Wednesday, February 10, 2010

cinema obscura: Bill Guttentag's "Live!" (2007)

No one plays hungry restlessness better than Mendes
One modern Cinema Obscura that I always wanted to see is Bill Guttentag's "Live!," which, to the best of my knowledge, never received a U.S. theatrical release between its Tribeca Film Festival screening on 28 April 2007 and its under-the-radar DVD release on 1 December, 2009.

Guttentag, an Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker (2003's "Twin Towers"), made his fiction-film debut with "Live!" and, on paper, it sounds like a compelling doozy, mockumentary-style, with the always game Eva Mendes vamping as a network's cynical president of prime-time programming who comes up with an idea for the ultimate reality series - a weekly game of Russian Roulette, wherein contestants vie for $5 million.

With loaded guns.



I can't imagine any other actress, besides Mendes, who could pull off as premise as ballsy and deranged as this one.

"America's ever-elastic appetite for assimilating what was once offensive, rendering it both acceptable and profitable, gets a mostly deft satirical workout in 'Live!' Playing like 'Man Bites Dog' meets 'Network' retooled for the current media climate, well-cast venture from Oscar-winning docu vet Bill Guttentag incorporates its lacerating commentary about reality TV and fame into a suspenseful fake-docu format..."

So wrote Lisa Nesselson in her 1 October, 2007 review in

Guttentag's large cast also includes David Krumholtz as an eager young documentary filmmaker (and possible stand-in for the director), Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Missi Pyle, Andre Braugher, Paul Michael Glaser, Charlotte Ross, Katie Cassidy, Rob Brown and Jay Hernandez.

"Live!" will receive a rare screening at the ever-enterprising
Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, CA. at 7 p.m. on Sunday, 7 March. Guttentag, who also directed the recent "Soundtrack for a Revolution" documentary, will be present to introduce and discuss his film. Wish I could be there.


mwerton said...

Was thinking about Mendes earlier today, after having a discussion with a friend about Herzog's "Bad Lieutenant." I thought she was great in it, just great, and she's a lot of fun opposite Will Smith in "Hitch." But I believe her one truly great performance was in a Denzel Washington movie that, for the life of me, I can't remember. Help!

joe baltake said...

The film is Carl Franklin's "Out of Time," a solid, tidy little policier.

Joanna said...

It’s great to see good information being shared and also to see fresh, creative ideas that have never been done before.

Ben said...

Joe, thank you so much for alerting me the existence of LIVE! I love when docu filmmakers attempt narratives and Guttentag's "Twin Towers" remains one of the most hauntingly effective docs I've seen in recent years.

Randy said...

I think we’re in a very small club, Joe, in regard to Eva Mendes.

jbryant said...

I'm in the Eva Mendes club, too. STUCK ON YOU was the one that recruited me, and she had great moments in WE OWN THE NIGHT, too. OUT OF TIME is underrated and seems to be nearly forgotten already.

LIVE! sounds like it would make a good double feature with Daniel Minahan's SERIES 7: THE CONTENDERS.