Monday, February 11, 2008

Bloody. Marvellous.

When I woke up this morning I had a short mental list of things to do on my day off:

Number one was to get my hair cut.
Number two was to find a nice meat pie for dinner.
Number three was to take advantage of cut-price Mondays and go to the cinema.

Being a naturally perverse individual I started at the multiplex. Unfortunately for the other things on my to do list, the film I chose to see was Tim Burton's new adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, the musical story of the barber who turns his customers into piping hot snacks.

I've decided I'll leave the trim till next week, and, well, you can't get proper pies in Portugal anyway.

Fortunately for me, the film was excellent. I've never seen the original stage production so I can't make a direct comparison with that, but the movie is fantastically darkly comic and gruesome (think Theatre of Blood) and the songs bind the whole thing together very well, moving the plot along, rather than interrupting it with contrived set-pieces (the problem with so many musicals). Johnny Depp sings Sweeney in the style of Spitting Image doing David Bowie (if you can imagine such a thing) and Helena Bonham Carter has a surprisingly good voice as Mrs Lovett, the pie-shop proprietress. The supporting cast is great too: Alan Rickman (who else?) as the villainous Judge Turpin, Timothy Spall as the seedy Beadle, a cameo from Sacha Baron Cohen as a technicolor rival barber and an even briefer appearance by Anthony "Gold Blend-Buffy-Little Britain" Head which you'll miss if you blink.

As you would expect with a Burton effort, the film has terrific visuals, reminding me if not of my own misspent youth in the grimy backstreets of London (I'm not from London), at least of Oliver!, from which several cues (market stalls, street urchins...) have obviously been taken. The majority of the film is coloured in greys, with the exceptions of flashbacks and forwards to happier times, which are in full rainbow-vision, and of course the blood, which is ruddily and liberally splattered throughout.

I'd recommend this film to anyone who likes a bit of claret, a bit of Johnny Depp or a bit of pie. Or indeed a bit of good cinema. For that is what it is. Just be careful if your barber starts referring to the cutthroat razor as "his friend".


Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I do my own hair with clippers - whoosh all over and that's that done.

Anonymous said...

In the land with no pie makers the Fray Bentos tinned delicacy rules...
(old Lancashire proverb)