Twelve Monkeys ★★★★★

Gilliam cranks open the top of his head, drops other people's work in, rolls his eyes around a bit and cinematic mincemeat comes worming out of his ears. With his masterpiece Brazil he pushed in Orwell's 1984 and Fellini's 8 1/2 and managed to produced my favourite of his films so far. When he was asked to drop in La Jetee he also had to toss in a couple of big time Hollywood actors who had the potential to clog up the Gilliam shaped mincemeat machine for good. Thankfully, both Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt allowed themselves to become part of the process, turning in career high performances that not only serviced the film, but open up their own personal pigeon holes. The action star showed his sensitive side, while the pretty boy got a chance to act the loon. Despite the success of these transformations, the contrast to their previous work is so stark that it overshadows the performances a little. They became slightly distracting and attention seeking, and yet while the actors were pushing themselves in new directions, I got the feeling that Gilliam was instead trying to do the best 'Gilliam' that he could. Moments and themes from Brazil return, as he starts to cannibalise his art, giving the mince a slight whiff of desperation for the film to be a big hit. Which, for me at least, it was. A big meaty hit!

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