James Toback

seduced and abandoned 01

James Toback and Alec Baldwin‘s fascinating documentary Seduced and Abandoned opens with a quote from Orson Welles, which attests that 95% of the time and energy expended making a film is actually devoted to securing funds rather than, you know, actually making the film. Toback and Baldwin aim to put this to the test here in a film detailing their visit to last year’s Cannes Film Festival to try and sell a Last Tango in Paris-esque jaunt starring Baldwin (ostensibly, in the Brando role) and Neve Campbell. Toback and Baldwin both attest that what we’re watching is neither a full-out documentary or narrative feature, but rather a crude amalgam of the two. What is certain, however, is that it’s a downright hilarious subversion of the act of filmmaking itself. Toback was smart to choose Baldwin as his brother in arms, because the 30 Rock star consistently steals the show here, trading witticisms and razor-sharp, self-deprecating jibes with the acclaimed director.

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Yes, Martin Scorsese is planning a remake of 1974′s The Gambler with Departed screenwriter William Monahan (and trying hard to get Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead role). Yes, the original’s writer James Toback isn’t happy that he wasn’t told about the project. Yes, he wrote a letter to Deadline saying so. But, with all due respect to Toback and the slight that was committed against him, the boring interpersonal drama of who didn’t call whom is nowhere near as fascinating as the rest of the story that he relates – namely, him selling a very personal script, finding the right lead, and the impact the film had. There are at least a half dozen times in his brief recounting that will draw either genuine laughter, or the kind that comes when no other response will do. His situation with getting his check signed at Paramount is outrageous, but it has this spark of what working in that world can sometimes be like. At any rate, it’s a compelling tale of Hollywood success and confusion that deserves to be read.

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Although certain politicians and even scientists will suggest otherwise, most agree our basic human desire for sex remains pretty unchanged. Over the centuries we’ve acknowledged that ladies like it just as much as the men folk, both sexes can be completely uninterested, and there’s also the possibility that same sex lovers getting down and dirty isn’t, in fact, dirty. Every new generation accepts something as tame that the previous generation thinks taboo. My mother finds the practice of bondage troubling, but the idea is ordinary to me. Whereas I don’t quite understand her fascination with the word “slutpuppy” because that’s just ooky. I’m not saying one generation is better than the other, I’m more curious about how we got to the place we are. I am pretty in tune with the going-ons of Gwen, so I have no problem pinpointing a lot of my sexual identity development happening simultaneously with the films and TV that I watched in the 90s. Thinking back, the 90s stand out to me as a hodgepodge decade when it came to sex in film. We had the renewal of romantic melodramas as a reaction to the social commentary-filled erotic thrillers of the 80s, the depiction of realistic sex in comedies, and the rise in popularity of rape culture. Of course all these themes wouldn’t have been possible without the decades before them, but something happened in the 90s that made sex seem pleasurable through love, humor, and invasion.

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