Terry Gilliam

Storytime Terry Gilliam

Happy birthday, Terry Gilliam! Today the director, writer, animator and erstwhile-American turns 74 years old. It’s certainly cause for celebration. Even as a septuagenarian he’s still working. The Zero Theorem only recently opened in the United States, his twelfth feature film as director. There are plenty of ways to pay tribute to the artist and his work with your Saturday, though I’d imagine it’s hard to make the time to watch each of his dozen movies in a row. Instead, if you can carve out just under ten minutes, here’s a more practical option. It’s got more laughs per minute than most of his feature work as well. Storytime is cobbled together from two separate cartoons that Gilliam made for two different TV shows. The first, the diptych of “Don the Cockroach” and “The Albert Einstein Story,” aired on The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine in 1971. Gilliam also did the opening titles for the series, which you can watch on YouTube. The second, “The Christmas Card,” was created for a Christmas special of an earlier show, Do Not Adjust Your Set. The variety format of both programs was a perfect fit for Gilliam’s knack for self-contained cartoons that break all of their own rules and bust through the fourth wall. This talent would become even more prominent in his years working on Monty Python’s Flying Circus, which ran from 1969 through 1974.

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Zero Theorem Batman the Redeemer

If you’re waiting for a call to explain your existence, this week’s show might be it. We’ll talk with Terry Gilliam about religious themes in his movies, ask him to psychoanalyze Don Quixote and then find out what he’d do if he ran a billion-dollar movie studio. Plus, Geoff and I offer the lessons we’ve learned going into the final week of the Six Week Spec Challenge and offer/dissect some creepy/funny two-sentence stories. As a bonus, we’ll present our favorite three two-sentence stories from the ones you sent in. You should follow the show (@brokenprojector), Geoff (@drgmlatulippe) and Scott (@scottmbeggs) on Twitter for more on a daily basis. Please review us on iTunes Download Episode #73 Directly Or subscribe Through iTunes

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The Zero Theorem

Warning: This article is best read after having seen all the films in the title. Terry Gilliam’s The Zero Theorem is widely considered both an extension and revisitation of the dystopian themes the director so spectacularly explored in Brazil. Gilliam’s newest has even been categorized as a third part of a trilogy of dystopian science fiction satires – or, in Gilliam’s words, “Orwellian triptych” – following Brazil and 12 Monkeys. While Gilliam in interviews resists notions of a planned trilogy portraying future systems of control over almost thirty years, the Orwellian triptych carries remarkable similarities beyond these films’ driving conceits and Gilliam’s signature wide angles. The films of this trilogy portray individuals attempting to find truth and meaning beyond the dehumanizing systems in which they live, yet each protagonist is overcome by a sort-of predetermined fate and ultimately victimized by the alienating forces of technology. But the films of this trilogy are as notable for their stark differences as they are their similarities, and The Zero Theorem finds Gilliam fashioning his most discomfitingly ambiguous funhouse mirror of our present future yet.

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The Zero Theorem

Editor’s note: This review was originally published on September 30, 2013 as part of our Fantastic Fest 2013 coverage. A bald man, one without hair seemingly anywhere on his body, calmly sits naked in front of his computer screen as he watches what appears to be either a simulation or video of the awesome action of an outer space black hole. It sucks in all of the space circling around it like an endlessly flushing toilet bowl of stars, matter, and time. Our hairless hero is Qohen Leth (Christoph Waltz). Qohen is neither the cunning villainous type nor the quick-witted heroic type, and his emotional characteristics are as bald as his head. We’re exposed to only a handful of states out of Qohen as we follow with him in his daily routine through a comically crazy and colorful future where he seems as physically discomforted by the assaults of this world as a prisoner released from Shawshank prison after fifty years. The world went and got itself in a big damn hurry to do something; or probably nothing as I understand it. Welcome to Terry Gilliam‘s The Zero Theorem.

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Zero Theorem Poster

It’s virtually impossible to recognize Terry Gilliam’s Zero Theorem as anything but a spiritual sequel to Brazil. It’s a similar story of a corporate cog lamenting his status in an insane (and insanely large) world that makes him feel powerless, but it takes place in the universe next door where the Marx Brothers didn’t invent the bureaucracy. Christopher Waltz plays a man desperately waiting for a phone call that will explain his purpose. He kills his time by obsessively trying to slam math blocks into an impossible equation for a paycheck. It’s a somber absurdity, which is why this new poster represents the film beautifully. The stoicism, the closed eyes, the deconstruction. Not only is it striking, it looks like the back of his mind turns to stardust just off the edge of the page — a fitting representation of the movie’s larger-than-the-universe sentiment that plays out in a cramped church nave.

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Hallucinaut

The first time I recall Terry Gilliam‘s name being used to sell me on a movie it was City of Lost Children, but that was through a critic blurb making a comparison between the Brazil director and City‘s Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. Prior to that, though, he’d actually lent his name as a presenter for their Delicatessen. I might not have discovered those movies without the endorsement. Later, Gilliam also put his name in a similar manner on Bill Plympton’s Idiots and Angels. As a Gilliam fan, I fell in love with Jeunet’s work immediately, while I’d already been into Plympton and now had more reason to appreciate the animation legend. I don’t know that Gilliam attached his name to anything before, between or after those two — I’m not counting the BBC TV adaptation of the book The Last Machine: Early Cinema and the Birth of the Modern World, because he also appears in the series. He does, however, have two executive producer credits on upcoming movies, a live-action fantasy from Oscar-nominated animators Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski called The White Circus, and an animation-plus-puppetry steampunk feature called 1884: Yesterday’s Future. Now there’s another project we have to look forward to based on Gilliam’s support: Hallucinaut.

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The Fisher King

Back in the 1990s, Terry Gilliam provided a commentary track for The Fisher King, which has since gone out of print. Now, thanks to the magic of YouTube and MP3s and internet tubes, it’s possible to listen to this commentary track even if the disc itself is hard to come by. Not only does this commentary give an intimate look into one of Gilliam’s best, it also lives on in cyberspace to allow film nerds like us to learn more about the production. Due to differences in running time, you can’t simply synch all versions of the video with Gilliam’s commentary. For example, the Netflix version of The Fisher King runs 131 minutes instead of the unaltered 137-minute disc and theatrical presentation. Still, with the background soundtrack intact, you have a pretty good idea of where he is in his own timeline.

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Time Bandits

Charles Dickens once called procrastination the thief of time. Respectfully I must disagree with Ol’ Charlie, because clearly the Time Bandits are the real thieves of time.It’s right there in their name. Continuing on our journey across the temporal map of great sci-fi comedies, Cargill and I splashdown into a dark and wonderful Terry Gilliam film that’s supposedly for children. We will recount our favorite scenes, discuss the film’s turbulent production and completely change the way you hear the movie’s closing song. You should follow Brian (@Briguysalisbury), Cargill (@Massawyrm), and the show (@Junkfoodcinema). Download Episode #21 Directly

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The Zero Theorem

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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Terry Gilliam in Lost in La Mancha

The release of any Terry Gilliam film is a big deal. More so than any living filmmaker of lauded repute, Gilliam’s work has been unusually burdened by outsized circumstances that render it astonishing that he’s even accomplished the work he has, from Universal’s re-cutting of Brazil to his lead actor dying during the production of The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus to his doomed “Don Quixote” project, documented in the film Lost in La Mancha. Not since Orson Welles (who famously pursued his own uncompleted Quixote film) has a respected filmmaker had such an endlessly difficult time bringing his ideas to screen. That makes the announcement of a late summer release date for Gilliam’s newest feature, The Zero Theorem, all the more remarkable. The film looks like prime Gilliam territory, with its dystopic representation of a certain future burdened by blinding consumerism and Kafka-esque bureaucracy reminiscent of the director’s most notorious battle for artistic autonomy, 1985’s Brazil. As notable as Gilliam’s work is for its visual inventiveness, its wry humor and its trenchant political themes, Gilliam’s career is just as famous for the unceasing uphill battle through which his inimitable filmmaking is achieved. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from the only American member of Monty Python who is actually no longer American.

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Nymphomaniac

The best movie culture writing from around the internet-o-sphere. There will be a quiz later. Just leave a tab open for us, will ya?

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“Zero must equal one hundred percent.” You’ll be hearing that a lot in the first trailer for Terry Gilliam‘s The Zero Theorem. But what does it all mean? How can such a tiny piece of math re-grow Christoph Waltz‘s hair and transplant him onto some picturesque, “wish you were here” postcard of a beach? How can math (seriously, math?) strip him nude and set him adrift through space? Judging from the trailer alone, it’s not entirely clear. But then, if it was entirely clear just from two and a half minutes of footage, this trailer would probably be giving far too much away. Instead, we get a big mess of everything- set pieces, characters, plot points- and it’s all wrapped up in enough trippy mystery mishmash that nothing can really qualify as a spoiler. Sure, some of these CGI doodads must have real narrative significance, but without anything to link them together, who can tell?

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Puppeteer_Pirate

If you care about video games, then you’re probably not even reading this right now. Most likely, you’re deep inside of Grand Theft Auto V, living a life of excess and loving it. And now that GTA V’s online mode has finally overcome most of the bumps and is actually turning out to be pretty fun, all the more reason to stay inside its warm embrace. We’ll be talking about Rockstar’s triumphant return to the seedy underbelly of crime soon, but we wanted to highlight the amazing storytelling and whimsical design of Sony’s Puppeteer for the PlayStation 3. With the PlayStation 4 being introduced next month, this might represent one of the last great PS3 games. Despite the childlike art adorning the cover and the name, this is actually dark game: you play as Kutaro, a young boy who has been turned into a puppet and had his head torn off. While you can find other puppet heads to utilize, and gain special abilities from them, and you spend most of the game armed with a magical pair of scissors, this isn’t a cheerful story with your princess waiting in another castle. Puppeteer is dark, disturbing, and completely amazing, thanks in no small part to game director Gavin Moore. We spoke to Moore in Japan about all things Puppeteer, so read on for the full interview, and be sure to pick up a copy and give it a whirl for yourself.

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The Zero Theorem

In many of the projects that Christoph Waltz takes on, he plays a man with a definite mission. In Inglourious Basterds, he needed to hunt down Lt. Aldo Raine and his Nazi hunters. Django Unchained – he was a bounty hunter searching for criminals in exchange for rewards. And for Terry Gilliam‘s The Zero Theorem, the stakes are a just a little bit higher. Waltz plays Qohen, a man whose life is spent waiting for a mysterious phone call while attempting to solve the Zero Theorem, a discovery that will prove that all existence is meaningless. Though the eccentric Qohen rarely leaves his den to venture outdoors because of the whole “working on a groundbreaking discovery that will shatter everything we’ve ever known” deal, this clip gives us a glimpse of the fantastical world Gilliam has created outside Qohen’s home. Check it out for yourself:

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A Liar

Everybody knows the name Monty Python, but most people can’t name the individual members of the legendary British comedians. For the record they’re John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Michael Palin and Graham Chapman. And yes, I forgot Terry Jones at first, too. Like most comedy troupes formed in 1960s England, Monty Python isn’t as whole as they once were. No, don’t go Googling to see if Terry Jones is still alive. He is. I checked. But Graham Chapman is not. He died twenty three years ago from throat cancer, but audio recordings he made in 1986 meant to be narration for his autobiography have been put to celebratory use in the new, factually loose, humorous but sadness tinged animated film, A Liar’s Autobiography. Three directors, multiple animators and several members of Python came together to create this loving tribute to a very special dead man. (It focuses on his life before he died of course.) Check below for four more images from the new film, and be sure to tune into EPIX on November 2nd for the film’s premiere.

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Terry Gilliam

It’s been nearly two decades since Terry Gilliam last time traveled into the science fiction world of insanity and Twelve Monkeys. According to /film, it’s time to break out the champagne and party hats because Gilliam is heading back into sci-fi territory with his otherwise dormant The Zero Theorem, and he’s bringing along Christoph Waltz. That is, as they say, a Bingo. The story focuses on Qohen Leth (who was previously to be played by Billy Bob Thornton), a computer genius working dilligently to solve an impossible theorem. He lives in a 1984-style world where the omniscient Management keeps an eye on everyone. Beyond Leth, there’s a love interested looking to virtually hook up and a new friend who builds him a suit that will take an inventory of Leth’s soul in order to prove or disprove the theorem. Definitely a Bingo. The good news is that the project is gearing up quickly and attempting to shoot in October. That is, until some terrible force of nature closes down the production as per Gilliam’s enemies’ contract with the Devil. Let’s bask and enjoy this good fortune while it lasts. With a lot of luck, we’ll get to see it in 2013.

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Criterion Files

Of the 600+ films in The Criterion Collection, almost 200 are listed as from the United States. While not all of these films are explicitly thematically based  around life in the US, the American selections for the Collection do make up a mosaic of diverse perspectives on life in this country, proving that there is no sustainable solitary understanding of what it means to be an “American,” but there exists instead an array of possibilities for interpreting American identity. What the American films do have in common, though, is provide proof that excellent films have been made in the US for quite some time. So, after exhausting yourself with Independence Day Parades, firecracker-lighting, and Budweiser, settle down with a great American movie. Here are a dozen great titles from the Criterion Collection about “America” and “freedom” in the many senses of those terms.

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A lot of thought went into what quotes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail would be used for this intro. In the end, though, it was decided that you all probably know this film by heart, anyway. If you don’t, what are you doing right now? Get to memorizing. When you’re done, though, be sure to come back for this special, little treat we have in store for you on this week’s Commentary Commentary. Monty Python and the Holy Grail had not one, but two directors to it, Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. The rest of Monty Python did their own commentary track, but it’s separate. Something about a death threat or something. Anyway, this week we’re listening to Gilliam and Jones, the directing team behind this comedy classic, some would even consider it among the greatest comedies of all time. What could they possibly have to say that this film doesn’t say already? Let’s find out. We may even find out what the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow is, but I’m not holding my breath. Right. Off you go.

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Monty Python

Monty Python veteran Terry Jones has co-written (with Gavin Scott) and will direct a Sci-Fi farce called Absolutely Anything that has been said might be the cause of a mini-Monty Python reunion. Unfortunately, all of the members of the Python crew are no longer with us, but news from Variety says that Jones’ new film is now looking like it will, in fact, manage to get back together at least most of the surviving members. In addition to his own involvement, Jones has already signed up John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, and Michael Palin, and he’s currently negotiating with Eric Idle.

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Attack the Block Chuck Taylor

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that has a bit of a fashion sense, a sometimes sexy side and perhaps even a creepy streak. It will use and abuse all of these facets of its game in tonight’s edition. This one, as they say, is a must-read. We begin tonight with an image of custom Attack the Block themed shoes made by Toni Taylor-Salisbury, whom you may know as Mrs. Junkfood Cinema. The lovely Kayla Kromer tweeted them earlier this evening, as yet another example of Mrs. Salisbury’s amazing work in the realm of geek footwear. You can check out her other work over on her Etsy store. Do it now. Then come back, because there’s more news.

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published: 12.23.2014
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published: 12.22.2014
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published: 12.19.2014
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