Wait... who did you say had a new film out?

Criticisms of style over substance have been directed towards Besson and Gilliam in the past.

Feature by Keir Hind | 14 Aug 2006
You should probably sit down before you read this: there are new films out this month from Terry Gilliam and Luc Besson, directors who have both taken time out from moviemaking in the last few years. Gilliam did bring out 'The Brothers Grimm' last year, but prior to that he hadn't directed a film since 1998's 'Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas'. Besson hasn't directed a film since 1999, when he gave us the story of Joan of Arc. Similar criticisms of style over substance have been directed towards the pair in the past, and the films they are bringing out now are notably smaller, more personal films than might have been expected.

Gilliam brings us 'Tideland', the story of a 10 year-old girl's adventures in Texas that has been described as "Southern Gothic." This would be something of a departure for the former Python, but then everything he has ever done has been in some way original. Besson counters with 'Angel-A', the story of a small time conman who is deeply in debt, but who then saves the life of a mysterious woman who in turn starts saving his life, bit by bit. More of a personal story than the Frenchman's usual action epics, 'Angel-A' was shot in black and white in the early hours of the morning to enhance the atmosphere. This is something he's always been good at, most notably with 'The Big Blue', one of the most atmospheric films ever made. The remarkable thing about the film is that Besson decided to make it at all, since he has recently shown a liking for writing and producing (profitably, we may add) dumb but fun action movies like the 'Taxi' films, 'The Transporter', and 'District 13'.

The remarkable thing about 'Tideland' is how smoothly it seems to have been made (in fact, he knocked it out during a hiatus on 'Grimm'), with Gilliam having spent his time since 'Fear and Loathing' fruitlessly trying to get various projects off the ground. You could say Besson makes films all the time, Gilliam just tries to, but remember that Gilliam's proposed projects have all been enormously ambitious, like filming Alan Moore's 'Watchmen', Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's 'Good Omens', and even 'A Tale of Two Cities'. Oh, and there was the attempt of sorts at making Don Quixote that resulted in 'Lost in La Mancha', an entertaining but sad film about not getting to make a film. After that, Gilliam could be forgiven for wanting to make something smaller. Besson's reason for doing the same? He may well have just stumbled on a great story. Gilliam certainly did that too, calling the book 'fucking wonderful'. If 'Tideland', and 'Angel-A' even come close to living up to that recommendation, then we cineholics will be in for a treat this month.
Dir: Terry Gilliam
Stars: Jodelle Ferland, Jeff Bridges
Release Date: August 11

Dir: Luc Besson
Stars: Jamel Debbouze, Rie Rasmussen
Release Date: Out Now