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TIDELAND (director/writer: Terry Gilliam; screenwriters: Tony Grisoni/from the novel by Mitch Cullin; cinematographer: Nicola Pecorini; editor: Lesley Walker; music: Mychael Danna/Jeff Danna; cast: Jodelle Ferland (Jeliza-Rose and the voices of Sateen Lips, Glitter Gal, Mustique and Baby Blonde), Janet McTeer (Dell), Brendan Fletcher (Dickens), Jennifer Tilly (Queen Gunhilda), Jeff Bridges (Noah), Dylan Taylor (Patrick); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jeremy Thomas/Gabriella Martinelli; ThinkFilm; 2005-UK/Canada)
“As unwatchable as a train wreck.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The former Monthy Python’s Terry Gilliam (“Brazil”/“The Fisher King”/“The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”/“The Brothers Grimm”) latest is as unwatchable as a train wreck (appropriately the film ends on that note). It’s co-written by Gilliam and Tony Grisoni and based on the novel by Mitch Cullin. In the intro Gilliam comes to give a little spiel about many not liking it or getting it unless they see it through the eyes of a little girl. He further says many will like it. Well, that’s just a lot of hooey. This misfire is largely a pointless bore. It goes over-the-edge in an attempt to spew out a childhood ‘Alice in Wonderland’ drama with no plot and with too much arty pretensions. The auteur is unrestrained in his imagination (no Weinsteins around to deter him) and whatever there’s to enjoy depends on being able to make the scenario of a little girl (who dominates the film) talking to squirrels as something that can come across not quite as nutty as it sounds.

Jeff Bridges is a dreadful black leather-clad druggie rock ‘n’ roll musician named Noah in a bad marriage with his monstrous junkie wife (Jennifer Tilly). She overdoses and Noah flees with his ten-year-old wide-eyed junkie born daughter, Jeliza-Rose (Jodelle Ferland), to his deceased mother’s rundown secluded prairie country farmhouse. While Noah shoots up heroin, after being prepared by his daughter, and nods out in his easy chair on what he calls a vacation, Jeliza plays with the severed heads of her large Barbie doll collection and talks to the farm rodents. When her dad fails to wake up, human company comes by. They include her father’s former girlfriend, the one-eyed witch-like beekeeper named Dell (Janet McTeer), and her mentally impaired adult brother Dickens (Brendan Fletcher). In one creepy scene Jeliza dolls him up with lipstick and her dead father’s wig and they kiss. In another creepy scene Dell aspires to be a mortician and gets her hands on Noah’s carcass

The dialogue is rambling, the script is unintelligible and though it’s visually pleasing and meets the filmmaker’s aim to be an idiosyncratic inventive film that acts as an attack on the viewer, all the barfing and the crude inventiveness is not worth the effort.

REVIEWED ON 12/13/2006 GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”