REVIEW: Tangled

Tangled
Directed by: Nathan Greno, Byron Howard
Written by: Dan Fogelman (screenplay), Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm (fairy tale)
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, and Ron Perlman

You’ve seen this place before.  The polished forests, trickling streams, song birds chirping in a synchronized melody- you’re in Hell, only this time it looks more polished.

That may be a bit hyperbolic to describe Tangled, the latest Disney princess delusion to sweep children up on waves of fantasy and take them to a perfect world that will never exist.  The images are distinctly old school, reminiscent of Sleeping Beauty or Snow White.  These days, though, Pixar is the bulk of Disney animation, and their technical and story wizards work behind the scenes (the company’s John Lasseter serves as producer) to salvage this movie from destroying itself.  It’s not a bad pairing at times, with beautiful images and story-telling subversion that are well above this movie’s call.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Sweeney Todd

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Directed by: Tim Burton
Written by: John Logan (screenplay), Stephan Sondheim (musical)
Starring: Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, Alan Rickman, and Timothy Spall

Welcome to the deep, dark abyss of Tim Burton’s mind, my friends.  In a land where logic takes back seat to lavish set pieces, art design, and terrible beauty, storytelling is of the most paramount importance to make the movie work.  With Burton’s obsession with visuals and macabre humor, this can be a problem.  Never has his ability, neigh, gift for storytelling been so brilliantly fused with his other obsessions as it is in Sweeney Todd.

It helps that Burton is working with an already legendary source material by the late, great Stephan Sondheim.  Though he was reluctant to approach a live musical, his risk has paid off and he appears a natural at it.  This is an entire movie filled with risks, especially with the casting.

Burton regulars Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter may not seem too risky of a choice, but when they’ve never sang a word on screen before and have not been professionally trained, it is in Hollywood.  Luckily, Burton only appears mad and actually isn’t.

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ARCHIVE REVIEW: Dancer in the Dark

Dancer in the Dark
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Björk, Catherine Deneuve, David Morse, Peter Stormare

Brilliant auteur and unapologetic cinematic sadist Lars von Trier is one of the movies’ most polarizing figures among critics.  He has a cult following of fans, some of which are the most respected film scholars working today.  Almost all of his movies follow an artistic pattern of well thought out shots that often contain disturbing images.  This is where Dancer in the Dark is unique.

Von Trier’s emotionally wrenching film has a visual style that many will recognize from Cloverfield or NBC’s The Office.  It may throw fans off, and that’s probably his intention.  As a member of the Dogma style of film making, it is this director’s goal to throw you for a loop by defying everything held sacred in the movies.  He deconstructs typical methods and injects heavy amounts of emotion and tragedy in order to confound the viewer and leave them uncertain about what they’ve witnessed.  Dancer is no different in this regard.

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