Should’ve finished this yesterday, but, no tears!
“The Brothers Grimm” (Gilliam, 2005)
I knew this movie would fail financially when I saw the first trailers and said, “Meh.” Because I adore Terry Gilliam movies – when drafted into those bull sessions about the “best directors of all time,” I usally name him, because I enjoy everything he’s ever done. And initially, this movie looked like a commercial sell-out that wouldn’t work. Turns out it’s a commercial sell-out that didn’t work! But it’s also a pretty fun movie.
The very Germanly-named Jacob (Heath Ledger) and Will (Matt Damon) Grimm are scam artists who travel the French-occupied territories of their homeland creating “ghosts” and the like with human marionettes, then collecting huge fees to “destroy” the threats. (Incidentally, that “French-occupied Germany” thing, which appears in a dateline early in the movie, is one of the funnier gags I’ve seen this year.) They’re captured by French soldiers who draft them into an actual mission – something is killing children in a tiny village outside an ominous forest. Hijinks ensue.
There’s a lot here that works – it’s very surreal and dreamy, and if I was a 14 or 15 year old kid watching my first Gilliam movie, I think this would drop-kick “Star Wars” to become my new favorite thing. But there’s an abundance of annoying characters and mistaken identity situations, and a whole bit about Jacob Grimm wanting to solve this mystery because it’s “in the book” that … yeah, it doesn’t work. Definitely one of the lesser Gilliam movies, but better than I expected.
“Eurotrip” (Schaffer, 2004)
A piece of shit cash-in of the “nubile teens get in adventures” genre.
“Grizzly Man” (Herzog, 2005)
Here’s another movie I was lukewarm on, but this one completely blew me away. Instantly my favorite film of 2005.
Timothy Dexter was a handsome, athletic kid from New Jersey who threw out his back in college and lost a swimming scholarship. Crushed, he moved to Los Angeles to become an actor, where he changed his last name to “Treadwell,” claimed that he was from a remote Australian village, and started talking in a lispy accent. But he failed at that, too. It wasn’t until age 33 that he found an actual purpose in life – he began camping in remote parts of Alaska, studying and “befriending” bears. He spent 13 years at this, living with bears in the summer and spending the rest of the year touring schools to “teach” kids about our furry friends. At the end of his 13th summer, in 2003, he and his girlfriend were mauled and eaten by a bear.
That’s the “story” of this documentary – yes, all of that insane shit really happened. It’s told out of chronological order, but completely smoothly, via footage that Treadwell shot in Alaska and Herzog’s interviews with locals, friends, and experts. I’ve already spoiled the story, so I won’t spoil the human drama, philosophical questions, and frequently funny moments that make the movie so gripping. Just see it.