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The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnussus

The last we'll ever see Heath Ledger on film. Savor it.
The last we'll ever see Heath Ledger on film. Savor it.

I got into the movies free this time around. When I got out of the theater, there was a blood mobile giving away a free movie ticket for a donation. A pint of blood and a couple puncture wounds later, I'm all lined up to see another film for free next week. 

THE PREMISE: Doctor Parnussus (Christopher Plummer) and Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) are in an eternal contest to see who can win over the most souls. Mr. Nick using temptation and Dr. Parnussus using imagination. Dr. Parnussus comes across Tony (Heath Ledger) hanging from a bridge in a noose and inducts him into his traveling brigade. The current contest is to see who can win over five souls in two days. The wager is loftier than ever before. 

THE AESTHETICS: It was almost a dream to see this many great actors participating in such a bizarre film. Jude Law, Johnny Depp and Colin Farrel all pitched in to complete the scenes of the late Heath Ledger. The MVP in all of this is a tie between Tom Waits and Verne Troyer. Waits has the voice and the pencil thin mustache to come across as a snake oil sales man. I was surprised to see Troyer have a solid performance after spending so much time as the butt of jokes in the Austin Powers' movies.

The writing is spot on until the third act. Then it because muddled as you have no idea who you're suppose to be cheering for towards the end. It's almost a betrayal because you spend three quarters of the movie adoring certain characters and then the movie tells you they're complete slime without ever really telling you why. Despite falling apart in the third act, the visuals are astounding from start to finish. Something that Terry Gilliam has a gift for. More so than Peter Jackson. 

THE SUBTEXT: At one point, Dr. Parnussus moans about how nobody  to hear his stories anymore. This is probably the same way Terry Gilliam feels. His career his sputtered out as of late and studios are always trying to take away his creative freedom. Terry Gilliam is Doctor Parnussus. 

THE FINAL GRADE: There's a lot to love about this film but everything goes completely overboard in the last thirty minutes. I can't help but wonder what it was they were trying to do. If you're a fan of Terry Gilliam, Heath Ledger, fantasy, or prime art direction than have fun with this one. My Grade: B+

I have no idea what to see my next time out. Depends on how masochistic I'm feeling. If it's a lot then I'm seeing Legion. 


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