Wednesday, April 4, 2012

An interview with Terry Gilliam

If you don't know who Terry Gilliam is, shame on you.  I'm not here to tell you who he is, that's what Google is for.  Anyway, Vulture recently conducted an interview with the only American member of Monty Python; read a few questions below and the entire transcript here.

Did you see the Hunger Games? Everybody in the Capitol looked like they were wearing shoes on their heads.
I haven’t seen it yet. Do they really have upturned shoes for helmets?

Not really. But the costumes are definitely “Gilliam-esque.”
The thing is [my movie], Brazil is everywhere. Even Wall-E with the song: doot doot doot, doot do-do do doot. Because Brazil is the one thing that I’ve ever been involved with that is continually taught at film school. And so I guess anybody who is learning anything about filmmaking has Brazil stuck in their head somewhere. I don’t think the general public has a thing for it, but all film people seem to think it’s “an important film.” [Laughs.]
The coolest thing on the app is the outtake of John Cleese getting upset at your direction of his French Taunter. Is that amusing to you at this point?
That’s what I liked about doing [the app], that we wanted to be completely transparent all the time. So now the world can see. But I find watching it just kind of strange: I can’t believe the speed with which I talked. My wife couldn’t imagine the voice that I had back then. But it’s nice to have not memories, but facts. We’ve always embroidered the past and now we can see the truth.
What’s the last funny movie you saw?
Oh, Jesus. You’re really testing me here, because my memory is gone and anything beyond a couple weeks is ancient history. I haven’t seen anything funny for quite a while. The last scene in Burn After Reading had me in tears. That’s what I’ve laughed the most at most recently.
Is Burn After Reading the most visually interesting comedy you’ve seen recently?
Well, that’s the problem. Last night, I just happened to turn on the television and Anchorman was on. Which I’d never seen before. And it’s very silly, and other than costumes and hair it doesn’t depend on visuals to work. And both [Holy Grail co-director] Terry Jones and I, our feelings with Holy Grail were, it’s funnier if you’re really going to set the stage. So when a king rides through and you say, “How do you know he’s not a king? Because he has shit all over him” — well, you’ve got to establish shit in such quantities that it becomes funny. And John as the taunter, there was something very interesting about when he held his hands in the right position, his gauntlets kicked up in a very funny way. And it was just funny looking besides being an extraordinary performance. But anything that seemed to slow down the performance, or that John felt was taking too much time to set up, he hated because he’s quite serious about performance. But I think if you get the makeup, the costumes, the sets, the atmosphere right, the jokes are going to be funnier. And I think that’s the case with Holy Grail. It just feels like you’re there, in this primitive world where it’s rough and it’s ugly and you have many characters trying to maintain dignity and rise above the putridness of the place. That feels funny in itself.

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