Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Gilliam Curse

He hasn't had much luck, has he? After escaping the Pythons and wowing with 'Time Bandits', Terry Gilliam could only get 'Brazil', his critics prize-winning dystopia, released by taking out a full page ad in Variety asking the studio why they were shelving it. After the sadly unsuccessful 'The Adventures of Baron Munchausen' (at least financially), he became a Hollywood pariah, the man who had brought in, over-time and over-budget, the most expensive flop of the time. Only by giving them Oscar-winning movies like 'The Fisherking' and 'Twelve Monkeys' would the studios forgive him. They still wouldn't let him make 'Watchmen', or 'The Golden Compass'. Then when he tries his hand at his own take on Don Quixote, his lead, Jean Rochefort, comes down with prostate cancer, exacerbated by the horse-riding involved in the part (not to mention a long string of additional bad luck documented in the excellent documentary, 'Lost in La Mancha'). Then Harvey and Bob 'Scissorhands' Weinstein (Miramax) decided to 'reengineer' Gilliam's 'The Brothers Grimm'. Flop. 'Tideland' is released. Flop. Away for three years or so, things were finally looking up for Terry with 'The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus'. A good cast headed by a rising star (with whom Terry had already worked), a script written with long-time collaborator, Charles McKeown, a fantasy dealing with beloved themes (illusion, theatre, death and the devil: not dissimilar to 'Munchausen'); it all seemed to be going so well. Unfortunately that rising star was Heath Ledger. 'Parnassus', up until two days ago in the process of being filmed, now looks unlikely to be finished. I don't deny Ledger's death had a tad more impact on his own life, but you can't help but feel a little compassion for the jinxed director. Things just don't seem to go his way. You can almost see that rag-clad reaper hanging over Terry's head laughing. Wish I could lift the curse, Terry, I really do.

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