iBecause Brazil is a long movie and we started late at night, my wife and I watched Terry Gilliam's brightly-colored Orwellian masterpiece over two nights, which was both a good and bad idea--good because it allowed us a break to think about it and discuss it; wrong, because all good movies deserve watching all at once, and Brazil's weaving bureaucratic plot took some catching up with on the second night (forgive me, Terry Gilliam; God knows, I used to be a purist about these things, but who can be that in this fragmented media-saturated age?
I saw Brazil on its first release in 1985 and it remains, to me, among the best of Gilliam's movies since his Monty Python days ( read my exegesis on Spamalot here). It has the dazzling freewheeling freshness of his Python work in service of an exciting story of a lowly bureauacrat (Jonathan Pryce) and his pursuit of love in the face, and through the entanglements, of a specialized all-enveloping bureaucratic terror (symbolized by ubiquitously snaking duct pipes). With additional help from the equally fertile mind of playwright Tom Stoppard, Brazil seems like a Pythonesque lark on its Metropolis-inspired fanciful shiny surface, but underneath it vibrant colors, bleak and mournful shadows lurk.
Michael Palin, KIm Greist, Bob Hoskins, Ian Holm, Jim Broadbent, Peter Vaughn (and I think, but am not, sure, David Warner, unbilled) co-star and they're all good, but the real surprise is Robert DeNiro's grinning japery as cigar-chomping revolutionary guerilla Harry Tuttle. DeNiro, who sometimes strikes me as a little locked down, plays Harry Tuttle like Errol Flynn by way of Che Guevera, the kind of ripping loose I always enjoy seeing him do. I don't usually associate Method actors with comedy, but he seems to be a happy exception.
Causes Thomas Burchfield Supports
The Nature Conservancy; Africare; Capitol Public Radio