Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

#51 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:28 pm

She can still work in Hollywood as a writer, usually as a script doctor. (She's done quite a few films for Nichols.) But it's highly unlikely any studio will take a risk on a senior-aged woman who hasn't directed a film in so long, especially one with her methods. Even a sleek pro like Kathryn Bigelow found it tough to get certain jobs before The Hurt Locker - one TV producer went on-record saying there's no way he would've considered her until The Hurt Locker came along. Not saying it's fair, but that's the business, it sucks.

Also, bear in mind she may have some trepidation directing another feature too. I don't know the history behind her first two films, but the next and last two were hell to deal with. Ishtar is the best-known, but even with Mikey & Nicky, there were lawsuits, a fight with the studio that tried to smear her as crazy and unreliable, and the film was basically dumped. So I wouldn't be surprised if she didn't have any interest or the energy to do another Hollywood film, and given the budgets she's used to and her age, it's doubtful she'll give low-budget indie filmmaking a try. (Not even Elia Kazan or Nick Ray had a happy time with it when they tried at the end of their careers.)

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hearthesilence
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Re: Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

#52 Post by hearthesilence » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:29 pm

Roger Ryan wrote:Well, she is 81 now. I have no idea if she has attempted to get any further films made, but making appearances at award dinners and museum screenings seems like a fine way to spend one's retirement.
Exactly. To be fair, she's still incredibly sharp and she looks really good for 81, I was surprised.

FWIW, sometimes you get the impression that cinephiles view their favorites like they were superhuman, and that's understandable. I get that idea about great filmmakers too: "Just give them the budget, the opportunity, and they'll knock it out of the park."

But talking openly to filmmakers in private, whether it's indie or big-budget, documentary or narrative, you really understand how shitty and difficult it is just to make any movie. It takes a lot out of you, whether it's the process, the politics or the business, or the distribution...so sometimes I think asking these people "why don't you make another movie?" is like asking "why don't you climb Mt. Everest again? You've done it before, so why not give it another shot now that you're more worn down?"

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Moe Dickstein
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Re: Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

#53 Post by Moe Dickstein » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:15 pm

That is one of the truest things I've read lately.

Coming from someone who had a go picture, even at a pretty small budget level fall apart on me just a couple months from shooting. All you can do is take a bit of time to get your head straight then put on your climbing gear and set out on the next trek...

stroszeck
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Re: Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

#54 Post by stroszeck » Thu Aug 08, 2013 11:20 am

You guys all make valid comments on her age, filmmaking in general, but keep in mind May was going strong through the 1980s and after Ishtar, 1987, she never directed another feature. She was much more vibrant and energetic I'm assuming 25 years ago and yet never was either afforded the opportunity to helm a film or didn't want to and I think its a shame either way.

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Moe Dickstein
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Re: Ishtar (Elaine May, 1987)

#55 Post by Moe Dickstein » Thu Aug 08, 2013 12:15 pm

She only got to do Ishtar due to Beatty's intense efforts and championing. She really only had one commercial success with The Heartbreak Kid, so the studios were already done with her after Her last film. There's a lot about this in the book about Puttnam running Columbia.

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