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Size Doesn't Matter

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In ”Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” which opens today, Johnny Depp’s drug-crazed character hallucinates that he is surrounded by giant lizards. The film’s director, Terry Gilliam, is having similar nightmares as his movie opens against the raging reptile ”Godzilla.” Although reaction to ”Fear and Loathing” has been mixed (Entertainment Weekly’s Owen Gleiberman called it ”witless, hysterical, monotonous, inexplicable and excruciating”), Gilliam will be pleased if his film stirs up more controversy than its straightforward blockbuster competition. ”I hope people are going to get angry at my film,” says the 57-year old director of ”12 Monkeys” and ”Brazil.” ”The cinema is a potent medium, but most films now don’t use it to provoke, they use it to dull people out. Films have become predigested adventures.”

As Gilliam’s $18.5 million movie faces off against the $120 million monster, he says the ”Godzilla” hype proves that studios think size is the only thing that matters. ”With ‘Godzilla,’ there’s no sense of a movie, it’s all about quantity. You’re just going to see something because it’s big,” says Gilliam. ”It’s like the old carnival sideshow: It wasn’t what was behind the curtain that mattered, it was just that it was the biggest thing ever, or the weirdest thing ever. The whole nation is being treated like rubes again. It’s the ultimate corporate road show.”

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