One of Seduced’s keenest insights is that the $4-5 million number they’re pitched and the $200-plus million blockbuster budget seem to be the only two options in Hollywood these days; mid-range pictures, studio dramas for grown-ups, used to be a viable corner of the industry but are all but impossible to get made now. It’s all part of what Baldwin calls the “earnest, completely serious pursuit of the risk-free movie business.” It is a business, he explained at 92Y, which has been taken over by people “who not only don’t know what a good movie is — they don’t even like movies.”
It’s easy to get cynical about it all, particularly as you watch, in their film, studio heads explaining who really makes the decisions now, and money guys making depressing assumptions about what audiences want. But Seduced is not a downer. It is, first and foremost, a tribute to Cannes, where the two men enjoyed what Toback called “11 days of ecstasy — not the drug, the experience.” And it is a love letter to the movies, with testimonials from Bernardo Bertolucci, Roman Polanski, Martin Scorsese, and Francis Ford Coppola on the power of cinema to transform, to elevate, to provide an escape. On Friday, Baldwin recalled Bertolucci telling him, “When I’m shooting, it’s like an ocean of pleasure.” Seduced and Abandoned knows that feeling — and the anguish of endlessly pursuing it.