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"Lost in La Mancha"

Directed by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe. 
Starring Terry Gilliam, Johnny Depp and Jean Rochefort.
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  2/3/03 


Sign That Justin Might Really Be Going to Hell After All:  I’m sorry, but I have been shocked at the amount of coverage the space shuttle explosion has been getting.  Honestly, I read the news pretty regularly, but I didn’t even know that we had a shuttle in orbit.  Only seven people were killed on that ship and in my mind, that is acceptable given the sheer number of people that have been up in space in the 40+ years of the space program and that have landed successfully.  I watched about an hour of coverage about this on Saturday morning here in San Francisco, and the newsfolks had exactly nothing to say, almost like they KNEW this was a minor tragedy, but reminisced about ’86 and the Challenger so they figured they needed to report on the fact that they had no information.  The experts knew nothing, NASA was saying nothing, and President Bush was saying nothing.  I know that we have lost troops in skirmishes in the Middle East in the last month; why the fuck are they not getting any coverage, while seven astronauts are?  Tragedies in this country are SO out of whack.  Don’t get me wrong--I feel bad for the families of the astronauts that were lost.  But, don’t we have a war to worry about?

Whew.  Enough about that...on the movie front, I just couldn’t get myself up to seeing any of the bigger new releases, so I opted for an indie instead.  Even the thought of “Kangaroo Jack”--now expected to reach $75 million in grosses, shocking news indeed--was enough to make me wonder what the hell I am going to do in February.  Please, “Old School”, open soon...

“Lost in La Mancha”, for all intents and purposes, should have been called “Project Greenlight--Terry Gilliam’s Nightmare”, because that would have drawn more people to theaters to see this great film.  “Lost in La Mancha” is a documentary that follows director Terry Gilliam (the genius behind “Brazil”, “Time Bandits”, and “12 Monkeys”) as he attempts to get his labor of love “The Man Who Shot Don Quixote” made in Spain a couple of years ago.  As you might have guessed, the film never finished principal, we get to watch all manner of things go wrong as Gilliam tries valiantly to work around a number of problems to get this Johnny Depp vehicle off the ground.

An exquisite behind-the-scenes look at how difficult it can be to just shoot one scene, directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe have a great set of footage detailing preproduction meetings with Gilliam, Depp, French legend Jean Rochefort and the producers of the film as they miss deadline after deadline on the way to a disastrous conclusion.  Like the HBO series “Project Greenlight” from last year, it is pure fun watching the day-by-day process which filmmakers go through to get the perfect shot on film with the limited resources that the “Quixote” crew is working with.  There is also a lot to learn from the mistakes made here, especially if you have aspirations to work on the production side sometime down the line.

The film does start off quite slowly, and that meant that I almost lost it in the first 20 minutes as I battled the fact that I had taken no nap yet.  But, once the actors begin to show up in Madrid for the start of filming, the film takes on an air that is almost too much to be believed...until you realize that this all really happened!  Might be hard to find in your area but if you can, check it out.  Interesting look at the difficulty of filmmaking.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09