• Terry Gilliam’s Tideland is admirably ambitious, frustratingly flawed and totally bizarre
  • Gilliam made it in a short six month break from the more expensive of his two 2005 releases, the much delayed The Brothers Grimm. This is the superior 2005 release for Gilliam though neither really compare with his best work in the 1980’s and 1990’s
  • Tideland borrows from Lewis Carroll and Alice- as much of Gilliam’s work does—it has a southern gothic – sort of Beasts of the Southern Wild (which is 2012) meets Malick (any southern voice-over with strong photography makes you think Malick) meets del Toro (the fable element- del Toro has better narrative sensibilities) meets Todd Haynes’ Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story (the dolls). Look at the visuals here- it is clear that Malick’s Days of Heaven is a major influence on Tideland. There’s an isolated house surrounded by a field of golden wheat. Days of Heaven shot in Alberta and this was Saskatchewan. The house is a splendid set piece and Gilliam is in love with it (and the gorgeous tilted tree)

it is clear that Malick’s Days of Heaven is a major influence on Tideland. There’s an isolated house surrounded by a field of golden wheat. Days of Heaven shot in Alberta and this was Saskatchewan

The house is a splendid set piece and Gilliam is in love with it

…and the gorgeous tilted tree

  • It is comforting that Gilliam has never reformed or mailed it in— this is not your standard Hollywood fare— it is auteur cinema—easily identifiable– expressionistic, escapism– if anything he’s maybe crawled a little too far up into his brand—hard to accuse him of wrongdoing. Wes Anderson (an auteur that I think compares well with Gilliam) and Isle of Dogs may be a comparable example
  • Constant canted angles—just throughout the film started with Jeff Bridges (back with Gilliam after The Fisher King) rocking out on stage. Low angles, overhead shots- a distorted reality is absolutely the tying bind to the narrative – a perfect match—I think there’s quite a bit in common with Stone’s Natural Born Killers with Tideland.

    work with high and low angles

    overhead shots– a reoccurring tool in the Gilliam playbook

Constant canted angles—just throughout the film

  • Wide angle work for distortion effect, special effects
  • The colored sheets in the background on the window in the scene with Jennifer Tilly (spitting her dialogue like Courtney Love)—this is a very heavily designed décor—garbage art – beautiful

    The colored sheets in the background on the window in the scene with Jennifer Tilly (spitting her dialogue like Courtney Love)—this is a very heavily designed décor—garbage art – beautiful

  • Junkies house and the abandoned and vandalized country estate- cut off doll heads
  • Jodelle Ferland – the child actor is asked to carry too much of the film, she’s ok—but just get a child with a real southern accent if you’re Gilliam- this is hard enough of a role as it is. Large chunks of the film (and it is easily 30 minutes too long) are just Ferland talking to herself losing touch with reality– conversing with the doll heads. It is imaginative, yes—but misjudged and the vast majority of the critics took a hatchet to the film (there is a literal train wreck at the end- haha). It has some weak writing, weak acting, morbid, too long—and the poor epileptic character turns into Ben Stiller from Simple Jack.
  • Recommend but not in the top 10 of 2005 – frustrating because with a stronger narrative and writing there is so much potential here