Mrs D and i went out to see Terry Gilliam's new movie, "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus," last night at the Carolina. It's one of those movies that i really want to see, "you have to go see this," but it's really not. Can't quite say why, either. There are several scenes (the monastery, the shoe fantasy) that are among the most visually stunning of all time, and Lily Cole as Valentina, the soon-to-be-sixteen year old daughter of the title character, is an eye magnet of the first rank. Throw in Christopher Plummer as the 1000 year old Dr. Parnassus, and Tom Waits, who some believe was born to play the part, as the Devil whose sole joy, it seems, comes from his ongoing wagers with the Doctor, and you have the makings of a stone classic.
Or not. Somehow the whole adds up to much less than the sum of its parts.
I'm not going to try to tease out why in the confines of a blog post. That's a conversation best had over a couple of beers with a few people who've seen the movie. I do want to wonder out loud, though, how much of this reaction can be tied to the nearly unintelligible sound in Cinema One at the Carolina. Hard to say, with just one viewing in one location, whether the problem is with the film, with the sound system in the theater, or whether it's just a mismatch in technology (maybe the movie's sound is mixed in 7.1 surround, and the theater was only carrying center channel information?) but the amount of concentration it took to follow any extended dialog in this film was straining. And it's not like there were competing sounds from adjacent theaters (no Avatar playing next door!) or from a disruptive audience (when the lights when down we were the only ones in the theater; two other couples arrived before the opening credits were finished). Whatever the cause, the effect was insurmountable. I wonder if anyone else has noticed this, and if there's a solution at hand?
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