a seemingly random journey through cinema's heart of darkness. so to speak.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Brothers Grimm (2005, Terry Gilliam) [B]

[Now with spoilers!]
The key line, of course, is “All I wanted was a little order.” A mess but not at all a disaster, with a hodgepodge of themes -- most effectively, Heath Ledger as a bookish type who sees his imaginative ideas come violently to life - vying for space alongside Gilliam’s usual torrent of images, ideas, and general whirligig-ness. More than any other film - except for maybe Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, though my memory’s hazy on that one - it confirms Gilliam as the most ADD-addled director; he’s constantly throwing stuff at the screen and/or getting lost in minutiae, creating his own pace in the process. Richard Lester-style slapstick and high mugging (warning: Peter Stormare plays Italian) are the order of the day, while whole sequences go by without the plot advancing much or at all (the most glaring being the first trip to Monica Bellucci’s tree fortress, which appears to have been shot in real time). It’d behoove him to say he’s the Fellini of our day, only not irritating: he has none of il maestro’s closeted puritanism, but his films are still pure experiences -- bumpy rides with a neverending supply of stuff to gawk at. There’s little to no shape and few of the gimmicky ideas ever resonate amongst the madness - maybe a good thing, since it could have very easily turned into Van Helsing, or even a live-action Shrek - but individual moments stick out, and a tic-heavy Ledger surprisingly mops the floor with Matt Damon. It’s telling, surely, that the most memorable scene (a kid eerily turning into the Gingerbread Man) barely has anything to do with the plot. Basically, imagine a much-longer, more-aggressive Adventures of Baron Munchausen pared down to pure mania and you have the gyst. Great sfx, too, with a floating scene that doesn’t try to hide its blue-screen origins a retro treat.


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