“Bee Movie isn’t a B movie, it’s a Z movie, as in dizmal” — without question the funniest and most penetrating of all the Bee-stingers I’ve read today.
The author is Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern, who also observes that star-producer-cowriter Jerry Seinfeld “delivers every line — every stupid bee joke that he and his cronies could cook up — with a pounding, punishing triumphalism that recalls not the Seinfeld of Seinfeld but Milton Berle on a really bad night.
“At one point in Barry’s honey trial, an exasperated defense lawyer asks, ‘How do we know this talking bee isn’t some kind of Hollywood wizardry?’ Would that wizards had left their mark. This is Hollywood hackery.”
There is nothing on the face of this earth as 100% unreliable as a Harry Knowles effusion about a movie he’s been privately shown by some chummy, back-rubbing distributor. His early-bird Sweeney Todd review is therefore totally theoretically dismissable because everyone knows it might well be another Armageddon ejaculation. I love Harry personally, but he’s shown time and again that he’s too emotional and too susceptible to be trusted out of the gate.
That said, he’s calling Sweeney Todd “Tim Burton‘s best film since Ed Wood — which I consider to be his very best film to date. That said, upon multiple viewings it is possible this film will become my favorite Burton film.
He’s also calling it “a hybrid of Disney and Bava and Corman.” Mario Bava? Jesus H. Christ…that’s it as far as the Academy is concerned. Bava is an acquired taste (ivory-tower elitists like Dave Kehr are among the celebrators) but Academy squares aren’t sophisticated enough — the Bava thing goes right over their heads, or under them.
“In structure [Todd] is a sweeping love story between a young innocent man and a caged would-be Repunzel…but then there’s that rare character that you never see in a Disney fantasy musical. A bitter psychopathic father figure that is out to revenge the horror of his own life.” [Note: it’s actually spelled Rapunzel — Knowles should have spell-checked.]
“I would call this Tim Burton’s Grimmest Fairy Tale….a delicious Grand Guignol tale that is, simply irresistible. And as a work of film, set to Sondheim’s songs it is very much the great dark musical-fantasy horror work.”
The most interesting part of the essay is Knowles warning readers that Todd is “almost entirely a singing film” but not really. To hear it from Knowles, Johny Depp (who plays Sweeney) doesn’t really sing as much as channel Rex Harrison in My Fair Lady and James Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy by half-grooving and half-posturing with “that form of dialogue known as sing-talking.”
MCN’s David Poland praises the first act of There Will Be Blood, but says it goes off the tracks at a certain point in Act Two and simultaneously blows itself up and wildly urinates all over itself in what Poland calls “the absolutely disastrous last major scene in the film.” Reporting this failure is difficult for Poland as “there is spectacular work here. There is something brutal from my side of the screen when there is this much to respect and even love in a film, and [then] to see it fail in the end absolutely.”
As expected, The Envelope‘s Tom O’Neil suffered slings and arrows yesterday for his Sweeney Todd-will-sweep- the-Oscars prediction. New York Post critic/blogger Lou Lumineck had a good chortle, and some Hollywood Stock Exchange reader who can’t spell to save his life called O’Neil “the new Poland.” (Funny, except there’s no established legend of the “O’Neil Curse.”)
O’Neil wrote today that I suggested he was half-crazy by comparing his “voice”-hearing abilities to Howard Beale‘s (i.e., the “mad prophet of the airwaves” from Network). I didn’t mean that at all. Beale would shudder and collapse after his speeches, but he wasn’t crazy. Beale was imbued with what the Hindus call “prana” — the state of knowing and being that is spaceless, timeless and imbued with “oh, such loveliness.” Beale was merely a conduit for that which flows and surges through every living particle in the universe, lifted up as he was by cosmic energy within and without…as we all could and should be. The difference was that Beale, unlike 99.9% of humanity, was on to it.
This doesn’t mean O’Neil is right about Sweeney Todd. It just means that cosmic forces have “told” him what they’ve told him in the middle of the night. I don’t think that the cosmic forces, however, have fully considered the impact of arterial blood flowing like water out of a fire hydrant upon your typical Academy member.
It’s interesting to note the psychological maneuverings going on between the WGA and the producers as the situation moves closer and closer to a writers strike, which will probably kick in as of Monday. But when I saw that “tick tick tick” headline on Movie City News this morning I said to myself, “WGA and PGA members are obviously living through a drama that is part Eugene Debs and part Eugene O’Neil, but how many readers of MCN or Variety or HE or The Envelope are really on pins and needles about this thing?”
The most affecting tick-tick-tick of my life so far has been the one that Roman Polanski put on the soundtrack in that scene in Repulsion when Catherine Deneuve is lying in bed and dreading the arrival of a rapist. Now, that‘s a tick-tick-tick!
I’m with the writers as far as it goes (emotionally, I mean, which doesn’t add up to much) and I’m not saying industry “beat” journalists like Nikki Finke and Dave McNary shouldn’t cover every last aspect of this. I’m just not discerning the earth-shaking significance of a WGA work stoppage. It’s an “important” story that I’m more than ready to nap through. The only arousing aspect is that it portrays the base mentality of the producers as one of greed, obstinacy and a primal need to the “lions’ of the jungle.
Why isn’t Paramount Vantage releasing There Will Be Blood photos of this quality online? I’m able to show this one by having taken a snap of a high-gloss invitation to a special mid-November Blood screening that arrived in today’s mail. It’s my absolute favorite image from the film.
This poster certainly does capture Tamara Jenkins‘ The Savages. Not much indication of any pulse-quickening plot elements, a fall-winter vibe, middle-aged brother and sister (Laura Linney, Philip Seymour Hoffman) in repose, white-haired dad (Philip Bosco) sitting on the park bench in diapers. It’s a mildly affecting, smartly written, somewhat doleful drama…but don’t let that stop you. Fox Searchlight will release it limited on 11.28.07.
With Todd McCarthy having blown all restraint and prior agreements to hell with with his early-bird review, In Contention‘s Kris Tapley and Thompson on Hollywood‘s Anne Thompson have posted reactions to Paul Thomas Anderson‘s There Will Be Blood.
I guess you can call me the Last Man Standing because I’m still planning to hold my piece until I see it again in San Francisco on Monday night. I play to actually post my review just before the screening, and then run an audience-reaction thing with audio irecordings of viewers streaming out of the theatre and saying whatever. I’ve also been asking Paramount Vantage publicists about speaking to Anderson at some point during the evening, maybe hooking up before or after, something along those lines. We’ll see what develops.