Friday, 16 October 2009

Top 5: Performances in Terry Gilliam films

In anticipation for The Imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, a film I'll see with mild excitement, leave with mild disappointment and review with mild disinterest tomorrow -This going off the trailer, but I'd love to be proven wrong - It seems that, in accordance to relevancy, this latest entry in my list kick must be something to do with Terry Gilliam. Now I could do his best films, but I think after maybe spot three I'd be dealing with filler and I'll be damned if Time Bandits is appearing on any list of mine. I played around with scenes, but there's no way to do that without getting into some major spoiler territory. And while I personally could give a crap, it's been brought to my attention that some people might, and in an effort to consider a man's right to go into Twelve Monkeys and Brazil blind, I landed on performances.

Gilliam is not known as a director to whom performance is paramount, with his selling points being weird visuals and deceptively twisted flights of fancy, but personally I prefer the more restrained ( If they could be called that) Gilliam films that put character before batshit insanity, whilst not abandoning the batshit insanity completely. These films contain some surprisingly good performances that suggest maybe Gilliam is better with actors then we thought. Rant over, list begin.

5) Jodelle Ferland, Tideland
I think Tideland is Gilliam's favorite of his own films, but I doubt too many people share this opinion. Its an interesting film with some good ideas that doesn't quite land. A commendable failure, if you take to particularly patronizing phrasing. But what it does have a terrific central performance from child actress Jodelle Ferland, also known as the creepy girl from the Silent Hill movie. The role certainly asks a lot of her, but she displays a talent and intelligence beyond her age. Bailed out the movie to a large extent too.

4) Robin Williams, The Fisher King
Robin Williams makes himself a difficult actor to compliment. Even with his Oscar and all. Every time I say he's good, my mind reminds me of Bicentennial Man or even worse, Patch Adams. But sometimes the fucker is good, like in One hour Photo or Good Will Hunting or this. There's elements of just another wacky Robin Williams character but he brings a sadness and pathos to it you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else in the Williams CV.

3) Michael Palin, Brazil
Fine, it might just be a case of blatant casting against type for the sake of casting against type. But it works. Internationally renowned nice guy Palin plays a masked torturer to very creepy effect.

2) Bruce Willis, Twelve Monkeys
Now the go to actor for this movie is Brad Pitt, and he does give an awesomely energetic performance as Jeffrey Goines, animal activist/Psycho. I chose Willis for the simple fact that Gilliam drew a career best of one of the biggest movie stars of the nineties. It gives Willis a chance to actually act, something he actually does to great effect. Its what Willis does in this movie that allows me to forgive him for the Surrogates and Die Hard 4.0's of this world.

1) Johnny Depp/Benicio Del Toro, Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas
I sat staring at the blank, judgmental white of the new post page far too long trying to pick between these two performances. I can't. So doing the entirely cowardly thing of sitting on the fence suits me fine. Both are extra-ordinary in career defining roles. It elevated Del Toro from quirky supporting player to force to be reckoned with, and it reignited Depp's slightly flagging late nineties career. Nick of Time or The Astronaut's wife anyone?

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