Sunday, May 30, 2010

#27-Tideland (2005)


Monty Pyton animator turned director Terry Gilliam makes his way onto the blog again! It’s his second time, and it hopefully it won’t be the last. He was previously on for Brazil, a film that I absoloutly loved. Tideland, one of his most recent attempts is one of his worst. I don’t think he has made a specifically bad film yet, but Tideland gets pretty close.

The story follows a young girl named Juliza Rose (Jodelle Ferland), who is the child of two very neglectful parents. Both into hard drugs, her father (Jeff Bridges) and her mother (Jennifer Tilly) are very bad for, and to her health. Having no friends being on the move constantly because of her father being a musician, she has no friends, except for her dolls. After her mother dies, and her father overdoeses, she continually escapes into a fantasy world, filled with many creepy characters and strange elements.

The film was universally panned by fans and critics alike upon intial realese. And I have to say, I don’t really disagree with them. The film is very weak for most of it’s course, having no real centerfold story, except for the life of this young girl, which we learn realativly nothing about. Her escapades into a fantasyland becomes boring after a few visits, as the movie plods along at a pretty slow rate.

The side characters are interesting and fun, more so than our main girl, which also leads to another problem, similair to the one I had with Everything Is Illuminated, where we want to see more, and are more interested in the dilemmas of the supporting cast than our leaders. Also to note, the film boasts having stars such as Bridges and Tilly, but they are hardly in the film.

Speaking of which, Jodelle Ferland gives quite possibly one of the best perfomances I’ve seen in awhile. And this is coming from someone who absoloutly hates children in film. She carries the film on her shoulders, completely on her own. But she has a very boring and plain character to play, which makes her performance something less. Nonethless, it is quite amazing.

I also applaud the films style and art direction. Its very unique in its use of special effects, and ideas. The dolls are particularly creepy, and the day/night transitions are very cool. Another thing the film has on it’s side was cinematography, which kept an otherwise slow and boring film interesting and fresh.

Overall, Tideland was a very mixed bag. The film had cool style, and an excellent lead actress. However, style cannot overcome substance, and a lackluster plot, slow story, poor character development, and pretty uninteresting people make the movie somewhat hard, and annoying to watch, it isn’t necissarily the bad, but that doesn’t make it good either.

I Give Tideland A:


  1. First off, I'm not a Terry Gilliam fan. Whenever I hear that he has a new movie coming out, whether the reviews are good or not, I always emit a slight groan whenever I may be. What bothers me about him is the same thing that bothers me about Tim Burton: he's a great decorator but a second (maybe third) rate storyteller. I don't think his films are stylish in a good way. Actually I think guys like this are the antithesis of true film style and I suspect, to inadvertantly quote from Sidney Lumet, that that's why people like them, because the style is obvious, it is decoration, people can see it and it gives them the impression that they can reach out and touch it. I'm a function follows form kind of guy myself. In other words, I think film style shouldn't be obvious and should be dictated by the needs of the story and not have the story consumed by it.

    That said, I think Tideland is a travesty. One of the worst films I have ever seen. Certainly the worst Gilliam has ever made. This was like nails on a chalk board for me. It's ironic that the films ends with a train wreck because that's exactly what this film is. Okay, enough with the analogies. This movie is cold, ugly, stupid and oh boy is it ever annoying. Few child performances have grated on my nerves the way this little girl does, I hated those stupid little heads, I hated the handicapped guy, I hated how this poor girl is left with a father decompsoing in the living room and she's left to the horrible task deal with him in obscene ways. I think Gilliam was aiming for something meaningful like Pan's Lab about the imagination of a child's mind but man, this was bad, bad, bad. Not to knock your review though. As I always say, I'm glad someone can get something, even out of the worst films.

  2. It was definatly not a good film. In fact it was a pretty bad film. I did enjoy a few things about (but I am a sucker for Gilliam) I like a few of his films. I always keep thinking he might be able to make it back to Brazil. Maybe Imaginarium, (I haven't seen it) will be better. I hope so. But who knows. The beauty of film is it's subjectivity, but I really see few things to like here. I would like to thank you very much for how often you come to this site and post, it's always nice to see comments, to know that someone is actually reading.