Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Brothers Grimm

Year 2, Day 23 - 1/23/10 - Movie #388

BEFORE: While I'm on the topic of fiction writing - I hope this film is self-reflexive enough to count as metafiction. Directed by Terry Gilliam, the maker of "Adventures of Baron Munchausen", so I've got high hopes.

THE PLOT: Will and Jake Grimm are travelling con-artists who encounter a genuine fairy-tale curse which requires genuine courage.

AFTER: It's an ambitious idea, to portray the Brothers Grimm as a pair of scammers who use local folklore to trick villages into hiring them to dispel curses. Along the way, brother Jacob (Heath Ledger) keeps track of all the details of the various legends and stories, and we assume that ultimately they will be inspired to write them down into their famous storybooks. Brother Wilhelm (Matt Damon) is more of the leader among the two, while Jacob is more of a bookworm.

But when traveling through French-occupied Germany, they encounter a REAL enchanted forest, with moving trees, a Big Bad Wolf, and a number of missing little girls. The Grimm Brothers are arrested by a French general (Gilliam regular Jonathan Pryce) and forced to work with a crazy Italian (Peter Stormare) to investigate the enchanted woods.

There are elements of a number of famous fairy-tales seen here, including Rapunzel, Snow White, Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty, but it's like all of those stories are mashed up in a blender, and the result is a mish-mash that's more like an action movie, with none of the charm of the original elements.

It was extremely confusing for me to follow, partially because nothing was explained very well, and I found several of the actors difficult to understand, most notably Ledger and Stormare. Crazy accents and affected speech really hurt this film - as did the lack of any helpful lighting in the dark forest scenes.

Terry Gilliam has directed some of my favorite films of all time, like "Time Bandits", "Brazil", "Twelve Monkeys", and of course "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". So it's disappointing to me when he makes a movie like this one, or "Jabberwocky" or "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" that's so far out of my comprehension. It's like he sometimes forgets how to make a movie, or that the audience needs to understand what's going on in order to enjoy it.

As it is, I have to count this as a mis-step for both Gilliam and my countdown.

RATING: 3 out of 10 dead crows

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