Five More Films about Filmmaking

To celebrate our screening of Maurice Hatton’s Long Shot (1978), about a couple of filmmakers struggling to get their dream project set up at 1977’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, and after the first five, we recommend another five films about filmmaking…

Crime Wave

Crime Wave (John Paizs, 1985). Dunno what it is about Winnipeg, but they unaccountably love Phantom of the Paradise more than anywhere on Earth and every so often they produce an outsider filmmaker par excellence. Perhaps most notably, Winnipeg gave us Guy Maddin and John Paizs – the latter responsible for this, unfortunately (and barely) released the year before Sam Raimi’s Crimewave (1986), condemning it to be overlooked in perpetuity. Which is a shame, because it’s great – a tongue-in-cheek homage to 1940s/1950s American screen culture, it features Paizs himself as a struggling screenwriter who can only write beginnings and endings.

Barton Fink2

Barton Fink (Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, 1991). Speaking of writer’s block, has there ever been a better take on it than the Coens’? Never mind that the brothers insist they don’t suffer from it (work on Miller’s Crossing had simply slowed to a crawl, so they took a break to develop Fink), or that no-one really agrees on what it’s about. It’s still John Turturro’s signature role, give or take a Jesus, the root of an excellent Simpsons joke and still one of the Coens’ all-time best.

Living

Living In Oblivion (Tom DiCillo, 1995). Still pretty much the go-to reference point for films about indie filmmaking, this was inspired by DiCillo’s experiences making the extremely early-90s Johnny Suede and not making his passion project Box of Moonlight, ultimately his follow-up to Oblivion). Particularly notable for the shade it casts on Johnny Suede star Brad Pitt via his stand-in character, Chad Palomino (James LeGros), and Peter Dinklage’s diatribe against Hollywood  cliché (“I don’t even have dreams with dwarves in them!”).

Cecil B Demented3

Cecil B Demented (John Waters, 2000). One of the best late-period Waters but weirdly not the most loved. Cecil B Demented (Stephen Dorff) is the leader of a cell of kamikaze filmmakers – the SprocketHoles – who kidnap film star diva Honey Whitlock (Melanie Griffith) to force her to act in their film. Maybe it’s a little inside baseball – it’ll help if you know your Premingers from your Peckinpahs – but that’s almost part of the joke. It’s a Matchbox favourite (we screened it in April 2015) with a ridiculously prescient cast (early roles for Michael Shannon and Maggie Gyllenhaal among many others) and really just gets better with age.

The Independent

The Independent (Stephen Kessler, 2000). From the celebrated director of Vegas Vacation (1997) and featuring playing-themselves cameos from Peter Bogdanovich, Karen Black, Roger Corman, Ted Demme, Ron Howard and Fred Williamson, this is a mockumentary portrait of Morty Fineman (Ben’s dad Jerry Stiller), a Lloyd Kaufman-style master of the B-movie. He’s over the hill and down on his luck, but banking on an unlikely comeback – in fact, his struggle to get  a dream project made and his career on track mimics that of the stars of Long Shot. How’s that for putting a bow on it?

Sean Welsh


Long Shot screens at CCA on Thursday 21/07. Tickets are on sale now.

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Five Films about Filmmaking

To celebrate our screening of Maurice Hatton’s Long Shot (1978), about a couple of filmmakers struggling to get their dream project set up at 1977’s Edinburgh International Film Festival, we recommend five more films about filmmaking…

The Bad and the Beautiful3

The Bad and the Beautiful (Vincente Minnelli, 1952). Kirk Douglas, Lana Turner and a nice fictionalisation of Val Lewton’s inspiration for Cat People (here rendered as Doom of the Cat Men) – a pivotal moment for horror cinema – help make this a whole lot of fun to watch.

8 1:2

8 1/2 (Federico Fellini, 1963). The poster, as posters tend to do, gets it wrong on purpose – Fellini’s masterpiece of masterpieces is kind of about how the women in his life became “a living part of his erotic fantasies” but also much more besides. It blends beautiful, crisp black and white cinematography with surreal fantasy sequences, comic and strange and insightful, in a ridiculously inventive tale nominally about writer’s block. In a lot of ways, it’s the ultimate film about filmmaking, since it’s so comfortably about its maker – which they all are, really.

Beware of a Holy Whore

Beware of a Holy Whore (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1971). Fassbinder’s 8 1/2! Spinning off on the making of his previous film, Whity (1971), this depicts the cast and crew of a film wallowing interminably in the slow chaos of a hotel lobby, awaiting the promised arrival of their director to justify their existence. It’s been described as “a vicious look at behind-the-scenes dysfunction”, which about covers it.

day for night

Day for Night (François Truffaut, 1973). AKA La Nuit Americaine, from the French term for the technique of of shooting film in daylight which is then processed to appear night. Truffaut cast himself as the director of  Je vous Présente Pamela (Meet Pamela), a troubled – or entirely average – production. An affectionate and even romantic consideration of film and filmmaking, it was also the film that deepened the schism between Truffaut and his erstwhile compatriot Jean-Luc Godard, who walked out of a screening, decrying Day For Night as dishonest and shamefully apolitical (later he would demand Truffaut invested 10 million francs in his next film).

The Day of the Locust

The Day of the Locust (John Schlesinger, 1975). Based on Nathaneal West’s classic Hollywood novel of the same name, this is perhaps a less classic film from the director of Midnight Cowboy. Set in pre-WWII Hollywood, it’s about the dissolute dreamers, also-rans and doomed fuck-ups circling the drain of the Hollywood dream. It’s an odd film, bizarre even, with Donald Sutherland’s Homer Simpson (yep) eventually sparking a riot by stomping 14-year-old child star Adore (a fresh-faced Jackie Earle Hayley) to death in a car lot.

Sean Welsh


Long Shot screens at CCA on Thursday 21/07. Tickets are on sale now.