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

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