Tag Archives: Johnny Depp

The Day I Met… Jim Jarmusch

When asked what was the best advice he'd ever received from Tom Waits, Jim Jarmusch replied as above.

This Wednesday’s very thoughtful entry to the The Day I Met… Competition comes from Peter Rudd. You can see his Coromandal blog here.

The man he met was indie film maker Jim Jarmusch, of whom Tom Waits said in the New York Times:

The key, I think, to Jim, is that he went gray when he was 15 … As a result, he always felt like an immigrant in the teenage world. He’s been an immigrant – a benign, fascinated foreigner – ever since. And all his films are about that.

His films are not middle of the road and include Down By Law, Mystery Train, Dead Man, Coffee and Cigarettes, Broken Flowers, The Limits of Control and – perhaps the most mainstream one (which I saw and enjoyed) – Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.

But let’s get on with Peter’s face to face celeb encounter on…

The day I met Jim Jarmusch

There is a sweetness and maybe glory in being between things and having the time to sit and watch and walk and to soak in the places you would otherwise busily and blindly navigate through on your way to destinations and obligations.  Two summers ago I was in that in between place having just finished a gig overseas and moved into a new place in Queens.  I was halfheartedly looking for a new job and wholeheartedly toing and froing between the neighborhoods of New York:  Billyberg, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, the Village, the lower east side and Soho Continue reading

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Knock knock. Who’s there? Doctor Parnassus…

What do you do when your leading man departs this earth part way through filming your movie? If it’s Gladiator, and Oliver Reed has sipped slipped away, you resort to some fancy digital effects. But then he wasn’t the lead.

Or – as Terry Gilliam has done with The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – you recruit successors. So Heath Ledger morphs into Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law. But thankfully it’s not at all like one of those cringeworthy American sundrenched soaps where a character returns after a long time away, being played by a different actor – and no-one bats an eyelid. On the contrary, the three substitutions work very cleverly with the plot, and probably enhance the whole viewing experience.

I’ve just been to the London premiere …. (Ooh get you! I know, I know.) So here is the instant review:

Never mind the imaginarium of Dr Parnassus, what about the imagination of Terry Gilliam. It’s rich and immense, and shows no sign of flagging. There’s great vivid imagery and a lot of style.

The story revolves round successive deals that Dr Parnassus makes with the devil, and attempts to wriggle out of paying the price. It’s also about making decisions, doing the right thing. The right thing is not always obvious, and a wrong choice leads to hell. Choose well though, and you and your imagination are freed, and you finally experience life in all its wonder. The route to self-discovery lies through a magic mirror into the psychedelic world of your imagination.

The most enduring and intimate relationship is between Dr Parnassus and the devil. Tom Waits is a great Mississippi beelzebub. And rather than wanting to grab as many souls as he can, or to win at all costs, it becomes apparent how much he values having a sparring partner. And how much the battle of wits staves off an eternity of boredom.

Lily Cole (yes, the tall red-headed model) pulls off acting Christopher Lee’s daughter. The woman I was with enjoyed the four incarnations of Heath Ledger. (I found myself wondering if Colin Farrell’s dodgy child-rescuing philanthropist was a sly dig at Bono or Bob Geldof. But that may just be because Colin Farrell is from Dublin too.)  I thought the set was just great – particularly the tall narrow horse-drawn ark in which the Imaginarium and cast travel.

But – for me – the film began to meander a bit too aimlessly in the parallel Salvador Dali-esque dream world. By the time Colin Farrell was being chased, I was wishing his comeuppance would hurry up and come. The suspense sagged. And then, the story having disappeared into an almost final dismal depressing wilderness, it suddenly finds its way out again to the real world, and a last minute happy ending. This lacked the chutzpah of the first two thirds of the film. It was as if Cinderella had settled down and married Buttons.

So should you go to the cinema to see it or hang on for the DVD rental?  Well… Best of all would be to see it projected onto the glass of a giant lava lamp, while under the  influence of whatever you fancy. Failing that, yes, go to the cinema. A big screen is the best place to appreciate the hugely imaginative dreamscapes. And Heath Ledger is most charming.

A note on the premiere experience: Downside – you have to wait for ages for the bally thing to begin. Upside – you’re rubbing shoulders with people off the tele, film stars and severely under-dressed young women. Oddside – seeing Andrew Garfield in the flesh only hours after having seen him in Lions for Lambs. He looks exactly the same. He also appears to be paying homage to Richard Bacon with his choice of jackets.

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