Film Review: Terry Gilliam - The Zero Theorem

When Terry Gilliam releases a new film, it’s kind of like rolling a dice.
Roll: Twelve Monkeys , Amazing. Roll: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas , Classic. Roll: Brazil, Just being plain weird. Roll: Brothers Grimm  ... Shite.

So naturally when I discovered he was releasing a new film called The Zero Theorem and got tickets for the preview, a mixture of feelings rushed through me. Anticipation for what could be another great film, but also a dash of fear, fear that I would be trapped in a hellish nightmare of a cinema, watching another Doctor Parnassus type film, unable to escape.

The Zero Theorem was weird as fuck. No doubt about it. However it did not make me want to run out of the cinema crying, rather it kept my interest throughout. It might be because I'm used to Gilliam being strange and can cope with it quite well. In fact the last film I watched by him (Tideland) centred on a little girl living with her dad’s corpse somewhere remote in Texas. And I found it pretty heart warming in all fairness.

Christoph Waltz’ acting is incredible throughout the film. I have been a huge fan of his since watching Inglourious Basterds , or more recently Django, but seeing him pull off such a complicated lead part was really amazing. He plays the role of Qohen Leth, who is pretty much just a lunatic waiting and working to find the meaning of life, he’s also afraid of pretty much everything.

Melanie Thierry is utterly enticing as Brainsley, a cyber hooker who play a pretty crucial part in the overall confusion of the film. Lucas Hedge played the awesome role of Bob, Managements 15 year old, super intelligent, pizza loving son. Management is played by Matt Damon who doesn’t really have to do much, but still comes out looking better than he did in Brothers Grim.

If any of that confused you, go watch the film, I promise you will still be confused afterwards. But everything is done so well and visually it’s so incredible, that you can’t help but enjoy it in some bizarre and weird way. Maybe there’s some hidden, deep and intelligent message hidden in the film, I will certainly re-watch it to try and find out. But part of me just hopes Gilliam wanted to fuck with our minds, whilst a great cast agreed to go along for the ride.

Any thoughts or comments leave below, or catch me on Twitter @grayscaleuk.

- Misael Trujillo 

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari: Dir. Robert Weine (1920)

Here we go folks, my first blog post for our new 1001 Films to Watch Before you Die blog project. Since I studied cinema at Uni, I've watched some of the more obscure titles on the list, lots of the oldies, which I hope I can introduce to some of you for the first time. For part of my Uni course, I studied the films of German Expressionism, a movement of silent movies in 20's Germany. This isn't a history blog, so I won't go into huge detail, but if you want to find out more about this style of film you now know what to look out for.

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Dir. Robert Weine (1920) can easily be categorised as one of the first ever horror films and certainly a key influencer of a number of modern films that I will point out to you, just in case they aren't blatantly obvious to you.

This story of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari follows a young man share his story of a travelling fair and the sinister Dr. Caligari and his somnambulist, Cesare. Before you Google it for yourself, like I did the first time I read about this film, a somnambulist is a sleepwalker and in some texts is described as a zombie. In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Cesare the somnambulist, is a sideshow attraction, stored in a coffin like box, Cesare predicts the future.
Being a film within the German Expressionist movement, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari uses painted sets and dramatic make up to represent lighting, shadows and to create drama to the set and story. For me, it's the set and costume design which makes this film a entry in the 1001 films to watch before you die. With it being an a very early film, I'm sure it won't keep many people engaged with it's story, despite it being decent and the start of a trend.

The thing that really opened my eyes with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, is that all those teeny goth kids that obsess over the 'genius' that is Tim Burton and about how original and creative he is are all wrong. For one, Edward Scissorhands is clearly based on the character of Cesare, don't you think?
In fact, Tim Burton's entire 'iconic' style is clearly German Expressionism for the modern day I say, check out these historic movies and learn about the inspiration behind a modern film 'hero'.

So, in my opinion, although I'm sure some people will struggle to remain engaged with The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, you have got to remember that this is an example of one of the first ever horror films, to be a true horror fan you have to see this movie. Plus, if you're going to learn about German Expressionism, this is one of two that I would recommend. The other will be reviewed, very, very soon.

That's all folks (for now)! If you like what I have to say, you can let me know on Twitter (@JayneKitsch) or via a comment below.