The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Imagination


First day of married life was spent opening all the cards and gifts. By the end, we felt extremely over-awed at the generosity of our friends and relatives. It’s hard to put a financial figure on friendship, but for future reference – and more importantly, for the thank you cards - we wrote down the amounts anyway.

In the evening, to the cinema for the long-awaited pleasure of seeing Terry Gilliam’s new film The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus.

Thoughts. It’s a game of two halves, really. All the scenes set in the world of the imaginarium are fantastic. Gilliam doing what he does best. Bizarre, free-associating fantasies of imagery. And great performances from Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law.

And the other half? The stuff in the real world with Heath Ledger, who, it’s a shame to admit, is the only weak link and the fourth best actor playing ‘Tony’. Everyone else is magnificent; Tom Waits as the Devil, Christopher Plummer as a mad, seedy Dumbledore and Lily Cole as a human doll.

My main criticism, though, would have to be that’s it’s ironic for a film which is one long celebration of storytelling to have such a weak, muddled and poorly-told story at its heart. The script needed a second draft – by Tom Stoppard? – to sort out the whys and wherefores of which bits of plot should go where, to sort out the motivations, and to give the clunky, stilted dialogue a kick up the arse and add some jokes. Only the scene with well-to-do ladies volunteering for soul removal made me laugh.

As it is, it’s a dizzying, undisciplined, ramshackle spectacle which leaves you feeling that it could really do with someone cutting the script down by half an hour. So, it’s a Terry Gilliam film then.

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