on Jan 31, 2014 at 7:45:52 pm Last Edited By Tim Wilson on Jan 31, 2014 at 7:49:51 pm
Parnassus got a 64% at Rotten Tomatoes. Roughly translated, twice as many people liked it as didn't. I'd be able to live with that.
I saw him at a film festival not too long ago, showing 12 Monkeys, my favorite of his. He said that in pretty much every pitch meeting, the guy on the other side of the table starts by talking about how much they love his movies, he inspired them to get in the business or whatever -- and ending with, "hmmm, I don't think we could make any money off THIS one, sorry"...even though all his movies have broken even or better.
He also said that he was recently asked to make a Time Bandits TV show. "Just one change," they said. "No dwarves. People don't like dwarves."
Indeed, the parts of his talk afterward that weren't about 12 Monkeys were a long string of stories about getting manhandled in Hollywood. He's a great storyteller, and there were lots of laughs, but you could see a lot of frustration for him being in his 70s with an enviable track record, and unable to make deals.
To pay the bills, he's been making commercial shorts. In typical Gilliam fashion, they're twisted and lush. He brought, for its only American showing, an Italian short from 2011 (15 minutes, I think?), for the Naples-based Garafolo pasta company. They'd commissioned a bunch of these, rather spend money on spots, and Gilliam was one of them.
He got a ton of grief for this from the "art for art's sake" crowd, to which his basic response was the exact two words you think they'd be. They gave him a free hand, with the only stipulations that it be set in Naples, it show spaghetti at some point, and that nobody dies. The spaghetti was force fed by an evil clown, and while nobody dies, there was something about souls getting sucked into figurines depicting nativity scenes. It won a bunch of festival prizes, and I'm sure that Garafolo was thrilled, even with the evil clown.
And, as he put it, it was more fun than a feature, where in reality, you spend most of your time raising money to make the darn thing. Here, zero time spent on fundraising, 100% on filmmaking.
It's not online, but there are a TON of background clips and interviews that are well worth seeking out. Many of the aforementioned tales of woe, along with some great insights on filmmaking and storytelling in general to be found among them.
The trailer is also online.
He's done a bunch of commercial shorts over the years, although I don't remember seeing any as freaky as that spaghetti-soul sucking-evil clown thing. (Seriously, even after 12 Monkeys, I was creeped out.)
This is one I remember fondly, a sort of cross between soccer and a cage fight, not unlike the caged basketball match of Escape from Los Angeles...except done Gilliam-style. It was for Nike's 2002 World Cup campaign, also Europe-only. Here's 3-minute cut of a longer Part 1:
A 1-minute cut of Part 2, which I think is pretty hilarious:
Then in 2012, a short for AMP Energy Juice to promote a NASCAR race, "The Legend of Hallowdega." It starts out prosaically, like a spoof of an investigative report into said legend, but trust me, you'll know it's a Gilliam film before the end. Like, seriously.
It's at Vimeo, so no embed, but very much worth the trip.