Think Of The Homeless

There are over 30 million Americans who live on the streets of our nation. Can you consider giving something to a shelter near you? Your fellow human beings need socks because they walk everywhere. Food and shelter are great too, if they will take them. So please give.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Reviews by Hubie Goode: The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

Tony Heath • Ledger
Dr. Parnassus • Christopher Plummer
Percy • Verne Troyer
Valentina • Lily Cole
Mr. Nick • Tom Waits
Imaginarium Tony 1 • Johnny Depp
Imaginarium Tony 2 • Jude Law
Imaginarium Tony 3 • Colin Farrell

Sony Pictures Classics presents a film directed by Terry Gilliam. Written by Gilliam and Charles McKeown. Running time: 122 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for violent images, some sensuality, language and smoking).

Anyone who knows Monty Python and Pink Floyd understands the free wheeling imagination of the British. I, myself, rather enjoy unhinged imagination and the ability of CGI to bring off realistic looking fantasy that until now belonged to printed works from Frazetta, to the guy who did the album covers of YES albums. When I saw the previews for this film I thought that perhaps I was in for one of those “drug induced” or Fantasia type experiences. And, yes, that does happen, but it is hardly the star of the film. In fact, the story line is about a different subject all together and the CGI fantasy actually seems to be only incidentally there, at least in the literary sense.

The story itself, is crazy and incomprehensible on its highest aspirations and on its lowest points is the most hum drum and ordinary concept I’ve seen in a long time. Old school in its fairy tale type simplicity, it would perhaps have worked better as a small off Broadway play with only a few more seats than are required for legit theater. Dr. Parnassus made a deal with the Devil to live forever and enters a contest to gain souls by the use of his imagination, the imagination is of course a weird “other world religion” type thing by which souls can be acquired. The Devil has his own means, and down through the 2000 years they have been sparring they have also made a deal for the possession of Parnassus’ Daughter, Valentina. Once she turns sixteen, she belongs to the Devil. Dirty old man!

The CGI is great to see, and a huge accomplishment in taking you away from the ordinary story, but it really doesn’t deserve to have the movie named after it, since it is itself an incidental element. “Parnassus duels with the Devil”, is the more likely title. And this main story is a bit of a drag at times, I know because I kept looking at my watch when the movie isn’t inside the imagination of Parnassus.

Basically Parnassus runs a traveling show that appears under bridges and freeway exit ramps, seemingly for the entertainment of whomever walks by. It is of course a ruse, only meant to gain souls in the private duel of main characters. Visitors come up on stage and enter a mirror, like Alice through the looking glass, and enter their own world of imagination. A nice idea, if only the story had taken place there instead of the streets of the downtrodden and homeless in England.

In a frustrating display of how the movie itself never really gets finished explaining its own rules and directions; towards the end of the film we finally find out how the imagination trips are produced, but until then we have no idea, two of the show's characters save a man hanging from a bridge by the neck. He seems to be dead, but keeps a flute in his throat that keeps his windpipe from being crushed, in fact it seems to be something he requires like a super powered power belt in order to do what he does. Really??? Who is this guy? What makes him special in this film? We don’t know, we do learn however that Satan doesn’t like him, and is looking for a way to get him out of the way. But we don’t know why.

Heath Ledger is Tony, the guy they save, and he does a fine enough job in the role of the guy outside of the Imaginarium, but he passed while filming and is replaced inside of the Imaginarium by three other actors, who even the characters in the film are shocked to see that this is not the same person, even though he is.... (HUH?) Why, in the context of the film is this? Why does Tony need to appear as someone else in the Imagination sections? We don’t know. We never know, and it seems like that would be a great plot point to exploit, but it isn’t dealt with at all. The only thing we can say is that the actor died, and that point breaks the fourth wall and steps outside of the movie. Suddenly it’s not a movie anymore, but a memoriam.

Gilliam, the producer and director, still has the Monty Python wit and charm but uses it sparingly and sometimes quite confoundedly; using images like dancing policemen ala “I’m a Lumberjack”, and a huge charwoman who looks like she came from Hansel and Gretle 1920’s story books who calls some small thugs to hide under her long skirts, only to kill them by exploding. I kept waiting to see the static, drug addled cartoon work from Python, but I never did. Some of that might have helped, but the picture holds back, never being as brilliantly funny as it could have been or a dramatically resonant as one would have preferred.

I really wish it could have been much much better, it deserved to be so, but I can’t recommend it. Get the DVD one day, but don’t set your sights too high.

2/5 Stars Too bad, really.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Escape The Hezbollah