Seduced and Abandoned Movie Review

Anyone interested in how movies get made will love this feisty behind-the-scenes documentary, which uses sharp comedy to explore the messy business side of cinema. Both smart and very funny, it may not tell us much that we don't know (mainly that it's almost impossible to get a film financed unless it's a blockbuster with bankable stars), but it reveals things in ways that make us wonder about the future of the movies.

The film follows actor Alec Baldwin and director James Toback as they head to the Cannes Film Festival to secure funding for their planned Iraq-set riff on Last Tango in Paris. They meet with a variety of experts who tell them that their hoped-for budget is three times too high for a movie starring Baldwin and Neve Campbell. So they talk to Chastain, Bejo and Kruger about taking over the lead role. They also consult with a range of prominent filmmakers including Scorsese, Coppola, Polanski and the Last Tango maestro himself, Bertolucci. But the more time they spend with the people who control the money, the more they wonder if their movie will ever get made.

It's fairly clear from the start that Last Tango in Tikrit is a joke project, but everyone takes it seriously. And as they talk to prospective investors, Baldwin and Toback consider adjusting the film to get more cash by, for example, shooting scenes in Russia or China. It's fascinating to hear these billionaires offer advice on how to get their movie made. And hilariously, no one worries about Baldwin's insistence that the story requires explicit sexual scenes.

But the best thing here is the chance to see big names drop their guards for the camera. The show-stealer is Ryan Gosling, who proves to be a surprisingly great storyteller (his account of a disastrous audition is classic). And there are telling insights from other actors and filmmakers as well, which makes this documentary unmissable for anyone who loves the movies. Even though it makes us worry that the balance has seriously tipped from artistic passion to marketing machinery, it's promising to know that filmmakers like Toback can still find a way to laugh at the system.


Comments

Seduced and Abandoned Rating

" Excellent "

Rating: 15, 2013

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