RTIndie: David Lynch, Terry Gilliam Living on the Edge of Hollywood

by | October 23, 2006 | Comments

It’s a tough time to be a veteran in the indie game. Why are celebrated auteurs David Lynch and Terry Gilliam having a hard time getting their films into theaters?

David Lynch has never been a conventional filmmaker, but his latest project, "Inland Empire," may mark an even stranger turn in the director’s career. The three-hour film, starring Laura Dern and Jeremy Irons, has gotten a mixed reception in its festival runs at Venice and New York; it currently stands at 67 percent on the Tomatometer.

The story is, of course, enigmatic: As an actress cast in a doomed film project, Nikki (Dern) becomes confused with her character, lost within the tale of a Polish couple and a trio of giant rabbits (voiced by Naomi Watts, Scott Coffey, and Laura Harring). Her descent into madness is punctuated — in classic Lynch style — by musical dance numbers.

More intriguing, however, may be Lynch’s plan to self-release the film, thereby getting it into theaters and retaining the rights to his work.


David Lynch

Terry Gilliam won’t have to worry about distribution for his latest, "Tideland"; it was recently given a limited release. The story follows a young girl, Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland), as she is left to survive on an isolated farm when her parents OD on heroin within days of each other.
The film’s exploration of childhood fantasy hinges on exhaustive (or, as many critics have said, exhausting) scenes of Jeliza-Rose playing with her dolls.

At 26 percent, "Tideland" is the worst reviewed film of Gilliam’s career.

His lack of recent commercial success may hinder his ability to make films in the future. Gilliam is famous for feuding with studios (the most famous example is "Brazil" although 2005’s "The Brothers Grimm" found him in something of a squabble with the Weinsteins), and he’s also had a few runs of bad luck (see "Lost in La Mancha").

And although Gilliam met with Warner Bros. about directing "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone," he believes he was never a serious candidate, given the mainstream constraints of the job. He’s also unsure if he’ll secure funding for "Good Omens," which he hopes will be his next project.


Terry Gilliam (left) in "Lost in La Mancha"

While iconoclasts like Lynch and Gilliam may seem like extreme examples, a recent feature in the New York Times points out that a number of established indie directors must find other avenues to make ends meet when they can’t get a green light for their work. Some, like humanist John Sayles, take uncredited script-doctoring gigs, punching up the dialogue on blockbusters. Others, like documentarian Errol Morris, direct commercials. Still others, like Mary Harron and Rose Troche, have found television, particularly HBO series like "Six Feet Under," to be more hospitable to their talents.

In an era that might be described as post-indie, some of the genre’s most successful directors face a surprising return to their roots: Struggling to get their movies produced and distributed without compromising their artistic vision. When marketability still looms as one of the biggest factors in movie making, you have to wonder what impact the independent film boom of the last decade really made on the industry.

This Week’s Indie Openings:

Opening last week in limited release: "51 Birch Street," a documentary exploring the hidden lives of the filmmaker Doug Block’s parents, is at 100 percent on the Tomatometer (with 13 reviews); "Sweet Land," a sweeping tale of the American immigrant experience, is at 95 percent (21 reviews); "Jonestown: The Life and Death of Peoples Temple," a documentary about cult leader Jim Jones and his flock, is at 90 percent (20 reviews); "Requiem," a German tale of epilepsy/demonic possession, is at 88 percent (16 reviews); "Hair High," a perverse animated comedy about a strange high school, is at 67 percent (nine reviews); "Sleeping Dogs Lie," Bobcat Goldthwait‘s sweet, taboo-busting rom-com, is at 54 percent (28 reviews); and "Running with Scissors," a tale of therapy and growing pains starring Annette Bening and Gwyneth Paltrow, is at 25 percent (44 reviews).


In "Sweet Land," we learn about portable music in the days before the iPod.

Tag Cloud

MTV 71st Emmy Awards Awards Tour canceled TV shows Freeform Paramount Network First Look Acorn TV Vudu Interview Lifetime Christmas movies 2018 Shondaland Awards LGBT Comedy Central Marvel Studios aliens FOX Biopics movie Rocketman Nickelodeon period drama PBS Syfy Super Bowl Summer streaming comedies independent thriller Black Mirror E3 transformers singing competition Pixar harry potter miniseries dogs ABC Family boxoffice supernatural 45 cops Chilling Adventures of Sabrina sag awards Comics on TV Elton John Best and Worst unscripted Food Network TLC GoT Pop Tarantino spanish language Shudder National Geographic werewolf serial killer Adult Swim dark adventure war dragons Pride Month tv talk Holidays Lifetime RT History 4/20 binge APB comiccon Endgame facebook Avengers VH1 Sci-Fi based on movie President kids docudrama Song of Ice and Fire Classic Film ratings 21st Century Fox indie Logo Nat Geo OneApp Western anime Superheroe SXSW theme song MSNBC crime thriller Horror Sundance Now jamie lee curtis quibi Amazon Prime Video San Diego Comic-Con MCU movies joker Reality Toys toy story Lucasfilm 2020 Apple ITV asian-american finale Apple TV Plus spy thriller cooking Britbox halloween psycho Podcast Sundance TruTV Crackle BBC America critics X-Men IFC Rom-Com FX south america casting Certified Fresh TIFF TNT Bravo medical drama breaking bad Spectrum Originals Lionsgate Video Games diversity chucky crossover revenge video Infographic rotten movies we love VICE Pirates 20th Century Fox Election crime drama SundanceTV Kids & Family Star Trek christmas movies Musicals Masterpiece Ghostbusters Netflix Christmas movies child's play stoner Stephen King Pop TV Academy Awards Teen WarnerMedia NBC space Grammys WGN Brie Larson Peacock game show travel Turner Martial Arts Opinion BET Esquire mission: impossible romantic comedy Mary Poppins Returns hispanic directors Amazon The Walking Dead Musical latino Red Carpet See It Skip It blockbuster reviews First Reviews Disney Channel sports Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt reboot police drama Amazon Studios Comedy cartoon Paramount golden globes spinoff Turner Classic Movies The Arrangement Family concert all-time Starz 2017 teaser historical drama stand-up comedy TCA Winter 2020 Country Universal festivals Emmy Nominations LGBTQ Animation YouTube Premium New York Comic Con mockumentary Heroines DC Comics YA Countdown Fall TV Superheroes romance Nominations cancelled natural history doctor who CNN Music documentary Mary Tyler Moore canceled Extras Fantasy cults 2015 Spike Showtime Television Academy witnail Apple TV+ Black History Month Warner Bros. Sneak Peek Holiday Crunchyroll Watching Series Cosplay Women's History Month science fiction a nightmare on elm street television GLAAD disaster Character Guide political drama TCA 2017 Ellie Kemper Action Epix screen actors guild animated 2019 Sony Pictures award winner best elevated horror 007 slashers Travel Channel Marathons Rocky adaptation true crime Trophy Talk YouTube Red psychological thriller Mindy Kaling DC streaming service foreign Disney Plus Columbia Pictures Sundance TV batman dc USA Network mutant Captain marvel strong female leads NYCC blaxploitation OWN politics justice league GIFs Film Festival Winners versus Arrowverse YouTube zombie dramedy ABC CBS children's TV Valentine's Day cancelled television DC Universe RT21 CW Seed book spider-man The Purge Hear Us Out what to watch Disney+ Disney Plus Trailer Binge Guide crime composers Emmys TV Hallmark Christmas movies Anna Paquin Creative Arts Emmys Tomatazos technology nature El Rey talk show cinemax History E! scary movies 2016 Year in Review Hallmark free movies SDCC cats Mystery Quiz Mudbound richard e. Grant Trivia Comic Book TCA USA Polls and Games Discovery Channel FXX Marvel American Society of Cinematographers Ovation dceu die hard comics HBO Max Thanksgiving Walt Disney Pictures The Witch Baby Yoda Netflix sequel TBS Set visit AMC Tubi series Marvel Television Premiere Dates universal monsters Drama Box Office A24 PaleyFest spain name the review Chernobyl Schedule FX on Hulu zombies Dark Horse Comics social media Disney streaming service Amazon Prime Rock Tumblr cancelled TV series Oscars Cartoon Network biography Spring TV Mary poppins DGA A&E franchise sitcom ghosts criterion anthology Reality Competition HBO DirecTV Film zero dark thirty TV renewals CMT parents ESPN TV Land Writers Guild of America screenings TCM 24 frames cars BBC Cannes Winter TV Star Wars hist vampires Pet Sematary CBS All Access game of thrones robots Fox News Disney IFC Films Christmas Photos discovery green book Hulu renewed TV shows cancelled TV shows Funimation The CW comic Calendar