30 Thursday, 15 October 2009 London Lite D irectorterryGilliam has had some appalling luck. in 2000 the former Monty Python mem- bers 32m film of Don Quixotecollapsedwhen the lead actor fell ill and a flood swept away the set. then last year, as he neared completion of this, his 14th feature, star Heath Ledger died of an overdose. Lesser men would have howled at the moon and called in the insurers. Gilliam may well have howled at the moon, but then he got in some of Hollywoods big- gest stars to reshoot scenes. indeed, so inventive was this solution that Ledger being replaced by Johnny Depp, Jude Law and colin Farrell proved to be one of the lesser problems. oh no, compared to a leaden script, barely existent narrative (a regular Gilliam failing), lack of tension and wayward acting (Ledger especially), the stars death is low on the list of issues that make Parnassus barely watchable for long -- very long -- stretches. the film centres on travelling players who get around contemporary London in a car- nival wagon that unfolds into a stage. on the wagon is also a fake mirror, behind which is the fabu- lous world of the imagination. At the centre of the proceed- ings is Doctor Parnassus (christopher Plummer, a very big tick in the positive column) who, 1,000 years ago, made an ill-advised pact with the devil for immortality. His part of the bargain is that when his daugh- ter Valentina (Lily cole, surpris- ingly good) turns 16, she becomes Satans property. Unfortunately, her birthday is imminent, so Parnassus places a bet with Mr Nick (tom Waits, forever cool). into this scenario comes tony (Ledger), a mysterious chap the carnival players save from hang- ing. its unnerving and sad to watch Ledger being resuscitated on screen in his final film. Not quite so unnerving but still notable is his appalling cockney accent and uneven acting -- this is not a great swansong. Valentina quickly falls for tony, which upsets fellow carnie Anton (Andrew Garfield) and bemuses wee Percy (Verne troyer), the good doctors vertically challenged confidant. But is tony all he seems? Bad enough the film lacks ten- sion or even much of a story, but some of the special effects are ropey, too -- a failing that is worrying, given Gilliams reliance on the fantastical. if you cant get right the things youre renowned for, what chance do you have with the other stuff ? REVIEWSCINEMA The Imaginarium Of Doctor Parnassus Cert 12A, 123 mins HHIII Itsbadluckfor Gilliam...andus REVIEW BY PAUL CONNOLLY Acouple ofreasons toretreat WHATS the worst thing about this film? The clichd, script? The overwhelming earnestness of whats meant to be a comedy, or those moments of emotional import when syrupy music swells up as if to scream, Cry, goddammit, this is SAD!? Maybe its the criminal waste of a comic actor as good as Jason Bateman? No, its none of these. The worst thing is that its almost two hours long. Plot: four couples go on holiday (theyre so amazed by the sea that were to assume they live in Kansas), and find out they have problems. Theyre given therapy, reach a crisis point then discover they really love each other. Vince Vaughns Dave and Malin Akermans Ronnie are the only barely believable characters, with the only lines that rustle up the faintest semblance of a smile. Theres also a Guitar Hero contest that takes product placement to a new level. Bad beyond belief. PC Zombiesgetyouinthehead Pontypool Cert15, 92minsHHHHI Alsoshowing... AN UNEXPECTED treat from Christopher Smith, the director of the Danny Dyer-starring Severance and so-so Tube horror Creep. Triangle is a nifty timeline-shifting horror/ psychological thriller that will have your brain in knots and your face in your hands. It focuses on main character Jesss (Melissa George) efforts to escape a destiny that she can see unfold in front of her. Recommended. Triangle Cert 15, 99 mins HHHHI Thirst Cert 18, 133 mins HHHII Ong-Bak: The Beginning Cert 18, 110 mins HHIII THIS apparent follow-up to a 2003 Thai beatemup featuring martial arts superstar Tony Jaa, has absolutely nothing to do with the original -- apart from it again having Jaa giving some to all. This time were in medieval Thailand, and once the barely there revenge narrative is dispensed, Jaa is battering his way through assorted enemies. Fine if you like this sort of thing. PC PARK CHAN-WooK, the elegant bad boy of South Korean cinema (he made the revenge trio oldboy, Sympathy For Mr Vengeance and Lady Vengeance) scores again with this tale of a priest, Sang-hyeon (Song Kang- ho) who, in trying to make a difference, offers himself to a vaccine trial against a deadly virus. He dies but is resurrected as a bloodthirsty and randy vampire with only two things on his mind. A sumptuous, erotic exciting movie but its 30 minutes too long. Love interest: Tony (Ledger) and Valentina (Cole) Barely believable: Vince Vaughn Couples Retreat Cert 15, 113 mins HIIII IN&OUTTONIGHT FILMS IF LAST weeks Zombieland was a less witty take on Shaun of The Dead, Pontypool attempts a whole new zombie genre: cerebral zombie. or cerezom for short... sounds like a new spot cream. Set almost entirely in the basement studio of a provincial Canadian radio station, Pontypool often feels more like a play. Director Bruce McDonalds masterstroke is to cast leathery Stephen McHattie (A History of Violence) as Grant, a rabble-rousing shock jock whos been fired from his big city job and exiled to rural, nothing- happening Pontypool to concentrate on traffic snarl-ups, school closings and interviewing local am-dram chumps. Fed up, he keeps producer Sydney (Lisa Houle) and technician Laurel Ann (Georgina Reilly) on their toes with flashes of anger. That is, until stories come in of a fishing trip gone wrong and a riot at a doctors surgery. When traffic reporter Ken calls in with news of more madness and violence, the trio become concerned and then, as Laurel Ann takes a turn for the worse, very scared indeed. The central idea, that language spreads like a virus, is not new (William S Burroughs posited such a theory). But this is so smart, funny, warm and scary, the preposterous theories almost start to make sense. Almost. After all, its just another zombie film -- albeit the best zombie film of the year so far. PC In a spin: Stephen McHattie as Grant, the terrified DJ index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html