Blu-Ray Review: The Fisher King – Criterion Collection

Director: Terry Gilliam
Screenplay: Richard LaGravenese
Starring: Jeff Bridges, Robin Williams, Mercedes Ruehl, Amanda Plummer
Country: USA
Running Time: 137 min
Year: 1991
BBFC Certificate: 15


The Fisher King is a film I thought I’d seen before, but wasn’t sure. After watching it again for this review I found myself remembering several moments, but I’m still not sure I’d seen it from start to finish. Regardless, I’m glad I definitely got through it all last week as I thought it was great.

The Fisher King centres around Jack (Jeff Bridges), a self-centred and cruel ‘shock-jock’ DJ whose career is on a high as he’s set to take the lead role in a TV sitcom. However, when he gives some insensitive advice to a listener, causing the man to gun down several people in a restaurant, his world comes crashing down and he retreats into a depression. One night, when he’s drunk and feeling particularly low, he decides to commit suicide, but before he attempts to do so, a couple of young thugs attack him. He’s saved by a group of homeless people led by Parry (Robin Williams), a particularly unhinged man who thinks he’s a knight on a quest to recover the Holy Grail, which he believes is kept in a ‘castle’ in New York. Jack tries to get away from Parry as quickly as he can at first, but learns that Parry’s wife was shot and killed in front of his eyes, during the massacre caused by Jack’s poor on-air advice. This shocking incident is what caused Parry’s current mental state, so Jack feels responsible and wants to help the man somehow. Initially he tries to solve the problem with money, but Parry doesn’t care about that and it doesn’t make Jack feel any better about the situation either, so he sets about trying to make a better life for Parry in other ways, which in turn he hopes will improve his own mental stability. The primary goal is to set Parry up with the woman he’s fallen in love with from afar, the mousey, socially awkward and clumsy Lydia (Amanda Plummer).

Terry Gilliam is a director who has famously had problems getting films made (or at least released) the way he wants them, or in some cases even made at all. He’d had particularly bad luck with the two films he made prior to The Fisher King, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. These were both quite ambitious projects, involving a lot of special effects and elaborate production design, which might explain why The Fisher King was more grounded in reality on a relatively more intimate scale. It seems to have been a relatively smooth production and post-production process for Gilliam too. That’s not to say the film plays against the director’s usual style though. Gilliam visualises Parry’s Arthurian fantasies, most notably the Red Knight, his nemesis. This frightening creation, always on horseback, covered in red flowing material and breathing fire, represents Parry’s inner demons and is used highly effectively, particularly in a key scene towards the end which also features some shocking flashbacks of the restaurant massacre where Parry’s wife was killed.

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Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote Project Greenlit By Amazon

We do not generally publish news items here in the third row, and this is not even fully confirmed news, and this isn’t even the first time for this news. But screw it. Amazon Streaming is funding Terry Gilliam’s often aborted The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (see: Lost in La Mancha for the well documented cluster-fuck of the project) a pseudo-adaptation of Miguel de Cervantes famous novel.

According to an interview with the director at indiewire, Amazon is funding the film to get a brief theatrical run before becoming a streaming-only Amazon Prime product. He has even tapped John Hurt to star as the famous man of chivalry who tilts at windmills for a 2016 shoot.

Time will tell if this actually happens, but god, we hope it does.

Cinecast Episode 363 – Maybe We Should not Give Up on Megan Fox

Back to a more classic styled Cinecast for Andrew and Kurt this week, a relaxed conversation on two major celebrity deaths these past few days, the smaller theatrical releases: Magic in the Moonlight, I Origins, Coherence and film festivaling. It’s all pleasant and sweet agreement for the first half of the show but things slowly go south at the start of the 1984 Project (which sees Roy Scheider in 2010 but really just doing his character from Jaws) and the nerd-shit really hits the fan as Ready Player One enters the conversation.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 
 

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Terry Gilliam’s “The Zero Theorem” Trailer

zerotheorem-header

I’m never sure quite what to make of Terry Gilliam; what’s going on in his head and quite often what he chooses to display on screen. In the world of art, this is a good thing. With The Zero Theorem already having played a number of festival and screenings, there seems to be no light at the end of this surrealistic tunnel for the hopes of a theatrical release States-side.

And just to tease that notion a little bit more, a foreign trailer has dropped and I have to say it looks quite imaginative in only the way Gilliam can dream. It’s got all of his signature, Brazil-like set designs and canted angles. It also boasts quite the impressive cast; including a shorn Christoph Waltz, Mélanie Thierry, Matt Damon, Ben Whishaw, Tilda Swinton and thank the heavens someone has cast David Thewlis!

With the French subtitles, I feel a little bit like I am watching a trailer for a Jean-Pierre Jeunet picture (which again is a good thing), but check it out and see what you think. If we can ever get any kind of release over here, I will be one of the first in line.

Cinecast Episode 234 – High-Five, Movie. I’m outta here!

A high energy show, especially so considering the lack of Matt Gamble. Kurt and Andrew talk a little Tower Heist and the public whipping of Brett Ratner – due to more than one recent public faux pas and his penchant for being a douchebag in public. They then move into the meatier movie meal that is Martha Marcy May Marlene **SPOILER WARNING**. But wait, there is more: A new Top 5! Plus, the Watch List keeps the fires burning, all toasty-like, as Kurt gets really, really enthusiastic about big screen viewings of Kubrick and Gilliam films. There is a fair bit of disagreement about the pleasures of David Twohy’s Pitch Black. Also We Live in Public, Streets of Fire, From Dusk ‘Till Dawn (the proto-Grindhouse vampire flick), Super and Sexy Beast keep things lively and lengthy right to the very end. Have at ‘er, folks, she’s a good ‘un.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_234.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Trailer Round Up (Contagion, Thing, Sherlock Holmes, Hugo)

Lots we missed this week, so let’s get to it. This is all star-studded, big budget material in today’s round-up. And you know what? It all ranges from pretty good to damn near amazing; starting with Mr. Soderbergh (and Matt Damon and Gwynneth Paltrow and Marion Cotillard and Kate Winslet and John Hawkes and Larry Fishburne and Bryan Cranston and Jude Law and awesomeness). Ladies and gentlemen,

Contagion – – :

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Cinecast Episode 202 – Obviously You’re Not a Golfer

 

It is a cornucopia, a smörgåsbord, a veritable potpourri of cinema, as the Cinecast regulars get together with nothing on the agenda other than to talk about what they have watched, in the cinema, on the DVD and streamed from the internet or (in an exciting technology development, from the Computer Hard Drive.) Andrew continues to dig into the Foreign Language Nominees with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Biutiful. Kurt comes at Oscar a different way with the new documentary on the man with the midas touch when it comes to little gold men, Harvey Weinstein. And Gamble talks best animated film of 2011 with a preview of the flat out awesome Gore Verbinski/Nickelodeon/Industrial-Light-And-Magic Johnny Depp western, Rango. From there, we go from the occult, to Penelope Cruz DTV failures, to two vastly different takes time travel from the 1980s to Chinese shopping malls. Then it is onto Romans wandering about Scotland, Aussie crime dynasties and suburban teenage prostitution rings! It is all a part of your complete breakfast.

As always, please join the conversation by leaving your own thoughts in the comment section below and again, thanks for listening!


 
 

 

To download the show directly, paste the following URL into your favorite downloader:
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_202.mp3

ALTERNATIVE (no music track):
http://rowthree.com/audio/cinecast_11/episode_202-alt.mp3

 
 
Full show notes are under the seats…
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Terry Gilliam’s “The Legend of Hallowdega”

The Legend of Hallowdega

So what do Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Amp Energy Juice, NASCAR and Terry Gilliam have in common? A short film.

Say it with me: WTF?

So we all need to pay the bills and it looks like Gilliam’s way to do so is by filling his days with batshit crazy projects like this one. The Legend of Hallowdega stars David Arquette as Kiyash Monsef, a ghost hunter living under the track at Talladega 500, trying to prove the mysteries of the apparently cursed grounds.

Admittedly, this isn’t that crazy, it’s actually kind of cool in a very middle America sort of way, it’s just completely unexpected for Gilliam.

The trailer for the film is tucked under the seats but for the entire 18 minutes of goodness, you’ll have to visit the official website.

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Gilliam Directs “Arcade Fire”

cut and paste job from Pitchfork

Arcade Fire’s August 5 show at New York’s Madison Square Garden is set to stream at their Vevo page at 10 p.m. EDT, which is cool enough. Even better, though, is news that eccentric filmmaker Terry Gilliam (Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Brazil, 12 Monkeys), will direct the webcast, according to an AP report.

It’s part of a new series called “Unstaged” put on by American Express, Vevo, and YouTube. (The Roots and John Legend will participate later this year.) Arcade Fire aren’t the first band to get a noted name to direct their streaming gig– famed rock documentarian D.A. Pennebaker and partner Chris Hegedus filmed a National webcast back in May.

You can watch it all from the comfort of your home at this website next Thursday. In the meantime, check out a trailer below:

 

DVD Review: Time Bandits

Time Bandits

Director: Terry Gilliam (Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Twelve Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Tideland, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus )
Writers: Michael Palin & Terry Gilliam
Producer: Terry Gilliam
Starring: Craig Warnock, John Cleese, Sean Connery, Shelley Duvall, Katherine Helmond, Michael Palin, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent
MPAA Rating: PG
Running time: 116 min.

Though children’s films are still being produced (perhaps in higher numbers than before thanks in large part to the advent of VOD and Direct to DVD releases), the quality of kid friendly fare seems to be on the downward trend. Sure, occasionally something really good comes up (How to Train Your Dragon was a great surprise and Pixar continues to dominate the field – Toy Story 3 (review) being the latest of the studio’s wins) but the 80s has left a plethora of great child friendly entertainment from The Goonies to The Princess Bride. What makes these films that much more special is that they are, for the most part, extremely re-watchable and appealing to both children and adults.

Time Bandits Movie StillOne of the earliest of the bunch is Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits. Originally released in 1981, it continues to be the director’s most successful film to date but beyond that, it hints at many of the visuals and even a few ideas that later came to permeate through films like Brazil and Twelve Monkeys.

The story of a young boy who is drawn into the adventures of a band of dwarves as they use a magical map they have stolen from the supreme being to jump from time to time in search of treasure to steal, Time Bandits is a gem even if you’re seeing it for the first time (as I did) nearly 30 years after its original release.
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Bookmarks for January 21-23

  • Jean Simmon @ 80.
    “The English actress who made the covers of Time and Life magazines by the time she was 20 and became a major midcentury star alongside strong leading men like Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Marlon Brando, often playing their demure helpmates, died on Friday at her home in Santa Monica, California”
  • The Haneke MacGuffin: What is the Mystery?
    “There are open-ended films and there are closed ones, and Haneke prefers the former. He wants the audience to actively participate in watching and interpreting the film — and to be conscious that they are doing so. Both “Caché” and “The White Ribbon” are explicitly about (as I like to say) what goes through your head while you watch them.”
  • Vincenzo Natali’s Sundance Diaries
    “Sarah is radiant and brilliant. This is Sundance number seven for her and she wears it well. She carries the interviews with a relaxed intelligence and good humor that reminds me of how pleasurable it was to work with her on the set. Her best quip yet, “Splice is a film that is morally indefensible.” She says it with pride. Who would have thought that this sterling icon of Canadian cinema is so damn twisted? It fills me with a rare jolt of patriotism.”
  • World’s strangest movie theater snacks.
    While popcorn may be popular in movie theaters worldwide, there are still traditionalist holdouts in every country, where unusual local treats are still offered at the concession counter.
  • Ranting in Pictures
    An appreciation of a hybrid of the video essay and the mash-up — an emerging format that’s often more entertaining than the work it cannibalizes.
  • The Digital Distribution of Short Films (An Art in Itself)
    In our ever-evolving digital world, filmmakers push distribution farther by using the outlet that reaches the widest audience possible: the Internet.
  • Cinema’s Naughtiest Germans!
    Oh those Germans. And how well they die… on netflix! It seems half the films available for instant viewing are for, by or about that most egomaniacally insane of western nations, Deutschland! For some reason these Teutonic descendants of pillaging marauders and towheaded savages are just meant for the casual distance provided by netflix streaming. Let’s take a look:
  • Terry Gilliam talks Sherlock Holmes, Avatar and Dr. Parnassus
    he Onion A.V. Club and Terry Gilliam sit down for a little chat. Gilliam: “I keep saying reputations are kind of like dog shit that you step into as you’re walking down the street, and you can’t get it off your shoe the rest of your life.” Another Tidbit: Robert Duvall is replacing Jean Rochefort as Don Quixote in resurrected Gilliam project. (nice!)

 
 

You can now take a look at RowThree’s bookmarks at any time of your choosing simply by clicking the “delicious” button to your left. It looks remarkably similar to this: