Jul 5, 2019
Joseph: “Last time on One Movie Punch…”
Garrett: “They seem to slack off after each episode gets released. We should hit ‘em right after the next one.”
Ryan: “Don’t you have some One Movie Punch Bug Spray or whatever?”
Keith: “Seriously! You’ve got an island, a submarine, a plane, a fan fleet, a spyglass...”
Joseph: “Day five of the siege. Not the way I usually spend Independence Day.”
Joseph: “No trailer segments. Not sure how I’m going to capture them... oh, they’re turning the television towards me, and now they’re watching it.”
Joseph: “I really hate these guys.”
Joseph: “Well, I guess with a title like We’re Watching Here that something like this would happen, but I didn’t expect it to be so literal.”
Amy: “And in three, two, one...”
Amy: “FOR CHEESECAKE!”
Amy: “YES! YES! YES!”
Joseph: “On the shores of the One Movie Punch Secret Podcasting Island Base.”
Amy: “The last of the Big Heads Media Podcast Network has left the dock.”
Joseph: “That’s good.”
Ryan: “And the rest of the fan fleet has arrived, bringing in supplies. Including more cheesecake!”
Garrett: “I’ll send a few more scouts around the perimeter. Make sure it’s secure for cheesecake eating.”
Joseph: “I want to thank you all for your help. Without you all, I would still be stuck putting out those reviews. Not exactly sure what they wanted, but I don’t think we’ve heard the last of them. Hey, where’s Andrew?”
Andrew: “Right here. Review’s ready to go.”
Joseph: “Cutting it awfully close there, aren’t you?”
Amy: “Well, let’s go party!”
Joseph: “I’ll catch up with you guys. Just need a moment to be outside.”
Andrew: “So, you’ve done all this with me as your only Patreon sponsor?”
Joseph: “Yep. Pretty amazing, huh? Imagine what we could do if everyone went to patreon.com/onemoviepunch to help fund more projects. We could have a whole archipelago of islands!”
Andrew: “Never knew podcasting was so lucrative!”
Joseph: “I know, right? Now come on, let’s get that review out the door."
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Here we go!
Hello film fans!
Andrew here, glad to be back with you after our summer hiatus with the latest from filmmaker Terry Gilliam. Gilliam is perhaps best known for being a member of Monty Python, which celebrates its 50thanniversary this year. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” aired on British television for five years before the troupe transitioned into films, the first of which, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”, being Gilliam’s first foray into directing. Over the last forty years, Gilliam has directed a dozen films all bearing his same signature style of surreal storytelling and visuals punctuated by extreme camera angles. His career has been plagued by production and budget issues, but has yielded an iconic filmography of works both challenging and polarizing. So when Gilliam was willing to bring the North American premiere of a film thirty years in the making to Fantastic Fest, the programmers paid tribute by making this the very first film to screen at the 2018 festival.
Today’s film is “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”, written by Terry Gilliam and Tony Grisoni and directed by Gilliam. The film stars Adam Driver as Toby Grisoni (yes, that full name is one letter off from the co-writer, one of the unending meta-gags in this film). Toby is a commercial director visiting rural Spain for his latest shoot for an ad campaign that features 17th-century literary character Don Quixote, a nobleman and wannabe chivalrous knight, and his squire Sancho Panza. 10 years prior, Toby had made a student film telling the original story of Don Quixote from the novel by Miguel de Cervantes. After Toby stumbles across a copy of his early film, he gets reacquainted with a local man named Javier (played by the star of Gilliam’s 1985 film “Brazil”, Jonathan Pryce) who portrayed Don Quixote in that student film, and has grown to believe he remains Don Quixote himself. Adventures and hijinks ensue.
If you didn’t turn the podcast off after that doozy of a plot summary, thanks for sticking around. Here’s what I think is going on as best as I can tell.
Javier thinks that he’s the “real” Don Quixote from the novel, a light-hearted man who travels the countryside with a passion for doing good deeds, but whose fervor gets in the way of his decision making. This character works as a stand-in for writer/director Terry Gilliam, who spent the better part of three decades trying to get this film made, in spite of numerous setbacks, including an attempt twenty years ago that ended in the plug being pulled after filming had begun. (Check out the 2002 critically acclaimed documentary “Lost in La Mancha” for the full story).
Adam Driver, in the role of Toby, represents Quixote’s sidekick Sancho Panza, and in fact, Javier is certain this is his real identity. Panza follows around Don Quixote as he gets himself into a variety of predicaments in search of... I don’t know what. Given the character name, Toby is obviously a stand-in for co-writer Tony who, like Panza, is sucked into an ill-advised quest; in this case: Gilliam’s attempt to make this very film!
The acting in this film is uneven and uninspired. Adam Driver is engrossing in every role he takes on, and performs well in the opening act as the high-strung and excitable Grisoni. As the plot goes on to become more surreal, the film swallows him up a bit; perhaps both he and his character become worn out by Gilliam’s machinations. Jonathan Pryce dedicates himself with fervor to portraying the deluded Don Quixote, but at age 70 during filming he seemed to struggle pulling off some of the more physical scenes. During the failed production of this film in 2000, a nearly 70-year-old Jean Rochefort in the Don Quixote role suffered a herniated disc and had to depart the film, which was later scrapped altogether.
What makes “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” fantastic? For Gilliam fans, the fact that this film ever got made has to be a minor miracle, but with a budget around $18M dollars, and a tepid interest outside of his core fan base, the end result is nearly as disastrous as the story of its creation. For a very select audience of patient viewers that can tolerate outlandish stories told at a glacial pace who also happen to be fans of the original centuries-old novel, this film may be a dream come true.
“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2018) is a singular vision from an auteur filmmaker committed to a modern retelling of an influential novel. Fans of dreamy adventure stories like Gilliam’s own “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen” and “Time Bandits” might enjoy this film.
Rotten Tomatoes: 63%
One Movie Punch: 5.8/10
“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote” (2018) is not rated and is available on VOD and DVD.
Come back next week and we’ll take a look at “Hagazussa: A Heathen’s Curse”, a gothic folk tale out of Germany in the vein of “The Witch”. “Hagazussa” was finally released on Amazon Prime and Shudder after making its world premiere at Fantastic Fest nearly two years ago. It’s just one bad review shy of a perfect score on Rotten Tomatoes, so let’s find out if this is the next cult horror gem.
See you then.