Wednesday, January 20, 2010

film: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Got out to see Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus last weekend -- y'know, the last flick that Heath Ledger, dreamboat of bad Shakespeare remakes and inappropriately sexy terror of Gotham, worked on? Which Gilliam got three of Ledger's actor friends (Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, a telescoping progression of talent and yum) to finish in Ledger's stead?

Gilliam is my very favorite director whose films I frequently fall asleep during, and I would've wanted to see Imaginarium for any and all of the actors attached, so, y'know, it would've had to have been something just shockingly terrible for me to have disliked it -- but really and truly, I loved it. It was the most terrifically Pythonesque thing I've seen from Gilliam since possibly Baron von Munchausen, surreal and dead-serious silly, with his signature rambling narrative and cartoonishly dreamlike landscapes, inhabitants, and objects. It's not altogether a pleasant dream -- in parts it's quite upsetting, especially on reflection of Ledger's death -- but I love it all the more for its deep, dark ripples. Because it's a film about people -- about their desires and deeds and efforts and beliefs and souls -- and you can't do that without a good measure of darkness. And, like all my favorite stories, in its chewy center it's all about storytelling.

Also, it's got my absolute favorite casting of the Devil ever. And a heart-lockingly lovely heroine wearing costumes that I would fight you for.

If you have three hours (plus maybe a couple for mental recovery) and you want to be transported, you should go see it. And you should avoid reading anything about the plot if you can. Letting Gilliam unhurriedly unfurl the story for you is half the fun.


Adam P. Knave said...

Wasn't it Waits as the devil? *sigh* I need to see this, but so many OTHER things I need to see. *fuss*

the grammar monkey said...

Yes! I'm not sure I'd ever seen him act, but I thought he was wonderful.

It's the sort of thing I'd highly highly recommend seeing in a theater. A lot. Other things on your list might be better-in-theaters too, but I feel like probably Imaginarium is more worthwhile overall.

Adam P. Knave said...

Renfield in the Gary Oldman Dracula and of course the mad scientist in Mystery Men. Tom Waits is a fine, fine, actor.

mommaruth said...

I was fairly excited before I read this; and now I'm even more into it! I've been patiently waiting for this movie to come out - knowing that this is the last Heath Ledger movie I'll ever see for the first time is kind of heartbreaking, so I want to savor the fleeting days as long as possible.

I'm almost tempted to just wait until they start running it on TV years from now before I see it; but I know it's too important of a film to miss out on. I'm glad you liked it; can't wait to see what's in store for me!

the grammar monkey said...

I haven't actually watched Oldman's Dracula all the way through! I was a little too young for it when it came out. I should put that on my List. And I always forget about Mystery Men. Some parts of that movie were so spectacular, but some were so terrible that it made me want to block the rest out.

And yeah, I've been looking forward to this film for so long that I almost hated to give up the anticipation of it! But it's so completely worthwhile. I just really, really wish that I could've seen what Ledger would've done with the parts of the film that were taken over for him. I love the other actors, but I think that only Farrell is quite as good as Ledger was. You'll have to let me know what you think when you see it! (And dude if you get weepy, bring tissues. I snuffled through a few parts that talked about death and living and stuff 'cause, dude, Heath. He was so talented. Waii.)