Monday, 19 April 2010

Cannes Film Fest Review

For YM006 Festivals our resident Film Reviewer has written a piece on Cannes Film Festival.
To link that he is doing some reviews of films connected to the festivals for the blog..
Enjoy =)

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus (2009)

“Unmissable” – Jonathan Ross, Film 2009
“Magical” – Grazia
“Superb” – News of the World
Directed and Written by Terry Gilliam
Cast: Heath Ledger, Lily Cole, Christopher Plummer, Tom Waits, Verne Troyer, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law.
Screened at Cannes Film Festival 2009 – Out of Competition
Rated 12

If you haven’t heard of Terry Gilliam in your sad or lonely life, then you must have been living under a rock or inside of a very rotund biscuit barrel. You think that my sentence was quite odd don’t you? Well, in the world of Mr. Gilliam this is quite normal. None of his work has been really sensible or down to Earth, which it shouldn’t be. Nothing wrong with being outside the box, as long as you don’t try to eat your way back in.

Gilliam is known best for his basic but legendary animation skills for the British phenomenon known as “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” (1969-1974). His simple way of doing things turned into comic genius, a motorised pram that ate people wasn’t exactly normal was it? Later he went back to help his fellow Pythons with the films “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), “Monty Python’s Life of Brian” (1979) & “Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life” (1983). He has also directed solo works including “Time Bandits” (1981), “Brazil” (1985) & “12 Monkeys” (1995). Known for his quirky style, his latest feature film, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” (2009) which was released on DVD and Blu-Ray March 29th 2010, was expected to deliver a gravy boat of whimsical sturdiness.

Dr. Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) and his Daughter, Valentina (Lily Cole) run a travelling stage show offering punters the chance of a lifetime, to go through the mirror into The Imaginarium, A place where your own imagination creates the world. When they accidentally stumble upon a man hanging from a bridge (Heath Ledger) and save his life, he joins them turns their theatre troupe into a thriving business. But when an old friend of Dr. Parnassus turns up, Mr. Nick (Tom Waits), a wager is made that and Valentina is the Prize.

Firstly, what a fantastic cast this film has. Good work Casting person whose name I don’t have hand at this very moment. Well done. Christopher Plummer has done some great acting in his time, a true great. He portrays Parnassus perfectly with wisdom pouring out of every wrinkled crease. As a friend of mine was very happy to point out, Tom Waits is also in this movie. He has done a bit of acting in the past but is better known for his music, he is described as “one of the last beatniks in contemporary music”. He can certainly move like the Devil should. Happily by all my counts, Lily Cole gives a fantastic performance as Parnassus’s Daughter Valentina. Put a ginger haired angel in a film and I’ll give it a watch. Happily for all those who aren’t into the ginge as much as I am, her acting should be noted. Hopefully more roles will be coming her way in time.

With the sad passing of Heath Ledger, the film almost never got made. It’s quite hard to make a film if you haven’t got the leading star. Thanks to Heath’s friends and a quick re-write, Johnny Depp, Jude Law & Colin Farrell stepped in to play Heath’s character Tony when in the Imaginarium, each time donning a different face as he goes through the mirror. Luckily, Heath had filmed all the non green screen work before his passing, taking all his hard work out would have been disrespectful. The film is a fitting tribute to a great man, and an even better actor.

“The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus” is a great film. It won’t be everybody’s cup of tea, for a fantasy film it is very complex. Don’t concentrate and the story will run away from you. To get the full benefit from this film, you will need to see it on Blu-Ray. There’s a lot of Detail to behold, it is certainly one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen. A pure HD delight.

The only thing that could have made the film better was if there was a cameo from one of Gilliam’s Python friends. John Cleese would have fit in well inside the Imaginarium. What do you think?

Warning: Contains infrequent strong Language, sex references & (I can’t believe this is on the back of the DVD cover) Smoking throughout.

Alex Errey

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