Lost in La Mancha

dir. Fulton and Pepe

Opens Fri March 14

Cinema 21

Terry Gilliam, director of the critically acclaimed films Brazil, 12 Monkeys, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and the financial and commercial flop, The Adventures of Baron Von Munchausen, is a perfectionist when it comes to filmmaking. Because creating his unique vision comes before all else, he is referred to by his peers as "Captain Chaos," and in the film industry, has been branded as hard to work with and unable to stick to a budget.

Because of this reputation, Gilliam has a hard time finding funding for his projects. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was no exception. Gilliam had been mulling over the screenplay and direction of the film for ten years, and Lost in La Mancha documents his long-awaited attempt to bring it to life.

As La Mancha begins, the crew is embarking on pre-production and Gilliam has only managed to drum up a measly 32 million bucks from European investors; not nearly enough for a director with such extravagant tastes. But even more trouble lies ahead. Once La Mancha starts shooting, all hell breaks loose and the film seems to be cursed.

I won't specifically describe these disasters, because watching them unfold makes up the meat of the film. Unfortunately, there's not nearly enough meat. Gilliam isn't explored much as a man outside of characterizations from his co-workers, who all seem to think he's an idiot. The staff runs around stressing and smoking cigarettes, but their worrying is not enough to gain compassion from the audience. Quixote's actors float into a few scenes but are likewise never rendered with any complexity.

By the end, Gilliam's film has degenerated into nothingness, his difficult reputation is warranted, and the Europeans have learned yet another lessons about gluttonous Americans. And while seeing Quixote left on permanent holiday is sad, it's hard to drum up too much sympathy for a disorderly director with 32 million bucks. But then again, disasters are always fun.