Favourite Films: Twelve Monkeys

Above: “I am the man who kills Bruce Willis” – the actor with the dubious and singular honour of killing Bruce on-screen is coached by Terry Gilliam”

Most of you will know about my mild obsession with Terry Gilliam and his amazing films. Gilliam’s movies are some of the most regularly re-watched in my extensive collection, along with those of the Coen Brothers and Christopher Nolan. All of them delight in visually stunning extravaganzas combined with off-beat yet engaging characters, and Twelve Monkeys is no exception.

Twelve Monkeys is Gilliam’s 1996 sci-fi time-travel confuso-thriller starring Brad Pitt, Bruce Willis and Madeline Stowe amongst others. The basic story is based around the surreal French short film La Jetee, centering around a man from the future who has seen his own death as a child. In this re-telling our soon to come dystopian future has the remnants of he human race living underground, holding on after a devastating virus has killed most people. Willis plays James Cole, a prison inmate chosen to go back into the past to try and investigate what happened and ultimately retrieve a pure source of the original virus so the future/present scientists can create a cure. With me so far? Well there be spoilers ahead, so be warned.

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Meeting my Idols #2: Terry Gilliam

Terry Gilliam in Q&A @ The Curzon Mayfair
Originally uploaded by ultrahi.

Last night we had the joy of seeing Terry Gilliam’s latest film, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, followed by a Q&A with the great director himself. All very exciting stuff.

The film is awesome, a fantastical myth making tale along the lines of Baron Munchausen, with great performances from all the actors. The way in which Heath Ledger’s untimely departure from halfway through filming is handled extremely well and, if anything, adds to the film – as in some scenes Heath’s English accent veers a little antipodean or is smothered in excessive use of the word ‘mate’.

Lily Cole is visually stunning and hypnotising as Parnassus’ daughter, unaware of her imminent fate as the trade made in a bet between Parnassus and the Devil – played excellently by Christopher Plummer and Tom Wait respectively. Why are Gilliam’s casting choices always so spot on?

After the fun of the film we got to spend a while in Q&A with Terry Gilliam. He was at ease, happy to go into stories, and full of interesting anecdotes. The only annoyance was the apparent inability for some audience members to not ask questions regarding Heath’s death and family, all of which had been answered by Terry in many of his recent interviews or were just deeply inappropriate.

Post Q&A Terry was thronged by fans outside in the bar, some more greedy with his time than others, but thankfully he found a few seconds on the way out the day to sign my favourite Brazil DVD. Huzah! Fanboy #2 goal achieved (#1 being meeting Eddie Izzard back in ’98 of course).

“Oh, the squirrel-manity!”

There’s one thing you can guarantee about an Eddie Izzard gig… that there will be a wide selection of animals exclaiming about some issue affecting their lives, oh and a healthy dose of history. Guess what – he still delivers all that, and much more, but what’s missing is his usual choice of sparkly clothing. For some reason, Mr Izzard is now cutting a suave figure in jeans, white shirt and a long backed jacket for his Stripped tour in London. This shouldn’t come as such a surprise, since last time we saw him in Montreal he was wearing much the same, but tonight was a much, much better show. Tighter, more laughs, and more cute animals complaining about over-crowding on the ark.

Stripped is standard Eddie fare, ramblingly hilarious discursions on how the world can be put to rights, how cool iPhones are and how giraffes hide. What’s good to see is that after so long punting the LA stand-up scene, he seems very happy to be back on home ground. The jokes seem more relevant to a UK audience, although at times the American references passed most of the audience by. That said, the audience didn’t seem to mind – and that audience included random celebrity attendees Lenny Henry & Dawn French.

So another big thanks to Mr Izzard for another splendid night, and to those of you who don’t have tickets – get your arses down to the returns queue like we did and keep your fingers crossed! It’s worth the wait.