Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seduced and Abandoned: James Toback and Alec Baldwin Want Money

Alec Baldwin loves making movies so much, he is now a boring talk show host.  Perhaps this was the last hurrah for the star of Rock of Ages. He and director James Toback hit the Cannes Film Market hard in search of financing for a prospective indie production, simultaneously filming a documentary of their cold calling, at least guaranteeing they would not leave empty-handed.  There is plenty of pitching but not a lot of closing in Toback’s Seduced and Abandoned (trailer here), which airs on HBO this coming Monday.

The idea is to remake Last Tango in Paris in Iraq during the immediate aftermath of the fall of Saddam.  Baldwin will play the Brando role, re-conceived as a rightwing military advisor and Neve Campbell will step into the Maria Schneider part, transformed into a leftwing journalist.  Campbell cannot make the trip to Cannes, but Baldwin and Toback assure her they would never make the film without her.  However, they do not make it past their second pitch session before they start throwing her under the bus.  They still love Neve, but maybe she can play the maid who comes to change their sheets.

Before long, they are also pitching actresses like Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger, and Bérénice Bejo along with prominent sales agents and the assorted eccentric millionaires.  Of course, Last Tango in Tikrit sounds so gob-smackingly un-commercial we almost have to wonder if it is all an extended Borat gag, except Baldwin and Toback take themselves so seriously.  On behalf of the nation’s film critics, I would like to thank the Cannes financiers for not stampeding to fund what sounds like a Frankenstein combination of The Canyons and The Green Zone.

Of course, in addition to the market, there is also a film festival going in Cannes, allowing the fundraising duo an opportunity to talk to some world cinema’s leading lights.  Since S & A is a documentary about the movies, Martin Scorsese duly sits for an interview.  Perhaps the best sequence involves a sit-down with Bernardo Bertolucci in a hotel suite named in his honor, at which time the Tango auteur gives them his blessing for their pseudo-remake.  Among the many other big name participants, James Caan has some particularly colorful things to say about the industry. 

If you want to hear Toback and Baldwin kvetch than brother, this is the film is for you.  If only they were as funny as they think they are.  Toback captures some amusing inside baseball moments at Cannes and he incorporates some cleverly selected film clips, but Todd McCarthy’s Pierre Rissient: Man of Cinema delivers far more behind the scenes details. Harmless but conspicuously self-absorbed, Seduced and Abandoned airs this coming Monday (10/28) on HBO.