January 31, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - 2009

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Terry Gilliam & Charles McKeown
Starring: Heath Ledger/Johnny Depp/Jude Law/Colin Farrell, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer

"Nothing is permanent. Not even death." Terry Gilliam, the American of Monty Python and director of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, has once again overcome his frequent studio troubles and brought his latest work of magical realism to the screens. In Imaginarium, a monk-turned-immortal-sideshow-performer (Plummer) has the power to give his audience nothing more and nothing less than a world of pure imagination, thanks to a mirror on his stage and supernatural powers given to him by the devil (Waits), known as "Mr. Nick" in the film. In exchange, the eponymous Parnassus must surrender his daughter to him upon her 16th birthday. As the day draws nearer, Parnassus makes a second wager in the hopes that he may keep his daughter--the first to five souls wins. To accomplish this feat, he accepts help from Tony (Ledger, et al), a mysterious stranger that Parnassus and his troupe discover hanging by a noose off the Blackfriar Bridge.

To me, this film delivered on Avatar's promise: remarkable special effects, and a great storyline to back it up (the idea that when two people enter the Imaginarium, the appearance of the person with the weaker imagination changes is a stroke of genius on Gilliam's part, and was a great rewrite following the loss of Ledger). However, I don't think I can do better justice than Johnny Depp did: "Maestro Gilliam has made a sublime film. Wonderfully enchanting and beautiful, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus is a uniquely ingenious, captivating creation; by turns wild, thrilling and hilarious in all its crazed, dilapidated majesty. Pure Gilliam magic." R.I.P. Heath Ledger. We miss you already, but you went out on a high note.

Oh, and apparently Terry Gilliam was JK Rowling's first choice to direct the first Harry Potter film, but the studio rejected him, and he refused to do any others after hating the version Chris Columbus ended up helming. Good job there, Warner Brothers.

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