Michael Mailer

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Seduced And Abandoned Review


Excellent

Anyone interested in how movies get made will love this feisty behind-the-scenes documentary, which uses sharp comedy to explore the messy business side of cinema. Both smart and very funny, it may not tell us much that we don't know (mainly that it's almost impossible to get a film financed unless it's a blockbuster with bankable stars), but it reveals things in ways that make us wonder about the future of the movies.

The film follows actor Alec Baldwin and director James Toback as they head to the Cannes Film Festival to secure funding for their planned Iraq-set riff on Last Tango in Paris. They meet with a variety of experts who tell them that their hoped-for budget is three times too high for a movie starring Baldwin and Neve Campbell. So they talk to Chastain, Bejo and Kruger about taking over the lead role. They also consult with a range of prominent filmmakers including Scorsese, Coppola, Polanski and the Last Tango maestro himself, Bertolucci. But the more time they spend with the people who control the money, the more they wonder if their movie will ever get made.

It's fairly clear from the start that Last Tango in Tikrit is a joke project, but everyone takes it seriously. And as they talk to prospective investors, Baldwin and Toback consider adjusting the film to get more cash by, for example, shooting scenes in Russia or China. It's fascinating to hear these billionaires offer advice on how to get their movie made. And hilariously, no one worries about Baldwin's insistence that the story requires explicit sexual scenes.

Continue reading: Seduced And Abandoned Review

Empire Review


Good
When you stop and think about it, the similarities between Italian mobsters and urban gangsters -- as filmmakers commonly portray them -- are really quite astounding. For every gold chain stuck in a mobster's chest hair, there seems to be a corresponding gold medallion slung around some gangster's neck. For every Cadillac, there's a Lincoln Navigator. In place of the Tommy gun, there's the Glock. It's a comparison that writer and director Franc Reyes is all too keen on making in his debut film, Empire.

Played by John Leguizamo, Victor Rosa is a Latino gangsta with all the ambition of a young Godfather and all the attitude of a taller Joe Pesci. He spends his days violently whacking errant drug dealers and monitoring the sales of his own designer "street pharmaceutical" not so subtly labeled Empire -- which is exactly what Vic thinks he's building in his little bit of the South Bronx. But when his girlfriend (Delilah Cotto) announces that she's pregnant, he thinks it might be time to go legit.

Continue reading: Empire Review

Michael Mailer

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Michael Mailer Movies

Seduced and Abandoned Movie Review

Seduced and Abandoned Movie Review

Anyone interested in how movies get made will love this feisty behind-the-scenes documentary, which uses...

Empire Movie Review

Empire Movie Review

When you stop and think about it, the similarities between Italian mobsters and urban gangsters...

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