I love Los Angeles. Living here has afforded me the incredible opportunity of meeting several of my heroes – Cameron Crowe, Baz Luhrmann, Wes Craven, John Waters – and just last night – Terry Gilliam.
I was a big fan of Time Bandits as a kid, as well as Baron Munchausen – and of course Monty Python – but it wasn’t until I saw Brazil that I fully understood just what a genius Gilliam is.
I think Brazil might be the best film ever made. It represents everything I love about filmmaking, all in one movie. Plus, it has the greatest ending ever put on film, and blows my mind every single time I watch it. My boyfriend watched it for his first time with me this January when Edgar Wright showed it at the New Beverly. Before David watched it, I told him it was amazing. Edgar said it was amazing. Richard Kelly, who was also introducing, said it was amazing.
So the bar was set high.
After the incredible end shot, David just looked at me. I returned his gaze with a smile and slight shrug and said, “Yup. That’s the end.” David’s mouth was agape and he shook his head slowly in bewilderment. “I…can’t…even…begin to…digest that…” he murmured. “I’ll be right back. I’m going to go run around the block.” With that he leaped up and ran up the aisle. I followed him out front and, sure enough, he took off. He made a lap and shouted “One more!” as he went by again. He stopped after his second lap, looked at me with a giant smile on his face, and said, “That was the best movie I have ever seen.”
He was so astounded by the film that his brain couldn’t handle it and he had to run around the block. I have never, in all my years of movie going, reacted or heard of anyone reacting in such a manner to any film. But it makes sense that Brazil would evoke such a reaction, and it was David’s reaction to Brazil that made me fall in love with him.
When I told David Terry Gilliam was going to be at the Aero in person, introducing Brazil, he immediately agreed to go. I have shown him several more of Gilliam’s films since January, so he was really looking forward to it.
I was super excited to hear Gilliam talk, as he is not a director you hear out and about too often. He was smiley and cheerful, self-deprecating and hilarious. When asked about the unfortunate circumstances that seem to befall him and his films quite often, he replied, “When I get an idea for a project in my head, it kind of possesses me, and I can’t rest until I have completed it. I can’t let God upset my plans, now, can I?” Superb.
He talked about how he has stopped storyboarding, and instead lets the actors develop how the scene should go. How he likes getting input from every department, so the entire crew feels involved. That often his ideas are just found on set, but somehow just seem to work. How he feels like life in America is more like Brazil now than ever before.
We were also lucky enough to be able to view a short that Gilliam had just finished, The Wholly Family, about a family travelling in Naples and the fantasy fever dream that the son falls into. It was trippy and silly, slightly frightening and overwhelming – everything you would expect from a Gilliam film. Unbelievably, this is his first short.
I was able to meet Terry briefly, get a picture with him, and ask him to program at the New Beverly. He said he heard about the theater from Edgar (thank you, thank you, Mr. Wright) and took my card. Everyone please keep your fingers crossed that I hear from him. I think I could pretty much die happy if he programmed at the theater.
I hope that Terry Gilliam continues making films for a long, long time. I hope he never sells out and makes “commercially viable” films, but continues to follow his heart and make the films that he wants to. It’s somehow fitting to me that some sort of disaster almost always nearly destroy the making of each of his films – because like the anti-establishment characters he loves so much, he is able to beat the odds, stand up and continue on, somehow. While it may seem to him now that God is standing in his way, I think that the man upstairs must know what he’s doing when all of his roadblocks produce such fantastic cinema.