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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Why Terry Gilliam's TIDELAND Is w e i r d On DVD

Rage, rage, rage against the machine auteur Terry Gilliam thinks — wait — he knows there’s something cockeyed and screwy with ThinkFilm’s DVD treatment of his most recent film TIDELAND. Via FilmIck and Ain’t It Cool News comes word that…
The aspect ratio is messed up.
If you caught the brief film festival and arthouse run of this unforgettably Grotesque adaptation tale filial love and dark childhood fantasies (imagine Dorothy Gale from Kansas with a smack-addict dad), and you made it all the way to the end without puking your guts (I nearly didn’t), the cinematography by Nicola Pecorini was overwhelming. Gilliam, with his background as an illustrator and artist, knows how to compose a shot for maximum effect.
The cinematic TIDELAND’s aspect ratio was 2:35 to 1 — not an uncommon ratio these days, especially not for a film set on the American plains. (The other common ratio is the TV-ish, squarer but still rectangular ratio of 1:85 to 1.) What you’ll pretty much never see is an aspect of 2:25 to 1 – but that’s what Gilliam preferred when he personally mastered the film for DVD, according to a statement that ran on FilmIck

That’s when the tide turned — somebody at ThinkFilm thought: No. Let’s go a different way.
From Ain’t It Cool, the blog post fury, featuring Gillliam and hopping mad cinematographer Pecornini (I regret that we cannot hear the this man’s fabulous Italian accent as he types. There’s nothing like a European director of photography — a painter of light from the land of Leonardo, people! — throwing down.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon