Nicholas Jarecki’s The Outsider doesn’t have the edge of a race-conscious James Toback film. Shot during the filming of the director’s fine When Will I Be Loved, this documentary portrait of the esoteric motormouth behind provocations like Fingers and Black and White has the flimsy feel of a behind-the-scenes featurette you might find on a DVD. Whole stretches of the film are scored to songs (like Chicago’s “If You Leave Me Now”) Toback would never include in his own work unless he was being sardonic—or shooting inside a Karaoke bar. Jarecki attempts to illuminate Toback’s creative and philosophical aesthetic through interviews with actors and colleagues, from the highbrow (Norman Mailer) to the gutterbrow (Brett Ratner), but we know everything we need to know about the obnoxious but chill Toback from his films and characters, none more instructive than Professor Hassan Al-Ibrahim Ben Rabinowitz from When Will I Be Loved. As a how-to guide for film students looking to negotiate the politics of the movie industry, Jarecki’s portraiture may be of interest. For everyone else, the documentary’s only appeal may be the commentaries from some of Toback’s biggest supporters, who have less to disclose about the man than they do about their own philosophies of the world—or lack thereof. “One of the colorful characters of New York” is how Woody Allen describes Toback during a rare on-set interview—an amusing disclosure coming from one of our most popular color-blind directors.
- Green Room Films and imMEDIAte pictures
- 85 min
- Nicholas Jarecki
- James Toback, Woody Allen, Robert Downey Jr., Harvey Keitel, Mike Tyson, Neve Campbell, Norman Mailer, Brooke Shields, Barry Levinson, Jim Brown, Robert Towne, Brett Ratner, Roger Ebert, Bijou Phillips, Jeff Berg, John Calley, Power from the Wu Tang Clan
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