Directed by James Toback.
Starring Alec Baldwin.
The premise of Seduced and Abandoned is simple enough. Director James Toback and actor Alec Baldwin try to sell a film concept at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012, and basically make a documentary about the experience.
Along the way they interview influential directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski & Bernardo Bertolucci to get their takes on Cannes and the movie industry as a whole. The duo also talk to actors Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger and James Caan.
The message? In movie making, 95% of the time is about raising funds and 5% of the time is dedicated to the film itself. The sub-text? Movie making is now in the hands of the financiers and most of them do not know what they are doing but by necessity, they call the shots.
This is clearly evident from the various pitch meetings where Toback and Baldwin share their grand idea for a film – a sex movie in the vein of Last Tango in Paris – with typically comedic results. Even though the conventional wisdom is that film-goers are attracted to good stories, the financiers in the main, look at franchises first and then, the actors featured.
In the former case, it’s a question of brand recognition and in the latter, it’s about the actors’ star power in drawing an audience. There is much cynicism running through the spine of the documentary that posits a dim future for good movies.
The main highlights involve the insightful discussions with the aforementioned directors and also, Gosling – who comes across very down to earth – in spite of his superstar status. The financiers invariably are presented as Philistines – which is an odd position to take (even if true), all things considered.
Serious movie fans will find this inside look somewhat enjoyable.