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ranters and ravers

A.O. Scott Sees the Darker Side of ‘Sweeney Todd,’ the Lighter Side of ‘Charlie Wilson's War’

Photo: Getty Images, iStockphoto

Doing double duty today, the Times's venerable cutup A.O. Scott reviews one movie that we've quite been looking forward to (Sweeney Todd) and another we figured we'd wait to catch on DVD (Charlie Wilson's War). In one of the grimmest raves we've read all year, Scott hails Sweeney as "something close to a masterpiece," but says it gave him nightmares, despite being a musical. "[It's] as dark and terrifying as any motion picture in recent memory, not excluding the bloody installments in the Saw franchise.... There may be a suggestion of hopefulness near the end, but you don't see hope on the screen. What you see is as dark as the grave." Bummer, then.

Charlie Wilson's War, on the other hand, Scott says, is "kind of a blast," even though it's about the violent conflict between the Soviets and the Afghan mujaheddin in the early 1980s. In another unqualified rave, Scott praises director Mike Nichols and writer Aaron Sorkin for understanding that "politics, for all its seriousness, is an essentially comic undertaking.... Fun is this movie's unlikely and persuasive motto."

If someone had told us we'd want to see Charlie Wilson's War more than Sweeney Todd after reading the Times this morning, we'd probably not have believed it!

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