Seduced and Abandoned (2013) Poster

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Analysis of the Contemporary Movie-Making Business that Misfires Slightly
l_rawjalaurence13 November 2013
SEDUCED AND ABANDONED begins with a fascinating premise, as actor Alec Baldwin and filmmaker James Toback try to raise funds for their proposed new movie, tentatively entitled "Last Tango in Tikrit." This documentary charts their efforts to schmooze a variety of investors from various countries into giving them the $15m. necessary to finance the movie. Some of the situations are extremely funny, especially when Toback tries his level best to convince the investors of the viability of his proposal, even if it means agreeing to any and every suggestion the investors propose. However the film's principal subject-matter gets lost, as many of the movie people interviewed (including actors Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain, directors Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola) discuss various topics, including their origins, the arts of acting and directing, and their views of filmmaking as a whole. As a result the narrative tends to sag in places, despite numerous reminders - in the form of visuals - that the film business comprises 95% hustling and 5% filmmaking. On the plus side, both Baldwin and Toback come across as basically likable and sincere, the kind of artists that should be encouraged in their future endeavors.
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Baldwin's tap-dance
abelardo6416 November 2013
Everything was painfully familiar to me but I managed to laugh nonetheless. The meeting with Avi Lerner should be obligatory viewing for beginners. And Mark Damon? He was an actor in Italian films of the 60's, not Fellini mind you but the others who made low budget epics. The landscape of "how to get financing for movies" has changed radically in the last few years but this is a residue of something that is still very much alive. Alec Baldwin pitching the idea to tired foreign sales agents is a delight and the comments from Martin Scorsese and other giants, are priceless. If you're in the business you'll laugh in recognition, if you're a civilian with ideas to join the film world of independent movies, this may give you pause.
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Fun, upbeat and educational
rumhouseproductions26 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
There are times when this "documentary" strayed but at all levels it was quite a thing to see and to learn from. ++SPOILER ALERT HERE+++ Watching billionaires turn down Alec Baldwin's request for money is always good film fodder. Scorcese and Gosling (old and new school, respectively) brought some much needed light to how the industry works and used to work, what's "bankable" and why. The Johnny Depp example is something we're all probably aware of but to have it spelled out like that was an eye-opener. There's a lot to absorb from this little game, and I have to assume it was a game. I mean, Baldwin didn't even bring a script to market so my assumption is that it was all a bit of a hoax. At any rate, it was very educational to see so many players in the biz sit down before a camera and be so candid about what Hollywood was and what Hollywood is now.
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Great for film nuts and young filmmakers....
MartinHafer22 March 2014
The fact that I liked "Seduced and Abandoned" should be no surprise. After all, I write about films and love films, so of course I'll like a documentary that talks about films and how they are financed. Additionally, it's a great movie for film students and young actors, writers and directors to see. However, I really am not sure if it has an audience beyond that. Are more of the regular folks out there ready to watch a film like this? I assume the answer is no, but the film is informative and entertaining and probably won't bore you.

This documentary from HBO Films stars Alec Baldwin and his partner in this venture, James Tobak (a writer and director who directed and wrote this film). Most won't know who Tobak is, though he's respected in the film industry and was quite enjoyable to watch in action at Cannes. As for Baldwin, I loved him in this film as he and Tobak interviewed so many interesting people. But, I am also afraid that while his presence in the film provides a 'big name', recently this unpredictable actor has alienated just about everyone (especially gays, flight attendants and the folks at MSNBC)! Still, he does know films and he is very personable in the documentary.

This film is about this team trying to convince a lot of rich financiers to invest in an upcoming project—one Baldwin jokingly refers to as "Last Tango in Tikrit" (Iraq)'! Much of the time, as they talk to the rich money-men, I felt surprised that these behind the scenes folks would allow themselves to be on camera. Less surprising were the interviews with filmmakers (such as Martin Scorsese and Bernardo Bertolucci) and actors (such as Ryan Gosling and Jessica Chastain). After all, exposure for these filmmakers and actors is usually a very good thing.

The setting for all this is the Cannes film festival. While it used to be all about the movies, this festival has come to mean FINANCING—and over the last few decades the financiers are the important folks here. So what does it take to get financing? Well, according to this film, the script is apparently NOT important! What is important are the marketable stars associated with the project. This, to me might explain the bizarre casting of such films as "The Butler" (where John Cusack played, of all people, Nixon and Robin Williams played Eisenhower!). An interesting observation is how today films are really financed by committees—and committees tend to make timid films because it's practically impossible to reach consensus with risky ventures or strange ideas. It was also fascinating seeing the many, many countries that sent representatives to the festival to sell their country as a setting for the productions. All in all, this is a wonderful little film. It's also one that might best be enjoyed by total film snobs and folks in the know. So, if you don't know what "Cahiers du Cinema" is, who Henri Langois was or what the French New Wave was, then try to watch this movie with a complete film snob like myself! Interesting viewing and a totally unique little film.

By the way, some folks might blanch at a couple of the film clips (particularly the one from "Last Tango in Paris"). It IS very adult on a few occasions. Plus, I felt uncomfortable when Roman Polanski was being interviewed—as will many others due to his very famous conviction for raping a 13 year-old (and the victim's testimony of what occurred was brutal). Because he was in the film, I scored it an 9 instead of a 10. Call me narrow-minded if you'd like.
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Part time lover
abcvision21 July 2014
The Cannes Film Festival is a yearly celebration of films, from the blockbusters to the lesser known. However in the back drop of this glamour is the back room deals that make movies come to life. Alec Baldwin and director James Toback take you behind the scenes of this circus as they discuss the process and seek funding for their own project. Along the way they cross paths with players of the industry and get the nuts and bolts of what makes the movie business tick. Cannes is a glamorous film festival but it also is a hot bed of action and the nitty gritty of the unglamorous side of movie making. Movie making business is a challenge, as repeated in the film Orsen Welles shared that "I look back on my life and it's 95% running around trying to raise money to make movies and 5% actually making them. It's no way to live".
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What I did on holiday Hollywood style.
ab-23-4477079 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

While watching this I couldn't help but wonder if it was all just a bit of an elaborate expense claim scam being perpetrated on the viewer.

Alec & James go on holidays to the Cannes film festival stay in nice hotels and have a bunch of lunches and smoke cigars with industry luminaries, interspersed with a few strange segments where they pitch a vague artistic movie premise to some rather confused looking film distribution and finance types only (despite both having been in the industry for decades) to be strangely disappointed when they discover nobody wants to put up a few million to fund their rather loose artistic movie endeavor.

However, not all was lost they had a great vacation while getting you to pay it. Although, this documentary itself is a laughable contradiction of the very premise it tries to argue.
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Making a movie or making a documentary
robin-benson26 February 2014
A ninety minute HBO documentary about two film folk who want to raise finance for their movie, though whether there was a movie or maybe the proposal was created just to make this documentary isn't clear. Toback and Baldwin go to Cannes for advice from stars, directors and the money men. I thought it was mildly interesting but too long, it should all have been wrapped up in sixty minutes.

The directors offer some interesting points about the industry and movies they've made, the stars are just the stars: take away a script and they have no more insight into things than you or I. Still, if you like to see your fave folk relaxing round a table in Cannes give it a look. Plenty of short clips are included too but it's essentially a lot of talking heads.
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A Treat For Movie Buffs
larrys321 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
In this HBO Documentary film, filmmaker James Toback (The Gambler, Bugsy, Tyson) and actor Alec Baldwin trek to the Cannes Film Festival, in May of 2012, to try and raise money for their proposed movie. Although, this film may be more geared to film buffs, a moniker I can unabashedly admit to, I thought it offered lots and lots of wit and humor, as well as wonderful insider stories from those in the movie industry.

They meet with distributors, billionaires, heads of movie studios, and film stars such as Ryan Gosling, Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo, Diane Kruger, and James Caan. They also talk to some of the real greats in filmmaking, such as Coppola, Polanski, Scorcese, and Bertolucci. I thought almost all these meetings and interviews were remarkably candid and enjoyable.

I might mention one story told by Francis Ford Coppola. After winning 6 Oscars from the "Godfather" movies, he couldn't get financing for his next movie, so in frustration he threw his Oscars out the window and they smashed into smithereens. However, his mother came along, picked up the shattered pieces and took them to the Academy to get replacements, telling them the maid accidentally broke them.

We get to see how the movie industry has changed over the past decades, and it can be quite the sad portrait. Now, it seems unless you're trying to finance a high budget franchise film, your chances of receiving funding for a mid-range movie, even with known stars, is extremely difficult. A lot of the distributors and investors admit that they don't even care about the quality of the script, just in the profit projections from their money people.

Just to mention as the interviews are progressing, photos or film clips of the subjects or persons they're discussing appear briefly on a split screen. My biggest objection to this style was that the clips were not left on screen long enough so I had to use my pause button quite a bit. Also, there are some scenes where strong sexual connotations or language are explicitly used, for those sensitive to that.

All in all, as mentioned this documentary may appeal mostly to film aficionados, I found it quite humorous and interesting from start to finish.
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Toback - blech
whosemarie18 November 2013
I gave it this rating simply because of Toback. He is a known gambling addict. Why would anyone give this man a penny? He's also a drug addict and recently chose to bash Robert Downey Jr. for getting himself straight and for having a strong marriage. The man is sleazy and it's truly amazing that any quality people would have much to do with him. He's had no 'hits' in what? 22 years?

This man is not able to truly direct anything. He's just looking for a party and money for his latest gamble, and those who hang with him are tarnishing their own image, IMHO.

The entire premise of this film is sketchy at least. They truly conned all of the actresses and actors involved in this thing.
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An insight into getting a budget for a movie! 4/10
leonblackwood8 March 2014
Review: As a fan of movies, I was expecting quite a lot from this documentary because I thought that I was going to get a deep insight into getting a budget for a movie, but I found it quite boring and uninteresting after a while. Watching people with big egos, talking about the value of people in the movie business, really did make me come to terms with how cut throat the business is. Alec Baldwin made the movie for me and I enjoyed the interviews with Ryan Gosling, who has a unique personality, and Martin Scorsese who can talk forever about his personal experiences. In all, the documentary was just based at the Cannes Film Festival so I shouldn't make a judgement on all movie tycoons, but it was interesting to watch a big star like Alec Baldwin, struggling to get a big budget just because he isn't as big as Ryan Gosling. Watchable!

Round-Up: I don't really watch movies from other countries so I didn't know quite a few of the directors in this film, but it was still interesting to hear another point of view about the world of making movies. Your name really needs to carry some weight for the producers to take you seriously, which is a shame for the people who want to make it in the business. I enjoyed watching Alec Baldwin work his charms with the various producers and movie moguls but after watching it for an hour and a half, it just seems like one big conversation without seeing any outcome. I think the film would have been much better if it was about a film that had already hit the cinemas.

I recommend this film to people who are into there documentaries about 2 people trying to get a budget for a movie. 4/10
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brianbarajas6 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
-Spoiler alert- Not sure how exactly to feel about this one. There is no script for these investors to read and they expect them to hand over millions of dollars for a remake of a classic movie that I felt doesn't need to be remade. I have to admit I enjoyed Marty and Gosling's look on Hollywood. I felt Coppola had a lot to get off his chest. Felt like he had more movie making in him, but couldn't find the funds. It makes one wonder how the hell Lucas found money to fund Star Wars. The bottom line of the documentary is that the passion of acting and directing are compromised by investors that just want a return for their investment. I would recommend anyone who is a fan of cinema to check this out. Alec Baldwin and James Toback work good together. Great last scene! Cheers!
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