Magazine article The American Conservative

Last Tango in Cannes

Magazine article The American Conservative

Last Tango in Cannes

Article excerpt

I ames Toback is a very intelliI I screenwriter and director I who actually discovered Harvey J Keitel and turned Mike Tyson into an actor of sorts, mostly playing Tyson. Toback relishes pushing people's buttons and has a devilish radar for psychodrama, all of which comes into play in his latest movie, the riotous "Seduced & Abandoned," a fly-on-the-wall depiction of how to get-or not get-a movie financed during the Cannes film festival. It's also a backhanded homage to Orson Welles, a man Jimmy Toback is starting to resemble in girth, who famously declared that 95 percent of his time making movies was spent trying to get financing for them.

Oh, I almost forgot, yours truly is also in the picture, playing myself on my boat being visited by Toback and Alec Baldwin, also playing themselves, and being solicited for funds during a very liquid lunch on board Bushido. Pitching their project, which they present as a remake of "Last Tango in Paris" but this time based in Iraq and renamed "Last Tango in Baghdad," Toback and Baldwin make the Cannes rounds visiting the rich and famous looking for financial backing while offering prospective stardom for those willing to pay and play. The pros, the men and women who do this type of lending for a living, are not impressed. One horrible type asks rather incredulously, '"Last Tango in Baghdad'? Who's the jerk who thought that one up?" Others, like the financier Arkie Busson-a childhood friend of mineremain unimpressed while lounging in their hundred million dollar seaside villas.

This is where the fun is. Jimmy and Alec show clips of Marlon Brando in one of the filthiest scenes with Maria Schneider in the Paris tango movie. "Just think of this with bombs falling and Alec buttering up Neve Campbell while she has her fingers you-knowwhere" is one of the main pitches to investors. Some cringe, others look at their shoes-bare feet rather, this is the Riviera-but the pros simply say, "It's not worth 20 million, I'll give you five."

Then comes the serious part, which in fact has gotten the movie-within-amovie rave reviews from every newspaper and magazine that has reviewed it-more than 35 as of this writing, even the grey old bag of the New York Times called it splendid and a Toback triumph. …

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