Sunday, April 1

Streamathon - Movie Making Movies

Streamathon - Movie Making Movies


Movie Making Movies (April 2018)

Preface: This is part of an ongoing blog series of curated movie marathons that are thematically or otherwise tied together. The other common factor tying these films together will be their availability to watch them all from the comfort of your own home on various streaming platforms. The goal is that writing this blog will somehow justify the excessive number of streaming platforms I subscribe to. The films will be found on some combination of Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Mubi, FilmStruck, Shudder and/or Fandor. These titles will be available for the month that the blog is published. All of these subscriptions offer free trials so feel free to dive in and follow along… Have fun. Just don’t message me for my login information.

By: Emery Martin-Snyder

It’s almost time yet again for the Phoenix Film Festival and the International Horror & Sci-Fi Film Festival. This is the opportunity for internet writer schlubs like me to rub elbows with filmmakers and industry people. The whole thing tends to leave me inspired, exhausted and exhilarated simultaneously. I thought about doing my stream this month on films that I’ve seen over the years at the festival but it turns out that I’ve already covered a lot of them in other posts. So instead, I decided to pay homage to all of the artists that make this and festivals like this actually possible, the filmmakers themselves.
Film has always been the most post-modern of all art forms. I think it’s because of that fact that you find some of the greatest cinematic stories ever told are the ones that are actually about the creative process. In 1952, Gene Kelley and Debbie Reynolds lamented cinema’s transition to the sound era with SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN. Billy Wilder’s SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950) and Preston Sturges’ SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941) gave us a glimpse into what it takes to write a meaningful script. Later, films like Barry Sonnenfeld’s GET SHORTY (1995) or Robert Altman’s THE PLAYER (1992) would take a more cynical look at the process. Whatever the case, I’ve always felt inspired by movies about making movies. So, here’s some that are available to stream right now.

The Stream

8 ½ (1963)
Directed by Federico Fellini – Streaming on FilmStruck

“I really have nothing to say, but I want to say it all the same.” – Guido Anselmi

When it comes down to it, Fellini’s most famous work may be the mother of all arthouse ‘films about films’. Marcello Mastroianni’s Guido is a famous director day tripping his way through the dreamscape of his next film.  His constant distractions provide both the plot of the film as well as its backstory. And throughout this process, he is forced to face his own introspection. The end result is like a double layer of art for the sake art for the sake of art for the sake of possibly nothing at all.

Directed by Peter Strickland – Streaming on Hulu

This is a story about a sound technician working on an Italian horror film in the 1970’s. Toby Jones gives a very rare lead performance that is absolutely on point. The audience is treated to an aesthetically beautiful behind the scenes look at how the sound of cinema is achieved. A film about sound design should have great sound in it and this one unquestionably does. Slowly but surely, Gilderoy (Jones) begins to question his decision as well as his own mind. As is wont to happen, art begins imitating life and vice versa in this Poe-esque tale of the hauntings of the mind.

Directed by Christopher Guest – Streaming on FilmStruck

First of all, Parker Posey is a national treasure and her comedic timing is criminally underrated. That being said; this, like all of Guest’s films features an ensemble cast in which each and every piece is delightful to watch. His style always seems to leave his subjects teetering on the edge of a comedic cliff. It would be so easy for them to fall off the edge into a pit of pity and self-loathing but it never seems to happen.  I don’t think this is quite the work of genius that is BEST IN SHOW (2000) or A MIGHTY WIND (2003) but all of the same pieces are there. It’s a great film to spend time with.

Directed by Tom DiCillo – Streaming on Fandor

The only thing better than a weird 90’s indy comedy might be a weird 90’s indy comedy poking fun at weird 90’s indy comedies. And who better to tell a story like this than Tom DiCillo? He started his career working as Jim Jarmusch’s cinematographer. By the early 90’s, he began writing and directing his own work with the charmingly weird, JOHNNY SUEDE (’91). I think it’s this background that gave him the particular insight of all of independent filmmaking’s trials and tribulations. If you can watch this flick and still be inspired to do this kind of work, nothing will discourage you.

Directed by Joe Dante – Streaming on Netflix

Looney Tunes has always had a very meta flare to their properties. That’s why hiring Joe Dante to direct this one was one of the 21st Century’s most genius decisions. Underrated actor Brandon Fraser teams up with super-crush Jenna Elfman, Daffy & Bugs to save something or someone (honestly, I have no idea what this movie is about and it doesn’t matter.) There’s also a pretty great list of cameos and supporting characters. Not the least of which, is a small but hilarious part for Joan Cusack. So, if you’re a 90’s kid like me and grew up thinking SPACE JAM was cool, you’re wrong. This is far better and deserves much more attention.

ROUGH CUT (2008)
Directed by Jang Hoon – Streaming on Amazon Prime Video

I wouldn’t necessarily put this into the upper tier of Korean cinema by a long stretch but I still think it’s got a lot of interesting stuff going on. Directed by Jang Hoon (SECRET REUNION) and penned by Kim Ki-Duk, this film tells the story of a spoiled brat movie star forced to work with a gangster to finish his latest action flick. A lot of what’s found here can be boiled down to a pretty typical ‘odd couple’ type film but I credit Ki-Duk’s screenplay for going above and beyond the expected.

Directed by Monthon Arayangkoon – Streaming on Shutter

Bad CGI and cheap jump scares are all to be forgiven in this much underseen Thai horror flick. That is because the direction (& misdirection) that its plot takes will completely take you by surprise. Ting is an aspiring actress that has been hired by the police department to play the victim in reenactments of various murders for evidentiary purposes. This act seems to illicit a scary and sometimes violent response from the ghosts of the real victims (apparently Thailand is just like, lousy with ghosts). Then the plot reveal is exposed and things get really weird. I’m not going to say any more about that because I found it very effective the first time I watched it. This isn’t a perfect film by any stretch of the imagination but I feel like it more than makes up for any of its shortcomings with its uniqueness. It’s well worth its runtime.

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