The Outsider

Twenty-four-year-old NYU film-school graduate Nicholas Jarecki followed in the footsteps of older brothers Andrew and Eugene by making his feature debut with a documentary on a controversial topic. But while Andrew examined child-abuse hysteria and domestic dysfunction in CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS (2003) and Eugene tackled the root causes of American intervention...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Twenty-four-year-old NYU film-school graduate Nicholas Jarecki followed in the footsteps of older brothers Andrew and Eugene by making his feature debut with a documentary on a controversial topic. But while Andrew examined child-abuse hysteria and domestic dysfunction in CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS (2003) and Eugene tackled the root causes of American intervention in Iraq in WHY WE FIGHT (2006), Nicholas opted for a brown-nosing portrait of professional provocateur James Toback, who's spent the better part of three decades making movies about feverish gambling, sex addiction and the allure of thug life. Jarecki, who met Toback while interviewing filmmakers for his book Breaking In: How 20 Film Directors Got Their Start, opens with the image of a nude and bloodied Harvey Keitel staring hollowly into the camera, the harrowing last moments of Toback's best film, FINGERS (1978). This is followed by sex, violence and philosophizing from BLACK AND WHITE (2000), EXPOSED (1983), BUGSY (1991), HARVARD MAN (2002), THE GAMBLER (1974) and TWO GIRLS AND A GUY (1998), after which Jarecki tracks the filmmaker through the production of his WHEN WILL I BE LOVED (2004), starting with a surprise offer of $2 million in financing if Toback can whip up a script and start shooting in three weeks. Born into wealth and educated at the Fieldston School and Harvard, Toback quickly reveals himself as an insufferable, opinionated blowhard who pontificates shamelessly about the art of the cinema while indulging his own obsessions on film. Jarecki rounds up a mind-bogglingly varied cast of admirers to attest to Toback's genius, from Norman Mailer and Woody Allen to Mike Tyson, Robert Downey Jr. and Bijou Phillips; but the cumulative effect is less than convincing once you realize the exact points at which their fixations dovetail with his. To Toback's professional credit, he does simultaneously pull together some kind of screenplay — however loose and subject to change — and prepped the production in the allotted three weeks, then shot a professional-looking, 81-minute feature on the streets of New York in 12 days while enticing luminaries ranging from Neve Campbell to then-Roc-a-Fella Records bigwig Damon Dash to add their luster to the endeavor. That WHEN WILL I BE LOVED turns out to be a wallow in hip-hop vulgarity and naked flesh is no surprise, though Toback's astonishment when he has trouble finding a distributor is an eye-opener: His self-delusion truly knows no limits.

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  • Released: 2006
  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Twenty-four-year-old NYU film-school graduate Nicholas Jarecki followed in the footsteps of older brothers Andrew and Eugene by making his feature debut with a documentary on a controversial topic. But while Andrew examined child-abuse hysteria and domesti… (more)

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