Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I could murder a meat pie

Over the past couple of weeks I've taken my son to see No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood. Although it was the latter he clamoured more to see, it was the former whioch seems to have made the bigger impression (he assures me he'll get the DVD when it comes out, thus saving me a job). When we saw Blood on Sunday, there was a trailer for Love In the Time of Cholera. When I pointed out that the romantic lead was Javier Bardem without the bad Anton Chigurh haircut, he leaned over and said "So when's he going to whip out the bolt gun and shoot a hole in her head?") We both really enjoyed both films though.

The film he really wanted to see, though, is sadly unavailable to him at the cinema owing to its '18' certification, That would be Sweeney Todd, which his big sister saw a couple of weeks back, and which I saw tonight (clearly just in time, in one of only three Edinburgh cinemas still running it, in a small cinema with four other people). It was something of a revelation to me: not that Johnny Depp can sing (though that too: I'm always interested in how well straight actors sing, it being something of a requirement these days, e.g. for Chicago). No, I was knocked out by the music, which I hadn't actually known at all. In fact I didn't know the story in detail, so while I was ready for the pie-making and the swivelling chair I didn't guess all the twists of the ending. But it was the music that has stayed with me, especially My Friends. Here (with an unfortunately scrunched-up aspect ratio) is a Youtube clip of that wonderful song, admirably performed by Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter). It just shows that once you've mastered the basics, it's the acting skills that take you further in music theatre than the singing ones. I can easily imagine it being sung more beautifully, but not more movingly. And let's all cheer clever Mr Sondheim for rationing the instances of actual harmony between the voices to where (a) it really counts for something harmonically and (b) the characters are singing the same words but with totally divergent meanings. The whole thing is wonderful, and I'm not sure why it got an '18' when the almost equally bloody Polanski Macbeth got a '15' . No swearing and no sex so it can only be the blood. Or maybe the people pies. (Anyone got a DVD of Titus Andronicus to check?)


At 26 February, 2008 10:21, Anonymous Eddie Louise said...

Sondheim and Johnny Depp.. a pairing unequalled in this former teen girls wildest imagination!!!

Actually... to my mind this film should have been up for multiple Oscars - Best Film, Directing, Lead Actor (it was), Lead Actress, Art Direction (it won), Best Song and Score! Now there are all sorts of disqualification rules that applied to the music (funny how they didn't apply to Chicago) and the field of actresses was very full this year... but really to ignore Helena Bonham Carter beggars belief.

Sondheim's score is incredibly rich and he sets word to music better than any living composer... not a spare syllable! Actually... if you don't know his work you should investigate further! The intricacies of his harmonic and rhythmic expression, the wittiness of his lyrics and the depth of his emotional palate are beyond compare!

A couple of years ago they did a revival of Sweeney on Broadway in a ground-breaking production. There was no orchestra - each of the actors played an instrument (Patti Lupone in the role of Mrs Lovett played the tuba I believe) the arrangements were spare and haunting and the entire cast was onstage throughout - check it out here :http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4iLKi_8pnz8


Post a Comment

<< Home