Many, many years ago, I had the misfortune of reading and reviewing Bill Clinton’s skin-crawlingly dull, 1,000-plus page memoir, My Life. You would imagine a man with such a fascinating life and gift for oratory would deliver a crackerjack autobiography, but instead, I was subjected to endless discussions of the souvenirs Clinton picked up during his world travels and sleep-inducing accounts of foreign-policy endeavors. Meanwhile, Clinton tossed off his affair with Monica Lewinsky in what felt like less than a paragraph, roughly along the lines of, “I had an inappropriate sexual relationship with an intern named Monica Lewinsky I regretted,” before dazzling readers with more accounts of a ceremonial spear he was given while visiting dignitaries in Congo.
For a fascinating man about whom, if anything, far too much is already known, Bill Clinton is an awfully guarded man, highly sensitive about his reputation and legacy. So it should not come as much of a surprise that a documentary Martin Scorsese was making about the former president has been cancelled after, according to Reuters, “Clinton demanded more direction over the interview questions and the final product.”
Having read Clinton’s doorstop of a tome, I suspect Clinton wanted questions more along the lines of, “Tell me more about your many foreign-policy achievements during your distinguished eight years in office,” while Scorsese, being a great storyteller fascinated by flawed, powerful men, probably wanted to ask Clinton questions that might fall under the rubric of “interesting” or “worthwhile.”
HBO insists that while the project has been characterized as “indefinitely shelved,” it might still see the light of day at some point, although the very real possibility that Clinton’s wife Hillary will run for president in the next election makes it likely that Bill will be even more tight-lipped and protective of his secrets than he was before.
Scorsese, who is like the Energizer Bunny of New York filmmakers (there’s a timely reference for you young people!), isn’t letting the project’s stalling slow him down. As we reported earlier today, he’s finally secured funding for his esoteric, two-decades-in-the-making dream project Silence, which our own Charles Bramesco described as a “ long-gestating adaptation of Shusaku Endo’s novel about Jesuit missionaries traveling through 17th-century Japan in search of their elder, who may or may not have experienced a recent lapse of faith.”
Sounds like boffo box office to us, and maybe Scorsese can try to mend fences with Clinton by offering Clinton a cameo in the film. After all, Clinton does have lots of experience traveling abroad, if my fuzzy memories of his horrible, horrible book are any indication.