The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Movies About Making Movies (#atozchallenge)

Cover of "Fellini's Roma"
Cover of Fellini's Roma

The films that I'll be listing in my April postings will not necessarily be films that I'd call my favorite films, but they will be favorites in the genres I'll be naming.   The A to Z genres are very specific micro genres as opposed to the broader genres like action, romance, or comedy.

       If we love movies, it stands to reason that we probably like movies about how the movies are made.  From early film history filmmakers have made movies about their process.  For one thing it's probably cost effective since they can often use preexisting sets and the studio lots themselves.  And it's an idea that sells.  Audiences like to peek behind the curtain.

       There are so many films that I could list here, but here are some of my favorites:

Singing in the Rain (1952)--  Silent movies make the transition to talkies.  Some old stars can't make the grade while new stars are born.  One of the greatest of all film musicals.

8 1/2 (1963) -- A film director encounters crisis in his life and on the set as he tries to make a science fiction film.  This film is a semi-autobiographical look at the film's maker Federico Fellini.  The theme examines the complexities of the creative struggle.  This should be required viewing for all writers, aspiring or already published.  It is in Italian with subtitles, but if you write I assume you can also read.

Fellini's Roma (1972)-- This is one of my top ten all time favorite films.  In this wildly surrealistic pseudo-documentary, Federico Fellini leads his film crew as they make a movie about the history of Rome and how the city intertwines with his own life history.  A lot of interesting social commentary with fascinating cinematic imagery.

Day of the Locust (1975)-- Based on the novel by Nathaniel West, the story follows Hollywood wannabes and victims of life into the insanity of the film industry during the years of the Great Depression. Strange and seriously disturbing, the film borders on greatness and is a very good film about Hollywood.

Living in Oblivion (1995)--  Steve Buscemi stars as a serious minded director trying to make a great independent film with a small budget and an incompetent staff and cast.  Buscemi does a fine acting turn here in a film with hilarious scenes mixed with serious drama.  It's a very entertaining film. 

Hearts of Darkness (1991) -- This is a documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now.   This doc shows the travails that had to be overcome in making the theatrical release.  A great look at real film making that's nearly as good as the actual movie itself.   This is a must for any hard-core Apocalypse Now fan.

Burden of Dreams (1982) -- Another making-of film that in some ways rivals the film it's about.  This documentary follows the creation of Werner Herzog's epic film Fitzcaraldo.   This was one crazy film about a true life crazy idea that encountered some amazing obstacles.  The obsessive Herzog was intent on filming this story and managed despite the odds against him to produce a great film.  A very interesting documentary about getting a movie made.

        Seen any of these?    What films about movie making do you think I should have added here?   Do you enjoy documentaries?   Why or why not?

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  1. The closest I can think of that type of movie would be Ed Wood, starring Johnny Depp.

  2. Singin' in the Rain is my all time favorite movie. Lina Lamont practicing her enunciation cracks me up every time.

  3. Sounds like I should brush up on my Fellini. I'd be interested in seeing Heart of Darkness because Apocalypse Now is a great film.

  4. How about "The Artist", the silent film shown last year? "Singing in the Rain" is the only one I know I've seen. I may have seen one of the Fellini films and the "Day of the Locust". The mind blows right now. :-)
    Don't be a Hippie
    Take 25 to Hollister

  5. I love Singing In The Rain, as a child I recall watching.


  6. An impressive list of Movie Movies. I'm so bad a remembering who, what, and where about movies, but I have seen at least parts of Singing In The Rain...that was about making movies?

    My Letter 'M'...Modern Marvels
    Sue CollectInTexasGal
    AtoZ LoneStar Quilting Bee

  7. I love Singing In the Rain. And, I think I am going to have to Check out Fellini's Roma. I can't think of any off the top of my head, oh and yes, I enjoy a documentaries.
    Lucy from Lucy's Reality

  8. There was Bowfinger, which was an OK film with an interesting idea. Singing in the Rain - brilliant. Must must watch Fellini's Roma one day, and if it's in your top ten I feel it needs watching even more now.

  9. Yes, Singing in the Rain was a good one, and Hugo, which I really enjoyed.

  10. Alex -- Ed Wood is one of my favorite films and is a good choice.

    Fairview-- Some great scenes in this film.

    Nick-- Fellini is a special taste I suppose, but anyone who enjoys surrealism might be appreciative.

    Susie -- I haven't seen The Artist yet, but I'm sure it would be a good choice.

    Yvonne-- I would have guessed you would like this film.

    Sue -- Singing in the Rain is all about making movies and how the talkies affected the film industry.

    Lucy - I'd be interested to know what you think of Roma if you watch it. My wife absolutely hates it.

    DayDreamer -- See previous comment for a caveat about Roma. Personally, I think it's wonderful.

    mshatch -- I still need to see Hugo.


  11. While "making movies" is not the principal part of the storyline, it's certainly a significant aspect of the film. My vote goes to 'WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT'.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

  12. This is a genre I'd never thought about before, definitely something unusual, I guess that recent Hitchcock film would fit that trope as well, I think it mainly revolves around the making of Psycho.

  13. hmm. never seen any of these movies but they all sound so interesting. I did watch The Artist though, and I think it falls in this category


  14. I haven't seen many of these but Singing in the Rain is an all time favorite. I never tire of seeing it.

  15. I had to read this post twice because I was trying to find the connection between your eclectic taste in movies. I loved Singing in the Rain but I don't think I've seen the others. I did see the new version of 8 and 1/2 with Daniel Day Lewis as Fellini and would love to see Roma since it was a favorite vacation destination.

  16. The only films on your list that I've seen are Singing in the Rain and Living in Oblivion. I loved them both. Singing in the Rain is one of my favourite movies of all time. Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor rocked my world!
    I saw Living in Oblivion while I was in film school and it was so funny and true to the whole process of making movies. Love Steve Buscemi, he's awesome.

  17. First, I have never seen any of those movies; and I have seen a lot of movies.

    Second, I think (since you asked) you should have added The Trilogy of the Rings and the Godfather. The Godfather's disk on the making of the movie was fantastic.

    Third, I love a good documentary on a worthy topic. We watch many in our house, especially with NetFlix. A couple that you should see if you have not seen them is Horatio's Drive: America's First Road Trip and of course Ken Burn's Lewis& Clark.

    The Why? 1) Love to learn new things 2) there are so many things I know nothing about that are so interesting and/or fascinating.

    Good post!

  18. StMc -- I think that's a great choice. Roger Rabbit had all sorts of references to the Golden Age of films and was about toon stars. Good addition to the list.

    Yeamie --Hitchcock definitely fits this category. I haven't seen it yet.

    Sheena -- Argo came to my mind, but since I haven't seen it yet I didn't include it as a favorite.

    Andrew -- So did you like it? I've seen it many times and have copy in my DVD collection.

    Nutschell -- The Artist definitely fits. I still need to see it.

    LD -- It's just one of those kinds of films isn't it. Kind of like Wizard of Oz.

    Desert -- I had no idea there was a new 8 1/2. I'll have to look that one up, but I'm not sure why they would want to remake a film like that unless it was just to make an English version.

    Eve -- Buscemi is one of my favorites and Oblivion almost had me in tears from laughter in certain parts.


  19. Greg -- I too am a huge fan of documentaries. Unless they are strongly biased or dealing in untruth.


  20. "Apocalypse Now" is one of my favorite 'war' movies. I'll have to check out 'Heart of Darkness' and see all the behind the scenes stuff.

  21. Roma was an episodic delight as I remember. Gore Vidal, Anna Magnani Marcelo Mastroianni and Mr. Fellini appeared as themselves, so that was a treat.

  22. I've heard of very few of these. And here I thought I was a film buff. :P

  23. I've always been fascinated about how movies are made but I haven't seen any of those you mentioned. I have watched all the special features discs on the movies I own. The best is three hours about how Star Wars was made...

    Not that familiar with YA, I write sci-fi...but happy blog blitz to you!

    Tina @ Life is Good
    Co-host, April 2013 A-Z Challenge Blog
    @TinaLifeisGood, #atozchallenge

  24. Your micro-genres are fascinating. I am consistently reminded of how many movies that I have NOT seen. The only one of these I have seen is Singing In the Rain. Pretty sad, eh?

  25. Mark -- If Apocalypse Now is a favorite then I'm sure you'll appreciate the documentary. It's an incredible story and very well filmed.

    C.Lee -- Yes! Exactly like that. One of my favorite scenes was the ecclesiastical fashion show. The music by Rota was wonderful.

    Nancy - These are some very renown and classic films.

    Tina -- I love the "Making-of" features on the DVD's.

    Robin -- Apparently you're not alone. You should check out at least another one of these.


  26. I love Singing in the Rain, and never tire of it...

    I have no idea why I enjoy it so much - I just do!
    Same as I love,

    Far and Away
    Sliding Doors

    And a few more beside.
    Thank you for sharing your favourites.

  27. Lee,

    Perhaps one of, in my opinion, worst um movies ever made might be included in your list, "The Blair Witch Project"

    Interesting to note that my alternative alphabet challenge, complete with links to your A to Z, reached "M" at the same time.

    Happy alphabeting, dude.


  28. I've only seen Singing in the Rain. I guess a movie about anything in Hollywood really turns me off.

  29. I thought of Ed Wood as soon as I read your post title. And then apparently stopped thinking. I would guess the latest Hitchcock movie with Anthony Hopkins might also fit the bill.

    I loved the documentary behind the scenes stuff of Hearts Of Darkness.

    Have not seen any of the others. You are quite a film buff, Lee.

    Chuck at Apocalypse Now

  30. Ah, Fellini. My college humanities class had many great discussions about his films. His images are memorable.

  31. This is an interesting topic. My addition would be one from this past year, Argo. While I do realize it wasn't really about making a movie, it did play a part in the plot. But maybe I'm stretching here. Anywho, good list of movies.
    We Are Adventure

  32. I always love your posts (including this one), but I can't stand movies about making movies.

    #atozchallenge, Kristen's blog:

  33. Maria -- Singing in the Rain is like that isn't it.

    Gary - Ah, we meet half way.

    Susan -- Maybe you'd go more for the Fellini films since they have nothing to do with Hollywood.

    Chuck -- I know a few things about films as long as they aren't in the last 10 years. Well, maybe a few of those.

    Jagoda -- Great images in Fellini films. Some of the closest to seeing dreams.

    Elliot -- As I said in an earlier response, Argo was thought of, but I haven't seen it yet so can't consider it.

    Kristen --but have you seen any of these on my list? They might change your mind.


  34. Singing in the Rain is one of my favourites.

  35. Singing in the rain is the only movie I have seen in your list. Seems like more have to added in to "mush watch" List!

    - From A to Z!

  36. I always liked Soap Dish because it was not about making a movie, but rather a Soap Opera. I could not help but think they were poking fun at some of the more absurd story lines on those soaps. Also, I think I liked Tootsie for the same reason.

  37. Some great films here.
    In response to ur comment on my "singin in the rain" entry, I have not seen "An American in Paris," but I'll certainly keep it in mind.

    Someone said mentioned "Apocalypse Now"... another I have yet to see, but I gotta mention in that spirit: "Tropic Thunder".
    Completely idiotic in some places, yes, but I freaking love it. One of those side-splitting, LMAO movies, no matter how many times I'd seen it.

  38. Jackie --Apocalypse Now vies for top place in my favorite films list--depends on my mood. A lot of people hate it, but I think it's one of the greatest films ever made.



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