Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Brothers Grimm! MirrorMask!

I'm a huge fan of Terry Gilliam, and have been extremely frustrated these last few years, what with the implosion of The Man Who Killed Don Quixote and the bizarre delays on his Brothers Grimm film. Yes, he's working on Tideland currently, which looks to be quite interesting, but what's gotten me excited today is that there is finally a Brothers Grimm trailer online!

First, I have to say I love the lush Gilliam setpieces, costuming and sense of quirky menace that permeates the trailer. I'm not so certain of the more contemporary bits of dialogue, and the use of CGI effects in a Gilliam film just feels wrong on every level (honestly--the bit with the frog. Who here thinks a Gilliamesque animatronic wouldn't look a thousand times better?). I'm also worried about the release date--August 26. August is the ass-end of the summer movie season, the traditional dumping ground for films studios have invested a lot of money in, but comparatively little faith. Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow was pushed back in similar fashion--and shared a similar budget, around $70 million--and bombed horribly. Coupled with a probable lack of ancilliary tie-ins and previous release delays (Grimmm was pushed back from an originally-planned summer 2004 release, mind you) and I fear we've got the makings of another Gilliam movie I'm going to love to death, but will be shunned by the public at large (Baron Munchausen, anyone). And don't discount the fact that Gilliam is likely to be competing with himself--Tideland has a "late 2005" release date pencilled in as well. sigh

In other groovy, genre-oriented movie news, there's finally a real, full-length trailer up for MirrorMask, that visually dazzling collaboration from Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, courtesy of the Jim Henson Company. This project started as a kind of Labyrinth-style direct-to-video effort, with a miniscule budget (reportedly a mere $4 million). But McKean's visuals and style were so dazzling that the Hensons worked out a theatrical distribution plan. Which is good. I've been reading MirrorMask: The Illustrated Script Book and have found it intriguing. It's very Gaimanish, if you're familiar with his work, particularly Coraline. But there's a definite Henson vibe running through the script (and trailer) not to mention a certain Terry Gilliam sensibility (tho not much of the Gilliam mayhem which always makes things so interesting). I'm looking forward to this one, and expect it to be a big success if only because its small budget practically guarantees it. But I worry (as that is what I do) that this worthy film may very well overshadow both of Gilliam's upcoming releases. Which would be a real same. I've already seen where people are dismissing Grimm as a Van Helsing ripoff, which troubles my soul in more ways than you can possibly imagine...

Neil Gaiman is posting that the U.S. release date for MirrorMask is September 30, about a month after Brothers Grimm comes out. When I first saw that, my initial reaction was negative, as I mis-read it as coming out the weekend after Grimm, thus ensuring the two movies would cannibalize each others' audiences. Thankfully, that's not the case. The bad news, of course, is that August and September are still cinematic wastelands that studios banish otherwise worthy films to. Think of it as Friday night on the Fox network.

Now Playing: Berlin Best of Berlin 1979-1988

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