Either of these films is likely to make its intended audience happy.   

HOW TO LOSE A GUY IN 10 DAYS & LOST IN LA MANCHA

An Illusion movie review by Joan Ellis


                An odd mix of two movies?  Not really.  These are the kind that beckon but don’t pull – movies that you might take a chance on if only you had a fix on their quality.  “How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days” is for lovers of chick flick comedies.  “Lost in La Mancha” is a documentary for lovers of the details of movie making.  If you don’t wonder about what goes on behind the camera, skip this one.  If you do, you may well love it.  Either of these films is likely to make its intended audience happy.   

                In “How to,” Andie (Kate Hudson) and Ben (Matthew McConaughey) are dropped into a good premise.  Andie, an aspiring columnist at Composure Magazine will write an article proving a woman can lose a man in ten days by making all the classic mistakes of pursuit.  Ben will secure a diamond advertising account for his firm by finding the love of an ornamental woman within the same ten days.  Each works for a silly, bottom-line boss (Bebe Neuwirth and Robert Klein) who will fire them if they fail.  If you fail to imagine the ending, go to the back of the theater.  Hudson, McConaughey, and the dialogue are good enough to allow you to forgive the movie for being utterly predictable. 

                “Lost in La Mancha,” on the other hand, is comically unpredictable.   This documentary about the making of a movie is an international collaboration, a multilingual jumble of devoted movie specialists gathered to film “The Man Who Killed Quixote” under the direction of Terry Gilliam, a man, like his hero, of limitless imagination.  Gilliam clearly adores making movies, but the odds against him are building.  Someone forgot to watch the details.  Do you want to make a movie?  Hear this.

Gilliam has his Quixote in John Rochefort, the aging French actor who is suffering from a double herniated disc, can barely sit in the saddle, but is otherwise perfect for the role – except for a few language problems.  Their first location falls victim to the noise of bombers flying overhead from a nearby NATO airbase (Quixote by a glorious cliff under a passing jet).  The second set is demolished without warning by a flash flood that also changes the very color of the desert, making the existing footage unusable.  It would take weeks for the sun to dry this sand.  For two hours after mounting the horse, Don Quixote cannot walk (The insurance people will call his illness an act of God that is not covered).

Gilliam, the good humored visionary, and his dogged colleagues stay cool in the face of calamity, bedlam, and, finally, failure.  Their movie is doomed.  The dreams are demolished by the demands of investors and insurance adjustors.  As much as Don Quixote and Terry Gilliam battle all odds in the face of reality, neither will live out the fantasy this time around.                                                    


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