Sunday, May 23, 2010

Return to Form

Here's a director I'd pretty much given up on - Terry Gilliam.  I admittedly haven't seen Tideland, but he's worked so sporadically in the last twenty years, and the only film I had seen - The Brothers Grimm - was a disappointing misfire, muddled and small, like an episode of Shelly Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre that never quite ended.

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, while certainly not quite possessing the otherworldly feel of his near-perfect 80's trilogy of Time Bandits, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, does manage to get at something of what made Gilliam great in the first place.  That feeling of slipping, multilayered reality; the curious moral choices; the buffeting by larger forces; all done so well, here.  I'm still on the fence as to whether or not he's adapted to CGI well - seeing as how his in-camera aesthetic was what made his original films so unique - but the worlds envisioned are so wonderful that I may have to just give in.  Plus, they did some extensive model-work for some very brief shots, which was probably a far more expensive way to go about it, so, call me mollified.

The script is nicely oblique, leaving out chunks of exposition in favor of dream-like logic.  It's probably going to alienate some, but I like a film that just jumps ahead and hopes that you're adept enough to fill in the blanks.

Plus, the cast: Heath Ledger, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Jude Law & Colin Farrell all deliver the goods, and Lily Cole was surprisingly good.

Let's call that an 8 out of 10, all right?  Maybe I'm just feeling generous since it exceeded my diminished expectations, and it was preceded on our DVD player by It's Complicated, but I did like it quite a bit.


No comments: