- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Director Terry Gilliam’s planned 2000 epic “The Man Who Killed Don Quixote,” a surreal reworking of Cervantes’ classic novel, has bitten the celluloid dust, but it’s left an entertaining legacy in Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe’s lively documentary Lost in La Mancha, new this week from Docurama in a two-DVD set ($29.95). “Lost in La Mancha” is our…

Video pick of the week

Filmmakers Fulton and Pepe had earlier chronicled Mr. Gilliam’s less harrowing experiences directing the 1995 sci-fi film “Twelve Monkeys” and were clearly not expecting to record a disaster in the making with their “Quixote” coverage. But signs of imminent breakdown are obvious from the outset when Mr. Gilliam and his international crew discover they’ve been misled on issues ranging from financing to viable Spanish locations to the health of their Don Quixote, venerable French actor Jean Rochefort.

Narrated by Jeff Bridges, “Lost in La Mancha” captures a frequently frustrated but admirably valiant Mr. Gilliam as he fights the odds and attempts to get at least bits of his vision on film before the financial roof caves in. We watch the former “Monty Python” member as he works with actor Johnny Depp, inspects some of the fanciful props that have been his trademark in previous films, from “Brazil” to “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen,” and tries to rally his increasingly dispirited troops. Thanks in large part to Mr. Gilliam’s contagiously cheerful resolve, “Lost in La Mancha” emerges as a viewing experience that’s far more instructive than depressing.

DVD extras include an enlightening Gilliam interview conducted by critic Elvis Mitchell and originally aired on the Independent Film Channel, a somewhat windier conversation with author Salman Rushdie filmed at the 2002 Telluride Festival, deleted scenes, cast and crew interviews, production stills and more. For Gilliam buffs and general film fans alike, “Lost in La Mancha” makes for an utterly compelling evening.

Foreign faves

MGM Home Entertainment goes the lavish DVD route with three widely diverse foreign films. Wim Wenders’ 1987 fable Wings of Desire, set in Berlin and starring Bruno Ganz and Peter Falk, arrives with audio commentary by Mr. Wenders and Mr. Falk, a secondary documentary called “Angels Among Us,” deleted scenes with director’s commentary, an interactive map and more.

Luc Besson’s influential 1990 French action thriller La Femme Nikita, with Anne Parillaud and Jean-Hughes Anglade, comes complete with a making-of documentary, a featurette called “The Sound of Nikita,” a poster gallery, a theatrical trailer and other bonus material. The DVDs are tagged at $24.98 each.

The label completes its international troika with Jules Dassin’s 1960 Greek comedy Never on Sunday ($19.98), showcasing Melina Mercouri’s vivacious talents and presented in a widescreen edition that includes the original theatrical trailer. All three titles are due in vidstores next week.

Goth TV

MPI Home Video (mpihomevideo.com) keeps the creepy Goth-opera antics coming with its cult-TV assemblage Dark Shadows DVD Collection 6 ($59.95). The four-disc set contains 40 — count ‘em — 40 complete episodes. Extras include exclusive interviews with “Dark Shadows” actors Roger Davis, Lara Parker and Louis Edmonds, along with scenic designer Sy Tomashoff.

MPI shifts to Edwardian England with three double-episode volumes from the British mystery series The Return of Sherlock Holmes, headlining Jeremy Brett as the eponymous sleuth: Volume I: “The Empty House”/”The Abbey Grange,” Volume 2: “The Second Stain”/”The Six Napoleons” and Volume 3: “The Priory School”/”Wisteria Lodge” ($14.98 per DVD).

The ‘A’ list

Next week, Buena Vista Home Entertainment unleashes Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Daniel Day-Lewis as fierce 19th-century adversaries. The same label sets a July 15 launch for the action comedy sequel Shanghai Knights, relocating Old West partners Jackie Chan and Owen Wilson to 1800s London. The DVD editions for both include audio commentaries, featurettes, documentaries and other extras. The titles are tagged at $29.99 DVD/$24.99 VHS each.

This week witnesses the arrival of director Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed drama The Hours (Paramount Home Entertainment, priced for rental VHS/$19.95 DVD), featuring Nicole Kidman, along with Meryl Streep and Julianne Moore, in a tale that spans the decades from the 1920s to today.

Phan mail

Dear Phantom: Where can I find the old Saturday morning serials of “Jungle Jim,” “Dick Tracy,” “Flash Gordon,” etc. Are they on DVD yet?

James Bailey, via e-mail

Many vintage serials have joined the DVD ranks; VCI Entertainment (vcientertainment.com) recently issued gala editions of Flash Gordon, Drums of Fu Manchu and Secret Agent X-9. Movies Unlimited (moviesunlimited.com) is another choice source for a wide range of old-school cliffhangers.

Send your video comments and queries to Phantom of the Movies, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002 or e-mail us at: phanmedia@aol.com. Check out our Web site at www.videoscopemag.com.

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