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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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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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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

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