As you know, I love everything in the world, with the exception of three things. One of those things that I love is films about films.
That's probably because I'm pretentious and awful, having already discussed TV shows about TV shows. A lot of cinema is about cinema, but I'm talking about films that actually revolve around the production of fictional films. So here, because I'm a complete sucker for postmodernism, are my top 5 films about films:
5. Berberian Sound Studio
The wonderful Toby Jones plays a foley artist who leaves his quiet English life to work on an Italian giallo film called The Equestrian Vortex. It's nicely atmospheric and unashamedly Lynchian, but the best thing about it is watching Jones create nasty horror sound effects by attacking the shit out of some vegetables. I know how he feels.
4. Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh follows up his brilliant In Bruges with the less brilliant but still brilliant Seven Psychopaths. It centres around Colin Farrell's struggling writer, who happens to be called Marty, as he attempts to finish a screenplay, which happens to be called Seven Psychopaths. With its clever humour and impressive ensemble cast, Seven Psychopaths explains that films can treat people as horribly as they want, but the dog must not be harmed.
3. The Artist
Talking of which, The Artist follows silent movie star George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) and his dog Jack (Uggie) as they attempt to save a career destroyed by the introduction of sound in cinema. Famously, filmgoers in Liverpool were refunded after complaining that The Artist was a silent film. But when I demand my money back because The Great Gatsby was too loud, nothing.
2. Mulholland Drive
David Lynch's confusing masterpiece follows an aspiring actress (Naomi Watts) as she arrives in Hollywood and auditions for a film called The Sylvia North Story. And there's some weird stuff with a blue box and a lesbian.
1. Wes Craven's New Nightmare
Having already redefined the horror genre at least twice, Wes Craven returns to Elm Street for the seventh, and second best, instalment in the iconic franchise. New Nightmare sees the cast of the original A Nightmare on Elm Street terrorised and tormented by Freddy Krueger (credited as "Himself"; Robert Englund plays Robert Englund), who seems to be breaking out of the films and into the real world. It's up to Heather Langenkamp (Heather Langenkamp) to stop him, with the help of Wes Craven (Wes Craven) who is apparently writing the script that they are following. It's all fascinatingly self-aware, at once celebrating the franchise and criticising its over-commercialisation over the years; "the story gets too familiar, or too watered down by people trying to make it easier to sell," to quote Wes Craven (Wes Craven), who redefines the genre in the process. He would go on to redefine the genre again with the even more postmodern Scream. Incidentally, Wes Craven's twitter feed is a glorious mix of horror films and birdwatching. I love him.
And here are 5 more that I chose not to include:
Charlie Kaufman's super smart but super smug Adaptation follows Charlie Kaufman (Nicolas Cage) and his twin brother (Nicolas Cage) as Charlie struggles to adapt The Orchid Thief into a film, self-referentially writing his script as the events unfold.
Why I didn't include it: Aren't you reading? It stars Nicolas Cage. Twice.
4. Inland Empire
Three hours of Lynchian madness including rabbits, dancing and another actress, this time in a film called In High on Blue Tomorrows which is cursed, or something.
Why I didn't include it: It makes Mulholland Drive seem straightforward.
3. Scream 3
If you hadn't guessed, I would have loved to include a Scream film but the only one that actually centres around the production of a film is the third, and worst, instalment in Wes Craven's franchise. Ghostface is back and this time the victims are the cast of Stab 3, the franchise-within-a-franchise based on the events of Scream. It sounds confusing, but Wes Craven did redefine the horror genre.
Why I didn't include it: It's written by Ehren Kruger, who insists on doing to Scream what he did to Transformers.
This shouldn't really count, as the film-within-a-film is not fictional, but Psycho. But unlike that Hitchcock classic, this sucks, not to mention being completely overshadowed by the excellent TV movie The Girl starring Toby Jones as Alfred Hitchcock.
Why I didn't include it: Scarlett Johansson.
The interesting thing about Timecode is that the screen is divided into four quadrants, each showing a continuous 90-minute take, following some incredibly boring Hollywood people trying to make a film.
Why I didn't include it: It's shite.
Thanks for reading! The title of this blog comes from the Slipknot song Metabolic. But you got that.