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The Complicated Descent of Doctor Parnassus in Heaven

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | April 27, 2010 |

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | April 27, 2010 |

It’s Complicated: “The most revealing moment in writer-director Nancy Meyers’ It’s Complicated is when Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) visits her shrink to plead for advice about the affair she’s caught up in. Though she’s been divorced for ten years, she’s recently taken up with her ex, who’s got a new young wife of his own, and the resulting fling has Jane feeling guilty. Turning to a mental health professional for judgment about whether her actions have been evil or not, she’s told: “It’s not good. It’s not bad.” That’s about all that can be said for Meyers’ film, which is the latest in a line of wish-fulfillment movies that place as much emphasis on set design as story, and seem almost adorably unaware of actual struggles and real-world emotions. It’s Complicated is certainly pleasant enough, full of happy actors and easy characters, and it’s even got a few small laughs, but it’s ultimately a listless, alienating film that’s devoid of tension or drive. Without risk, there can be no reward, but Meyers is ultimately too set on having her characters waltz through their low-level drama to experience real happiness. The title says it’s complicated, but it’s really anything but.” - Dustin Rowles

Five Minutes of Heaven: “Set in 1975, against the backdrop of the violence of Northern Ireland, the first act recreates the actual murder of 19-year-old sectarian dockworker, Jim Griffin, by 17-year-old Alistair Little (Mark Davison), a pro-England Protestant who’d asked for the assignment as a means to gaining his badge of honor. Little shot Griffin in the head three times, while Griffin’s 11-year-old brother — out playing with his soccer ball — was an unfortunate witness to the act. Little spared the little brother, but was ultimately sentenced to 12 years in prison for the crime.” - Dustin Rowles

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus: “Obviously, this plot synopsis is quite confusing, as is the film. We’re never quite sure of the rules of the wager (I’m still not 100 percent sure who the fifth soul was), nor is it clear what metaphysical rules the imaginarium lives by. For instance, if someone dies in the imaginarium, does his or her physical body die along with it? The film gives us conflicting accounts and, if death were possible, the entire premise seems odd. Who would imagine their own death? If you were falling down a crevice in the imaginarium and the world changed according to your wishes, why not imagine yourself a parachute? While one could interpret this narrative murkiness as a symptom of having to construct a film around the void left by Ledger, I would tend to argue that it falls in line with Gilliam’s screenwriting track record. Gilliam, like Tim Burton, is undoubtedly a great visual mind but can often lose focus in film form. His best films, 12 Monkeys (1995), and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), were written either by other screenwriters or, in the case of the latter, based upon a previously published work. While Brazil (1985) has many loving admirers, I am not among them. I respect it, but find it an ultimately inspired but bloated film. Gilliam wrote Parnassus with his Brazil co-writer, Charles McKeown, and the uneven and ambiguous plotting force the film off the rails often.” - Drew Morton

The Descent: Part 2: “Now, before we go any further, I want you to participate in a small exercise. Walk around your house or apartment, and think carefully about the item in there that you treasure the most. For some, it may be a family heirloom, or a photograph. For some, something of more material worth — your big screen TV, your comic book collection, your sweet fancy car. Take that item, and lovingly gaze upon it. Then, I want you to set it on fire. And then, sit there, without moving, and watch it fucking burn. After doing that, you’ll have some idea as to what viewing The Descent Part 2 is like.” - TK

Also released this week: Disgrace, District 13: Ultimatum, End of Poverty, Megapiranha, Milton Glaser: To Inform & Delight, Why We Laugh

Genevieve Burgess is a Features Contributor for Pajiba. You can follow Genevieve Burgess on Twitter.

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