The Fisher King


Viewed – 16 April 2019. Blu-ray

After the sad passing of gifted comedienne and actor Robin Williams in 2014, I think it’s taken me until now to watch one of his movies again. Yet having sat through this, everything I loved about him came flooding back. He certainly was one of the most likeable and versatile presences in anything he appeared in and this 1991 fantasy-drama is no exception.

Directed by master visionary Terry Gilliam (Twelve Monkeys) this has Jeff Bridges as a shock-jock radio DJ who’s outspoken show inadvertently leads to a shooting in a local restaurant. Disgraced, Bridges falls on hard times and stumbles upon the plight of local ‘bum’ Perry (Williams) who comes to Bridges’ aid after some youths attack him. However, Perry isn’t playing with a full deck and believes the Holy Grail is held in some wealthy tycoon’s house in the middle of New York.

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This is quite mad-cap stuff with Gilliam at full tilt delivering fantastical yet captivating imagery (grand central station turning into a ballroom) and filling the movie with a wealth of oddball creations. Yet this is also a story of redemption and salvation and Williams delivers a laugh-out-loud zany performance that’s also filled to the brim with heart. Bridges is also on fine form (with hints of ‘the dude’ prior to The Big Lebowski) and goes on a real character journey.

At times Gilliam’s direction and emphasis of the weird and bizarre gets a bit ‘much’ and takes a little bit of adjustment to fully appreciate. However at its core the movie is equal parts magical, heart-breaking and feel-good making for a genuine cult classic.

The Blu-ray release from the U.K. division of Criterion boasts a pleasingly crisp and vibrant image. Although mostly filmed in a subdued style, various details make it look more expensive than its low budget origins, helped I’m guessing by Gilliam’s unique eye. A noticeable shimmer does rears it’s head now and then though. The 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is also clear and effective-enough, if not particularly showy. Extras consist of several worthwhile featurettes, although none new for this release. A highlight though is Terry Gilliam’s commentary from the 90’s. There’s also a poster-like booklet with its own write ups on the movie. Solid treatment for a still very unique and enjoyable movie.

Verdict:

(the movie) 4 /5

(the Blu-ray) 4 /5

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Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas


Viewed – 01 May 2014  Netflix 

There was something about this movie upon it’s release and over the years that has always made me stay away from it.  The bizarre appearance of Hollywood actor Johnny Depp as famed drug addict / journalist Hunter S. Thompson, the always cautionary ‘unfilmable novel’ cliché and then the combination of drugs and Terry Gilliam – one of the more out-there, albeit skilled surrealist directors around.  It seemed a bad combination.  Yet now with this challenge and as a long time admirer of the former Monty Python member, who still for me made the best time travel movie ever conceived (Twelve Monkeys) – this finally had to be worth a look, right?

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Depp as mentioned plays Thompson, going under various names in a three day drug fuelled road trip to and through and back again from Las Vegas along with his attorney (Benicio Del Toro) to report on a motor cross race in the desert in 1971.  With a back drop of the Vietnam war, president Nixon and the hippy counter culture … this had plenty going on, but finding much entertainment in it was a struggle.  This was Gilliam on acid, and for a director who already is Tim Burton on acid – that’s saying something!  Hallucinations, a wealth of oddball characters, drugs, gambling, more drugs and basically two hours watching two utterly risible people not quite kill themselves (or anyone else they come across).  Depp’s performance is like a Tex Avery cartoon, over the top jittery, with a one tone drawl (not helped by the cigarette filter permanently hanging out of his mouth) and is loosely aided by an animalistic, borderline psychotic Del Toro.  Cameos by the likes of Cameron Diaz, Christina Ricci and a nearly unrecognisable Toby Maguire prove fun … and a soundtrack covering (amongst others) classic hits from The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan turn out to be the biggest plus of this total head-f**k of an experience.  By the end credits I actually felt like I’d been on some sort of trip … and not a particularly good one.

Gilliam’s direction is technically impressive and truly creates the feeling of a doped out, paranoid and trippy journey complete with unconventional camera angles and bizarre effects work (hotel guests turn into reptiles and eat each other, or have an orgy – I couldn’t be sure) … so hat’s off to him for that, but I watch movies either to be entertained or to learn something … and I didn’t get much of either out of this.

Verdict:  2 /5

Alphabet Movie Meme


I saw this idea initially over at The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger, although the idea originates from this blog:The Drama Llama and well I thought it was pretty cool.  Below you will see my choices and I heartily recommend you have a go yourselves!

Anticipating Movie Of 2014

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Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes

I was very impressed with how ROTPOTA turned out… really well done origin tale of the whole ‘apes mythology and made me anticipate what comes next immensely.  That anticipation has died down in the few years since, but now it’s finally due out this year … I can’t wait.

Book Adaption I’d Like To See

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Before I Go To Sleep

I didn’t realise it was coming out, and as I am not an avid reader, of the very few books I have read, last year I got around to Before I Go To Sleep … a wonderfully thrilling and gripping story about a woman with 24hr amnesia, and the mystery of those in her life, who can be trusted and who is telling the truth etc.  The movie has Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth in it, very much NOT how I saw it, but will be interesting to see how S J Watson’s text translates to the big screen.

Celebrity I’d Most Like To Meet

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Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

I tried and failed to read his autobiography last year (will I pick it up again?) but have always been an admirer, not just down to his movies, but also his political career.

 

Dream Director / Actor Pairing

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David Fincher & Ellen Page

One of the best directors around right now with one of the best young actresses right now.  ‘Nuff said.

Essential Classic Film

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Taxi Driver – one of the most thought-provoking and daring movies of the 70s with  a superb Robert DeNiro and a stunningly convincing Jodie Foster.  Love it.

Favourite Film Franchise

I actually don’t think I have a favourite right now…titles like Lord Of The Rings, Star Wars etc come to mind, but firstly is ‘Rings a franchise?  Oh and Star Wars has disappointed me too many times to be a favourite.

Genre I Watch The Most

Thriller – I was going to go for drama, but I think I find myself watching crime movies, action, something with a bit of danger, violence or mature themes in it a lot… gritty you might say, so yes thriller kind of covers all those.

Hidden Gem

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Hmm, by this I’m guessing something fairly obscure that not many have heard about?  I’ll go for Let The Right One In … yes marginally famous but believe me, most who don’t have an awareness of world cinema (and have only seen the dire remake) will not know about this one.  And they really should do … now!

Important Moment In My Film Life

First time I watched Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.  I remember bringing it home from the rental store, on VHS and thinking I had something very special in my possession.  It remains my favourite movie of all time, endlessly watchable and has inspired my style of fiction writing and my love of great dialogue and the crime / gangster genre a whole.

Just Right Movie For A Rainy Day

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The Back To The Future Trilogy

I’ll go for these as they are easy watching, very easy to enjoy from the start, not overly deep, serious or complex and when not in the mood for anything else, superb fun. 

Kiddie Movie I Still Shamelessly Enjoy

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The Lion King

… a great story, beautiful hand-drawn animation and memorable songs!!

Location I’d Most Like To Visit

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The Shire … I mean, who wouldn’t?  Beautiful, and such lovely houses!

Marathon I First Attended

I haven’t ever done a movie marathon … to my recollection.  I don’t think I have the attention span.

Netflix Movie I Actually Watched

V/H/S – which I enjoyed a lot.  Strangely the last Netflix movie I saw too, if you don’t count documentaries.  I do intend to rectify this though as there are a few movies I plan on watching.

One Movie I Saw In Theatres More Than Once

I actually don’t think this has ever happened.

Preferred Place To Watch A New Movie

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Difficult one … I love the cinema, but technology being what it is now, I’d say the home get’s my vote.

 

 

Quote That Inspires Me

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This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time’ and pretty much most of Fight Club as well.

 

 

Remakes (Friend or Foe)

Neither

I don’t have a problem with remakes in theory, as long as they bring something new to an old idea, not just re-tread the same ground, often resulting in a poor imitation.  Which is often the case.

Snack I Enjoy Most

Anything chocolate based.

Twist That Boggled My Mind

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Hmm how to say this without a spoiler…so I wont… but pretty much the best goes to Twelve Monkeys.

Unapologetic Fanperson For

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Martin Scorsese … but who would apologise for that?  He’s amazing.

 

 

 

 

Very Excited For Award Show Season?

Mostly ‘meh’ … good movies rarely even get a nomination, let alone win, with some exceptions.  I’ll check out the winners and be happy if something I think is good walks away with something… but otherwise I’m not overly bothered.

Wish I’d Never Watched

Seed Of Chucky

How to kill a perfectly entertaining franchise … or at least I thought it had…until I heard of Curse Of Chucky.

XXX-Movie I Watched At A Really Young Age

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A Nightmare On Elm Street … scared the crap out of me, and I loved it!

Your Latest Movie Related Obsession

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Studio Ghibli

I love this style of animation, endless imagination, wonderful art and personality.  I haven’t yet seen a Ghibli movie I haven’t liked … and several I have loved.

ZZZ-catchers

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Anything with Harry Potter in the title … just does nothing for me and I am proud to say I have never watched even one of them.

2011 a look back – part four


…and so we reach the final quarter, and with the last three months, some gems appeared and a few not so gem-like…. enjoy.

October  – December

October started off with the enjoyable but underwhelming Scream 4 that considering the long gap between that and the last movie, delivered clever ideas, but not much new.  Revisiting the Star Wars saga continued with four of the six movies being viewed and reviewed, which was exhaustive to say the least, but very memorable … and documentary-style sci-fi drama Monsters impressed with great performances and a very convincing atmosphere.

Drive Angry was a fun road-movie come horror actioner, with a great Nicolas Cage and a sexy-as-hell Amber Heard.  Not a bad way to start off November.  Justine Timberlake made for a credible action hero in sci-fi thriller In Time, and Spanish chiller Julia’s Eyes delivered tension, good performances and brilliantly executed scares.  It was great to view The Lion King again, in pin-sharp Blu-ray, and also a second viewing of Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds proved it to be a better movie than I had originally realised.  The Strangers however was disappointing and predictable, and really, the premise was done better in French horror Ils (aka Them).

December kicked off with David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet, a creepy and erotic masterpiece.  It was good to see Terry Gilliam back on form with The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus, which proved he’s lost none of his bonkers brilliance.  And although I usually avoid remakes, The Thing showed that revisiting a classic and throwing in a few new ideas and a good cast, can make it work.  On Christmas Eve I checked out the much hyped Super 8 which despite aiming for 80s family movie nostalgia, just felt old-fashioned and lacking in its own identity.

So, now you must be asking yourself, with all these movies in mind, what will make the final Top Ten.  Well, you will just have to wait until later today.  Happy New Year!!

The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus


Viewed – 09 December 2011  Blu-ray

At one time, former member of British comedy group Monty Python, Terry Gilliam was one of my favourite directors.  I feel he reached the pinnacle of his talents with the excellent Bruce Willis sci-fi fantasy Twelve Monkeys.  Yet subsequent releases have failed to pass by my radar, and along with the utterly bizarre Tideland, I began to feel he had lost the magic that had singled him out as one of the most inventive directors around.  So I promised myself I would check out what else he has done recently, and this one caught my eye.

Mostly famous as the last movie of tragic star Heath Ledger, but so much more than, set in modern-day London, we follow a travelling theatre company promising to show the often reluctant members of the public a world of their own imagination beyond a fake mirror.  Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) however tells his daughter Valentina (the gorgeous Lily Cole) that he has lived for more than a thousand years, and when he fell in love with a mortal woman, he made a deal with the devil (creepy musician Tom Waits) to grant him youth, yet as part of the bargain, if he was to ever have a son of daughter, they would belong to the devil by their sixteenth birthday.  Valentina is about to become sixteen, and the devil returns to offer Doctor Parnassus a new wager.

Heath Ledger stars as a runaway con-man whose attempted murder is thwarted by the theatre company, and they take him in.  Due to the fact Ledger died during filming, Gilliam crafted a character around the tragedy that whenever he enters the imaginarium, he is played by a different actor (a trio of famous faces, of which I won’t spoil) and in the context of the fantastical storyline … it works brilliantly.  The ideas, and clever special effects showcased in this movie took my breath away, part Alice In Wonderland, part The Lovely Bones, and shows without a doubt that Gilliam remains one of the sharpest cinematic visionaries of our time – loosing none of the skill he showed in movies like Brazil and Time Bandits.  Some of the surrounding, real-world elements jar a little with the fantasy ones, and sometimes the story is a little scatter-shot, which has often been the case with Gilliam’s work … but with a classic good vs evil morality tale at it’s heart and visual wonder like I’ve never seen, this was a real treat.

Verdict: 4 /5