Reviews, Reports + Comments

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Review of film: “THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS” [ at 45th CIFF ]

    ...  I'm going to report on a "MAJOR" film that was shown on 10-20-09:

Review of film:  THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR. PARNASSUS  [  at 45th CIFF  = Chicago Int'l. Film Festival  ]

        -- It has more Imagination than enjoyment =

   Rating:  7.5 of 10 stars in a 122-minute film (based on an advance screening).

As it has done in previous years, the Chicago Int’l Film Festival offered a “SURPRISE” movie to anyone coming in with Festival apparel (a clever & nice idea, tho it was a bit unclear from different announcements just what “fit” the definition)…

  The public didn’t know WHAT movie would be shown until it started after an introduction by Fest founder Michael Kutza. When they saw it would be the long-awaited “IMAGINARIUM”, that fact brought hearty applause from those in attendance.

  Basically, the meandering (& periodically puzzling) Terry Gilliam story concerns a “contest” between the DEVIL “Mr. Nick” (TOM WAITS) & his “opposite, Dr. Parnassus (CHRISTOPHER PLUMMER) to win five “souls” for their “side” (with the victor securing final control of P’s daughter Valentina). 

  Parnassus (who’d gotten immortality from Mr. Nick in a wager thousands of years before) runs a sort of old-time traveling “side show”, trying to entice modern-day people into his wagon to go thru his “mirror” into an imaginary & often imaginative --  & frequently frightening – world…

  Helping Parnassus are his assistants:  Anton playing “Mercury” in their play (acted by ANDREW GARFIELD), Percy (VERNE TROYER) & Valentina (LILY COLE).  They work to save the life of mysterious Tony (HEATH LEDGER in his last role before he died unexpectedly)…

  Then, various of Heath’s friendsFINISH” his role in the “Imaginarium” section at the last half of the film:  the # 1 “Transformation” being JOHNNY DEPP, # 2 being JUDE LAW, & # 3 being COLIN FARRELL

  Anton tends to be usually jealous & leery of Tony, in part because his love Valentina seems attracted to him. The devil & Parnassus keep competing for various members of the public, & you see things quasi-“resolved” at the end (with special emphasis on Tony & Valentina).

  There are some very IMAGINATIVE aspects to the film, especially a scene with flying mirrors. Considering that 4 people play the part of Tony, the role is “blended” surprisingly WELL (& the acting is decent thruout)…

 The film got NO real applause at the end (whereas numerous “unknown” films received such acclaim at the Festival). 

  I’m afraid that the overall film will be a “HARD-SELL” to the general public (except on a “cult” level), because, due to the way the story is often CONFUSING and not very funny, it comes across as more IMAGINATIVE than really enjoyable (which is why I rated it as I did).
  After I saw the film, I talked briefly to Mr. KUTZA, who said the film was like 6 years or so in the making, & he was surprised to see the wide-range of financing involved, particularly from Canadian government agencies (besides UK & French ones)… 

  Checking into the situation on-line, I see the film is scheduled for a LIMITED U.S. release starting December 25th [2009]--  altho it’s already been shown at 2009 Film Festivals including Cannes, Munich, Toronto, San Sebastian (Spain), Vancouver, Rome, & set for Sao Paulo, Brazil later in October…

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