94 posts categorized "Black Comedy"

October 28, 2023

SWEENEY TODD: THE DEMON BARBER OF FEET STREET — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comHorror Show
Tim Burton Paints Sondheim Red
By Cole Smithey

Director Tim Burton’s screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s 1979 Grand Guignol musical is at once mesmerizing and disappointing. Outstanding singing performances from its capable ensemble cast contrast unfavorably with Burton’s trademark affinity for a monochromatic color scheme of white, blue, brown and gray.

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Gallons of orange/red blood pour out beneath thankfully abbreviated songs performed in all-too-predictable orchestrations meant to cater to Broadway audiences familiar with the original Sondheim production. For such an idyllic gothic setting, Burton misses his cue to update the songs with orchestration, reharmonization, tempo, and key changes that could have corrected the music’s tendency to slip into a drone of same-sounding pitches.

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Even with such musically backward attention paid to staying true to it’s pit orchestra limitations, Broadway traditionalists will likely chafe at screenwriter John Logan’s shortening of Sondheim’s script that cuts an hour from the play. Yet without Logan’s respectable effort, it is difficult to imagine that film audiences could withstand the material’s already redundant plotting.

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The film begins aboard a London bound ship where fresh-faced youth Anthony (Jamie Campbell Bower) sings the praises of the town upon the Thames as the greatest city in the world in "No Place Like London." Next appears Johnny Depp’s pale profile as Sweeney Todd, a renamed escapee from an Australian prison where the corrupt Judge Turpin (brilliantly played by Alan Rickman) erroneously sent him in order to steal away Todd’s lovely former wife and young daughter.

Best Sacha Baron Cohen movies ranked - GoldDerby

A shock of white hair (ala Dave Vanian of the punk band The Damned circa the "Phantasmagoria" album) cuts across Depp’s black hair and announces Sweeney’s vampire characteristics that blossom when he aligns himself with his former landlady, the widow Mrs. Lovett (Helena Bonham Carter). Giant cockroaches scurry around Mrs. Lovett’s filthy and unoccupied pie restaurant where she woos Sweeney with a song about her disgusting sweet meat pies. Lovett returns Sweeney’s box of well-kept razors from happier days and informs him of his late wife’s suicide. However clearly stated Sweeney’s mission is of slitting the throat of Judge Turpin, the crazed barber is prone to distraction and sets about killing untold numbers of men unlucky enough to wonder into his sparsely furnished barber shop above Mrs. Lovett’s bistro.

Film Fan: Sweeney Todd (4½ Stars)

True to form, each member of the cast gets at least one musical set piece built neatly into the plot. Sacha Baron Cohen gives an especially enjoyable scene-stealing turn as a travelling elixir salesman and barber Adolfo Pirelli who takes distinct delight in publicly abusing his wigged child assistant Toby (Edward Saunders). Sweeney publicly challenges Adolfo to an impromptu shaving duel that becomes more of a musical duet. The audacious display stirs Adolfo’s memory of Todd from before he was sent to prison, and dispatches Adolfo to unwittingly become Sweeney’s first victim when he attempts to extort the returning barber on Fleet Street.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street | Where to watch streaming  and online | Flicks.com.au

Loosely based on a 19th century stage play, "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street" is a particularly bloody melodrama set to a decisively ‘70s Broadway sound. Tim Burton takes advantage of the gory material to press at the boundaries of its head-cracking, blood-spurting visuals and achieve a sublime brand of gothic horror that owes as much to the Hammer Dracula films of the ‘60s as it does to Stephen Sondheim.

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There’s a pitch black humor here about revenge as an excuse for bloodlust. In the context of America’s Iraq/Guantanamo quagmire you could read Sweeney Todd as a merciful and equal opportunity executioner who recycles. Torture is beneath him. Our hero is only interested in passionate murder on a grand scale, and yet he is a lazy serial killer. His victims must come to him, just as audiences must gravitate to a Christmas season of bloodletting to relieve the pressure of blood spilling all around us. In the words of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, "The spider spinning his web for the unwary fly. The blood is the life Mr. Renfield."

ColeSmithey.comRated R. 117 mins.

THE BLOOD OF DRACULA4 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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October 27, 2023

STARSHIP TROOPERS — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Starship_troopersPaul Verhoeven's presciently cynical satire of American politics is loosely based on Robert A. Heinlein's 1959 science fiction novel which went on to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1960.

The movie is equal parts comedy, war action, spectacle, and satirical commentary.

Verhoeven's outrageous sci-fi epic piles on layers of observations about the nature of militarization in a story about young-and-lovely high school graduates (equal opportunity for girls and boys) going off to war against an invading army of giant arachnid bugs from the planet of Kelndathu.

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All this wasted beauty. 

In the film's near future, American society has fully integrated political indoctrination through a constant barrage of public media propaganda to effect its fascist motives.

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In a world where "Service guarantees citizenship," even if the rich don't have the right to be citizens, every kid wants to do a great job for the Fatherland — and die! Oh, the glory of war. 

Starship-troopers

"Starship Troopers" is a canny war satire that outshines even Kubrick's great satire "Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb."

The bugs, the bugs!

Rated R. 130 mins. 

5 Stars MR. CLEANCozy Cole

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October 24, 2023

BLACK SHEEP — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

ColeSmithey.com

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ColeSmithey.comThe lush hills of New Zealand provide an ironic backdrop for this witty little horror show about a farm where genetically altered sheep have turned into devilish zombies.

Sheep-phobic Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to his family’s sheep farm in order to sell out his share of the estate to his bully brother Angus (Peter Feeney).

Screen Shot 2022-08-20 at 1.59.29 PM

Little does Henry know that mad scientist Dr. Rush (Tandi Wright) has been cooking up some very troubling experiments that a couple of dunderhead animal activists have stumbled onto in their attempt to sabotage the farm.

Screen Shot 2022-08-20 at 2.00.46 PM

Peter Jackson’s WETA studio brings the gory special effects to shrieking life under writer/director Jonathan King’s hat-tipping homage to Jackson’s "Evil Dead" style of fast and fun horror movie.

"Black Sheep" is a respectable addition to the horror genre.

Not Rated. 87 mins.

4 Stars SHOCKTOBER! KITTIESCozy Cole

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