Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.Two weeks in the life of a fading Hollywood producer who's having a rough time trying to get his new picture made.
The film itself, however, is not quite as worthy a comeback we would have expected, but still garners some witty laughs and a realistically melancholy view of the bittersweet world of Hollywood. The opening scene is playfully familiar to cinema, particularly the eponymous taboo that horrifies the audience. It's a great scene, mainly because of De Niro's deadpan but wise monologue, which is the first thing to certify this as his return to form.
But despite an effective beginning, the rest of the movie seems scattershot; the narrative tries to skim its way through all the familiar faces of film making (director, studio exec, agent, screenwriter, pompous actor, etc.), while simultaneously trying to prominently develop the long-existing love-hate between Ben and his wife (an acceptable but grounded Robin Wright Penn). Turtorro and Wincott's performances are actually quite hilarious (each idiosyncratic moan delivered at perfect and rib-tickling time by Turtorro, and the outburst and subsequent fall from grace of Keith Richard-esquire Wincott is brilliant).
Even De Niro suffers sometimes; some of the foul-mouthed wit sounds odd and outlandish in the mouth of his reasonably straight-laced character, so some of the gags are lost, but this is more the fault of ill-conceived writing. The Bruce Willis subplot loses interest after Willis' only amusing scene; his enraged breakdown after being told to shave his beard, which, in itself, is helped by Ben's sarcastic but regretful outburst. There are some touching scenes that show Ben's tendency as a reactionary: the chair in his ex-wife's house, and his increasing annoyance at Willis, particularly his comments at a funeral.
The film works best on the good sportsmanship of the cast and their willingness to laugh at themselves, which, as the film tellingly shows, is universal in the cutthroat world of Hollywood.
- Dec 7, 2008