holmes. I see Tony Stark with an English accent in sloppy Victorian clothes. There’s no real difference between the two characters, except that Downey’s Holmes looks less mentally and emotionally tortured than Downey’s Stark. Also, Holmes was described by Watson to be as meticulous in his personal grooming as he was messy in his housekeeping (I can’t find the exact quote right now, but that was the gist of it). Looking slovenly and unshaven was never something Holmes would be.

Downey just looks…wrong.

Recently CuteFilmNerd and I saw Nine. In the very first scene I was taken aback by how completely Daniel Day-Lewis inhabited his role, as he did in There Will Be Blood and, my favorite film of his, In the Name of the Father. Instantly I remembered the Robert Downey, Jr of Chaplin and wondered where that immersive actor went. Because I sure didn’t see him in that Sherlock Holmes trailer. I’m sure that Ritchie is a big reason for that – he’s known for flip characters and fast action and I will have no problem heaping the proper amount of blame on his head for any Sherlockian misfiring. Still, it would be nice to have Downey be strong enough to overcome the flippancy of his director and the potentially poor writing of one of the men responsible for X-Men: The Last Stand.

Perhaps I should just chill out until I see the movie. And yes, I will be seeing the movie, though I may have to have CuteFilmNerd gag me and tie my hands to the chair arms to keep me from flailing and screaming. As a member of his employer’s film society, CuteFilmNerd can get into a screening of the movie the weekend after Christmas for free. I will, of course, be his guest, for I feel compelled to watch the damned thing but I have no desire to pay my hard-earned money for it.

I just wish that I wasn’t dreading it so much.

“so close. just a few weeks away from a real audible connection.”

So, the last few days have been chock full of interesting things. The least of these was the acquisition of a new phone: Google myTouch 3G. My last phone (Nokia 6133) had been bugging the crap outta me – my first one died in March after less than two years and the replacement was getting buggy. I was surprised because my previous phone was a Nokia 3220, which I got free when I signed up with T-Mobile in 2005 – it was a sturdy little phone that I only replaced in 2007 because I wanted something a little fancier and I’d dropped it a billion times on hard pavement and cement and the reception was finally starting to get spotty. Its replacement was seriously disappointing.

Both CuteFilmNerd and I picked up the myTouch on Satuday. While it’s not perfect, I’ve been thrilled with it so far, while CuteFilmNerd has been a little more frustrated. But, while he loves his toys, he’s less of a tech geek than I am. Once he’s got it all down, I think he’ll be very pleased with his selection.

Here’s my new baby, with all of the accessories that came with it (the only accessory that I purchased was the acrylic case – it even came with a 4GB mini-SD card):

HPIM3657HPIM3666aHPIM3661a

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On Friday, I attended American Cinematheque’s special event The American Cinematheque Blows Up the Internet: Webisodes on the Big Screen, thanks to the auspices of CuteFilmNerd, who was volunteering to photograph and write up the event only because I desperately wanted to go. And why did I want to go so badly? Because they were projecting the second season of The Guild and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. And Joss Whedon and Felcia Day were schedule to participate in a Q&A session. It turns out that they weren’t the only participants: Joss’s brothers Zach and Jed, Maurissa Tancharoen (co-writers on Dr. Horrible) and Vincent Caso, Sandeep Parikh and director Sean Becker (all from The Guild) also sat up on the stage. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, I was a bit of a wuss, so I didn’t pose for any photos with anyone (not to mention the place was packed with geeks far more aggressive than me). All wasn’t in vain, however:

2009-10-16-JWHEDON (29a)2009-10-16-JWHEDON (30a)2009-10-16-JWHEDON (34a)

While Joss Whedon was a bit reserved (which is fine – I understand how geek fangirls and fanboys can be sometimes), Felicia Day was such a sweetie. I introduced myself and said hi and as she shook my hand, someone she knew swooped down on her and commandeered attention. I had turned around to leave and suddenly she was right next to me, asking if she had said hi to me. I pulled out my Dr. Horrible DVD, feeling kind of awkward because I very rarely ask for autographs, and she just signed away, then shook my hand before going into the theater. Very sweet.

It was great seeing it on the big screen. And while things didn’t go quite the way I might have liked – at least according to the absurdly high hopes I held – it was still a fun evening. I’m very happy CuteFilmNerd got me into the event and volunteered just because I wanted to go. Turns out he enjoyed the events of the evening too.

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Last night CuteFilmNerd got me into another event that he was working: the 100th birthday celebration of Carla Laemmle. Carla is the niece of Carl Laemmle (the founder of Universal Studios) and uttered the first lines in Dracula (1931). It was a lovely evening and I was fortunate enough to meet a woman who is still beautiful and gracious and whom I hope to emulate when I’m even half her age:

2009-10-20-LAEMMLE (169a)2009-10-20-LAEMMLE (170a)

I relayed birthday wishes from Eric that he had tweeted to me. Her response: “Thank you. That means a lot to me.”

The true definition of a class act.

However, a very unexpected plus for me was meeting Ray Bradbury. In 1985, when I lived in a Northridge apartment, I saw him speak at Cal State Northridge and was very impressed, then again this year at the Forrest J. Ackerman tribute. I’ve enjoyed his work over the years, though I’ve, by no means, have come close to reading a large percentage of his work.

I had noticed him during the after-event reception, when he was on his way out but still posing for photos with various people. Not wanting to be obnoxious, I stood off to the side and took some surreptitious photos:

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (8a)2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (7a)2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (9a)

Then, as he were definitely leaving, his assistant noticed me off to the side, saw the camera in my hand and asked if I wanted a photo. Not surprisingly, I leapt at the opportunity. While not saying much, he was very sweet and took my hand after the photo.

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (10)

All in all, quite a fun, geeky few days, all shared with my handsome film nerd:

2009-10-20_CarlaLaemmle_100_B-Day (13a)

I wouldn’t mind having more days like that.

a little self-pimping…

My word, but it’s been arid ’round these parts.  Lots of things happening over the last month: CuteFilmNerd and I had some things stolen out of his car just before the new year, including his beloved laptop and iPod; my laptop has taken a nosedive and is down for the count (I was lucky enough be able to get some files off it before I send it to the iBook graveyard); a text-pissing match between my devout Christian sister and me about something she misinterpreted over the Christmas holiday; something about a war criminal leaving the White House and a brilliant lawyer taking over his job, which fills me with all sorts of glee.

But what has gotten me off my metaphorical ass to finally update this site?  A little self-pimping.

Based on a comment I left on The Critical Condition, I was invited to submit a guest movie review, which is up today. Yay!

I’ll have to remember to stop by here more often. Maybe even post once in a while. And to update that damned sidebar, because it is looking seriously sad.

Hope y’all are having a great 2009 thus far!

it’s an idea…

As y’all know, I fully support the writers in the strike, but I do miss the humorous insight of my pretend boyfriend Jon. Too bad I don’t have a basement…

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So I saw Sweeney Todd last night. As I suspected, I didn’t hate it or find it badly done. Tim Burton and company did a fine job. Was it perfect? No. As a Sondheim fanatic who’s worked on two productions of the show and for whom Sweeney Todd is my second favorite musical (Sunday in the Park with George is #1, also by Sondheim), the chances of me finding absolutely nothing wrong with it is pretty slight.

But it was very faithful to the source material, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter – if less melodramatic in the roles than I’m used to – still did well, both acting-wise and singing-wise. Alan Rickman was, of course, fantastic (then again, in my eyes it would be difficult for him to do wrong). I didn’t care much about the young lovers Anthony and Johanna, but I rarely do anyway – that’s nothing to do with the actors. At least the actress playing Johanna actually looked like a teen – rarely a given.

All of the other characters were nicely acted (including Sasha Baron Cohen as Pirelli). Plus recasting Toby as a child (instead of the simple minded adult in the stage version) worked well and added a chilling dimension to certain scenes. The child actor playing Toby (Ed Sanders) was terrific.

I loved the cinematography and set design, as I tend to do with Burton’s movies, and the way the musical was made purely cinematic pleased me to no end. And the ending? I know this musical like the back of my hand and I was still on the edge of my seat. Well done.

My issues with the movie are actually quite minor. One or two scene transitions could have been more creatively done (especially with an early scene where Sweeney is singing about the past, which then brings us to the past) and there was some graininess in some of the later scenes, which were especially dark. I also had some problems with the loss of some songs and lyrics. In most of the instances I understood why the songs and lyrics were cut (though I felt that, in one instance – the first scene with Anthony and Johanna – it hurt the scene a bit), but I missed them nevertheless, especially since it would have meant that I got to see Christopher Lee sing. Long-time readers know I’ve been a Chistopher Lee fan since I was five.

Still, I’m happy that Anthony Stewart Head still had a cameo, even if his original role as the Ballad Ghost was cut. Sondheim himself was very much involved with the production, which helped to keep it on track. And the thing that makes me really happy about the movie? Having Johnny Depp as the lead will insure that people who are not familiar with Stephen Sondheim or his music will see this and, perhaps, discover a whole new world of brilliant music and lyrics. Since this was a faithful and handsomely mounted adaptation, that can only be of the good.

The movie opens tonight in general release. Go, Sweeney, go!