What Just Happened?
- Kaleem Aftab
- 2 October 2008
Tales about the mechanics of the movie industry and the bloated egos that work within it are the stuff of fantasy to filmmakers. Robert Altman’s The Player is pretty much the definitive account of Hollywood, although that hasn’t stopped films such as Albert Brook’s The Muse recounting even more ludicrous tales of madcap directors, runaway budgets and public relations disasters.
The Barry Levinson-directed What Just Happened? is based on the autobiography of much-admired Hollywood producer Art Linson and features Robert De Niro as a washed-up producer living off former glories and desperate for another hit before his faltering reputation goes completely down the toilet. De Niro’s character has also got to pay lots of alimony to his former wives. It’s a subject the actor should know a lot about, but that still doesn’t help the acting legend give anything more than a perfunctory performance.
Star cameos are a staple in yarns about the film industry and the best here sees Bruce Willis threaten to jeopardise a movie by refusing to shave his beard. The laboured, almost morose storytelling style doesn’t help either, although those interested in the behind-the-scenes machinations of movie production will definitely find something to keep them entertained.