26 April 2008

Terry Gilliam (addendum)

1996 | The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys (directed by Keith Fulton & Louis Pepe)
This is a fly-on-the-wall documentary that follows Gilliam from the shooting to the editing to the ADR sessions to the test screenings for 12 Monkeys. Apparently, Gilliam decided to have someone document the process in case it turned into a disaster like Baron. That way, he'd have evidence that it wasn't his fault. In the end, nothing like that happened and 12 Monkeys went on to become a huge success.

Perhaps because the movie was largely untroubled, the documentary isn't quite as exciting to watch as it could be. The timidity of the filmmakers didn't help. Early in the film, they announce that they're too scared to point the camera at Gilliam while he's in the middle of yelling at someone. The screen randomly focuses on a craft services table for a moment, but we can't even hear what Gilliam is upset about and it quickly cuts to something else. They lost my support right there. If you're not up to standing in the path of a pissed Gilliam -- granted a scary sight -- then don't accept the job of behind-the-scenes documentarian on one of his movies.

The one bit of the documentary that I did find interesting covered the disastrous test screenings. The agony displayed on the faces of Gilliam and the writers as they learn the results of the first test screening is quite a sight. Confidence melts into confusion and worry which melts into anger. In the end, they decided not to change the film based on the screenings and 12 Monkeys went on to earn $160 million worldwide. Lesson learned, no doubt. (6/10)