Friday, June 29, 2012

"The Man from Elysian Fields" deals with the old-fashioned model for a writer's life

Another film that deals, from a contrapositional perspective, on the issue of self-created fame and success is “The Man from Elysian Fields”, released in 2002 by Samuel Goldwyn Films, from Fireworks pictures and Gold Circle, and directed by George Hickenlooper.

In fact, the anti-hero, novelist Bryan (Andy Garcia) is in a typical “midlist” crisis with his trade publisher. His last book was “Hitler’s Child” and now his editor says he writes stale novels no one wants to read.  And he is running out of money, and his wife Dena (Julianna Margulies), badgering him about his ability to support a family, doesn’t quite grasp his professional problems – or does she?

After some teasing in a nearby office in Pasadena, he takes a job as a male escort (legitimate) for rich women. The agency, Elysian, is run by a ghostly character Luther Fox (Nick Jagger), who takes the movie into what anticipates the world of “The Woman in the Fifth” (June 19).  Luther even asks (while Bryan is well dressed in  “good clothes”, “do you have much body hair?”  We’ve seen Andy Garcia in other movies. We won’t need to here.

Bryan gets hooked up with rich lad Olivia (Andrea).  It turns out she’s married to a really successful author Alcott (James Coburn), who is dying of diabetes, kidney failure, and related disease.  Bryan befriends Alcott (he even encourages Bryan as a “sub” in bed to satisfy Olivia, even if a gigolo ), and, after some tension among them, helps Alcott write a really great book that would solve all of Bryan’s own problems with his own reputation as a writer.  But Olivia insists that he remain a “ghostwriter” and that only her husband (and the estate) be known for the book.  (Note: Summit's "The Ghostwriter" is reviewed here Feb. 27, 2010.)

There’s one more twist at the end – but this movie is indeed a tale of the issues of ego and pride that go with content creators.  There is an aphorism, “Write what others want.”

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