I've already seen my first movie of 2010, and it was The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. It was definitely a great choice to kick off a new year! I'm not a huge Terry Gilliam fan either way, so I went in fairly unbiased but excited for a good yarn, dazzling images, and some good-to-great performances. Besides, I can't resist Tom Waits as the Devil. I was immensely impressed with all of the above, especially the eerily seamless way that Terry Gilliam and co-writer Charles McKeown managed to adjust the story and direction to fit the untimely death of Heath Ledger during filming with help from actors Johnny Depp, Jude Law, and Colin Farrell, who stepped in to play Tony in different scenes. Naturally, Christopher Plummer was great, and Andrew Garfield (Boy A, the Red Riding trilogy) was also wonderful as the smitten Anton. And this was definitely Verne Troyer's best role yet.
I have a confession to make, though. Although I adore Lily Cole's heart-shaped face and flame-red hair on the runway, and her costumes looked fantastic, I had no idea that I would actually enjoy her performance. Or that her part would be more than just a pretty plot device to continue the banter between Mr. Nick (Waits) and Parnassus. I was horribly wrong. I know she was in St. Trinian's, which, despite my best intentions, I had to turn off after half an hour, and I haven't caught Rage, so I didn't know much else about her other than her more visible assets. As the kids say, my bad.
But as Valentina, she is feisty, chafing at the bell-dangling bracelet around her ankle that her father makes her wear, and not afraid to give her old man a good tongue-lashing when he's in his cups and telling her half-truths. She lives a strange, sort of Dickensian existence on the fringes of society with her little family - including Anton (Garfield) and Percy (Troyer), as well as her dad - and like any smart young girl dying to escape the everyday, sometimes she acts like a brat, and sometimes she makes unwise decisions. In the end, Valentina is a real girl, and it takes a real actress to bring her to life. So cheers to you, Lily Cole.
That's my most recent happy discovery. Who's surprised you recently?
[Note: This article initially referred to the Red Riding trilogy as the Red Riding Hood trilogy.]