7 June 2010


The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus – Terry Gilliam

I wanted to put a title that summed up this film. I thought for a long time about it, i even delayed myself writing it. I wanted it to sink in, to slowly bubble in my subconscious and that when i came to writing the review, i could eloquently place the right words in a sentence that described Terry Gilliam’s latest feature, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. And after a long time of thinking, of just sitting at my desk, my computer next to my fingertips, i still couldn’t think of the right thing to say. Only three words kept coming to mind and i knew i could never use them. It’s not proper reviewing, it’s not professional, but seeing as this is a blog online, created by a university student, being read mostly by students, i must use these three words: WHAT. THE. FUCK. Throughout the film, that’s the three words that kept coming to mind.

Now, i get film, i get some parts of the surreal, the mind boggling, the pieces that just don’t make sense and are meant to be like that. Sometimes i like that, but most of the time, i just want to be entertained, i want to be switched off. It’s like watching a TV show, listening to music or going to the theatre. It’s entertainment. It’s meant to take me to places i have never been or put me into universes that i want to be a part of. But this, it just down righted confused me. I get the plot, where Doctor Parnassus has made a deal with the devil to capture souls and if he hasn’t collected enough by his daughters 18th, she will become Lucifer’s new slave. Doctor Parnassus uses his travelling shows to tempt people into his “universes” where he tests them and makes them better people, seeing their true happiness. And after finding Tony, the hanging man, they use his charm to lure more souls. That’s the basic premise, but still, I’m fucking confused.

Maybe you’ll have better luck that me watching this. Maybe you’ve watched Gilliam pieces before and just are used to his style, to the way the audience are meant to be challenged and bemused. But me, I’ll stick to Die Hard, to Star Wars and to superhero films. Because that’s what i like and used to. But I’m sure it will make you think, but you got to stick through it. You got to stick with it till the end, don’t be put off by the strange pacing or the sometimes wooden acting. Just try it out.


Simon Childs

Letters From The Film Front 2

Nothing To Lose:

Late last night, I watched the newly minted action team flick The Losers. I found myself at the offset cynically thinking about the number of action team related films coming out this year – For the nostalgic crowd The A-Team remake, upcoming action buff love fest The Expendables and for the alternative quasi-comic book followers comes The Losers. Just what the trailer had told me – That a group of elite soldiers had been framed but escaped, who are now on the run, and if you’ve got a problem and if you can – oh no wait. Sorry. All joking aside and whatever the motivation for this movie, this film looked like an entertaining side booth for those not overly excited about the A Team or any film involving Sly Stallone, so I thought what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.
1 hour and 40 minutes later, I was left with a decidedly pedestrian view of the whole thing.

Aside from the trailer showing the best and most exciting seconds of the film (but that’s my own personal hatred of trailers for you), what’s left of the film is either less exciting than hoped or less impacting than a sponge salad. You remember all those films that rushed everything? You realise they’re going in for the big battle and its only an hour in? I guess that was my biggest problem with this film – it’s all over far too quickly and you’re left with 8 pounds out of your pocket, half you’re popcorn left and another hour to kill.

The acting, such as it ever is in an action film, was a fun distraction but nothing special – the best part probably being Chris Evan’s failed attempts to act natural (we have all been in the same situation).
As I say, the film was nothing special to me. But looking back at the over acting villain, the gratuitous explosions and classic action film archetypes, I wonder if the point of this movie is to create an alternative 80s throwback, complete with melodrama, romance and black stereotypes; a flashback to the film that never happened, but maybe should have. Like I said, this is truly a film for those hoping to avoid The A-team’s sentimentality or The Expendables inevitable bare chested 50 year old action star’s:

This film never claimed to be about winners, for winners or even be a winner. Its The Losers, exactly what it says on this tin. And if you’ve got 100 minutes and a tenner to spare, then you’ve got nothing to lose.

Rating: An eventual 6.5/10


Captain America is a loser?

The Losers – Sylvain White

A slew of new releases lately have been following the mantra of having large ensemble casts, with large explosions, witty comments about society, cool graphics, up to date music and short in length, and The Losers follows in that trend. Seen in films such as Law Abiding Citizen, Gamer, Wanted and other such hits, the audience are just let into a world of unbelievable acrobatics, where the characters will never die, unless the lover of the main character, the traitor or the funny sidekick. The Losers, adapted from a relatively famous and well-liked graphic novel, similar vein with Kick-Ass but revolving around war and destruction, it tells the story of a group of mercenaries, who are set up and become wanted men, they try to regain their life’s back after them being destroyed by the government they worked for.

The cast has the whose-who of random television and film actors, starring the guy from Greys Anatomy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, the guy who was recently in Luthor, or if you follow your American sitcoms, The Office, back a few series ago, Idris Elba. Followed by the stereotypical token Mexican/Porta Rican/South American who doesn’t say much, Columbus Short, the computer tech geek played by the future Captain America, Chris Evans. Rounding up the cast is Zoe Saldana, the franchise stealer with appearances in Star Trek and Avatar. She’s in high demand clearly. The villain is played here by the famous actor who you know the face of but can’t quite put the name to. Its fine, i was thinking for at least a week after watching the film to find out who he was, i finally caved and searched on Wikipedia and imdb and found out it was Jason Patric who was in The Lost Boys, Speed 2 and In the Valley of Elah. Big films!

Lets back to the review, it’s a decent film, has got good set pieces, good action, a great comedic turn from Chris Evans, shows he isn’t a one trick pony, which, the more and more i see of him being someone else, showing that he isn’t one dimensional, the more confident I’m getting of the Captain America film being fucking amazing. But yeah, check it out for a laugh, it’s short, it packs a punch, a few massive errors are there, but for a short while you’ll be enjoyed, some new ideas thrown in, but the ending is clear from the get go. The more films like this are released, the more unhappier I’ll get though, i don’t want production companies to keep producing these types of films, i want longer, better scripted and better ideas thrown in. I can’t wait for the action film of the year Inception, reckon it’s gonna blow everything out of the water and show young directors and production companies that putting money into something with half a brain is clearly worth it. Or it will show that Christopher Nolan is the best and that everybody should stop working in the business. I hope it’s the first option.


Simon Childs

Moore, Moore, Moore, how do you like it, how do you like it...

Capitalism: A Love Story – Michael Moore

Another documentary review after the lovely and beautifully crafted American: The Bill Hicks Story, and this one, made by the king of the documentary, the master, the Hollywood standard documentary maker, the one, the only, Michael Mother Fucking Moore. A legend in his own right. Not one documentary maker comes to mind who is on the same level that Moore is on successful and more renowned. With films like Bowling For Columbine, Fahrenheit 9/11 and Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story follows in the footsteps of mixing heart breaking stories, hard hitting truths, funny videos, engaging interviews and intelligent quips made by Moore. It follows the line of being an interesting piece that showcases something wrong with society, in this case, Wall Street in America and the economy as a whole, questioning the government and the connections it has with the companies that seem to the run the society it supplies.

A combination of interviews with people in financial crisis, showing the true affect on the average American person, with personal reveals of Moore’s family and the workforce loss mixed with interviews with experts and stunts, that seem tacky and unexplained, but show that the companies don’t care, and that money rules the land. These little sequences are the weakest thing in the film, but overall, the heart ache of the real people is deafening. It’s very similar to the sequence in Fahrenheit 9/11, the strongest scene i remember in the cinema, fully booked, everybody watching the screen and it felt like forever. Audio of the place crashing, hearing people scream and cry whilst the setting around them exploded. It was moving. I think it was one of the boldest things I’ve ever seen a film do. And the film follows in that same trend.

Overall, the film is wonderful, has a great pace, it sets out who is evil and who is good and just keeps shocking all the way through. Not knowing about this issue before watching the film, i had no idea the extend of the situation and how terrible the crisis is. It informs most of all, and it shows Moore is catering towards a world audience instead of an American one, especially with a large following in the UK, the film feels like it was made for us to understand and to join in the hatred and despair Moore has for America. I would recommend the film if you’re a fan of documentaries, a fan of Michael Moore, a fan of the truth or a fan of decent films.


Simon Childs