Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just watched...

... the scathing indictment of the film industry, "Seduced and Abandoned" by director James Toback, with Alec Baldwin.

This 2013 documentary follows Toback and Baldwin to Cannes during the 2012 film festival, as they meet with possible investors to drum up cash for a film concept they have come up with. It is still unclear to me whether or not the film was real and they were genuinely attempting to find funding or if they dreamt up a fictitious film concept in order to show the near-impossbile difficulties of getting a film to the screen. In the end, it doesn't matter if it was real or manufactured since the result is the same: we now know why there are practically no good films being made anymore. The fare at the local cineplex is full of recycled and rebooted cartoon characters and comic book plots because that has been shown to create cash, moola, cheddar, scrilla, at the box office. And the film industry, like pretty much any venture in the world these days, is now based on how much profit is in it for the investors and shareholders. Gone are the days of Hollywood when people made films because they were about something, films that meant something, films that matter, films that speak to us as and the human experience. The art is gone. Any director who wants to make such a film now has to do so without any large or mainstream investors, which virtually guarantees that the film will not be picked up by a major studio, which guarantees that there will be little if any publicity. The deck is stacked against any kind of artistic statement... which is not to say that it is impossible. Good films do sneak through and important, beautiful films do get made. But it is no longer the norm in Hollywood. The question is no longer "Is this a good script? Is it going to touch people's hearts or minds?" but "How much money can we wring from it?" Just like the banking industry, the mortgage industry, the health care industry, it is not about participating in a human experience, but how much can be taken from people without them noticing.

This film captures what has gone wrong in Hollywood but does not show how to fix it since a fix would require a change in how industries, the wealthy, and Capitalism think. It shows the frustrating, vexing, peculiar, maddening world of film production. And the cast is staggering, reading like a Who's Who of living legend film directors: Martin Scorsese, Bernardo Bertolucci, Frances Ford Coppola, Roman Polanski... and a roster of high profile actors.

Recommend? Yes. It would probably help if one were interested in the film industry though...


No comments: