Sunday, September 18, 2005

Grimm Tidings

Last night, Amy and I headed up to Westwood to watch the current Terry Gilliam flick, The Brothers Grimm. The theatre showing it, the Mann National, is running March of the Penguins most of the day; it only had one showing of BG on Saturday, at 9:30 p.m. The National is one of the few large single-screen theatres left in L.A. The fairly small audience was scattered throughout the hundreds of seats, giving the scene a somewhat pathetic look, as if a travelling circus was giving an extravagant, full-blown performance before an audience of a few bored kids and some chirping crickets.

BG itself is, well, messy. True, you could say that about several Gilliam films (Jabberwocky and Baron Muchausen come to mind); but seldom has Gilliam seemed more like an ennervated vaudeville MC, throwing act after act on the screen in the hopes of getting a rise out of the audience. There is much we've seen before -- from Dragonheart, from Van Helsing, from Sleepy Hollow, as if one cannot tell a story about 19th-century European fairy-tale magic without sampling the other recent gothic efforts. The film features Heath Ledger and Matt Damon as the titular brothers (who, curiously, are Germans speaking their native tongue with fake English accents). Much as the movies reimagined Van Helsing as an Indiana Jones-type adventurer, this one depicts the folk-tale-gathering siblings as [spoiler warning] con-men who pretend to fight witches and trolls in French-occupied Germany during the Napoleanic wars. Naturally, they encounter The Real Thing and are forced to battle it for real. There's a cute, spunky lady (reminiscent of Kate Beckinsale in Van Helsing) who helps the brothers out; children in danger; and lots of references to fairy tales. While Gilliam manages some gorgeous scenes, and a few major creep-outs, overall the thing suffers from too little impulse control.

So, what have you seen lately?

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