I’ve always hearted films, and since my hardcore days of DVD-obsessing set in when I was around 14, I’ve kinda always been looking for THE ONE. Weell, in mid-Octubre on one of the worst days everrr, where I was totally hopeless and frustrated beyond explanation I found it *almost* out of nowhere. (boy) (haw) This, I think is the definition of MARMITE: you’re either going to love it or hate it. So instead of arguing ad nauseum, I’ll just direct naysayers to THIS, the place where imma lose my blog-rant virginity.
So..as this is probably going to take a littlewhile to read, I’ve given you the gift of sweet trailer-ness to GRAB su attención. Plus that soundtrack..Mmm, tasty, tasty beats.
^^ Yes, it really is that bizarre. WELL then, The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus: I know it’s a weird title but really after seeing it..I don’t think anything less crazy would have been appropriate. This film does have legs though. It can stand on it’s own, it’s just that good. Terry Gilliam, many say, is a madman. But without his admittedly lunatic visions, everything would definitely be much grayer, sadder place. For me to sit down in a normal cinema and be completely transported to another world, that was so astonishingly whimsical, yet still touched things and events in my own life at the time, SO extraordinarily well.. I ended up going to see it three times. Also, in the hypersensitive state of a dream. I don’t know about you, but my dreams rarely take place as a completely coherent story. Instead they are situations, personal failures and fears that hibernate in my subconscious and then manifest themselves as overblown images and events in my sleep. I find myself trying to decipher all these things for their meaning the next day, they utterly haunt & fascinate you in lush, fantastical, sometimes dark trips through the mirror. However, unlike our own dreams for which we often never know the meaning, the film answers our questions and leaves us with a sense of understanding and empathy, a total morality tale. It spans both modern & ancient eras, somehow mixing them into one slab of beauty which never seems forced or stilted or anyway retarded. Like, the images & insane representations & little-nerdy-cinema-in-jokes piled up so constantly before my eyes that they had me jizzing in my cinema seat. Literally.**
I’m only gonna talk about my two favourite actors in it plus the Heath Ledger debate and I’m not even gonna TRY to explain the plot (I know, whatta review, right? PFFT..thats what the trailers for..) so, here:
First of all: Tom Waits is ENTHRALLING as Mr. Nick/The Devil. I’ve seen him in a couple of films and liked him, but have never really suited a role he has done as this one. I love his music & his attitude, poetry, voice, disconcerting youtube interviews and somewhat odd attractiveness. (YEAH? UGH DID I JUST SAY THAT?) He’s staggering in this..its like all these things (Especially the last one. Mmm-hmm) have just congregated together to form Mr. Nick. They say that the greatest villains all have one thing in common, they all have one redeeming quality. A quality that can make you sympathetic to them and make them more human. Waits’ Mr. Nick’s redeeming quality is at times, you actually like/want-to-be him. There are times he’s not such a baddie, instead a charming, funny, old-world punter. It seems as though he doesn’t want Parnassus to lose the bet because he likes the game itself and Parnassus much more than the thought of actually winning. The performance is so solid and so good.
Lily Cole as Valentina, Parnassus’ daughter, is also a surprise. Even more so as when I first heard she was in it, I thought, international model + fantasy/indescribable genre film = MEHFAIL. I mean, she is out of this world beautiful. Seriously, I’m actually gay for her. But she really was great. Valentina wants more out of life than her father can offer her and has to deal with that painful point in life where all children realize their parents are not perfect and has to *to pile on the cheese-factor here* find her own path. PUKE! Cole’s Valentina is at times funny, frantic, heartbroken and exceptionally relatable. You tend to feel her emotion and frustration in every glance. In contrast to the endearing, lovesick, almost boy-next-door Anton, she is the gypsy girl who like the majority of the audience in the first half of the film, turn towards the winning Tony and turn away from a potentially forgettable character. But with her pre-Raphaelite dollface & statuesque bodddayyy which fits in so well on the stage of the Imaginarium, you can’t help but fall in love with her young-character-but-old-world look. If that makes any sense outside my head. She appears older than her years but still has that sorta..believable teenage desperation which is so refreshing amidst the life-vs-death subjects going on around her.
KAY, para el final..I know that reviewers & audiences alike feel almost compelled to say that the performance of the late Heath Ledger was so exceptional that it is a snatched glimpse of a future tragically taken away. YES, he was an incredible. YES it was so tragic. BUT THE ROLE ITSELF ISN’T LIKE THAAAT. This cast is an ensemble, a troupe rather than the focus to be on that-totally-hot-Australian-guy. And I’m not saying at all that that’s how he was viewed at all in later life (if you can call 28 later life) His..just delicately heartbreaking performance in Brokeback Mountain or the pop culture ICON he created in The Dark Night are his epitaph. This role is just the full stop. Whats especially strange in a life-imitating-art kinda way is that The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus would have been less of a film without the Tony’s truly seamless transitions through the mirror & face-changes to Johnny Depp, Jude Law & Colin Farrell. Jude Law was the only bad part of the whole thang. I mean really..WTF? The other two actors where (surprisingly on Farell’s part, for me) were great. Like those Jerry Schatzberg photos of Edie Sedgwick in the 60s, its simultaneously shows the four sides to one character through the medium of art, which ultimately this film is. That’s the kind of whimsical beauty that just goes with it all so well. His Tony is such a con artist, so silky, so manipulative, so incredibly charming. He was not meant to be likeable, yet you couldn’t really dislike him either.
So GO SEE IT. It’s like a collage, that every time you look closely at it, you see something new and brilliant. Plus check out two of the bitchin’ posters:
It has that slightly retro charm from Gilliam’s early days of Baron Munchausen etc buutt really..there’s only so much you can write about The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, because the images, performances & just so-luscious-it’s-edible atmosphere are almost the highlights. And just to show that I’m not a total fangirl (AHEM) spouting nonsense, this film is nominated for TWO OSCARS. YEAH. I think I’d projectile vomit with glee if it did win as I feel like I’ve somehow grown up with it. I truly think it’s made with the same love, vision & dedication as Avatar, the same insaane performances as in An Education, and it’s obviously fuckloads better than Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side. So let’s raise our cola-spiked-with-vodka glasses in the hope of Oscar recognition for an mind-boggling piece of cinema.
** Not literally. That’d be disgusting. WTF is wrong with you??