This isn’t Tim Burton’s masterpiece. He made that nearly twenty years ago. It was called Edward Scissorhands. Everything that Burton brings to cinema was there in that movie; the kitschy gothic aesthetic; the lonely girl; the misunderstood male lead. Burton is not a great director (he doesn’t have intellectual ambition for his movies), but he’s so idiosyncratic that maybe there’s room for him among the greats. Sweeney Todd could have been made by David Cronenberg (and it would have scared you) or Sam Mendes (and you would have swooned), but only Tim Burton could make a movie about throat-slitting into a fairy tale.
Cormac McCarthy is an old crank. He may well be the William Faulkner of the 21st century, but he’s a crank. I read a lot of critics rhapsodise about No Country for Old Men when the hardback hit the stands, but precious few took note the book’s old-man-erisms: the crankiness, the misanthropy, the pessimistic certainty that only comes with old age – or youth. McCarthy’s world view is that the world is going to hell in a handbasket. In the Coen brothers’ adaptation of No Country for Old Men, doom is like a blanky that Javier Bardem’s character trails with him. You can ignore it if you want; talk all you like about the modern Western, but this movie is only, only about death.