I think Dick Cheney looks kinda like Michael Palin when he's wearing the mask...

>> Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's been covered by Greenwald and others, but just in case you missed this wonderful bit of woeful cluelessness:

22. Brazil (1985): Vividly depicting the miserable results of elitist utopian schemes, Terry Gilliam’s Brazil portrays a darkly comic dystopia of malfunctioning high-tech equipment and the dreary living conditions common to all totalitarian regimes. Everything in the society is built to serve government plans rather than people. The film is visually arresting and inventive, with especially evocative use of shots that put the audience in a subservient position, just like the people in the film. Terrorist bombings, national-security scares, universal police surveillance, bureaucratic arrogance, a callous elite, perversion of science, and government use of torture evoke the worst aspects of the modern megastate.
-S. T. Karnick in "The Best Conservative Movies"
according to The New Republic

Koff, koff, hack, wheeeeze--ahem:

City Pages: You're often described as a fabulist, but isn't Tideland a political movie for the No More Mr. Nice Guy age?

Terry Gilliam: Have people forgotten I made Brazil? George W. [Bush], [Dick] Cheney, and company haven't. I'm thinking of suing them for the illegal and unauthorized remake of Brazil.
-Terry Gilliam, director of Brazil
in the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages

On second thought, maybe Karnick isn't clueless at all. He just knows what he likes... and what he likes is watching westerns through one of those magnifying glasses you put in front of the screen.

(Brazil, incidentally, is one of the all-time great movies. If you've never seen it, or if it's been awhile, it's time to rent it or buy it. Gilliam's masterpiece, hands-down.)


vince Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 9:13:00 AM EST  

(Brazil, incidentally, is one of the all-time great movies. If you've never seen it, or if it's been awhile, it's time to rent it or buy it. Gilliam's masterpiece, hands-down.)

With Time Bandits a close second.

Jim Wright Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 7:20:00 PM EST  

As a writer maybe, but I think as a director Twelve Monkeys is his masterpiece.

Don't get me wrong, Brazil is brilliant and everything you said it was, but ultimately I think Monkeys is a more complex and interwoven cautionary tale, and a far more intense examination of reality and insanity. Though the two do share Gilliam's trademark visual style in many areas, especially Monkey's future cobbled together wheezingly shoddy technology, I like the juxtaposition of that over the scenes shot in present day - and the juxtaposition of the mental hospital over the future.

Oops. Was that the sound of a vessel in Eric's head rupturing? Here, you guys, take these paper towels and help me clean up the blood. I know how to dispose of bodies, Nathan get his feet. Vince, you're from Minnesota, go fire up the wood chipper...

Eric Thursday, February 19, 2009 at 8:31:00 PM EST  

12 Monkeys is great. I don't think it measures up, though, to Brazil's dry humor or witty horror. Much of Brazil's effect comes from it's tiny touches--Michael Palin taking his young daughter to work (she plays with blocks while he tortures people in an adjoining room), Ian Holm's horror at having to cut a refund check, those magnifying glasses over all the television screens and monitors to expand them from 5" to 13". Monkeys carves with much broader, less deft strokes.

I think, too, that even when one concedes that there are elements in Monkeys that benefit from Gilliam's growth and experience as a director after Brazil, that the overall achievement may be what matters for total "masterpieceness"--i.e. script + direction + whatever else comes into it. It's actually not that unusual to find a brilliant director (and I think we agree Gilliam is brilliant) whose later works are better-directed and yet somehow not quite as impressive (Kubrick and Kurosawa both come to mind, as does Woody Allen although Allen is a special case*).


*No, not because of that: part of Allen's problem is that most of Allen's movies depend on Allen himself as an archetype--the less-than-successful middle-aged nebbish--that he can no longer pull off now that he's old. And although he seems to have sort of figured that out and has been trying to cast surrogates, he hasn't had that much success in doing so. In short, Woody Allen has had a difficult time trying to make a "Woody Allen movie" without Woody Allen.

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