Blogiversary Bash 2015: Epileptic Moondancer

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And then THIS GUY came to the party.

Well, here we are again at the start of another week, kiddos. This week is a little sad though. Why? Because it is the last week of this year’s Blogiversary Bash. 😦 But, hey, save your tears because we are going out with a big ol’ BANG. 😀 I’ve got a couple more guests and then I’ll be wrapping it all up on Friday. First up this week is the excellent Mr. Jordan of Epileptic Moondancer! Jordan has a great site with all kinds of movie reviews and even chapters from a book he’s writing. Be sure to go and check out all the goodness! But for now, let’s see what he decided to bring to the table…

There has always been one director whose skill behind the camera I have admired for years. One can look at a film of his films and after five minutes, you can usually tell who it was made by. Always known as a bit of a maverick and an eccentric, Terry Gilliam has been delivering us incredible, dream-like films for the last thirty years. Sure, the quality has wavered, and it seems his screenplay “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” is destined to never come to fruition. I hope it does though, as Terry Gilliam is a man with immense talent and manoeuvrability.

But enough chit-chat, let’s get to the point. I’ve seen every one of Gilliam’s films at least twice and I never tire of them. So as a small tribute to my favourite filmmaker, I shall (attempt to) rank his films.

*note – to keep things simple I am not including his Monty Python work, which we all know was fantastic.

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1)   12 Monkeys [1995]: This is easily my favourite movie, made by anyone, and is a film I have watched at least 50 times. From the creative story to those constant, wacky crooked angles, this is the film that I feel shows Gilliam’s talents more than any other, both as a director and as a storyteller.

But it was close, as my second choice is…

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2)   Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas [1997]: based on one of my favourite books, this is an incredible adaptation, and is funny while being politically on point – this film is far from simply a movie about drugs and nothing more. In saying that though, the scene where Depp’s character has taken acid is especially vivid, as is the rest of the film. The camerawork is once again extremely well done, with wild colours aplenty, and many extreme facial close-ups.

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3)   Brazil [1984]: One of the most unique movies I have ever had the pleasure of watching, Brazil is truly a classic and really shows how cool practical FX could look back in the early 80’s. Despite being a political dystopian film, this at its heart is a love story, one that could only be told by Terry Gilliam. It also has a great sense of humour, reminiscent of Monty Python.

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4)   Time Bandits [1981]: This incredibly surreal Adventure film was Gilliam’s first work outside the Monty Python Troupe. You wouldn’t pick it if you didn’t know this, as the film is filled with memorable scenes and the plot itself is eccentric and weird, as a young child joins a band of dwarves who are jumping through time to find treasure. It is perhaps Gilliam’s most dreamlike film.

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5)   The Zero Theorem [2013]: Gilliam’s most recent output was touted as the final film of his dystopian trilogy, the other films of course being Brazil and 12 Monkeys. While I loved this movie and have already watched it several times, it unfortunately is weakest of the trilogy, though it is a great movie in itself. The plot loses ground in the second half, but as per usual it looks FANTASTIC with his trademark wide lenses and crooked angles, as well as a ton of colour. It is worth watching for the visuals alone!

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6)   The Fisher King [1991]: Both Jeff Bridges and the late Robin Williams really put on a show in this one, a strange tale that only Gilliam could put to film. It would seem that after the box office disaster of his last film (below), the spectacular visuals have been set aside here as the focus is on the story, and it is a good one at that. Perhaps Williams’ best role?…

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7)   The Adventures of Baron Munchausen [1988]: Surely Gilliam’s most surreal effort, this film makes Time Bandits seem like a typical adventure movie. This was the film that made Gilliam somewhat of an outsider in Hollywood, as the film cost tens of millions to create and grossed only a fraction of that. Excluding the box office, the money was well spent, as much like Brazil, the practical FX used here is quite something, prompting many moments of ‘how the hell did they do THAT?!” That sense of dry humour is here in this one as well.

Fun fact: this movie features an almost unrecognisable Uma Thurman at only 17 years old.

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8)   The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus [2009]: Gilliam did a stellar job just to have this completed due to the tragic death of Heath Ledger. Working around it, he showed incredible creativity and incorporated different versions of Ledger’s character into the story, and while it certainly isn’t perfect, the visuals again do not disappoint and the story is far from boring.

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9)   Tideland [2005]: By no means a bad film, this is just a little underwhelming considering the rest of Gilliam’s filmography. It is a dark tale, but at its heart lies hope and the imagination of a small child. Once again, it is immaculately shot, again with an emphasis on odd angles and facial close-ups.

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10)   The Brothers Grimm [2003]: I can see what Gilliam wanted to do here: to turn the fairy tales of the late Grimm brothers into a dark fantasy tale. I feel that he succeeded, as even though I am not a fan of Matt Damon, he and Ledger play off each other in humourous ways that again bring to mind the humour of Monty Python. It also looks sublime, and creepy, but the characters lack substance, and fairy tales being brought to film… that concept kinda lost the impact this film could have had. This isn’t as bad as many people say, as it contains some fantastic special effects But, of all his films, I feel this is his weakest to date.

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15 thoughts on “Blogiversary Bash 2015: Epileptic Moondancer

  1. Brazil is one of my favourite films and I was lucky enough to go to the Secret Cinema showing of it. It was amazing. Like being in Gilliam’s mind fotfor an evening.

  2. Great post, Jordan! I didn’t realize how many of his films I’ve not seen. I keep meaning to re-watch 12 Monkeys as I barely remember it but know I liked it. Keep meaning to watch Fear & Loathing (for the first time) as well. I actually really liked The Zero Theorem! That got so little attention when it came out…

    • I know right, Zero Theorem was just brushed aside. I don’t think Gilliam cares though haha.

      And yeah man, he is 70 years old, been making films for over 30 years. If only he had made more!!!

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