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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.]

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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