Thursday, November 13, 2014

Thursday Movie Picks: Movies About Making Movies

Lights, camera, action!

That was my very lame, and cliched way of starting this week's entry for the Thursday Movie Picks meme hosted by Wanderer of Wandering Through the Shelves. The reason I started that way is because this week's theme is "Movies About Making Movies." There have been lots of great films on the subject. These include one of the best musicals ever made, Singin' in the Rain. Another considered a classic by many is Sunset Boulevard. Of more recent vintage, there are such acclaimed films as Ed Wood, Boogie Nights, The Aviator, The Artist, Tropic Thunder, My Week with Marilyn, Hugo, and even horror flick The Cabin in the Woods. We've even had not so acclaimed fare such as Hitchcock.

But, you should know me by now. I'm not going down those paths. I've dug through the bargain bin that is my movie watching experience and come up with some hidden gems. Chronologically, they are...

Hollywood Shuffle
Produced, directed, starring, and co-written by Robert Townsend (Keenen Ivory Wayans and Dom Irrera also helped write), this is a smart satire dealing with the relationship between Hollywood and actors of color. Our main character is one such actor trying to get his big break. He has to deal with the ethical dilemma posed by the roles he, and most African-American actors are offered, or not offered. It is very funny, has a lot to say, and unfortunately, is not as dated as a nearly thirty year old satire should be. By the way, the story of how Hollywood Shuffle came to be made is also fascinating. For starters, Townsend financed much of it himself using his personal credit cards when he wasn't exactly rolling in the dough.

Of my three picks, this is probably the least "hidden." However, it is definitely on topic. Steve Martin plays Bobby Bowfinger, a super-low budget movie director who wants to film his next project using superstar Kit Ramsey played by Eddie Murphy. Of course, he can't afford Ramsey so Bowfinger does what any enterprising director would, films Ramsey on the streets of Hollywood without the star's knowledge. When this backfires, Bowfinger then hires a clueless guy named Jiff, who happens to look just like the movie star. Why wouldn't he? Jiff is also played by Murphy. A very fun, underrated movie ensues.

If you've been hanging around here for a while, or have browsed around the place, you may have figured out that I have an affinity for Blaxploitation. What a lot of people don't realize is that the reason it's considered exploitation is that even though the movies were made with black audiences in mind, they were often created by and benefitted white filmmakers. However, the entire genre is really birthed from a little movie called Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song by black director Melvin Van Peebles who wrote, produced, directed, and starred in it. Remember what I said about Townsend financing Hollywood Shuffle? Van Peebles did that and more, including securing a loan from none other than Bill Cosby, to get his movie into theaters way back in 1971. This movie is all about that process. Since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Baadasssss! was written, produced, directed by, and stars Melvin's son Mario.

Other topics covered on Thursday Movie Picks:


  1. Yes! I had Bowfinger on my list too. I love that movie.

    1. It is a very fun movie. Glad to see you enjoyed it.