17 March 2013

Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)
  • Director: Terry Gilliam
  • Based on Book: no
  • Cast: Christopher Plummer, Lily Cole, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, Andrew Garfield, Tom Waits, Colin Farrell
  • Personal “oh yeah him/her” reaction, i.e. have seen this actor/actress in:
    • Christopher Plummer – Sound of Music, A Beautiful Mind, The Lake House, The Twelve Monkeys, Dolores Claiborne, Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country
    • Andrew Garfield – The Amazing Spiderman, Never Let Me Go, Boy A
    • Heath Ledger: Brokeback Mountain, Ned Kelly, The Dark Knight, 10 Things I Hate About You
    • Johnny Depp – everything…
    • Jude Law: Cold Mountain, Alfie, Repo Men, Sherlock Holmes, Sleuth, The Holiday, Breaking and Entering, The Aviator, Captain Sky and the World of Tomorrow, Road to Perdition, eXistenZ, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
    • Tom Waits – Down by Law, Dracula, The Twelve Monkeys, The United States of Leland
    • Colin Farrell – In Bruges, Daredevil
  • Why bought: Johnny Depp, Heath Ledger, Jude Law, Terry Gilliam
  • Seen: Twice. First time February 18, 2011. Now December 14, 2012

The first time we watched this DVD I slept through most of it. This is not an insult to the film. I have slept through Dr. Strangelove and How I Won the War and may other great movies too. Sometimes I’m just very tired and movies soothe me (Dr. Strangelove?! Soothing?! Well…I slept, didn’t I?)
The second time, though again a Friday evening at the end of a stressful end-of-term week, I stayed awake almost the whole time. So did I like it? For one, it’s Terry Gilliam. For two, Johnny Depp is in it. For three, the cast is great. For four, it’s colorful, lively, imaginative and fun to watch.
The story: Dr. Parnassus, who is thousands of years old, has made a deal with the devil (an appropriately sleazy Tom Waits) in order to become young again and woo and marry a lovely young chick. The price: his daughter when she turns sixteen.  We’ve heard it before. Now, in modern times, in London of the early 21st century, these two plus a guy (a perfect Andrew Garfield) and a dwarf run a sort of a magic show. Only it really is magic – on the other side of a mirror one enters the world of one’s desires.
And so upon the scene comes a handsome mysterious Heath Ledger, also perfect for the role. Sadly, he died while making the film – a real shock and loss to the film world - but evidently everything in the real world had been filmed by then so it worked very well that Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell replaced him in different sequences of the behind-the-mirror world.
Lily Cole plays the daughter and she’s a feisty, big mouth, typical modern teenager but she’s also as cute as a button and sexy and that in fact is what’s wrong with the movie. As so often, though there is a lot of creativity in the film, the gender stereotypes prompt a weary ho-hum.  It’s fine that in the end she ends up with devoted loving Garfield but do they have to be so cloyingly bourgeois, rich daddy-mummy-baby girl at the end? I know, I know, kids growing up in weird families tend to long for the “normal” but they could have chosen an interesting kind of normal.
How to rate it? Hmmm. The plusses and the minuses about average out to
5 * out of 10.

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