The Ingenious of Mr. Gilliam

So yesterday was another wonderful Tuesday and since I skipped the past 2 weeks’ Movie Nights (once for lack of decent options and once because I had to work), I was determined to start up the tradition again. To be honest I was in need of a bit of a pick-me-up, as I was feeling kind of down due to the fact that Bafana Bafana has played their last game in the 2010 Soccer World Cup (I think yesterday’s match was the perfect example of a bittersweet victory, but more on that later).

So I got all dressed up and headed off to lose myself in the magic of the movies. Oh boy was the Waterfront the wrong place to “escape” to. As soon as we stepped into the mall we were faced with a sea (and I’m not using this term lightly) of yellow and green jerseys, vuvuzelas, flags, makarapas and just general fanfare. It seems that the merriment of the win had overcome the disappointment of the “falling out” and Cape Town was celebrating. Ok I have to admit it did make me smile.

The problem with all this celebration is that people get completely sucked into it and forget to do a basic thing like work. And so we arrived at the Ster Kinekor ticket counter to find it empty. I looked around a bit, knocked ever so slightly on the glass and then noticed a little sign, right at the bottom of the window instructing me to “Please buy tickets from the popcorn counter.” So I did. But they weren’t selling tickets at the popcorn counter, so the poor lady working there had to direct us to the “self-service” ticket machines, where we finally got our tickets. I don’t mean to be a grump (yes, you don’t expect the movies to be busy on a day the whole South Africa is out celebrating), but buying movie tickets really shouldn’t be that much of a hassle. But on to better things: The Movie.

We decided to see The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus and what a treat it was.

It was directed by the brilliant Terry Gilliam, which is one of the reasons why I was so drawn to it in the first place. Granted the only other Gilliam film I’ve seen is “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, but that was so wonderfully insane, that I had to watch this one. The other reason was of course that this was the late Heath Ledger’s very last film and he was actually halfway through filming it when he died. This in itself adds another level of eeriness to an already dark and twisted plot.

You might think that something like the lead actor dying in the middle of production would pose a major problem to the completion of the movie, but think again. Although filming was halted for a while, Gilliam finally decided to recast Ledger’s role. The role of Tony was then given to Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrel (all friends of Ledger), who would each play the character in different stages of his life. This may sound ridiculous, but the plot of the movie is so incredibly complicated, that the change in appearance is completely plausible. In fact, the first transition from Heath to Johnny was so smooth, it took me a good 2 minutes to notice the swop.

The story is so intricate and full of twists and turns that I don’t want to give anything away by describing the plot. Let’s just say it’s about an old man who made a deal with the devil (brilliantly played by Tom Waits). The theme of choices and consequences is also beautifully portrayed and really makes you think a bit for a while afterwards. Oh and the art direction in this movie is something I haven’t seen in quite a while and every shot is beautifully composed and mesmerizing. It’s dark and light, real and surreal (even unreal at some points) and it truly captivates you for the whole 2 hours.

I’m afraid if I say anymore I will blow it, so let me just say that after 2 failed attempts, I’ve finally found a movie I’ll tell all my friends to go see. Success.

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