Friday, June 4, 2010

Trying to Grok Gilliam

One (or more) of the following are true:

Terry Gilliam is a weird, strange and twisted man.
I am not clever enough to understand his films.
Terry Gilliam purposely designs stories to confuse us to no end.
I am a glutton for punishment when it comes to bizarre storytelling.
Terry Gilliam needs to make more films.
I need to stop watching his films.
Terry Gilliam should stop telling stories.
I can’t wait for more of his tales.

I’m not sure… perhaps all of them are true, none of them are true or vice-versa - which is to say it’s rather like a Terry Gilliam movie.

What brought this on? Last night Bart, Buttercup and I watched The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. Well, Buttercup and I did. Bart zonked out at a slower bit of the film and never recovered. Let me make it clear that both Buttercup and I liked the movie. We’re just not sure we did. By which I mean we didn’t really understand it. Or if we did, we’re not sure we actually have. But it had been one hell of a great ride!

Looking at IMDb, I have not seen just one of his movies. That film is Jabberwocky. In talking about his work, I am not counting the Monty Python films (which I’ve seen and I “got”) as those can be regarded as a different category. My two favorites are Time Bandits and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

I’ve made a post about Baron Munchausen before. In a nutshell, I adore that it’s designed to be impossible to discern when and where reality and fantasy begin or end. Time Bandits I have not seen for quite some…er…time. I have very fond memories of it and know I’ve seen it more than once. As I recall, it’s the most linear of his stories. But yes, it does (or so I think) have some bends and turning of tables characteristic of Gilliam.

Brazil is a film that my mind won’t seem to let me remember. Sure, I recall bits and pieces of it. But when I watched again there were large chunks I didn’t think I’d seen before. Not in the sense of not remembering them, but in that my brain decided to black them out due to them being disturbing or unnerving somehow. I can’t tell you which parts, since they’ve blacked out again.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas I saw once and that seemed to be enough. It didn’t sit right with me, nor did it sit wrong with me. We’ll leave it at that.

His movie Tideland is, well, odd. Very odd. To the point of I don’t get it at all. I might even be sickened by it, I’m not entirely sure. None of it “blackened” in my head, though. But all the while I felt as if I’d been missing something. Like Gilliam is completely off his rocker or I’d not been savvy enough to comprehend it.

And The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is just like that… only without the (possibly) disgusted bit. It’s a little like Munchausen in that fantasy and reality blend to the point of numbing the mind. But unlike Munchausen it didn’t make me stand up and applaud that aspect. But by no means did I not enjoy it. It’s visually stunning. And the backstory of how it came to be made (or almost didn’t) is fascinating. It’s Heath Ledger’s last film - he died during production. Gilliam reportedly had a nervous breakdown after having also had ridiculously horrendous bad luck during his first attempt at a movie called The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (see the documentary-like film called Lost in La Mancha.) But a solution presented itself. Since Parnassus deals with fantasy, Gilliam decided that going through his magic mirror ‘changes’ Ledger’s character each time… and actors Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell stepped up so that the film could be completed.

I suppose I need to see Jabberwocky.

At the very best Gilliam’s films get one talking and thinking, that’s for sure.

So thank you, Mr. Terry Gilliam, for being one hell of a delicious creative convolution! May you always continue to bring us wild and wicked whimsy. And best of luck in upcoming productions. I’m looking forward to The Man Who Killed Don Quixote.

Gilliam's Arc - A Flood of Films Flowing into Fantasy

As said in "Gilliam's Arc" post: I’ve also come to realize that I’d been looking at the works Gilliam had written. There is, of course, also The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys and The Brothers Grimm. I've seen each of those, too. And on the whole, I liked them as well. But each of them is a linear tale... although the fantastic hand of Gilliam is definitely present in each!

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