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Popcorn & Prejudice: A Movie Blog

Seattle Times writer Moira Macdonald muses on moviegoing. Email Moira: mmacdonald@seattletimes.com.

February 6, 2009 at 2:10 PM

Soderbergh’s 3-D musical on hold

Sometimes you look forward to movies because they sound like they can’t possibly work (like Tim Burton and Johnny Depp in “Sweeney Todd,” or the adaptation of an intricate, difficult book like “The Hours” or “Atonement“), just to see what happens, because the very attempt is so audacious. And sometimes, what happens is that they work brilliantly, as in the case of all the titles I just named. I was wondering if this might be the case for surely this year’s weirdest, most ambitious project: Steven Soderbergh’s 3-D live-action rock’n’roll musical about Marc Anthony and Cleopatra, “Cleo.”
Soderbergh’s movies tend to be all over the map, genre-wise (“Traffic,” “Ocean’s 11,” “Erin Brockovich,” “Solaris”), but to my knowledge he’s never tried a musical, let alone a 3-D one. “Cleo,” with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Hugh Jackman tentatively set to star, sounded like it could be . . . well, I don’t know what it would be, but the midnight sing-along screenings alone would be a kick. Alas, Variety reported today that Soderbergh has pushed the project to next year due to problems with Jackman’s availability, and will make the baseball drama “Moneyball” next instead, with Brad Pitt. Ah well. Just another 3-D rock’n’roll musical down the drain, at least for now.
So here’s a wee clip from “Sweeney Todd” while we movie-musical lovers wait for “Nine,” this year’s only big-budget screen musical. Tim Burton’s ghoulish sensibility was a perfect match for this Stephen Sondheim musical; the ever-brilliant Johnny Depp sang like a man possessed by a ghost (which his character, indeed, was); and Helena Bonham Carter, though a weak singer, gave a performance that was heartbreaking in its unexpected delicacy. Watch how she’s just looking at Depp in this scene, wistfully dazzled by him.

Wishing you all a lovely weekend and lots of fizz in your Diet Coke. (Or maybe that’s just for me.) Thanks for reading.

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