Heaven Is for Real
Faith-based film tries reaching past its audience, but falls back on preaching to its own choir way too much.
* This filmography is not intended to be a comprehensive list of this artist’s work. Instead it reflects the films this person has been involved with that have been reviewed on this site.
As the quaintly anachronistic title suggests, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" is as whimsical and rickety as any Terry Gilliam contraption -- an apparent labor of love, and not just for its star Heath Ledger, who died during production, but for the smoke-and-mirrors tomfoolery that goes into the construction of illusions. Another of Gilliam's charmingly antiquated, hand-crafted thingamadoodles, this one gets off to a bit of a slow start -- trying to set up too many stories... but spinning too many stories, and keeping track of them all, is also a good part of its subject.
Ledger's untimely death unavoidably became another element, since he hadn't finished filming his central role at the time of his demise. Gilliam, as you probably know, figured out a way to complete the film with three other actors -- Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell -- stepping in to complete the part. Once you're watching the movie, that no longer seems like such a strange or desperate move, but I'm not going to tell you how or why it works. (Remember that Natalie Wood died during the filming of "Brainstorm" and Brandon Lee in a production accident on the set of "The Crow," but those two pictures were completed, for better or worse. David Lynch's "Mulholland Dr." was a failed TV series pilot that wasn't released theatrically until Lynch said he dreamed an ending for it.) A title card at the end announces it as a presentation of "Heath Ledger and Friends."
Superheroes may have been born in comic books, but they were made for the movies. Defying the laws of physics, and occasionally the laws of society, they tend to be transgressors whose supernatural powers (or costumes and gadgets) enable them to surpass the abilities of mortals when it comes to maintaining stability and order -- or, at least, exacting revenge -- whether they act on behalf of themselves or society (or the cosmos) at large. "Truth, justice and the American Way," as the Man of Steel might put it.
Q. This year several actors seem to be potential Oscar nominees for more than one film, including Anthony Hopkins, Daniel Day-Lewis, Debra Winger, Tommy Lee Jones, Denzel Washington, Clint Eastwood and Emma Thompson. What happens if they split their votes between two movies? For example, could Hopkins get enough total votes for "Shadowlands" and "The Remains Of The Day" to be nominated, but get shut out because they are divided? (Ronnie Barzell, Chicago)
CANNES, France -- The first time I met Arnold Schwarzenegger was in 1977 at a film festival in Dallas. He was there for the premiere of "Pumping Iron," the documentary that launched his film career and, paradoxically, allowed audiences to relate to him as a person and not just as an assembly of muscles. What I remember is that between the two screenings of the movie, Arnold found a quiet corner backstage and opened his textbooks. He was studying for a college exam.