The Man Who Killed Don Quixote 2018 ****

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99 cents is the humble rental price for Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a film so long awaited that other films have been made about how long it was taking; Lost In La Mancha details an earlier flurry of activity that failed to get Cervantes famous story onto the big screen. It has not been lost on Gilliam that spending thirty years attempting to tell the story of a man who famously titled at windmills has a poignancy all of its own, so finally watching The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a strange experience; it’s initially hard to separate the film’s making from the story. The vibe is very 1989 in terms of a magic–realist narrative; An advertising executive Tony Grisoni (Adam Driver) slips back in time and finds himself in the company of the legend Don Quixote (Jonathan Pryce). Rewrites have allowed Gilliam to embrace the meta elements here; while shooting a commercial featuring the character of Don Quixote, Grisoni unearths his own student film on the same subject, and sets out to visit the locations, only to find the actor he cast is now living as the character. The production difficulties, which were not surprisingly many and diverse, have been detailed elsewhere; what’s on screen may not have the full sweep and scope of what the director imagined, but it looks pretty good, and evokes exactly the right spirit for a modern Cervantes adaptation. What Gilliam has not compromised is that The Man Who Killed Don Quixote is a text that the audience can get lost in, alongside the main character, over a 132 minute running time, and it’s almost certain that the same overwhelming effect would be what was intended when production started in 1989. Driver does well with a tricky role, Pryce is imperious as Quixote, and the episodic narrative blends scenes from the original text with some nice commentary. Trickling out unannounced on home streaming services may not be what Gilliam dreamed of, but fans of Gilliam, Monty Python and Cervantes will want to buy this one for a dollar or more; it’s a magical mystery tour mixing past and present, fact and fiction, film and literature, and the pleasurable experience of watching it snatches a secret success from the jaws of well-publicised failure.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07QNM5C4F?camp=1789&creativeASIN=B07QNM5C4F&ie=UTF8&linkCode=xm2&tag=justwatch09-20

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The Candidate 2019 ****

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Accessing foreign language films in multiplexes and even arthouse venues looks like an uphill struggle in 2019; having said that, streaming potentially offers up a far wider audience that cinema ever could. A willingness to embrace subtitles, plus a working interest in Spanish politics might seem like a big ask in terms of finding an audience qualified to appreciate Rodrigo Sorogoyen’s tense thriller, previously known as The Realm. Manuel (Antonio de la Torre) is a politician with criminal links; when he flies too close to his political opponents, he’s indicted, and his whole world starts to fall apart. Of course, Manuel is more than just a dupe, and he quickly works out a series of internecine schemes to make sure that he’s not the only one to take the fall. The Candidate is rightly marketed as being by the producers of The Secret in Their Eyes, the excellent Argentinian thriller which offered a similar kind of tough, adult world. There’s not much action or violence, but there’s also not much melodrama or contrivance; the story is tight and realistic, and the carefully-shot drama brings to mind the 2010 version of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in the way that ordinary settings take on an off-kilter poetry. A throbbing techno soundtrack helps engage the interest during a dizzying first hour, and things heat up further until a couple of brilliant, unexpected scenes wrap things up at the conclusion. This film might need a hard sell, but for anyone looking for smart, modern political cinema, The Candidate gets the job done.

The Candidate hits UK Cinemas and Digital HD on 2nd August 2019