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Thursday, June 4, 2009

LOST IN LA MANCHA (2002)

This documentary on writer/director Terry Gilliam’s aborted Don Quixote pic proves that you really do make your own luck. For insurance purposes, a fiercely destructive hail storm and a star too ill to work ended things, but this show was never more than half a step ahead of disaster. Lack of funds, lack of planning, lack of technical expertise, lack of production coordination; the only thing not lacking were facile ideas from the fecund Mr. Gilliam. He’s loaded with ‘em, all bad. The little bit we get to see and hear is perfectly awful, particularly the proudly referenced central idea of having a modern day guy (Johnny Depp) dropped back in time as a slim Sancho Panza to Jean Rochefort ’s tottering Don Quixote. Even when he's at his best, Gilliam has trouble separating the wheat from the chaff, but here, it’s all chaff. And the really scary news is that he’s starting up this show all over again. Who the heck would invest in it? There really is a sucker born every minute.

NOTE: Gilliam’s grandest fiasco, THE ADVENTURES OF BARON MUNCHAUSEN/’88, is gleefully dissed by one & all here, even by Gilliam. But in spite of a wan Baron, it’s an endearing charmer. Everything else he touches is an acquired taste you may not wish to acquire.

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