‘Framing John DeLorean’ Review: Meta-Doc Takes Various Tracks to Explore What Drove the Carmaker

A curious experiment that may be best suited to the freedom of a festival setting, “Framing John DeLorean” aims to finally crack the mystery of its titular subject. As we learn early on, the erstwhile car magnate has inspired several filmmakers over many years, but few of them have, until now, gotten their projects off the ground. (One exception this film neglects to mention is recent festival competitor “Driven,” starring Lee Pace as DeLorean.)

Directors Sheena M. Joyce and Don Argott are not just up-front about the difficulty DeLorean’s personality poses; they turn his opacity into prime motivation. This ambitious approach is, unfortunately, more intriguing than effective. That may be because, as the filmmakers freely admit, DeLorean appears impossible to know. They do make an unusually concerted effort though, approaching him from no less than three separate angles.

At first it appears that we’re watching a traditional documentary, in which various colleagues and relatives share their observations alongside well-sourced footage. We learn about the workaholic General Motors executive who developed cars like the GTO, Firebird, and Grand Prix. We hear his trajectory all the way to renowned entrepreneur, as the CEO of the DeLorean Motor Company. His children tell us about his role as a devoted, upstanding father.

Watch Video: Alec Baldwin Is Hollywood’s Dream Lead Man in ‘Framing John DeLorean’ Trailer

But if the story ended there, no one would be interested in making a movie about him today. On the personal side, it unfolds, he divorced his first wife to marry a teenager when he was in his 40s. His third wife, supermodel Cristina Ferrare, was famously and publicly loyal, until the day she left him and never looked back. And that happened after this upright paragon of American ingenuity wound up being arrested for an enormous cocaine deal, which he insisted he knew nothing about.

How to reconcile so many conflicting elements? Argott and Joyce have chosen to do so through both fictional re-enactments and off-screen analysis by the actors playing these characters. Re-enactments are tricky to pull off in the best of circumstances, and here they fall almost entirely flat. As DeLorean’s colleague, Bill Collins, Josh Charles is so underused as to be an afterthought. Morena Baccarin has a few nice moments as Ferrare, but can’t compete against the star charisma of the real woman as seen in original footage.

Watch Video: ‘Driven’ Director Found Humor and Tension in John DeLorean’s Cocaine-Fueled Story

And DeLorean, well. You’d think landing Alec Baldwin as a lead would be a pretty big coup for independent documentarians. (He was a fan of their very fine museum doc, “The Art of the Steal.”) And he is as engaging as usual. But Baldwin doesn’t remotely resemble DeLorean, and the movie’s trick of interviewing him while he’s getting makeup and prostheses applied only highlights the fact that he’s been miscast.

Meshing this very challenge into the film’s structure is an admirably bold gambit, but one that ultimately doesn’t pay off. Baldwin and Baccarin spend a lot of time wondering what motivated DeLorean and Ferrare, but — like the movie itself — never come to any satisfying conclusion. Watching actors speculate on people they’ve never known just winds up feeling like a feint.

Much more effective are the real moments: the surveillance tape of DeLorean’s drug bust, footage of Phil Donahue publicly assessing his guest’s failures to his face, the open disgust of an agent who helped take him down. Also memorable is the revelation that the DeLorean time machine in “Back to the Future” — which turned out to be, improbably, its creator’s most lasting legacy — was almost a refrigerator instead.

Watch Video: ‘Back to the Future’ Stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd Reunite for Car Ad

And most compelling of all are the interviews with the two people who come closest to answering, or at least addressing, the question that overwhelms this entire project. DeLorean’s daughter Kathryn and son Zach are fascinatingly candid in their analysis of a deeply complex man. They grapple openly and thoughtfully with the many contradictions in his history, from his heights as a Manhattan multi-millionaire to his final, bankrupt days in a one-bedroom apartment in New Jersey.

As Zach says, his dad’s story ought to make for an ideal movie. “I mean, it’s got all the good s–t in it,” he notes. “It’s got cocaine, it’s got f–kin’ hot chicks, it’s got sports cars, f–kin’ Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan, the war on drugs, you got FBI agents, you got f–kin’ hardcore drug dealers… ” He’s right: that does sound like an inevitable blockbuster. And his insistent honesty all the way through strips away the trickery employed by both his father and, now, his father’s long-awaited life story.



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John Singleton Dies: Trailblazing ‘Boyz N The Hood’ Filmmaker Was 51

John Singleton, the groundbreaking film director, screenwriter and producer, died Monday in Los Angeles after suffering a stroke on April 17. He was 51. A family spokesperson said Singleton passed away peacefully at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, surroun…

John Singleton’s Daughter Disputes Claim That Filmmaker Is in a Coma

Cleopatra Singleton, filmmaker John Singleton’s adult daughter, claimed in a court filing Friday that her father is “not in a coma” and that her grandmother, Sheila Ward, is “misrepresenting” his medical condition.

According to court documents obtained by TheWrap, Cleopatra Singleton opposes Ward’s petition to be named conservator of her father and his estate, calling Ward’s behavior toward Singleton and his children “disturbing.” She further said that in a family meeting with doctors two days ago, she was told her father’s condition is “progressing every day” and he could be out of the ICU within five days.

“My father is breathing on his own. He is only medically sedated to keep his blood pressure low and allow the vessels in his brain t0 heal,” Cleopatra Singleton wrote. “My father responds to stimuli and has even smiled on many occasions.”

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Cleopatra Singleton believed that it would be a conflict of interest if her grandmother, who is also Singleton’s personal and business manager, would be “in control of both his medical and business affairs.”

“She has abused this position particularly pertaining to the support of his children,” her filing states. “Sadly my father’s allowed his mother to stay in that position out of fear and obligation to her as she’s bullied and abandoned my father since he was small child, leaving him emotionally defenseless. She had already stated that she plans to liquidate his assets immediately and leave his children with nothing, even to go as far as to sell his house and remove his girlfriend and infant son the premises.”

Cleopatra Singleton recommends that her older brother Maasai or her grandfather Danny be named conservator of her father and his estate instead of Ward.

A representative for Singleton did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

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On Thursday, Ward filed court documents that claimed Singleton had suffered a “major stroke” and was in a coma, a claim that conflicted with an earlier statement from Singleton’s family that he had only suffered a minor stroke.

According to the papers, Ward claimed that Singleton was engaged in several business projects and was prepared to sign a lucrative settlement agreement on or about April 30, 2019 “at the time of his stroke.” Ward added that Singleton’s estate will suffer “substantial financial loss” if a temporary conservator is not in place to execute the settlement agreement.

Singleton is the Oscar-nominated director of “Boyz n the Hood,” “Shaft” (2000) and “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

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From ‘Vogue’ to ‘Spotlight’: Steve Golin Remembered for Supporting Filmmakers, Spotting Talent

Steve Golin, the founder and CEO of Anonymous Content, was remembered Monday for supporting projects as varied as David Fincher’s video for Madonna’s “Vogue” to David Lynch’s “Wild at Heart” to the Oscar-winning “Spotlight.”

The long list of directors Golin championed includes Fincher, Lynch, Michael Bay, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Antoine Fuqua, Debra Granik and Sam Esmail. He died at age 64 after battling cancer.

“My heart is broken. Rest In Peace, Steve Golin,” Esmail said in a tweet Monday. He was one of many filmmakers and industry insiders who remember Golin’s immense impact on American cinema.

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“I would not have a career if it weren’t for Steve, and the same can be said for scores of writers, actors, directors and producers,” tweeted “Quarry” producer and writer Michael D. Fuller. “His advocacy on behalf of his fellow artists was unparalleled. This is just devastating.”

“Steve Golin gave more to this world than he took, he inspired and allowed so many of us to reach our full potential,” tweeted documentarian Brett Morgen. “He was a great man who left us way too soon. He will be deeply missed but his spirit will continue to grow in our deeds and work.”

Upon founding Propaganda Films in the mid-’80s along with his partner Joni Sighvatsson, Golin was one of the first to recognize the potential for visionary filmmaking and talent to be found within the boom of music videos during the heyday of MTV.

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Propaganda developed music videos for Madonna, Sting, Paula Abdul, Guns N’ Roses and more. Golin was known for a creative mind, business acumen and a gift for spotting talent.

Madonna’s iconic video for “Vogue” was directed by David Fincher, who proved to be one of Propaganda’s earliest discoveries and led Golin to put Propaganda’s stamp on some of Fincher’s early films like “The Game” and “Alien 3.” Propaganda also purchased the film rights to the novel “Wild at Heart,” which David Lynch was inspired to direct himself after Golin brought it into the fold.

“He said, ‘If you don’t mind, I’d like to do this one myself,’” Golin recalled of Lynch in a 1990 Los Angeles Times profile.

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A 2004 Los Angeles Times piece described Golin hiring Michael Bay after watching a video reel featuring Donny Osmond and a spec commercial for Coke. He brought Spike Jonze into the company after seeing a few skateboarding videos. Golin sat in the editing room for hours on end with Michel Gondry while crafting “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.”

“People want to work with Steve because they trust him,” said “Eternal Sunshine” writer Charlie Kaufman in the 2004 Times profile. “He’s a very real guy, and he’s always been creatively helpful.”

Anonymous Content also found untapped potential in the screenplays listed on the annual Black List. The organization tweeted their praise of Golin on Monday, calling him “an ally to storytellers in Hollywood.” Among the Black List screenplays Golin produced were “The Beaver,” “Fun Size,” “Triple Nine,” “Married Life,” “Rendition,” “Babel,” “The Revenant,” and “Spotlight,” the latter of which earned Golin an Oscar when “Spotlight” won Best Picture.

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“It’s all about material,” Golin told the LA Times in 2004. “We have all these great directors at our company, but they could all be my best friend and if I don’t have good material, they’re going to go off and work somewhere else.”

Some of the online reaction to Golin’s passing is below.

My heart is broken. Rest In Peace, Steve Golin.

— Sam Esmail (@samesmail) April 22, 2019

So sad to hear Steve Golin has passed away. A champion of diverting, cutting edge cinema. I fondly remember us doing a Q&A at the New Beverly for ‘Wild At Heart’ sitting with him at the back as it rocked the place. Then Laura Dern showed up bringing Lynch with her! A magic night.

— edgarwright (@edgarwright) April 22, 2019

Straight up, Steve Golin is one of the people whose careers I aspired toward. We were at a dinner together less than three weeks ago. What a colossal loss to everyone in the film and television industry and who watches film or television.

Damn.

— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) April 22, 2019

I would not have a career if it weren’t for Steve, and the same can be said for scores of writers, actors, directors and producers. His advocacy on behalf of his fellow artists was unparalleled. This is just devastating. https://t.co/BcT2Jt8Vmt

— Michael D. Fuller (@michaeldfuller) April 22, 2019

Steve Golin gave more to this world than he took, he inspired and allowed so many of us to reach our full potential. He was a great man who left us way too soon. He will be deeply missed but his spirit will continue to grow in our deeds and work.

— Brett Morgen (@brettmorgen) April 22, 2019

RIP Steve Golin, an ally to storytellers in Hollywood who helped usher Black List scripts like SPOTLIGHT, THE REVENANT, BABEL, RENDITION, THE BEAVER, FUN SIZE, TRIPLE NINE, and MARRIED LIFE to the screen.

You will be dearly missed, Steve. pic.twitter.com/9QMwYRLZAM

— The Black List (@theblcklst) April 22, 2019

From WILD AT HEART to SPOTLIGHT and THE REVENANT Steve Golin was a producer with near impeccable taste. RIP. https://t.co/JqOGDK1DnF

— Richard Shepard (@SaltyShep) April 22, 2019

Steve Golin was one of the first people to believe that I had a vision worth fighting for. There was so much I loved about him but my favorite thing was how much he loved Joy Gorman. I will miss him.

— Dana Fox (@inthehenhouse) April 22, 2019

By all accounts, Steve Golin was the best. His legacy of incredible talents that he nurtured, films he fought to make and colleagues he believed in will live on.

— Sarah Schechter (@SarahSoWitty) April 22, 2019

This one feels beyond sad, heavy and difficult. Steve Golin created spaces and atmosphere directors could create and thrive in. A rare gift in Hollywood. Propaganda Films was such and my memories and the memories many are with Steve and his family today. Thank you and RIP SG.

— Paul Rachman (@paulrachman) April 22, 2019

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‘Be Natural’ Film Review: Documentary Celebrates Influential Female Filmmaker, Erased by History

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