Loosely based on a popular graphic novel series by Ming-Woo Hyung, Priest is an efficient mélange of genres that owes as much to Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns and John Ford’s The Searchers as it does to supernaturally based manga. Sadly, the only reason it doesn’t get an F is a couple of performances.
Tonight, TCM presents the first of seven one-hour episodes of its ambitious history of filmmaking in America, Moguls & Movie Stars: A History of Hollywood [Mondays, 8/7C]. Featuring previously unseen footage [a Frenchwoman directing a sound-sync film twenty-two years before The Jazz Singer!] and interviews with both noted film historians and Hollywood luminaries, the series looks at American filmmaking over the seven major periods ending in 1969. It begins with Peepshow Pioneers, which delves into the predecessors of film [there was a two hundred and fifty year history of entertainment projected on a screen prior to the invention of motion pictures] and introduces some of film’s most important innovators.
We all know the story of how Heath Ledger’s death almost derailed Terry Gilliam’s latest film – and how three of Ledger’s friends [Johnny Depp, Jude Law and Colin Farrell] stepped in to finish the film after Gilliam tweaked the script to allow for their presences. The result, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, is one of Gilliam’s most accessible and intriguing films in years.
The story involves a series of bets between former monk Parnassus [Christopher Plummer] and Mr Nick, aka The Devil [Tom Waits] that have led to Mr. Nick’s claim on Parnassus’ daughter, Valentina [Lily Cole] in a few days from the film’s opening moments. Parnassus and his daughter have a travelling show that allows anyone who’s willing to take the chance to have their imagination unfettered in a world on the other side of a peculiar mirror. Also part of the presentation is Anton [Andrew Garfield] and the sarcastic – and almost always right Percy [Verne Troyer].