Tuesday, 12 January 2010

(500) Films of Empire - Day 119

326 - The Great Silence - 3 stars
A spaghetti western with a difference. This one swaps the dusty savannahs and deserts for the snowy mountains of Utah, meaning that the Giallo blood looks extra red on the white landscape. A mute killer called 'Silence' wanders into town, as so many cowboys do, to avenge a murder and kill some no good bounty hunters (Boba Fett is nowhere to be seen however).
A little-seen western that has risen to cult status due to some hilarious dubbing (witness the scene where a guy is speaking to a bar full of people whilst eating a chicken), Klaus Kinski's villainous bad guy and one of the most downbeat endings in the history of cinema.
Definitely worth checking out if you are a fan of Westerns as the mute Silence is a clear influence on Clint Eastwood during his time in the West.

490 - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber Of Fleet Street - 4 stars
A perfect marriage of material, director and actor as Tim Burton gets to put his Gothic stylings to great use in the musical of Sweeney Todd with his muse Johnny Depp as the eponymous barber.
The cast are in fine singing form (The dulcet tones of Alan Rickman are on show again, but Bonham Carter is a little weak but we all know why she got the part, wink, wink), but Depp reveals a surprisingly good voice that has just a hint of David Bowie in it, to add singing to his repetoire. It's enough to make you sick to see someone so talented.
Some of my friends who love musicals have bemoaned the absence of the signature tune 'The Ballad of Sweeney Todd', a song that sets the scene and links the film together. Apparently it had been recorded by Burton with Christopher Lee and Giles from Buffy on vocals but a version of it doesn't even appear on the DVD to placate the fans.
I was disappointed that this got a 18 certificate in the UK as it deserved to be seen by a much wider audience. Yes there is a lot of blood at times but with the Hammer-style bright red colour and somewhat over-the-top nature of the geysers of blood eminating from the necks (sometimes even hitting the camera) would have deserved a 15, but then I'm not on the BBFC.
Something occurred to me watching the film this time around. Sweeney Todd assembles a chair and chute to the bakehouse to dispose of the victims, as in the real story, but if you look at the layout of the building, the victims would be dropping directly into the pie shop floor, and that wouldn't be good for business!
So with Sweeney Todd scored off the list that leaves me with just one musical left in the Top 500 - Singin' In The Rain. So until I watch that in September (as it is in the top 10) here is a list of my favourite musicals (should cartoons count? If they follow traditional musical structure I think its OK)
My Top 5 Movie Musicals
1. South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut
2. Little Shop Of Horrors
3. Beauty And The Beast
4. Bugsy Malone
5. The Rocky Horror Picture Show

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