At some point during my early teens, we had Showtime or HBO or some such pay-cable channel. Whatever it was, they played Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits over and over again. I was absolutely mesmerized by it. It was so weird and unlike anything I’d ever seen before. Its hero was a little boy and a bunch of little people and the story was full of fantasy so it seemed like it was made for children. Yet it was also very dark, weird, and adult feeling. Everyone talked really funny too, and I remember very specifically how strange the police sirens sounded. I realize now that comes from it being made in England and the rest is pure Gilliam.
I must have watched it a a couple of dozen times growing up and yet each time made me feel a little weird inside, like I didn’t want to watch it because it was so scary, but I couldn’t help but sit through it again because it was so fantastic.
I’ve since come to love a great many of Gilliam’s films. He’s had his fair share of misses, but I really admire that he’s always take great big swings even if that means that sometimes he fails. His sensibilities as a director are so original, so full of wonder, and so delightfully strange that I’m always on board with at least giving his movies my full attention.
It has been a very long time since I saw the Fisher King. I don’t remember much of it except that it is very dark, involves some (possibly imaginary) knights in armor, and that Robin Williams is a very hairy naked man. Oh, and I really liked it.
Criterion has done their usual amazing job of putting the film together with upgraded transfers and loads of extras to give viewers lots of insights into the making of the film. There are lots of interviews with Gilliam, Williams, and various other people who worked on the film. Plus, video essays, costume tests, and commentaries.
All in all, that’s more than enough to make The Fisher King my Pick of the Week.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971: The Rolling Stones continue to cull their archives and come up with recordings from their remarkable career. This one comes from a (relatively short) show recorded for American TV audiences. It occurred just before the release of Sticky Fingers and features several songs from that classic album.
Ripper Street: Season Three: Demonstrating the power of the Internet, season three of this BBC crime drama only exists because fans took to social media decrying its cancellation after season two causing Amazon to take it up. You can read my review of the full season.
Survivor: Mila Jovovich stars as a Foreign Service Officer serving in the American Embassy in London tasked with stopping terrorists. After surviving an attack on the embassy. she is framed for the crime. It's a race against time to stop a large-scale attack on American soil. Also stars Pierce Brosnan, Dylan McDermott, Angela Bassett, and Robert Forster. Good cast, dumb plot. Could be fun. Read Chris Morgan's review.
The Forger: John Travolta stars as the world’s greatest art forger who makes a deal with a crime syndicate to get him out of prison. In return he must forge a Monet painting then switch it with the original. Christopher Plummer also stars as his dad. Neither of those guys are in their prime, but I love me some art-heist movies.
The Bridge (Criterion Collection:) The first major antiwar film to come out of Germany after WWII. Set near the end of the conflict, it follows a group of teenage boys in a small town as they deal with everyday matters before enlisting and having to defend their home in battle.