Tuesday, August 30, 2005

The Brothers Grimm (Terry Gilliam, 2005)

The Brothers Grimm is directed by Terry Gilliam, but it's clearly a director-for-hire gig while he gets his footing back. If I didn't know that he already had Tideland in the can, I might be making cracks about how he has given up and surrendered to the Hollywood machine, a broken man.

What's interesting is that, although he was apparantly brought on to the project with a script already written, the script, lame as it is, seems like the basis for a Terry Gilliam movie. It has all the basic elements: mythological fantasy set against a historical backdrop and presented as comedy, authority figures who attempt to impose rationalism as consensus reality on the populus. But none of this goes very deep, and all of it is tied to a formulaic, and rather stupid, story.

Gilliam does a good job of bringing this dim-witted script to life, which is basically what he was hired to do. It's easy to imagine what this film would have looked like under a different director: some kind of sunny Princess Bride thing, or a weak Lord of the Rings knock-off. Instead, it has a dark, grimy, muddy background for its werewolves and witches. There are a couple of really disturbing moments (involving a gingerbread man and a cursed horse), and not in the usual sense--images that don't fit in with waking reality, that remind you of dreams you cannot shake. Monica Bellucci is luscious, and does a better job than she did in The Matrix, playing a similar character. Peter Stormare...it's funny, I couldn't quite place him while I was watching the film. I kept thinking "where do I know this guy from?" He somehow reminded me of Timothy Carey.

There's an interview with Gilliam in last week's EW. He talks shit about Spielberg (something like "he can direct great scenes, but they don't add up to a movie"), and comes right out and says the first two Harry Potter films were awful. I find it funny when you hear Gilliam's fans talk about him being "cursed." The guy talks like that in public, and never walks away from a fight, but he managed to get Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas into major release. If anything, he's blessed.


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