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Top 5 Films About Hollywood

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Seth Montpelier: Arts & Leisure Editor

More stories from Seth Montpelier

Photo+Courtesy+of+VIX.
Photo Courtesy of VIX.

Photo Courtesy of VIX.

Photo Courtesy of VIX.

One of the biggest inspirations to filmmakers is how a film itself is made. These are the best movies about the business in Tinseltown.

1. Sunset Boulevard: Probably the greatest film noir of all-time, the story about how the paths of a struggling screenwriter and a forgotten celebrity is terrific. Gloria Swanson steals the show as the lonely, fame-obsessed Norma Desmond. The fact that Gloria Swanson was an actress past her peak fame added extra meaning to the character. Norma’s butler [and ex-husband] Max von Mayerling [played by director Erich von Stroheim] is also great, as Norma’s only friend and the one feeding her delusion.

2. Mulholland Drive: David Lynch’s neo-noir masterpiece is an atmospheric mindbender, based in the logic of dreams. Naomi Watts playing a dual-role gives one of the best performances of recorded. Lynch and Watts exhibit the naive excitement upon arriving in Hollywood and the dark despair upon staying. Justin Theroux is also a hoot as a director who seems to understand as much as we do. Every character is grasping for control over their lives and careers, but are helpless in keeping it. It’s a tremendously confusing movie and Lynch is probably the only person that truly knows what is happening, but that’s part of the fun, isn’t it?

3. The Player: The late, great Robert Altman’s comedy about a sleazy Hollywood producer and his murdered critic is one of the best satires about the city. Tim Robbins plays up the arrogance well, making the technical protagonist hard to defend. Altman, famous for directing ensemble casts, handles all the different characters and cameos with a master’s confidence. The Player could have easily been a jumble of Hollywood jokes and crime movie tropes, but it transcends all of that. It ranks among his best movies, and between Short Cuts, Nashville, Gosford Park, and MASH, there’s some steep competition.

4. Adaptation: Director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman [perhaps the greatest screenwriter there is] made up one of the greatest movie making duos in movie history. Charlie Kaufman provides convoluted, intricate stories, and Spike Jonze has the perfect mind to realize them. They only made two movies together: Being John Malkovich and this. Adaption is about the agonizing writer’s block Kaufman faced when he tried to follow-up the first movie. Nicolas Cage [who can actually be pretty great when he wants to try] plays Charlie Kaufman and his fictional twin Donald Kaufman [they both were nominated for Oscars]. It’s an enthralling picture, zeroing in on the loneliness of screenwriting.

5. Ed Wood: Tim Burton’s masterpiece about the king of trash cinema works because it’s not a two-hour insult to Ed Wood, but a love letter. Burton clearly admires Wood as a visionary and determined filmmaker. This admiration provides the movie with a necessary whimsy, to uplift the audience from watching a discarded and disrespected filmmaker. Johnny Depp gives Wood a delightful charisma and there are great performances by Martin Landau, Bill Murray, and Sarah Jessica Parker, as well.

 

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Top 5 Films About Hollywood