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The Imaginarium does not cost a thing. We're not here for money.


The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus
(2009)

In some respects this bears closest resemblance to The Fisher King, in both its encompassing of a significant part of the story in the urban “real” world, but also in the side of the film that sees Gilliam apparently unable to edit himself down, so at times the experience is too loose and unfocussed. That said, it's his best film of the past decade and recalls elements of Munchausen (my favourite of his oeuvre) and his desire to tackle his increasingly prevalent reflection on a brutal world beyond his imaginings (most apparent in Tideland).

The biggest problem with both this and his last film is not having someone nudging him to pare the material down to its most effective core. Thus, there's a lot of meandering in the first hour. The casting is magnificent; apart from Plummer's note-perfect centre, Ledger presents himself in a way that feels unlike anything he's done before, even looking at him he appears altered in a way not seen since De Niro at his height, much more so than the theatrics of the Joker, but Farrell actually impressed me the most, managing (seemingly) to synthesise all the other versions of the character.

There's probably a lack of focus in here, and certainly Waits' Nick never gets to present himself with the devilish charm that he should - despite the Beetlejuician quality that his lair sometimes suggests - on the level, say, that David Warner did in Time Bandits. But there are so many riches here that it feels churlish to over-complain. The use of CGI is inventive and coherent for the most part, and the occasions where the "Python” Gilliam breaks out are joyous (the policemen's dance, Parnassus breaking from the ground).


****

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