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.

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