Seduced and Abandoned
Film Title: Seduced and Abandoned
Director: James Toback
Starring: Alec Baldwin, James Toback, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Martin Scorsese
Running Time: 100 min
What exactly is the latest project from James Toback? Is it one big elaborate gag? Is it a monstrous ego trip? Does it have anything to tell us about the film industry? Whatever we call it, this strange quasi-documentary will have something to offer most committed cineastes.
Seduced and Abandoned (also the title of a 1964 Italian film that competed at Cannes) finds the confident Mr Toback, director of Fingers and writer of Bugsy, embarking on an odyssey with his old pal Alec Baldwin. The two have (or pretend to have) a notion to make an updating of Last Tango in Paris involving two Americans adrift in war-torn Iraq. Baldwin will take on the Brando role. Neve Campbell tentatively agrees to step into Maria Schneider’s buttery shoes. Their pitch primed and ready, the boys set off for the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.
The exercise is really just an excuse to ponder the current state of the film industry. Along the way, they rustle up an impressive array of talking heads. For the 1,000th time, the always-agreeable Martin Scorsese discusses his decision to abandon the priesthood. Francis Ford Coppola is energetic. One particularly money-happy producer, lurking within the bunker that is the Cannes market, denounces the festival competitions as high-brow nonsense and suggests that what the team needs is a proper star like “Gerry Butler”.
The final conclusions fail to astonish: studios are only interested in really expensive films and really cheap ones; financiers take fewer risks than they used to; you need a “name” to drag in the big bucks. But the constant conflict between ego and artistic ambition that characterises Toback and Baldwin’s relationship makes for hugely entertaining viewing.
Yes, it probably is all a gag. But it’s a pretty good gag.