Screenwriter-director James Toback (Tyson; The Pick-Up Artist) and actor-badass Alec Baldwin make a sharp, hilarious and on-point team when they storm the Cannes Film Festival in Toback’s consistently entertaining and exhilarating documentary about the often messy clash between the commerce and the art of moviemaking, Seduced and Abandoned.
Toback and Baldwin brought along a film crew when they hit last year’s film festival/flea market with the notion of peddling themselves as director and star (along with Neve Campbell) of a sexy, biting, contemporized Last Tango in Paris—set during the occupation of Iraq. Although we’re never told whether their Last Tango in Tikrit is for real or a goof, already we’re laughing. It’s fascinating to see who among the swarm of moguls, billionaires, self-promoters and shady rug salesmen that buzz around the world’s biggest film market are willing to listen to their pitch, let alone actually pony up the financing. Featuring funny, insightful and often surprisingly candid interviews with Martin Scorsese, Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Roman Polanski, Bernardo Bertolucci, Berenice Bejo, Diane Kruger and James Caan, among others, Seduced and Abandoned gets right to the nub of why some films do and don’t get funded and why they often get mauled and trivialized along the way. But it goes deeper, touching on topics like critical reputations and even death.
If Seduced and Abandoned doesn’t hit an international theater somewhere near you, catch it on HBO on October 28. It’s a funny, beautiful love letter to the zanies, dreamers, artists and prophets who persist in making movies against all odds.