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It’s 1992 and legendary director Jack Hussar (Danny Huston) has returned to Hollywood from Africa, looking to fund his new movie. Walking back into the bubble of the Hollywood elite, he is welcomed with both adoration and admonition. For the most part the film documents the charming filmmaker partying, smoking and drinking under the influence with the who’s who of tinseltown tailed by a wannabe producer come lackie called Brad…
One night he meets Diana (Sienna Miller) a socialite and bona fide beauty. The tryst is short-lived and that same night Jack manages to court another beauty and get pulled up for a DUI, needless to say he charms his way out of it and from then on things are on the up. Eventually securing money to produce his film (by beating a studio executive at a poker game of course) he leaves like a whirling dervish with no concern for those he has left behind.
Fast Forward twenty years on and the filmmaker’s son also named Jack (Jack Huston), arrives in Hollywood with perhaps more unfounded furor as the exciting new kid on the block who inherited his notorious father’s looks and quite possibly his filmmaking talent. Well it’s 2012 and there is more interest in his personal mistakes than his filmmaking capabilities, the money and backing is there but he loses it all without even playing a game. He inherits all of the perks without doing any of the hard work and just as quickly loses it.
Parallels are continuously drawn in the second half of the film reminding us how it the world was a lot more forgiving of celebrity. He also meets Diana’s daughter (humorously called Dana) with whom he tries to seduce, but neither display the sex appeal, charm or romance of their parents. A scene emblematic of this is when in a moment of courting Jack skulking on the patio and Dana on a balcony text flirt. Twenty years prior their parents had tangoed at a random party before hopping off into a Cadillac to Diana’s home where Jack professed his love in a poem-like declaration and they made love. I know which generation I prefer.
This is director Bernard Rose’s fourth Tolstoy (Two Hussars) adaptation. I haven’t seen his others but I’m also not a Tolstoy fan. What I can say is that Rose clearly writes about what he knows and does it well. It’s funny, pretentious and something I can’t say I have seen much of before. Danny Huston cuts a grand figure in this sort of behind the scenes of the Hollywood filmmaker elite movie. He has such a presence on-screen that it’s a shame we don’t get to see more films with him in it. His real life nephew, Jack Huston (Boardwalk Empire) is definitely one career i’ll be watching with interest, handsome, likable, articulate and exuding charm not seen in many young Hollywood actors of late.
Not quite a mockumentary but its handheld style* subsequently allows the film to feel realistic. The music is a nice homage to the culture the story originated from and it’s definitely an interesting adaptation that isn’t over the top plagued by special effects and too many stars.
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*In a Q&A with Rose, he bemoaned any reasoning to this being a style and simply put it down to having limited funds to hire a full camera crew. He wrote, directed and shot the film on a 7D!!!