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Dried Up: Gilliam’s “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus”

Dried Up: Gilliam's "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus"

The aughts haven’t been particularly kind to Terry Gilliam. In the Nineties, when he proved his critical, commercial, and cult mettle with The Fisher King, 12 Monkeys, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, he rebounded from the editorial and legal disputes that blunted the distribution and reception of his major post–Monty Python Eighties efforts, Brazil, and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It’s tempting to view the crushing, quixotic struggles to mount his Don Quixote as a breaking point that explains away the muddled and (meddled-with) The Brothers Grimm and the abhorred Tideland—until 2009 his only cinematic output this decade. After the scuttling of his long-cherished dream project, one could excuse the man somewhat for withdrawing, producing distasteful, confrontational art, walking off a film in the face of fiddling producers. Unfortunately, his touted “return to form,” The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, puts to rest any charity one might want to afford the director. For sure, this is a Terry Gilliam film through and through, it exhibits his unmistakable stylistic tics and pet themes, but those of us who grew up wearing our allegiance to his earlier work proudly won’t be pleased to note that Gilliam-esque now seems little more than a fraying bag of tired tricks. Maybe he produces his best work within ten-year cycles? Read the rest of Jeff Reichert’s review of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.

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