10th Nov2013

Seduced & Abandoned – Film

by timbaros

images-24Seduced & Abandoned is not your typical documentary. It is a documentary about a film that will or will not be made. Ultimately, is this film a real film? Or was it made up just to make this documentary?

Written and Directed by James Toback (whose done very little since his 2008 Mike Tyson documentary), Seduced & Abandoned has him and Alec Baldwin trying to get financing for a movie they are looking to make. They attempt to sell their film, provisionally titled Last Tango in Tikrit (inspired by Last Tango in Paris) as a political-erotic romantic Middle Eastern adventure film, and to star Baldwin, and Neve Campbell. Filmed over 10 days at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, Seduced & Abandoned shows Toback and Baldwin as they pitch the idea of their film, meeting all of the movers and shakers in the film business, the creme de la creme, including actors, producers, directors, agents and most importantly, financiers.
Seduced & Abandoned starts off with a brief history of the festival, along with photos of red carpet events held there over the past 65 years. Then Baldwin and Toback begin their pitch. They seek advice from esteemed and Cannes veteran directors Martin Scorsese, Roman Polanski, Francis Coppola and Bernardo Bertolucci (coupled with clips of their films montaged with the interviews). Then Toback and Baldwin start their mission of trying to get money from anyone who wants to give it to them. They pitch their idea of their film to very very wealthy people, people who can easily afford to write them a check for $20 million. People such as Denise Rich (who tells them she only invests in things that she believes in), Taki Theodoracopulos (where they are seen lunching on his yatch), Jean Pigozzi (who doesn’t commit to anything), and, among others, Arpad Busson, who doesn’t have a lot to say to both men. Also, none are too keen with the choice of Campbell as a leading lady. They also speak to actresses Jessica Chastain and Diane Kruger, asking them if they would like to be in their film. Neither of them are convinced. Ryan Gosling joins them for an interview – with him musing about how he got his break in Hollywood and what it takes to be an actor in the film business. All of these interviews are split-screened with scenes from each of their films. And Cannes is captured as the madcap film festival where deals are done, stars are made, and the red carpet is the place to be seen.
But is Seduced & Abandoned a joke about the film business? Or is it a joke about the making of a non-realistic film? What it is about is what film critic Pauline Kael once said – ‘true moviemaking fever’. People are seduced by the premise of making a film, the glamour, the profile, the seduction of the film business. Yet most of the time people are left abandoned, the film never gets made. In this case, it is more of a question of what were Baldwin and Toback trying to get out of this? Surely, their film was actually never going to be made. So what we have here is a movie about them making a movie that is in turn about making movies. Yet, whose time has been wasted: The financiers they spoke to, very busy and influential men who can make deals happen with the stroke of a pen? Or our time, watching a documentary about a film that will never be made.¬†You decide.