Terry Gilliam has a reverence for failure. In his movie The Fisher King, Jeff Bridges talks (ruefully) of Nietzsche’s “bungled and botched…expendable masses” who “get close to greatness, but never get there.” In a Gilliam movie, the hero is always either a fool or a madman, someone who sees much but blows his chances, aims high but is often speared by the world. As screen alter-egos go, these characters are candidly self-lacerating. Alexander Pope’s aphorism “To err is human…” is like a dare to Gilliam. He needs to conceive of movies that can’t work in order to prove that they can. The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus is a case in point.
This movie is not “a point-blank buckshot blast of American rage”. So why say it? Why is it we lambaste hyperbole in patently paid-for big budget movie reviews, but overlook the same hyperbole when it’s applied to low budget crap? Yes, yes – low budget movies need good reviews if they’re to find an audience. I’m fine with that. But movies like Shotgun Stories are not good; they’re just low budget. And saying Shotgun Stories is “a high calibre thriller that’s an explosive debut” is bullshit. This is a movie where if you took the word “yeah” out of the script and forbid the cast to look at things meaningfully… NOTHING WOULD F—ING HAPPEN.