Monday, December 28, 2009

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

Crazy return to form for Terry Gilliam, recalling his fantastical roots, albeit now with an more mature, reflective edge. The movie is not a Monty Python-esque romp through the whimsical and the divine; there are dark themes at play here, and long sequences of bleak, real world drama. It is nevertheless entertaining and playful, just not in the court jester mode Gilliam used to emulate. His obsession with dreams and recreating them on film reaches their absolute heights here, with CGI sequences that rival anything, in scale and impact, in Avatar. The story is captivating and thoroughly layered, warranting multiple viewings to truly grasp the impact of the characters' imagination in the film...hard to explain further.

Heath is wicked...he was firing on all pistons at this point in his career (sigh). However, he's not the star. The whole caravan, including Verne Troyer and Andrew Garfield in strong turns, is highlighted in an ensemble fashion, but the protagonist is, ostensibly, Christopher Plummer's Dr. Parnassus. His battle with Mr. Nick (or Satan, as played by Tom good as it sounds) is at the heart of the film, and the changes and decisions he undergoes are the strongest and most varied of the characters. Plummer is an O.G., and General Chang certainly Von Trapps the shit out of the performance...he mumbles, drinks, and raves more than Dumbledore ever did, but he still manages to seem completely weathered and wise.

Highly Recommended for fans of off-kilter fantasy and/or Terry Gilliam's work. Ledger fans will be disappointed by his lack of display in the film (as will those of Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farell), and Plummer fans are probably too old to read this blog. I rate it above Time Bandits and about the same as The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (if Gilliam tops Brazil or Holy Grail, I'll probably just drop acid and marathon his films Tarantino style for a few years).

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