Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Monday, November 23, 2009

AFI Film Fest: DAY 4

Mon 11/2/09

Day 4 of the AFI Film Festival and I have free tickets and the choice of seeing:

1) a special screening of an Alfred Hitchcock film, North By Northwest with a Q&A with Eva Marie Saint


2) a Talk Show with Kenny Ortega choreographer (Foot Loose, Dirty Dancing) and director of Michael Jackson's concert This is It.


3) The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus starring Christopher Plummer, Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrel.

I was eager to hear Mr. Ortega speak in light of the deaths of MJ and Patrick Swayze and the proposed remake of Foot Loose but the chance of seeing stars like Johnny Depp and Christopher Plummer (one of my favs) won out and I went for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. However, if Hitchcock was alive and at the Q&A my choice would have been a no brainer.

Movie Review: The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus movie

The movie starts out with a weird ancient eastern cult of mystics and a story that was a bit hard to follow. One of the mystics, Dr. Parnassus(Plummer) makes stupid wages with an umbrella carrying, 3 piece black suit and black bola wearing devil. The movie is set thousands of years in the past then we jump to present day London where Dr. Parnassus' has an old style carnival mystic side show set up on a flat bed attached to an ancient looking horse drawn carriage. There we get introduced to the world behind the mirror, a dream world that looks like it was inspired by Dr. Suess on psychedelics. The movie was directed by Terry Guilliam of Mighty Python fame, who is also an artist. The dream world is a CG lovers dream and I found that it was particularly well done.

This movie will always be known as Heath Ledger's last role and he was wonderful in it. His performance as Tony, an amnesic smooth talking stranger with a shady past is both engaging and totally believable. He was truly gifted and obviously engrossed himself in his roles. SPOILER ALERT: Caution to all, his character's entrance in the movie(hanging from a hangman's noose) may be a bit harsh for some considering his death.

As Heath's death occurred before the film was completed Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrel take turns reprising Heath's role as Tony. It was fun to see how each actor brought their "individual" personalities to the role. Johnny was impish, comedic and flirtatious. Jude was flawlessly handsome, vain and self-centered. Colin was head strong, brooding and conceited with a violent streak. The replacements work as Johnny, Jude and Colin appear as Tony only in the dream world. I thought that Heath's face should have been re-imposed over Colin's at the end to keep the continuity of the film but I think that may have been too much emotionally to see on screen.

Unfortunately, the great performances by Heath and Johnny could not save this film. It's too slow, too long and too weird. There was a chance to save it if they had the story more on the conventional Christian view of good v.s. evil but I think they tried to be too different and it fell flat. Also, a young Christopher Plummer look alike should have been used for the flashback scenes playing scenes with a 2 year old instead of 70 something year old Plummer with hair dyed dark. They also should have shown us more of Anton's back story and the love story with the doctor's daughter pre-Tony's appearance. Verne Troyer role could also have been expanded as he did very well and I wanted to learn more about his character.

As a Christian, I was very turned off by the depictions of foreign gods and pagan or sacrilegious story lines and I even considered leaving at one point. Also, the use of black face when Troyer pretended to be an orphaned black child and kohl used to simulate the slanted ?Asian eyes of the white mystics is definitely racist and should be stopped.

My view:
Skip it!

Neither Johhny, Jude nor Colin were at the premiere because as the directors said, "they all have real jobs and are busy working on films". I did get to see Christopher Plummer real close as he entered from a side curtain when the remaining cast was introduced. He is a stately looking older gentle man with lovely posture and he bowed politely as he received a standing "o". There will be a tribute for Mr. Plummer on Thursday after The Last Station, a movie in which he plays Leo Tolstoy.

I don't know if there was an after party for the movie but it was bitterly cold and I hurried home to rest up for the next day.

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