The last two Terry Gilliam films haven’t just been bad, they were flat-out atrocious, with Brothers Grimm feeling more like some studio hack aping Gilliam and Tideland being nigh-upon unwatchable. And those two films came after nearly a decade without a Gilliam film, making one wonder if this just isn’t Gilliam’s millennium. But the ex-pat American isn’t giving up – at a Q&A after a college screening of Tideland (big props to the people who sat through the whole thing and then didn’t throw stuff at the director), Gilliam said that he has finished his next script and is looking for funding.
The new script was written with Charles McKeown, star of Spies Like Us and co-scripter on Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The story is unknown, but the highly unreliable FilmIck blog has claimed that it’s about an immortal storyteller who finds that nobody cares about his tales in the modern world. This sounds sort of like some M Night Shyamalan Lady in the Water-esque self-referential nonsense, so I do hope that’s not the case.
It’s hard not to root for Gilliam, even after the one-two punch of his last couple of films. In person he’s incredibly energetic and positive, and he’s managed to position himself as the ultimate cinematic underdog – no matter how successful or classic his films may be, he will always find a way to undermine himself on the next one. The addition of McKeown isn’t bad news (although it’s been so long since I revisited any of the Brazil Criterion features that I couldn’t tell you how much of that movie is Tom Stoppard), so I’m just going to cross my fingers and hope that one day we’ll look back at 2005-2006 as a bump in Gilliam’s road of genius, and not the beginning of the tragic, ugly end.