Saturday Night and Sunday Morning
I am still not quite sure why I watch Primeval
, a show where the professional monster hunters are almost as dumb as the yuppies in Cloverfield
and yet somehow never manage to get killed. At some point, they really are going to have to explain what the time-travelling ex-wife is actually up to, because essentially she just seems to wander around being sinister and sexy and periodically getting pterosaur bites. On the other hand, I do like the post-Bradbury conceit that every so often the monster hunters change things by kicking the wrong rock in the Jurassic, and that NO ONE EVER BELIEVES THEM even though they all know about time travel.
It is an idiot plot show, but there is something about a show that puts raptors into shopping malls which means that somehow I cannot stop watching it.
I saw Sweeney Todd
this afternoon with paratti
and was pretty much blown away. I expected to have far more reservations - in the event Helena Bonham-Carter's wispy, uncertain little singing voice works with her waif-like Mrs. Lovett, someone who has been eaten up by years of unrequited love to a point where she cheerfully becomes a monster to get what she wants. It was a very very different performance to Sheila Hancock's loud bawdy brassy one, or Angela Lansbury's, just as Depp's Todd is madder than Dennis Quilley was from the outset and becomes a demon without ever losing our sympathy entirely, even when he starts killing randomly. The point is, I suppose, that what Sondheim has given us is a show great enough to take different interpretations - Todd is not just a monster, he is a monster with a class analysis.
I remember that when Neil was working on his version of Todd with Mike Zuli, a Todd who exists in various recensions in different periods, I said to him that there ought to be a Jacobin Todd who calls his razors The Rights of Man. Sondheim, and especially Sondheim/Burton, really stress the class hatred, the sense of the world as a constant process of devouring that the cannibal pies are just an expression of.
We really liked the sense that even Anthony and Joanna are permanently marred by everything that happens round them - that young love is not an escape, but just a different phase in the trap.
I was suprised by how much of the score made it in - I regretted the loss of the ballad, while seeing why they cut it as essentially theatrical and uncinematic. It is odd, though, knowing the full score, to watch the film and listen to all the entr'actes and incidental music cues that draw on the ballad and its quotation of the Dies Irae without ever getting either tune in clear. Odd, but clearly it works because the mad intense revisions of it are effective even without it.
Lesley and Fiona didn't know the show and weren't aware anything was missing, which makes it a good cut. Otherwise, the waltz song loses the piping hot joke and 'fortunately it's also clear that everybody goes down well with beer'.
Such a great tasteless show and a visually perfect cinematic version of it.
I wonder if Burton could be persuaded to film Assassins
We also saw trailers. Including one for Valkyrie
Somewhere in Hell, Hitler is giggling.
Because Claus von Stauffenberg is played by Tom Cruise, bad enough in itself, but he cannot actually pronounce the name of the film.
Talking of accents, I read City of the Long-Nosed Fish
a very good study of the wastepaper tip in a provincial Romano-Egyptian town that has not only yielded lost Gospels and poems by Sappho, but also a lot of random domestic stuff about Third Century life as lived by ordinary people. I wanted to read it, because though it is the wrong period by a century and a bit either way for the two sections of the novel that will be partly set in Alexandria, which is quite a way along the Nile from Oxyrhynchus, it was still liable to be full of stuff I can use.
And that was a good call, because it told me a lot about student life, for example, and what people ate. Most importantly, it told me that the Greek immigrants despised the accent of the locals when the locals spoke Greek - and that the Egyptians confused l and r (so every cheap joke about East Asians has an earlier precedent) and d and t. So, essentially, all my Egyptian characters will have to talk like Jonathan Ross - which is fine, because I can do that.