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

rotten movies we love Discovery Channel scorecard natural history Paramount hispanic Comics on TV Year in Review Pride Month YA The CW Classic Film IFC Films LGBT revenge Cosplay IFC docuseries war TV One comic books FXX asian-american technology festivals Paramount Plus Oscars crime sequels TBS Apple breaking bad disaster 2018 criterion New York Comic Con tv talk First Look Hallmark Christmas movies joker Horror dc Ovation Biopics anthology Tarantino CBS All Access crime drama PlayStation mockumentary Paramount Network TIFF series Fox News rt archives Fantasy japan slasher harry potter olympics Spike cancelled target rt labs SDCC Rocky DGA MCU Lifetime Christmas movies game of thrones Turner cartoon PBS APB new zealand hispanic heritage month Arrowverse new york See It Skip It witnail dexter LGBTQ The Walking Dead marvel cinematic universe ratings die hard Amazon Studios cancelled TV shows screenings cops trailers Summer BET Awards live action rom-coms Pacific Islander WarnerMedia boxoffice Christmas Alien Holiday Mary poppins Amazon Prime Video suspense new star wars movies golden globe awards A24 Trailer halloween tv universal monsters TV renewals Box Office miniseries canceled TV shows comic quibi documentary The Witch canceled theme song CMT stand-up comedy Superheroes Women's History Month venice Toys social media CNN CBS gangster The Arrangement know your critic fast and furious Marvel 93rd Oscars Pixar Crunchyroll spider-man History GoT Stephen King animated foreign spanish Superheroe Columbia Pictures comics Calendar godzilla HBO Max worst south america true crime serial killer unscripted zero dark thirty WGN 20th Century Fox halloween comedies TruTV Black History Month Quiz cats Pirates blaxploitation binge justice league spanish language Mindy Kaling Crackle Apple TV Plus NBA TNT worst movies period drama spy thriller Academy Awards james bond sag awards Captain marvel 2020 biography 4/20 international DirecTV christmas movies Teen Action Awards debate screen actors guild Walt Disney Pictures Extras scene in color GLAAD FOX Legendary AMC Brie Larson Funimation zombie 24 frames pirates of the caribbean indie travel dramedy cooking werewolf monster movies Reality Certified Fresh Turner Classic Movies Logo prank 2021 Mary Tyler Moore Warner Bros. Chernobyl Food Network spinoff 99% cults TCA 2017 DC streaming service directors toy story Sundance festival Premiere Dates Red Carpet vampires San Diego Comic-Con sports Infographic Shudder Trophy Talk black slashers E! Avengers Vudu concert latino X-Men free movies Film Syfy ghosts superman Tubi BET Universal strong female leads women Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Starz teaser news 72 Emmy Awards rotten sitcom Image Comics Marathons composers best MTV ABC Signature Tumblr superhero dragons based on movie kong President telelvision Watching Series Black Mirror Cartoon Network NBC CW Seed YouTube Red critics green book aapi TCA cinemax Sony Pictures Emmys documentaries kids Travel Channel Rocketman Nominations mission: impossible Comic Book Netflix Christmas movies sequel Freeform comic book movies Comedy boxing reviews OWN finale Election legend Lifetime USA The Purge Music 007 supernatural children's TV stoner FX on Hulu DC Comics Wes Anderson Rom-Com SundanceTV Family Valentine's Day Peacock casting BBC America Marvel Studios spain 71st Emmy Awards Awards Tour Trivia Polls and Games 90s name the review Pet Sematary french National Geographic zombies romantic comedy Shondaland Grammys TV movies streaming movies classics Broadway blockbusters Sci-Fi aliens Sneak Peek Dark Horse Comics movies thriller Western 45 Tokyo Olympics Nat Geo Musical Chilling Adventures of Sabrina transformers emmy awards Star Trek video Best and Worst Pop Tomatazos Acorn TV MSNBC 2015 Ellie Kemper E3 hollywood Fall TV HBO discovery game show GIFs chucky Disney obituary VH1 Mudbound Lionsgate ABC USA Network Fox Searchlight Hulu satire ABC Family royal family toronto Comic-Con@Home 2021 FX parents japanese diversity adventure book adaptation popular TCA Winter 2020 A&E Reality Competition Character Guide Baby Yoda reboot book psychological thriller 1990s Disney Channel 2019 Video Games Creative Arts Emmys ESPN VICE Television Academy what to watch Elton John versus remakes Countdown ID young adult Country all-time mcc child's play jamie lee curtis franchise dceu Apple TV+ Rock Anna Paquin robots Adult Swim posters NYCC TV police drama king arthur Interview Musicals TLC El Rey blockbuster First Reviews biopic YouTube Premium RT21 saw Winners movie Writers Guild of America Disney+ Disney Plus Opinion cars TCA Awards HBO Go basketball Showtime OneApp nature psycho 2017 action-comedy YouTube dark space docudrama king kong Marvel Television crossover Ghostbusters Star Wars high school rt labs critics edition Bravo twilight Spring TV doctor who cancelled TV series feel good australia jurassic park Schedule streaming ITV Photos romance football 21st Century Fox Amazon Prime Endgame comiccon Epix Esquire critic resources Kids & Family independent Netflix Heroines Nickelodeon films hist Hallmark television talk show marvel comics adenture Emmy Nominations Binge Guide The Walt Disney Company razzies adaptation Lucasfilm crime thriller cancelled television Britbox Film Festival Podcast Holidays elevated horror ViacomCBS Drama American Society of Cinematographers Sundance TV PaleyFest BBC indiana jones a nightmare on elm street BAFTA Television Critics Association wonder woman Amazon historical drama Song of Ice and Fire science fiction Set visit singing competition 73rd Emmy Awards richard e. Grant VOD fresh nfl Mary Poppins Returns facebook Animation SXSW Sundance Now Hear Us Out Disney streaming service Winter TV award winner Martial Arts Masterpiece TV Land kaiju political drama anime mutant Comedy Central hidden camera TCM video on demand dogs Disney Plus 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards RT History The Academy renewed TV shows BBC One politics Spectrum Originals Exclusive Video deadpool golden globes archives 2016 scary movies laika Pop TV comic book movie heist movie Thanksgiving Mystery lord of the rings DC Universe stop motion Super Bowl medical drama Cannes batman italian nbcuniversal