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Terry Gilliam is still lost in La Mancha.

Terry Gilliam is still lost in La Mancha. (photo)

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Interesting news out of Cannes: Empire reports that Ewan McGregor has been cast to replace Johnny Depp in director Terry Gilliam’s latest attempt at mounting “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” his long-simmering tribute to Cervantes. According to Empire‘s article, this “Quixote” begins shooting in September.

Gilliam has been trying to make the film for almost 20 years. He came closest in 2000, when he assembled a $32 million version starring Depp and French actor Jean Rochefort utilizing European financing. As chronicled in the tragicomic documentary “Lost in La Mancha” — which is available on Netflix Watch Instantly, by the by — the movie went into production and promptly fell apart.

“La Mancha” directors Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe chronicle every step of “Quixote”‘s disintegration in heartbreaking detail. It starts innocuously enough, with extras unprepared for a scene. But then planes start buzzing over the location from a nearby bombing range. The next day, the sound of distant thunder ruins the audio. Soon after, threatening clouds roll in and lightning is not far behind. Then it rains. Then it hails. Then it hails worse. Then there are mudslides. Then pieces of the gear and the set begin to float away on rivers of mud. By the time the production dried itself off days later, Rochefort, battling an infected prostate, was too ill to get back on the literal and proverbial horse. Production was halted and eventually abandoned.

“Lost in La Mancha” contains a few glimpses of Gilliam’s “Quixote,” and they’re enough to make you all the sadder that neither Rochefort — who will be replaced by Robert Duvall — nor Depp will be returning to the project. As this compilation of the few scenes Gilliam actually shot during the aborted 2000 production shows, Depp might have been onto something quite marvelous as a sleazy ad exec who finds himself stranded back in 17th century Spain and has to wrestle with a delusional “knight” and angry fish:

Though McGregor seems to be an odd replacement for Depp — the two don’t share many similarities as leading men — my biggest concern isn’t casting, it’s this little nugget buried at the bottom of Chris Hewitt’s Empire piece: “Gilliam also revealed that the budget of the movie will be around the $20 million mark, a far cry from the $35 million he had to play with in 2000.” What Hewitt doesn’t mention is the fact that the 2000 budget was, according to Gilliam’s comments in “Lost in La Mancha,” already scaled back by almost $10 million. In fact, part of the reason for the 2000 “Quixote” collapsed was due to the incredibly tight budget, which left the production zero wiggle room once problems began to arise. According to this news, Gilliam will now have to make due with a budget half as large as he originally intended over 10 years ago.

05182010_gilliam2.jpgThose of us who love Gilliam admire the fact that he makes intensely personal films on the grandest scale. I suppose digital effects might hypothetically make “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” a cheaper proposition than it was back in 2000. (They could also detract from the tactility of Gilliam’s wonderfully mad visions, as I thought it did in his last film, “The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.”). But I worry that in trying to engineer blockbuster scope on a not-so-blockbuster budget, Gilliam is adding one more quixotic element to this endlessly troubled production.

[Photos: “Lost in La Mancha,” IFC Films, 2002.]


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.