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Wendigo Mountain

June 7th, 2010

Journal Info

Clint Harris


June 7th, 2010

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus arrived via Netflix the other day.  Aside from the problems I've had with watching Heath Ledger movies since his death, I was excited to see this movie.  For me, Heath Ledger movies are like watching that guy's YouTube of how he takes a picture of himself every day for six years (or however many he's up to now).  You get to watch a steady decline from the days of Roar and 10 Things I Hate About You to his puffy, strung-out self in The Dark Knight.  Doctor Parnassus was no exception.  He had that lean, unhealthy look you would probably find on any tweaker about to freebase their like couple of rocks before the next world.

Which is more or less what happened.  To cover for this, we get to see other actors playing Heath Ledger for pretty much no reason , while inside the imaginarium.  It just made me wonder why they didn't cast any of these other guys for the whole movie in the first place.  Johnny Depp was really good, but I don't think he understood what he was doing in context with the rest of the movie.  Same with Jude Law.  Colin Farrell knew exactly what he was doing: Valentina, the jailbait 15 year old the movie centers around.  He would be doing her.  I mean seriously, what else is Colin Farrell good for?  Eyebrow cultivation?

The thing about the jailbait eye-candy is she isn't actually 15 going on 16, the actress is 21 in this movie.  Which I guess makes it okay to enjoy watching her run around in those outfits?  But the intent still weirds me out.  Heath Ledger is like 30 in this movie, and from the beginning, he's trying to mack on this girl.  There's also an especially creepy scene where she's talking to Anton, another performer in her father's imaginarium troupe (who has been in love with her for years apparently) when she says she's not 12, she's 15 and will be 16, "the age of consent" in just a few days.  I swear, dude nearly lost his yogurt when she tells him this.  Creepy.

Creepier still that he's had a thing for this girl for a long time, whom everyone has been saying was 12 years old.  Can you say bleccch!  I wonder if Christopher Plummer has to introduce himself to his neighbors as per the provisions in Megan's Law if he moves into a new neighborhood after one particular flashback.

The visuals in this movie are amazing, and serve as a performer all their own.  Unfortunately, the script, "plot" holes, and just bad direction trample all over the Gilliam-esque backdrop of long shots, forced perspective, and baroque animation.  It was like all the surreal/fantastical parts of the Fisher King, Baron Munchausen, and Twelve Monkeys without any of the good writing.  The movie rides on Christopher Plummer's shoulders, sometimes Verne Troyer's (!) and the barely legal Lily Cole as Valentina. 

Tom Waits plays himself.    Though I liked his other performance as the Devil better.

Anyway, the movie rambles, one non-sequitur scene after the next, trying to fill in the spaces where the face of Heath Ledger should have been with other actors for absolutely no reason (other than the actor being dead at the time).  Just remember, if you have overdosed, call 911.  Don't call one of the Olsen twins.  Just sayin'.

This movie is perhaps the most boring acid trip you will ever experience.  It ends when it ends, without any clear resolution, breaking its own rules, making up stupid rules it ignores, and finishing up with a memorable line to rival that of Cassablanca:  "Get a midget."

From the last three terrible movies Terry Gilliam has made, I think we should all remember the immortal words of Rick James:  Cocaine is a helluva drug.
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