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Heath Ledger, Johnny Depp dance through Gilliam’s “Doctor Parnassus,” now on DVD

HollywoodNews.com stays on top of the latest DVD and Blu-ray releases so you know which films are worth your time and money. This week, we recommend:

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus
Tributes to the late Heath Ledger abound on Terry Gilliam’s DVD for “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.” It was this trippy mind comedy on which Ledger was working when he passed away in January 2008.

“The loss of Heath Ledger was such a blow,” Gilliam admits in the film’s introduction. And one that the film really can’t recover from, despite noble attempts by Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law to plug into Gilliam’s surreal landscape and fill Ledger’s large shoes.

In the film, Ledger plays an amnesic London businessman caught up in an ancient battle between Satan (Tom Waits) and a storyteller (Christopher Plummer). And because of the fluid nature of Gilliam’s imaginative screenplay, Depp and Farrell could be tagged as substitutes. Yet while those who find Gilliam visually stimulating should be willing to ride along with “Parnassus,” the uninitiated will leave “Doctor Parnassus” more confused than when they entered.

The DVD attempts to tear down the wall and provide access to Gilliam’s process. He appears in the intro, tapes a commentary, offers a deleted scene, hosts several behind-the-scenes featurettes, and analayzes the artwork and costumes from the film.

A second, more sizable, portion of the DVD, though, is dedicated to Ledger — as it should be. The actor sits down for an audio interview, and can be seen in a costume fitting (with an optional commentary). The director is so enamored with the late, talented actor that we totally believe him when he says he sacrificed the credit “A film by Terry Gilliam” to make sure “Parnassus” is remembered as “a film from Heath Ledger and friends.”

The movie — **1/2 out of 4
The DVD — *** out of 4

About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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  • April 30, 2010 | Permalink |

    I wanted to see this when it was in the theaters, but didn’t get a chance to.

  • April 30, 2010 | Permalink |

    i’m getting this just because it was Heath’s last film ever. so sad

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