The Outsider

"Weak"

The Outsider Review


Everyone in Nicholas Jarecki's The Outsider is sure of one thing: James Toback is a genius. Some of the interviewees stray by talking about his gambling troubles, his womanizing and his profound stance on not selling out, but it always comes back to the fact that these things make him some sort of unrecognized genius. True, Toback has made good movies (Harvard Man, The Pick-Up Artist) and, yes, even great movies (Fingers), but here, it is presupposed that we should be diverting all Hollywood dollars to the man's doorstep.

Director Nicholas Jarecki, a relative of the genius documentary brothers Eugene and Andrew Jarecki, really loves Toback and his way of thinking. The heart of the film is following Toback while he is directing his 2004 dud When Will I Be Loved, which had to be filmed in 12 days on the behest of scheduling problems. A parade of friends as diverse as Robert Downey Jr., Woody Allen, and Brett Ratner talk about Toback's style and why his films, notoriously personal and unyielding to audience expectations, are so good but so unseen.

Though the film is centered on the shooting of When Will I Be Loved, the shoot isn't particularly interest nor does it really bring any nuanced vision on how Toback operates. One can't hope for Lost in La Mancha, but the film has no other structuring element, causing the film to come off as scatterbrained and often embarrassing in it's worship of Toback.

The really entertaining parts are the interviews with people who know him well; his agent talks about how his first interaction with Toback, where James asked for a huge loan. Jim Brown talks about his orgiastic experiences with Toback when he was working as a sportswriter. Robert Downey Jr. offers the most personal reading of James Toback's persona, seeing both the lovable filmmaker he has become and the angry man ("revenge specialist") that he has the potential to be.

Recently, I reviewed a documentary about Frank Gehry. What made that film so openly honest and great was that director Sydney Pollock spent a good amount of time talking to people who don't think much of Gehry and exploring why he might not be a perfect genius. The Outsider doesn't deal with that idea at all, thus it becomes a piece of maddening hero worship. Toback, as interesting a character as you're likely to see or listen to, deserves a more chiseled, balanced portrait. The kicker: Any true genius would more than likely laugh in your face if you called him one. Toback must be in riotous laughter, somewhere in NYC.

Brooke, you're smug!



The Outsider

Facts and Figures

Run time: 94 mins

In Theaters: Tuesday 11th March 2014

Budget: $4M

Distributed by: RLJ Entertainment/Image Entertainment

Production compaines: Hollywood Media Bridge, Zero Gravity Management

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 5%
Fresh: 1 Rotten: 20

IMDB: 4.7 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Nicholas Jarecki

Producer: Nicholas Jarecki

Starring: as Detective Klein, as Lex, as Schuuster, as Margo, as Samantha, as Ricky, as Girl 1, Greg Sproles as Gunman 2, Chelsea Bruland as Marissa, Mark Oliver as Hassellbring, Tim Fields as Detective Kennedy, Brian A Miller as Dr. Holden

Also starring:

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