on 29 January 2007
This is an adaptation of Mitch Cullin's Tideland, a category defying film that is at turns poetic, disgusting, absurd, and darkly funny (think the languid pacing of Spirit of the Beehive, the fever dream of Alice in Wonderland, the wry insanity Psycho, and a large dose of Terence Malik gone insane).
In many ways, this is the purest Gilliam film since Brazil (a film that also borrowed liberally from other sources while maintaining its own originality), and hearkens back to the days when auteurs were not only allowed to follow their wildest muse but were expected to do so. And that, too, presents what will no doubt be Tideland's greatest failing, as well as its highest achievement. Cinema has become so cynical in the last twenty years, so narrow in scope and so entertainment driven, that anything which requires viewers to experience a motion picture on its own terms is usually greeted with scorn.
These would be very tough times, indeed, for the likes of a young Fellini, Kubrick, and Lynch. That's not to say Tideland is a perfectly misunderstood creation, although it should be pointed out that those who are screaming foul about this film being pointless, self indulgent, and too weird are likely the very same people who ridiculed Grimm for being unoriginal, mainstream, and plain. Yes, there were walkouts at its screenings, gasps of shock, even angry grumbling. There were also laughs, applause, and continued debates concerning what the film was really about (how often does that occur these days after a screening?).
In the end, Tideland will likely please a select group who prefer to experience cinema rather than opposing it with their own expectations (there were those who were still talking about it two days following its premiere, even when they hated it). But for those who are anxiously wanting Time Bandits 2 or desire some degree of Pythonesque humor, Tideland will disturb, bore, and profoundly bother to the point of contempt. Nevertheless, it is a very unique and, at times, incredible film, infused with at least two amazing performances, beautiful photography, and one of the most enigmatic endings I've seen in ages.
Hate it or love it, few will be able to deny the lingering, ineffable vibrations left by this film, or that it stands as further proof that its director has stayed true to himself. Of course, prepare for the yin/yang laments to come in spades: Grimm would have been a better film had Gilliam been left to his own devices; Tideland would have been a better film had Gilliam not been left to his own devices. Poor Terry Gilliam; apparently he can do no right even when he does.
Me? I loved every minute of it and I am putting this beside Fear and Loathing in the cult section.
on 31 January 2007
This DVD has an introduction from Terry Gilliam at the beginning of the film, in it he says "I've got a confession to make, a lot of you aren't going to like this film." It's sad, but it's true, it's true because there are some very controversial scenes in the film, it's sad because a lot people won't be able to look past that, and see what a brilliant film this really is. No, these scenes don't have to be in the film, but maybe Gilliam's making a point about how we see the world; "If it's disturbing it's because it's innocent." Tideland is the story of a little girl named Jeliza- Rose who travels to a small house in the country with her father, the film shows how she deals with her difficult life with imagination, the film's dark and disturbing, but ultimately optimistic.
There's a lot for Gilliam fans here, the camera angles, the odd fantasy elements and the strange dark humour.
This film could have been terrible if it hadn't been done properly, but the film stays interesting and gripping because of the connection Gilliam gives us to Jeliza-Rose.
I'm not here to judge, and if people don't like this film they're entitled to, but all I'm saying is give it a chance, because a fair few of you, like me, are going to love it for the beautiful film it is.
on 19 June 2007
I feel compelled to review this if only to counter all the negativity here and up the average of the star rating! This is Gilliam - you can't expect something ordinary so don't complain you don't get plots and happy endings! This is a whimsical, beautifully shot and superbly acted, sinister but strangly charming sort of day(or few days)-in-the-life of a little girl and the part fantasy world she imagines or creates in order to cope/enjoy/better experience - whatever - the 'real' one. Don't expect anything conventional or even profound - it's an Alice in Wonderland story; not the quirky Disney ones though, rather the frequently weird and constantly intriguing Lewis Carrol novels. If you like them you may well enjoy this.
This is the first Terry Gilliam's film which I didn't like at all. Even if by making "Tideland" Gilliam clearly proved once again that he really knows how to make movies, I found the whole story absolutely gross, deeply sick and morally REPULSIVE and I was hardly able to finish watching it.
This film is about 11 year old Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland). When we meet her first she lives in some large city, in a miserable dump with her very poor and absolutely abject parents. Her father, Noah (Jeff Bridges), is an aging, struggling musician, who in his better moments knows how to invent cool games and tell a good story - and we could maybe feel some sympathy for him, if he wasn't a drug addict, who trained Jeliza-Rose when she was still a little girl to prepare his daily injection of heroine... We never learn the real name of her mother (Jennifer Tilly) - Jeliza-Rose and Noah just call her "Queen Gunhilda" - but it is clear from the first moments of the film that she is a totally degenerate junkie, hardly even able to function anymore... Then, a couple of minutes into the film, something happens and as a result Noah and Jeliza-Rose take a trip to rural Texas. They go to the place where Noah was born - and then the film really begins.
This being a Terry Gilliam film, from the technical point of view everything is done very well. Images are actually pretty impressive, the story (even if it is sick and perverted) flows harmoniously and also actors were selected well and encouraged to perform with skill. Especially great praise must be given to Jodelle Ferland who was only 11 years old at that time - and did an incredible job.
A precision here, concerning the character of Noah, played by Jeff Bridges. Some reviewers said that he reminded them of Dude from "Big Lebowski" - but I strongly disagree! Dude, albeit by his own decision a marginal, was actually a rather likeable and certainly harmless, well, dude... Noah on another hand is really a piece of human garbage - with hardly any redeeming traits...
The scenario however is, well, I guess the only possible word to describe the scenario is SICK! In his films Terry Gilliam always had a very personal relationship with reality and it will come as no surprise that large parts of "Tideland" happen actually in some... unusual states of mind. Usually, this actually makes the charm of his movies - and yes, here also, the imaginary world of a very unhappy and probably slightly unbalanced child, is indeed a more pleasant place than the reality. Most of the story however describes precisely this real reality - and it is simply repugnant to watch! You take the grossest parts of "Jabberwocky", the most disturbingly insane parts of "Brazil", the most cruel elements ot "12 Monkeys" and you will get the idea. Add to this the fascination with deformed bodies and minds, throw in sexual perversions and you will have a general idea of how gross this film is. There are moments we can actually almost really SMELL the decaying bodies and rotten minds...
Every time I thought that this film couldn't go deeper into gross and abject, I was wrong - with every next ten minutes, this film gets more disgusting. SPOILER ALERT HERE! I am shocked that Terry Gilliam could show on the screen an 11 year old girl kissing - by no means innocently - a grown up man (and the fact that this character is supposed to be mentally handicapped doesn't change anything). I am also shocked that an 11 year old child was asked to play scenes in which she mixes drugs and cuddles a (supposedly) dead decaying body... I am even more shocked that her parents accepted that...
Once again, I must grant to Terry Gilliam, that he knows how to make films and even that one can actually cause a kind of morbid fascination. But still, this is an abject thing. For the life of me I cannot understand why Terry Gilliam made "Tideland" and why did he have to put an 11 year old girl through the filming of this... this... thing... This is clearly the sickest and the most depraved of his films and I am sorry that I watched it. AVOID!
on 28 August 2014
A brilliantly weird and eccentric take on Alice in Wonderland, despite Mr Gilliam professing no reference to that story. Although this is a book adaptation, there's not really much of a storyline, just wonderful performances by the leading lady (she was 9 at the time !) and a sort of macabre magic throughout.....the so called red queen is a warped christian embalmer, Mr Bridges is a scagged out rock and roller who's 'vacations' are facilitated by his daughter's hyper dermic preparations, until he OD's and is taxidermically delivered back to the one eyed witch who was his previous lover, aided by her loopy ward (this film's mad hatter ?). Instead of a glued out chapiterie, this one thinks he is an epileptic Sea Captain and the local train, a sea monster. Not giving the end away but there's undertones of Captain Nemo here and as with all Gilliam films, a kaleidoscopic mash of references and influences.
Terry Gilliam has always made astoundingly weird movies, from his little Monty Python cartoons to the classic "Brazil." Nobody knows how to combine childlike wonder with creepy darkness.
So it doesn't exactly startle that he's tackled Mitch Cullin's southern gothic novel, and turned it into an eerie sort of "Brazil-Meets-Alice-In-Wonderland." It lacks much of a cohesive plot, but Gilliam can still make a creepy, exquisite storyline that takes place half in the weirdness of this world, half in a little girl's head.
When her crazed mother ODs and dies, Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland) and her washed-up dad Noah (Jeff Bridges) move to a decrepit Texas farm. But like most junkies, Noah soon dies as well. Jeliza-Rose seems to go into denial, letting her father's body sit in the house as she explores the rippling grass -- like a sea -- around her house, spinning a series of dreamlike fantasies.
She's accompanied by four doll's heads and a variety of fantastical visions, all to help her cope with her loneliness. But then she befriends the child-man Dickens (Brendan Fletcher) and his eccentric sister Dell (Janet McTeer). A darker side starts to creep into Jeliza-Rose's world, as Dickens' vendetta against the Monster Shark leads to disaster.
Terry Gilliam has basically made a career out of being weird, and all the movies he's made reflect that. Sometimes his movies are absolutely brilliant ("Brazil"), and sometimes it's just average ("Brothers Grimm"). It's too soon to judge how "Tideland" will be remembered, but I'm thinking that it will be remembered as one of Gilliam's most moving films.
The plot is pretty simple -- incomprehensible to those expecting a "normal" story -- but it sort of drifts off after Noah's demise. It would have been nice to have a bit more complexity there. But Gilliam does keep it afloat by relying mostly on Jeliza-Rose's imagination to keep the story going, sort of like Alice in Wonderland did.
Gilliam has always been great at surreal stuff, and he has all sorts here -- talking squirrels, the talking doll-heads, a house sinking into the earth, and a guy who prowls around the prairie in SCUBA gear. Even the landscape -- golden seas of grass, gnarled trees -- has a weird, unearthly look.
But for all this whimsy, Gilliam keeps his eye on the dark side of things -- Jeliza-Rose is trying to escape the horrors of her reality, through a sort of controlled madness. Even when she returns to reality, she won't be able to escape the death and sorrow -- so maybe a little madness is necessary to keep sane.
Jodelle Ferland deserves a special shout-out, especially since she's the center of the entire movie. Her Jeliza-Rose is a wonderful kid -- precocious, intelligent, creative and surprisingly innocent considering that we see her prepping heroin for her dad. But she's still a child, with all of a child's vulnerabilities and fears, and Ferland makes us feel that as well.
"Tideland" is not a fun movie -- it's disturbing, macabre, and very funny, with some charmingly whimsical visuals. Hate it, love it, but nobody will be on the fence about it.
on 2 September 2011
Comic, compelling, creepy. The young star is just astonishing and if everything else were terrible, she would make it worth watching. Luckily, everything else is not terrible, just very unsettling. Drug overdoses, retardation, child sexual abuse, and hints at complete insanity are present here but so are dark humor and a great acting job by Ferland. I'm guessing this will be more appreciated in the future. Just don't expect "12 Monkeys" or "The Fisher King."
on 9 January 2015
Universal's Blu-ray release of Terry Gilliam's "Tideland" manages to present the film in it's correct aspect ratio of 2.35:1 whereas the previous DVD release wrongly cropped the film to 2.20:1, removing much information from the sides. Sadly, where this release is inferior is the paucity of extras. From the previous DVD release you get the "Getting Gilliam" documentary on the film's making, a brief making of feature and the trailer. Missing are Gilliam's introduction to the film, the Q&A with Gilliam and Mitch Cullin at the Hay Festival, further interviews with Gilliam and producer Jeremy Thomas, the commentary track with Gilliam and writer Tony Grisoni plus a raft of deleted scenes with commentary. Surely the extended capacity of Blu-ray could have accommodated these? Sadly this is yet another example of UK fans of Gilliam's films being short changed.
As for the film itself, it plays like a wilfully provocative cross between Alice In Wonderland and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The film looks great in it's proper ratio and HD picture quality. Such a shame the rest of this release falls so short.
on 16 November 2007
terry gilliam demonstrates his sensitivity and wonder in this film. an adaptation of a book inspired by art, dreams and childhood vision, this film is hard to digest at parts but worth the discomfort.
in order to fully embrace the point of this film you should lose yourself to the child's perspective, it is hard not to read into all the disturbing suggestive content but as a child of 9 you would not see things the way we do now. the point of the film will be lost the more you cling to an adult view.
the main character jeliza-rose played by jodelle ferland (the best performance ive ever seen in any film) is a young girl in an extreemly adult world. hyper sureal and twisted, tideland takes you into her wonderland.
this film contains drug use, sexual content and morbidly disturbed behaviour which all involves this 9 year old girl, but in her world she doesnt see the danger and the real hiddeousness of the people she encounters; she just wants to make friends.
this is so beautiful, but not particularly for the faint hearted and some scenes may ofend.
i was not expecting anything like this - more like tim burton's BIG FISH - believe me it is nothing like that. but to gilliam's credit, it delivers a grim tale with sensitive, deep, innocent humour and truth.
this is a very psychological and emotional story, that falls within many genres: fantasy, horror, thriller, black comedy...
beautifully shot, scripted and performed it is one of the most charming but heartbreaking films. an intelligent portrayal of a lonely children's imagination - one of the best of its kind.
on 14 June 2016
Jodelle Ferland is a very good actress. However this vehicle for her was so dull , uninspired and excruciating that I can only award stars for her performance.
I usually enjoy surreal films such as El Topo, but this was just grating and made me want to claw my eyes out.