The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus
The gravelly voiced Tom Waits playing a bowler-topped devil figure is such a no brainer that it's a wonder nobody ever thought of it before, but director/co-writer Terry Gilliam's The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is so otherwise leaden that it never draws you into its fantastical world. Years back, Mr. Nick (Waits) made a wager with monk/mystic Doctor Parnassus (Christopher Plummer), who uses a sideshow mirror-like contraption as a literal portal into his imagination, which people can enter and have their good and bad impulses tested. Nick and the Doctor wager souls, with the bounty being the hand of the Doctor's daughter Valentina (Lily Cole, whose Botticellian beauty is the movie's lone consistency). But you know what literature says about making deals with the devil--and Parnassus plays out expectedly, broken up slightly by the appearance of a wildcard in Tony (Heath Ledger). Ledger died before shooting was completed, and was replaced by a rotating cast of actors--Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, Jude Law--as "imaginarium" Tonys, but the movie still feels like a salvaged idea. It is visually striking, but quickly begins to feel like Gilliam's greatest hits, from its shabby Russian constructivist chic to its Python-esque ego world.