“Is there a movie in it?”
A hot new director (Donald Sutherland) struggles to find material for his second film.
Paul Mazursky’s second movie — like his later Willie and Phil (1980) — is a shameless homage to the European filmmakers and stars he so idolizes. After the enormous success of his debut film (Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice), Mazursky chose to make a movie — a la Fellini’s 8 1/2 — about the creative process itself, and how a director’s quest for “true”, “meaningful” art is mediated by countless other influences (including pushy Hollywood moguls, monetary concerns, family, and all-around self-doubt). While it contains a few moments of hilarity and truth, however, Alex suffers from an enormous, insurmountable problem: these are not people one wants to spend time watching. Alex himself is annoyingly self-absorbed, and, with the exception of his wife and daughters, he’s surrounded by shallow, self-serving types. I was glad to see this autobiographical vanity project come to an end.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- A hilarious scene in which a Hollywood producer (Mazursky) propositions Alex with various inane movie ideas
- Ellen Burstyn as Alex’s supportive yet frustrated wife
No. Peary lists this in the back of his book as a Cult Movie, but I don’t think it’s essential viewing for film fanatics.