Monday, 13 December 2010

Top Ten Movies About Hollywood

One thing the film industry loves doing making films about making films. Yet audiences love it to, giving us mere mortals a glimpse into the real Hollywood. This month sees the release of SOMEWHERE, the new film from Lost In Translation and The Virgin Suicides director Sofia Coppola, starring Stephen Dorff as an aimless Hollywood badboy who re-evaluates his life when he is re-united with his 11-year old daughter. It is a beautifully honest tale from Coppola, and to mark its release, we look down the ten best movies about Hollywood.

The Player
Robert Altman’s sprawling masterpiece stars Tim Robbins as a studio executive hounded by a disgruntled writer and trying to negotiate the malaise of Hollywood industry types and hangers-on. The film is littered with cameos from Hollywood stars, mostly notably Bruce Willis, who pops up in the tack-on happy ending to the ‘serious’ film Robbins is trying to produce.

Sunset Boulevard
This classic film noir tells the tale of aspiring writer who, desperate for cash, ends living with a faded silent movie queen losing her grip on sanity, attempting to write her comeback film. It is famously narrated by the protagonist from beyond the grave, and is one of the bleakest portrayals Hollywood has ever produced of itself.

LA Confidential
This adaption of James Ellroy’s epic 1950s set crime novel was one of the most critically acclaimed films of the 1990s. The film paints Hollywood as a grim and depressing land of failed dreams, dominated by sleazy scandals – the title refers to notorious 50s celeb gossip magazine Confidential, though its name is changed to the fictional ‘Hush-Hush’ in the film.

Bowfinger
This great little comedy celebrates the unsuccessful people in Hollywood. Steve Martin plays a wannabe film producer who persuades the identical brother of movie star Eddie Murphy (also played by Eddie Murphy) to star in his low-budget flick. It’s more slapstick than savage satire but the film is widely acknowledged to be the last funny film that both Martin and Murphy have made.

Get Shorty
John Travolta stars as a Miami loan shark who decides to get in to the only business more shifty than organised crime: the film industry. He pitches a thinly veiled version of his life story to B-Movie producer Gene Hackman, and he’s on his way. A fast paced satire on Hollywood, but avoid the sequel Be Cool, which tries, and completely fails, to do the same for music industry.

Singin’ In The Rain
Everyone remembers the songs and Gene Kelly’s dance moves from this classic musical, but what people often forget is the film also a very sharp tale of Hollywood’s history. Fictional studio Monumental Pictures is dragged into the sound era when their rivals strike gold with the first ‘talkie’ in this excellent example of Hollywood building its own myths.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
This classic comedy is not only a technical marvel but also a fantastically imaginative take on movie folklore. In alternate 1947 where animated characters aren’t drawn, they are real and live in an animated district of LA called Toontown, private eye Bob Hoskins is drawn into a web of corruption. The cameos from Mickey, Donald, Bugs et al are the icing on the cake.

Mullholland Drive
David Lynch’s surreal story of an aspiring actress trying to make it in Tinseltown is the sort of dreamlike take on Hollywood that only Lynch could make. Naomi Watts play as young actress who takes hypnotic non-linear trip through LA and the film industry, running into mobsters, scary cowboys and even Billy Ray Cyrus.

Barton Fink
In arguably the Coen Brother’s darkest film, the titular Barton Fink is a successful New York playwright who comes to LA chasing Hollywood’s gold, but gets stuck writing creatively unsatisfying ‘wrestling pictures’. A brilliant take on the battle between art and commerce, it also features an absolutely superb supporting turn from John Goodman.

Somewhere
Sophia Coppola’s new film stars Stephen Dorff as Johnny Marco, a Hollywood actor drifting aimlessly through the celebrity highlife. Then his 11-year-old daughter Cleo (Elle Fanning) from his failed marriage arrives at his hotel room unexpectedly. Beautifully shot, understated, sweet and touching, Coppola’s film draws on her life as Hollywood royalty and shows there is much more to life than fame and celebrity.

Somewhere is released on 10th December 2010.

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