‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ 2009

In London, the sideshow troupe of Doctor Parnassus promises the audience a journey to the “Imaginarium”, an imaginary world commanded by the mind of Doctor Parnassus, where dreams come true. In the stories that Doctor Parnassus tells to his daughter Valentina, the midget Percy, and his assistant Anton, he claims to have lived for more than one thousand years; However, when he fell in love with a mortal woman, he made a deal with the devil (Mr. Nick), trading his immortality for youth. As part of the bargain, he promised his son or daughter to Mr. Nick on their sixteenth birthday. Valentina is now almost to the doomed age and Doctor Parnassus makes a new bet with Mr. Nick, whoever seduces five souls in the Imaginarium will have Valentina as a prize. Meanwhile the troupe rescues Tony, a young man that was hanged on a bridge by the Russians. Tony was chased until he finds and joins the group. Tony and Valentina fall in love with each other and the jealous Anton discovers that his competition may be a liar.

Effects of Heath Ledger’s death

Production was disrupted by the death of Heath Ledger in New York City on 22 January 2008. Ledger’s involvement had been a “key factor” in the film’s financing. Gilliam was presiding over concept art when he was informed by a phone call that Ledger had died. His initial thought about the production was: “The film’s over, it’s as simple as that.”  Although production was suspended indefinitely by 24 January, Gilliam initially wanted to “salvage” the film by using computer-generated imagery to make Ledger’s character magically change his appearance, perhaps into another character. He also wanted to dedicate the film to Ledger. The imagery would have been similar to transformation techniques seen on Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and those employed on Roy Scheider’s performance in his posthumous release Iron Cross. Continue reading “‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ 2009”

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‘Adventures of Baron Munchausen’ 1988

During the “Age of Reason” of the late 18th century, the Turkish army lays siege to a European city where a theater production about the extraordinary heroics of famed German aristocrat Baron Münchhausen is underway. A man steps forward to object that the performance is full of inaccuracies, claiming that he is the real Baron Münchhausen (John Neville). When the Turkish army approaches with gunfire, the baron undertakes his latest adventure with his promise to defend the city.

“Weird to the Gilliamth degree!”

‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ 1998

Journalist Raoul Duke and his lawyer Dr Gonzo drive from LA to Las Vegas on a drugs binge. They nominally cover news stories, including a convention on drug abuse, but also sink deeper into a frightening psychedelic otherworld. As Vietnam, Altamont and the Tate killings impinge from the world of TV news, Duke and Gonzo see casinos, reptiles and the American dream.

Parents need to know that Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is a two-hour celebration of drugs, foul language, and debauchery, with little or no consequences, redemption, or lessons learned. Lead character Raoul Duke (Johnny Depp) is based on famous “Gonzo” journalist Hunter S. Thompson — but there’s little actual writing going on in the movie amid the fog of drugs, drinking, and swearing. Although little actual sex is shown, there’s plenty of violent and depraved sexual imagery in the dialogue, yet another reason this movie absolutely isn’t for kids. But for adults — especially those already inducted into the Thompson cult — the movie is a hilarious cult favorite.

As directed by Terry Gilliam, this seemingly pointless celebration of bad behavior is also a hilarious and crazily visual comedy for adults already inducted into the Hunter S. Thompson cult. The movie sets a bizarre, frantic pace and sustains it successfully for its entire running time. Gilliam’s extraordinary camerawork — as well as weird makeup and visual effects — attempts to capture the feel of a real drug trip, as well as some imaginatively trashed hotel rooms afterward.   – Common Sense Media

 

‘Tideland’ 2005

Little Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) lives in a chaotic, turbulent home with heroin addicts for parents. When her mother (Jennifer Tilly) dies of an overdose, her father, Noah (Jeff Bridges), takes her to her grandma’s isolated house in the country. But grandma’s dead, too, and Noah dies in the armchair – although Jeliza-Rose pretends he’s still just asleep. Likewise, her imagination gives voice and life to her four Barbie dolls – at least their heads, since that’s all that’s left of them. When she meets her nearest neighbour, the black veiled, witch-like, one-eyed Dell (Janet McTeer), her world spins even further out of register. Dell’s young, retarded and epileptic brother, Dickens (Brendan Fletcher), takes to Jeliza-Rose and the two become fast friends, escaping to their imaginations from a world whose reality is too ghastly.

Terry Gilliam begins “Tideland” with an amusingly ominous introduction, urging us to return, as he did, to a state of childlike innocence to best appreciate what is surely the most daring film of his maverick career.

Just as surely, “Tideland” will be misunderstood by those who fail to heed Gilliam’s advice, since innocent perspective is essential to grasping what Gilliam aptly describes as “Alice in Wonderland” meets “Psycho.” Unfortunately, the shield of innocence won’t entirely protect viewers from this two-hour slog through a nightmarish childhood.