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Terry Gilliam (1940 - )
BiographyTerence Vance Gilliam (born November 22, 1940 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA) is a film director. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terry_Gilliam [Mar 2005]
- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998) - Terry Gilliam [Amazon.com]
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream is a novel by Hunter S. Thompson, which describes the protagonist's (Raoul Duke, a fictionalised representation of Thompson) chasing of the American Dream to Las Vegas through a drug-induced haze with his attorney (Dr. Gonzo, based on real-life Chicano lawyer Oscar Zeta Acosta) in tow. It is based on his attempted "coverage" of the Mint 400 motocross race for Sports Illustrated magazine in 1971. What was intended as a 250-word caption snowballed into a novel-length feature for Rolling Stone magazine in November of that year. The novel was heralded as the "best book on the dope decade" by the New York Times Book Review and "A scorching epochal sensation!" by author Tom Wolfe. The film version, released on May 22, 1998, only pulled in about $10.5 million at the US box office (it was budgeted at approximately $18.5 million) but has since become a cult classic.
In his book The Great Shark Hunt, Thompson refers to Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as "a failed experiment in gonzo journalism," a guerilla style of reporting that Thompson made famous throughout his career. Allegedly based on William Faulkner's "idea that the best fiction is far more true than any kind of journalism—and the best journalists know this," it blends storytelling, fiction, and traditional journalism in an attempt to dig out truths beyond the truth of the subject of the article. As Thompson tries to discover what the 1960s meant and what was in store for America in the future, the central message of the book is that 1971 was a turning point in hippie and drug culture in America, the year that the innocence and optimism of the late 1960s turned to cynicism and burn-out. The book bears more than a passing resemblance to The Great Gatsby, which deals with parallel themes: the state of the American Dream and the lives of the rich and careless.
The film version was directed by Terry Gilliam and starred Johnny Depp as Raoul Duke and Benicio Del Toro as Dr. Gonzo. Both actors were cast by the film's original director, Alex Cox who wrote the original screenplay with his longtime collaborator, Tod Davies. When Terry Gilliam became attached to the project as director he rejected the Cox/Davies screenplay for various creative reasons, and Thompson himself disliked it and did not approve of Cox's approach to the movie. Gilliam then decided to attempt his own screenplay with collaborator Tony Grisoni. When the film approached release, Gilliam learned that the Writers Guild of America (WGA) would not allow Alex Cox's and Tod Davies names to be removed from the credits even though none of their material was used in the production of the film. Angered over having to share credit, Gilliam left the WGA and, on certain early premiere prints of the film, made a short introductory sequence in which an anonymous presenter assures the audience that no screenwriters, whatsoever, were involved in writing the film, despite what you may read in the credits.
The lead actors undertook extraordinary preparations for their respective roles. Del Toro gained more than forty pounds before filming began, and extensively researched Acosta's life. Depp lived with Thompson for months, doing research for the role as well as studying Thompson's habits and mannerisms. Depp even traded his car for Thompson's red Cadillac convertible, known to fans as the Great Red Shark, and drove it around California during his preparations for the role. Many articles of the costumes that Depp wears in the film are genuine pieces borrowed directly from Thompson, and Thompson himself shaved Depp's head to match his own natural male pattern baldness. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_and_Loathing_in_Las_Vegas#Film_version_.281998.29 [Feb 2005]
see also: "gonzo", drug movies
- Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) - Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam [Amazon.com]
Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. According to Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide, it's "recommended for fans only," but we say hogwash to that--you could be a complete newcomer to the Python phenomenon and still find this send-up of the Arthurian legend to be wet-your-pants hilarious. It's basically a series of sketches woven together as King Arthur's quest for the Holy Grail, with Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick Patsy, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. The comedy highlights are too numerous to mention, but once you've seen Arthur's outrageously bloody encounter with the ominous Black Knight (John Cleese), you'll know that nothing's sacred in the Python school of comedy. From holy hand grenades to killer bunnies to the absurdity of the three-headed knights who say "Ni--!," this is the kind of movie that will strike you as fantastically funny or just plain silly, but why stop there? It's all over the map, and the pace lags a bit here and there, but for every throwaway gag the Pythons have invented, there's a bit of subtle business or grand-scale insanity that's utterly inspired. The sum of this madness is a movie that's beloved by anyone with a pulse and an irreverent sense of humor. If this movie doesn't make you laugh, you're almost certainly dead. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com
- Monty Python's Life of Brian - (1979) - Terry Jones [Amazon.com]
"Blessed are the cheesemakers," a wise man once said. Or maybe not. But the point is Monty Python's Life of Brian is a religious satire that does not target specific religions or religious leaders (like, say, Jesus of Nazareth). Instead, it pokes fun at the mindless and fanatical among their followers--it's an attack on religious zealotry and hypocrisy--things that that fellow from Nazareth didn't particularly care for either. Nevertheless, at the time of its release in 1979, those who hadn't seen it considered it to be quite "controversial."
Life of Brian, you see, is about a chap named Brian (Graham Chapman) born December 25 in a hovel not far from a soon-to-be-famous Bethlehem manger. Brian is mistaken for the messiah and, therefore, manipulated, abused, and exploited by various religious and political factions. And it's really, really funny. Particularly memorable bits include the brassy Shirley Bassey/James Bond-like title song; the bitter rivalry between the anti-Roman resistance groups, the Judean People's Front and the People's Front of Judea; Michael Palin's turn as a lisping, risible Pontius Pilate; Brian urging a throng of false-idol worshippers to think for themselves--to which they reply en masse "Yes, we must think for ourselves!"; the fact that everything Brian does, including losing his sandal in an attempt to flee these wackos, is interpreted as "a sign." Life of Brian is not only one of Monty Python's funniest achievements, it's also the group's sharpest and smartest sustained satire. Blessed are the Pythons. --Jim Emerson for amazon.com
Movies (presented by)
- Delicatessen (1991) - Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet [Amazon.com]
The title credit for Delicatessen reads "Presented by Terry Gilliam," and it's easy to understand why the director of Brazil was so supportive of this outrageously black French comedy from 1991. Like Gilliam, French codirectors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro have wildly inventive imaginations that gravitate to the darker absurdities of human behavior, and their visual extravagance is matched by impressive technical skill. Here, making their feature debut, Jeunet and Caro present a postapocalyptic scenario set entirely in a dank and gloomy building where the landlord operates a delicatessen on the ground floor. But this is an altogether meatless world, so the butcher-landlord keeps his customers happy by chopping unsuspecting victims into cutlets, and he's sharpening his knife for a new tenant (French comic actor Dominque Pinon) who's got the hots for the butcher's nearsighted daughter! Delicatessen is a feast (if you will) of hilarious vignettes, slapstick gags, and sweetly eccentric characters, including a man in a swampy room full of frogs, a woman doggedly determined to commit suicide (she never gets its right), and a pair of brothers who make toy sound boxes that "moo" like cows. It doesn't amount to much as a story, but that hardly matters; this is the kind of comedy that springs from a unique wellspring of imagination and inspiration, and it's handled with such visual virtuosity that you can't help but be mesmerized. There's some priceless comedy happening here, some of which is so inventive that you may feel the urge to stand up and cheer. --Jeff Shannon for Amazon.com
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