Archive for October 27th, 2009

After mixed reviews I approached The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus with a little caution and scepticism.  How could the film live up to the hype of Heath Ledgers last film especially considering the fantastic performance he gave in his last completed film, The Dark Knight?  Regardless of any fears of disappointment I went along anyway as it is a Terry Gilliam film after all!  Whist Ledgers performance was good it was a different member of the cast who caught my attention.  Lily Cole who plays Valentina, the daughter of the eponymous Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer).  Although she looked vaguely familiar, I had never heard of her.  I got home and looked her up on the internet and discovered that she had worked as a model since the age of fifteen and begun acting two years ago with a part in St. Trinian’s.  As Valentina I wouldn’t go as far as to say she carries the film but she certainly binds it together.  Her performance is electric and eye-catching and is at times sweet and innocent and others alluring and downright sexy. 

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

For those who don’t know how the film was completed without Heath Ledgers, with as few plot spoilers as possible:  Part of the film is set within the mind of the protagonists.  Ledger plays Tony in the real world but in the other scenes the part is taken on by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell.  Rather than chopping and changing between actors, each one gets his own segment.  It works really well as each character shows a different side to the character.  Obviously with all the publicity over Ledgers death most viewers will know the reasons for the other actors, if anyone went to the film without that knowledge they would never suspect the part wasn’t always intended to be played by four actors.  the imaginarium of doctor parnassus Tom Waits

The thing that lets the film down is a disjointed narrative that never really gets to grips with where it wants to go and what it wants to say.  Mr. Nick played by Tom Waits is well played but undeveloped as a character as is Doctor Parnassus to some extent.  Although the end itself is good it feels like an epilogue and the conclusion itself that came just beforehand is a week and disorganized.  The origin of the narrative, told in flashback doesn’t quiet fit with the rest of the film, it is as if it originally belong to another story.  I did read somewhere that Terry Gilliam keeps a file of unused ideas that he dips into for inspiration and this film came from there, ultimately I think he may have tried to draw too many of the ideas together to make a completely coherent film.  Having said all this, it really isn’t a bad film, it is visually imaginative and attractive and the characters are likeable and well portrayed.  An average Terry Gilliam tends to be more original than most other film makers can come up with.  And most importantly although its loses its way from time to time it is generally enjoyable. 

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus lily cole

In conclusion not a perfect end to Heath Ledgers tragically short career but certainly not a bad one and a step in the right direction for the young actors Andrew Garfield and the aforementioned Lily Cole.  I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of both of them in the near future. 


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I am relatively lucky living near a large multiplex with big screens, good sound, comfortable seats and best of all a monthly pass meaning with the number of films I see it averages out at less than £2 per film. There is however a problem. Up (in 2D and 3D) has been taking up four scenes and there have been an average of three Bollywood films on every week. I have no problem with this, clearly lots of people enjoy seeing these films and they make money for the cinema however there are a lot of independent and foreign language that are not being shown. This month alone these films have been out but not made it to my local cinema:

Le Donk & Scor-zay-zeeBorn in 68Pontypool

  • Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee
  • Born in 68
  • District 13: Ultimatum
  • Bakjwi (Thirst) – from Oldboy director Chan-wook Park
  • Pontypool
  • Vinyan
  • Colin
  • Ai no mukidashi (Love Exposure)*

Bakjwi ThirstColinVinyan

This is not a complaint but a plea for cinemas to show a few more small films. Without the demand to see a film in the week it opens they could share a print between different cinemas. This worked well in the past with the “Tartan Asia Extreme” festivals when different cities got the films in different weeks.

*Released on 30 10 09 but not scheduled to screen.

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