Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trying to think of something more fun to write about than the state of my car

Alas, I'm having car troubles yet again, and it couldn't be worse timing. I am going to Virginia next week to celebrate my friend's wedding so that I'll have something happy to think about on Sept 11 instead of depressing things. My car is in the shop and looks likely to be there until next weekend, which means I can't pick it up until next week. Boo!

Anywho, I've decided to write about two films I've watched recently instead. These are two very different and random movies. First off is the big budget but ultimately a flop movie version of the Broadway play Nine, starring Daniel Day Lewis as Guido Contini, with Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz, Sophia Loren, Marion Cotillard and yes sadly, Fergie. First off my dislikes. I don't think Daniel Day Lewis should ever be allowed to sing again and I thought Fergie's song was annoying and way too easy to get stuck in your head. Granted, I've never been a fan of Mr. Lewis, although my mother swears by him in Last of the Mohicans, as I'm sure so do a lot of other women. Fergie should stick with the Black Eyed Peas. I also thought the story was a little pathetic. I mean the guy has everything and blows it all and has to start all over again from scratch. I mostly just wanted to steal his car, which was this cute little Italian convertible. On to the likes: the choreography and the performances of Nicole Kidman, Judi Dench, Penelope Cruz and Marion Cotillard. The dancing was fabulous and the movie was directed by Rob Marshall, who did Chicago, another of my favorite movie musicals. Nicole Kidman was only in the movie for a very short period of time as Guido's muse and leading actress, sings a wonderfully sad song called "Unusual Way." Judi Dench is amusing as Guido's straight-talking costume designer who used to work at the Folies Bergere and sings a song about it and how great it was. I must admit her singing in French was a bit off-putting for me as I see her as the classic British star, but she did put on a good act. Penelope Cruz is absolutely gorgeous and vulnerable as Guido's mistress and she sings this super seductive song in lingerie that I'm sure her new hubby Javier Bardem is getting a kick out of now. Marion Cotillard, who I loved in La Vie En Rose about Edith Piaf and as the lady in red and pretty much the only good thing about Public Enemy, plays Guido's ignored and unappreciative wife. She gets to sing one really great song "Take It All" and one good song called "My Husband Makes Movies."

The second movie I've watched recently is The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. This film was directed by Terry Gilliam of Monty Python fame and who also did movies like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and The Brothers Grimm. It was the last film role for Heath Ledger, and he died while filming it. The movie also stars the venerable Christopher Plummer, Verne Troyer (who was probably my favorite actor in this movie, I thought he was hilarious and I didn't care for him in the Austin Powers movies) as Parnassus's sidekick Percy, soon-to-be new SpiderMan Andrew Garfield as the stumbling vulnerable Anton, model Lily Cole as Parnassus's daughter Valentina and Tom Waits as the Devil. The premise of the movie is hard to explain, so I will refer to this AFI Fest article, "Gilliam's first feature since 2005’s TIDELAND, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus is a return to the grotesque and arabesque aesthetic of some of his earlier work, including the Monty Python animations. Doctor Parnassus, like Baron Munchausen, runs a ramshackle theatre troupe, clattering round the shadowy streets of nighttime London in the hopes of entertaining a motley crowd of drinkers and shoppers. The show involves luring a member of the audience through a magical mirror and into the titular Imaginarium, where Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer) uses his powers (he’s immortal) to amplify their waking dreams into the trip of a lifetime. Some lucky punters emerge from the mirror reborn, others find Mr. Nick (Tom Waits) lurking on the dark side of their daydreams, ready to lure them straight to Hell. The Parnassus crew is no merry band of players, however. The Doctor broods over a long-ago deal with Mr. Nick that is about to come due. Anton (Andrew Garfield) nurses an unrequited crush on Valentina (Lily Cole) who thinks of nothing but making a getaway, pasting the cover of Ideal Home (“norm porn”) above her bunk, to aid her dreams of regular family life. Percy (Verne Troyer) is Dr. Parnassus’ loyal longtime companion, but even he is getting frustrated by his boss’ drinking and mood swings. Their disequilibrium is disrupted still further when they rescue Tony (Heath Ledger), whom they find hanging underneath Blackfriars Bridge and he too becomes smitten by Lily’s charms. It’s inevitable that they will all end up in the Imaginarium, seeking answers and escape." Summary aside, I loved the movie and it's focus on imagination (the AFI article goes into Gilliam's views on imagination, which is a good read as well), and the battle between good and evil and which we one we choose. I loved the very Monty Pythonesque "Join the Police" clip in the middle of the movie, which I can't seem to find online to show anyone. I thought the visuals were fantastic, especially the monastery scenes and when they are inside Dr. Parnassus's imagination.

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