Friday, February 5, 2010

Prison of the Mind

Terry Gilliam's Brazil is one of my favorite films. I was a fan of his Fisher King, I liked Twelve Monkeys as a take on La Jetée, and I appreciate the aesthetic of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. But I couldn't sit through Tideland, and Gilliam's latest The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus was a disappointing mess. To appreciate a Gilliam film one must be fully taken in and I never got into this one. Perhaps I should have reverted to my motto for the new year, "Low expectations are the key to happiness."...

BUT, disappointment aside, there are things I liked about this film. I liked the idea. And I liked the compromise that had to come about in using 3 other actors to play Heath Ledger's Tony after he passed away- I thought that actually worked quite well. There are certain cynical Gilliam bits that I appreciate, for example the children's chorus singing about child exploitation and the chorus line of police encouraging violence-lovers to join their ranks. And, of course, aesthetically there is always richness to Gilliam's production design. Although, as my friend Shannon pointed out, CGI may not be a good development in concert with Gilliam's extraordinary imagination- there may be too much possibility, so that it gets out of control and loses focus. Nevertheless, it was a nice little film that didn't grab me in the end. What's next, what's next?

That was a matinée. In the evening, after Imaginarium, we rented Duncan Jones' Moon. I had no expectations going into the film, but I was pleasantly surprised. I keep wanting to call this film "Home" and I think that somehow that would also be an appropriate title for it. Sam Rockwell plays the caretaker of a station on the moon harvesting an energy-providing substance for a large corporation back on earth. Besides a robot that takes care of his every need (voiced by Kevin Spacey), he is all alone there for three years and is coming to the end of his tenure. But he is much worse for the wear and is having substantial mental breaks. Moon was a great take on solitude, loneliness, and the fortress of the mind, with major echos of Solaris and 2001 in design and feel.

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