Last night we watched "Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" Tim Burton's adaptation of the Stephen Sondheim musical. The movie is very good, and Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham-Carter are both excellent, but the real master of this movie is the music of Stephen Sondheim.
Sondheim is one of the great composers of our time, and among the greatest lyricists of any time. I saw Sondheim's "Sweeney Todd" on Broadway in the late '70s, with the original cast of Len Cariou and Angela Lansbury. I was madly into theatre then - I still love it, but it was hugely important to me at the time - and the show was a transcendent experience.
The story translates beautifully to the screen, especially since the blood and gore - so central to the story - is more up-close and convincing. "Sweeney Todd" is such a brilliant combination of drama, tragedy and comedy - so dark in look and topic, but so light in tone, and surprisingly amusing.
If you haven't seen this movie - especially if you haven't heard the music before - treat yourself.
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About a month ago, we saw Wayne Shorter, with pianist Danilo Perez, bassist John Patitucci and drummer Brian Blade, at Massey Hall.
The show was very good, but much of it was beyond our scope of jazz, a little abstract and out-there for us. Relative to my other musical interests, my exploration of jazz is very new, so everything's on a learning curve for me.
I want to hear more live jazz, because that's the ideal way for me to experience music. But that puts me in the odd position of going to hear concerts where the music is totally unknown to me. I'm familiar with Wayne Shorter's earlier work, but I knew almost nothing of what we heard at Massey Hall. It's cool, but it's a little odd.
Now that I've gotten over my intimidation - where do I start? how do I know what to listen to? how do I listen to music out of context? - I am eager to increase my jazz collection. Hitting lotto would be a great help.
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Here's a long feature about Philip Seymour Hoffman from the New York Times Magazine. PSH is arguably the greatest actor of his generation. He's also committed to continuing to work in theatre, which should make theatre-lovers happy and hopeful.
If you're interested in acting - the actual craft of acting, not the lives of attractive celebrities who star in movies - it's well worth reading.