Saturday, October 31, 2009
I had mixed feelings going in to The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Sure it was Heath Ledger's last film (plus the added bonus of Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law), but my track record with Terry Gilliam movies is spotty at best... and I read something recently that said this was the "most Terry Gilliam-eske of all his movies"... or something to that effect.
The opening of the movie is a little on the odd side too, although it does set the stage nicely (so to speak) for what's to come. And what's to come get's pretty damn weird too...
It's definitely not a movie that explains every little detail or dumbs things down... it blasts along at it's own pace and it's up to the viewer to make sense of things. I don't know that there was necessarily anything that I was confused about per say... but there were a few unanswered questions at the end. And rewatching the movie probably isn't going to answer any of them.
Sadly, that does eat into Heath's character a little bit... his performance (like his English accent) fluctuates more than it should from scene to scene (whether that's due to the movie getting reorientated or not, I don't know), and we never really learn enough about his character for my liking.
The transitions between "real" Health and the three "Imaginarium" versions of his character are dealt with very well... in fact it's almost like the movie was always designed to work that way. There's only one scene that does feel out of place, at the end of the Jude Law "segment"... and I think in a perfect world that scene would have been played by Heath as well.
In fact, the Jude portion of the story is the only one I didn't think worked as well... whereas the Johnny and Colin versions held together better.
There were a couple of really weird crossover moments too... because all three actors were rocking the pulled back ponytail and "too much eyeliner" (is there really such a thing?), I will admit that on at least one occasion I was looking at who I assume was Heath but very strongly seeing Johnny... weird.
It was also really good to see Verne Troyer (aka MiniMe) in a speaking role (not to mention one where he doesn't get thrown around every two minutes).
The special effects are gorgeous... although it's the double edged sword of them aiming for something fantastical and otherworldly which in turn makes them not look quite real, which in turn adds to the fantastical feeling. So the short version is gorgeous but not really realistic. Well, except for the cobra... that was a bit second-rate.
And I'm sure that masses of Tom Waits fans will disagree with me, but I felt like he was somewhat light-on as Mr Nick... he did a serviceable job, but there wasn't any menace to the performance (although perhaps that was the point).
For the most part though, it was an odd but enjoyable movie.
yani's rating: 8 zanni masks out of 10