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

zombies blockbusters scene in color DC streaming service Mystery supernatural Film ABC Signature stand-up comedy Indigenous Action Endgame MTV nbcuniversal YA transformers comic joker IFC composers Image Comics Rocky black comedy Character Guide The Witch spinoff Box Office cancelled TV series ID South by Southwest Film Festival Spike Mudbound obituary 007 Pirates south america Trivia live action Apple Adult Swim Reality streaming movies FX Women's History Month TIFF a nightmare on elm street debate dogs spanish language FX on Hulu OneApp San Diego Comic-Con OWN GoT Set visit Disney+ Disney Plus 2015 First Look young adult strong female leads Ovation new zealand GIFs game show sag awards blaxploitation Paramount Pictures canceled Mindy Kaling E! Disney Plus Epix hidden camera 94th Oscars Acorn TV true crime Black History Month HBO Go halloween tv Turner Classic Movies 21st Century Fox Native foreign Kids & Family leaderboard quibi ABC Family posters popular Pixar war cancelled television renewed TV shows streamig fast and furious Turner Animation TruTV science fiction children's TV facebook MSNBC Countdown Trailer Pet Sematary news sequels Tumblr VOD 24 frames TCA Awards comic book movies Tokyo Olympics Vudu cancelled TV shows Awards Anna Paquin Watching Series independent Food Network Cosplay Captain marvel GLAAD Disney Channel scene in color series chucky halloween travel Interview crossover werewolf American Society of Cinematographers 2016 Holiday BAFTA 2019 Esquire TV renewals police drama 2020 Universal Pictures Opinion Bravo FOX First Reviews political drama LGBTQ Pop indiana jones all-time reboot italian Discovery Channel VH1 Amazon Studios dramedy Rock History hollywood summer TV TNT BET Awards video on demand golden globes kong marvel cinematic universe Comedy Polls and Games football Drama dexter TCA Winter 2020 spider-verse versus zombie archives Logo Legendary Funimation Holidays harry potter deadpool Universal Tarantino Marvel Studios Hollywood Foreign Press Association Mary poppins Biopics Binge Guide directors romance witnail breaking bad critics DC Universe Crackle TV One Video Games laika singing competition CBS All Access Sundance TV sports richard e. Grant Tomatazos crime drama IFC Films mission: impossible 20th Century Fox book Elton John romantic comedy know your critic pirates of the caribbean crime thriller comic books heist movie The Arrangement Nominations Oscar Teen toronto TV Land Thanksgiving Rocketman Creative Arts Emmys cinemax MGM RT History Writers Guild of America australia venice vs. TCA 2017 summer preview 71st Emmy Awards Paramount Plus screen actors guild Star Trek Shondaland jamie lee curtis screenings sopranos marvel comics ViacomCBS Sundance Ghostbusters spanish Hallmark 72 Emmy Awards art house Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Photos psycho vampires Star Wars gangster Nat Geo rotten rt labs critics edition Paramount Network cats criterion Stephen King series trophy The Academy See It Skip It Winter TV classics E3 AMC Plus genre golden globe awards superhero new star wars movies Academy Awards BBC One high school docudrama comedies Exclusive Video suspense revenge serial killer spider-man tv talk CBS hispanic heritage month Cannes Summer Comic-Con@Home 2021 game of thrones HBO Max black Cartoon Network President LGBT Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt adventure 90s broadcast Classic Film finale razzies Martial Arts batman Comic Book Reality Competition Paramount BBC franchise RT21 toy story 2017 99% Superheroes latino indie dragons king arthur CNN Broadway Fall TV SXSW 2022 Sneak Peek Ellie Kemper festivals natural history Shudder stoner feel good japanese remakes CMT movie Geeked Week critic resources space ghosts new york green book Tags: Comedy Calendar Comedy Central Horror PaleyFest scene in color film series Amazon Prime telelvision A24 dreamworks sequel PlayStation television VICE sitcom Heroines Disney streaming service Emmy Nominations The Walking Dead asian-american Best Director nfl TBS twilight hispanic Christmas Netflix lord of the rings 4/20 Tubi james bond Lifetime binge satire 2018 New York Comic Con legend TCA Lucasfilm Schedule DC Comics olympics HFPA thriller Television Academy cartoon miniseries ABC teaser Britbox Instagram Live Wes Anderson Marathons free movies Hear Us Out BBC America Awards Tour Best Picture saw SDCC Hulu justice league target scene in color monster movies Best Actor Pride Month Neflix Syfy cops jurassic park Musical Crunchyroll period drama mutant live event blockbuster Amazon Musicals zero dark thirty Showtime anthology NBC summer TV preview TCM DGA scary movies Dark Horse Comics Fargo Rom-Com Baby Yoda book adaptation technology diversity spy thriller cars universal monsters HBO unscripted ESPN robots Fantasy based on movie Netflix Christmas movies godzilla movies Toys rom-coms Freeform christmas movies Walt Disney Pictures DirecTV worst movies reviews Spring TV king kong APB crime Pacific Islander Starz casting award winner Black Mirror Certified Fresh The Walt Disney Company Marvel Television fresh Valentine's Day SundanceTV Television Critics Association A&E Quiz what to watch 93rd Oscars boxing ratings films kaiju dc die hard TLC documentary Oscars doctor who Sundance Now NYCC YouTube interviews Travel Channel WarnerMedia slasher Super Bowl Mary Tyler Moore The CW Amazon Prime Video boxoffice Film Festival comiccon concert documentaries theme song Best and Worst AMC Brie Larson Focus Features Fox News nature Family Premiere Dates USA comics 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards Grammys french Hallmark Christmas movies Western Spectrum Originals child's play 45 aapi streaming TV The Purge Apple TV+ National Geographic trailers obi wan Red Carpet YouTube Premium action-comedy Comics on TV kids Country dark Year in Review parents Columbia Pictures ITV animated hist emmy awards Disney discovery Best Actress cancelled wonder woman Sci-Fi PBS MCU 73rd Emmy Awards adenture docuseries biography canceled TV shows politics Warner Bros. historical drama mob scary SXSW basketball CW Seed Infographic Peacock Sony rotten movies we love cooking WGN BET Winners Podcast royal family worst biopic Star Wars Celebration Arrowverse social media Masterpiece Nickelodeon 79th Golden Globes Awards rt archives TV movies disaster Prime Video scorecard target Apple TV Plus Fox Searchlight Superheroe women Pop TV Avengers mcc Trophy Talk NBA medical drama best Music USA Network Alien Election psychological thriller rt labs Mary Poppins Returns Song of Ice and Fire superman elevated horror anime Sony Pictures Marvel Chernobyl spain Lionsgate stop motion festival cults video slashers El Rey adaptation aliens 1990s Emmys 2021 FXX mockumentary name the review japan prank dceu comic book movie Lifetime Christmas movies international YouTube Red X-Men IMDb TV Extras talk show