Thursday 24 July 2008

Shostakovich's 5th is thought to be his symphonic masterpiece by many - but, listening to it with apocalyptic gyrations and final dystopian slumber of the 4th resounding in my mind's ear, it seems like a step backward. On further consideration though, it isn't. It's a step sideways, which is why it dissapoints at first, but not a step backwards at all, which is why it eventually wins me over. The opening has a solemn sense of purpose that doesn't suggest cringing populism so much as a wiser, veiled sense of purpose that has a stength of its own.

Art finding its own voice within strict limits is always fascinating - hence the appeal of sonnets, haiku, miniatures, black and white photography, silent film, 12-bar blues songs. How much more fascinating when these limits are imposed by politics not form or technology and enforcable by pain of death or disgrace.

I watched Ed Wood Razor Hands. I mean Sweeney Wonka and Cannibal Pie Factory. Er, that is to say Sweeney Todd. There is much gleeful slitting of throats, but neither Polyhymnia nor her defunct sister Aoide have visited their blessings on the lead actors, which makes the whole point of a musical somewhat moot. Depp's singing is weak and not even particularly enthusiastic, despite which he doesn't even manage to reach Oasis levels. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is a little better, but her constant look of vague unease made me want to offer her a good laxative and a joke book to read whilst perched on the bog. Things all look very intricately gothy in trademark Burton fashion. It's a wicked story about sad, mad people and Burton is finally unable to relish the ghastliness of it all enough, trying to fit in his usual premise that the weird, morbid, gloomy people are in some way better, even when, as in this case, they are total psychopaths. Next he will officiate at the canonisation of the Sawney Bean clan. Lookitup, won't ya.