Director and New Hollywood legend James Toback has always hewed close to William Blake’s path of wisdom: more, more, more. When his rough and raw films work—see Fingers (1978) or Black and White (1999)—all that excess and exorcising of personal demons make for exciting, go-for-broke cinema. When they don’t (that would be almost everything else), those intellectual digressions and improvisatory acting-workshop scenes degenerate into a mess in a dress. Toback’s real talent, however, lies in being a raconteur. He has yet to make a movie that’s half as engrossing as listening to him hold court.
Part making-of doc and part free-form spiel, Nicholas Jarecki’s portrait of a bullshit artist as a middle-aged man comes mighty close to giving viewers the full tongue-untied Toback experience. Following the filmmaker as he shot 2004’s When Will I Be Loved, the movie gives the man of the hour plenty of room to wax about his favorite topics—drugs, Dostoyevsky, sex and the thrill of throwing it all on the line. You almost wish that Jarecki had included more Toback rants instead of celebrity interviews, though the joy of hearing Mike Tyson declare that the director is a kindred spirit, and of watching Brett Ratner break the record for name-dropping Warren Beatty (3.5 seconds) makes up for the occasional hagiographic testimony. (Opens Fri; Cinema Village.)—David Fear