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