The New York Post spoke with director James Toback on Friday about his ongoing feud with Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum. Toback's latest film, When Will I Be Loved, met with decidedly mixed reviews opon release last fall. Roger Ebert called it a "masterpiece", but Schwarzbaum was less impressed. In EW's year-end issue, she refered to Toback's film as  "a muddled bitch-in-heat fantasy" as well as a "compost heap", and placed it on her list of 2004's worst films, right alongside the Ben Affleck debacle Surviving Christmas.

When Will I Be Loved, starring Party of Five's Neve Campbell, tells the story of a sexually adventurous young woman who turns the tables on the two men who attempt to exploit her. It features several scenes of explicit sex, one of which, according to Ebert's review, "seems gratuitous at the time but later seems necessary". Toback claims that Schwarzbaum just couldn't handle the racy content, and that her attack was personal. He's quoted in the Post:

Any woman who is sexually desiccated should excuse herself from reviewing a movie about sex. It's like a guy who has trouble with addition writing about the theory of relativity.

Love him or hate him, Toback is one of the rare artists working today making unabashedly personal, feature-length narrative films. I haven't seen When Will I Be Loved, but I've long had a guilty soft-spot for his work – especially Two Girls and a Guy, in which Robert Downey, Jr. gives one of the best human train-wreck performances I've ever seen.

That said, there's something undeniably offensive about a male filmmaker responding to a female critic's negative review by whipping out the "Baby just needs to get laid" card.

I'm curious - what do those who have seen the film think about all this? Is Lisa Schwarzbaum on to something? Or should she take Toback's advice and just mount something?

categories Cinematical