It’s become such an absolute given that Terry Gilliam‘s movies have stopped selling tickets that I couldn’t find the energy to comment on Stephen Zeitchik‘s 8.15 Hollywood Reporter piece. It said buyers were wary of Gilliam’s latest, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus, despite the presence of Heath Ledger in this, his very last film. The title alone puts the fear of God into me. Zeitchik is hearing what he’s hearing because every distributor in the world knows it will put the fear of God into everyone on the planet Earth.
Sad to say, the signs and indications are that Gilliam is probably over. The last film of his that I even half-liked was Twelve Monkeys, which came out 13 years ago. The most interesting thing he made before that was The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (’88), which I loved in certain respects but nonetheless made me fidget around in my seat and constantly scratch myself. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (’98) was a chore to sit through — be honest. And Tideland (’05) was sheer torture. And yet Gilliam is a film artist, and the world of movies is richer even for his attempts to make his films work on some level. The thing no one wants to admit is that the more recent ones have been hell to sit through.