Five Netflix movies about movies to watch in April
You’re likely a movie lover if you’re reading this. But do you dig movies about movies as much as I do? Whether we’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at the making of films, a dramatic story about Hollywood’s past, or even documentaries about movie-going culture, each feature is sprinkled with the history, mystique, and glamor of why we love these things so much.
Take time this month to check out these five movies about movies on Netflix:
“Mank” (2020): It takes a lot of nerve to make a movie about the so-called “greatest movie ever,” but director David Fincher is that kind of guy. The acclaimed director goes back to the 1930s to depict Herman Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), a sharp-tongued screenwriter who recalls his encounters with power players like media magnate William Randolph Hearst and MGM head Louis B. Mayer as he writes the script to Orson Welles’ famed “Citizen Kane.” Fincher’s film is filled with insider trivia that may seem daunting to the uninitiated, but switching his visual language to classic Hollywood makes for intriguing viewing.
“The Last Blockbuster” (2020): Do you ever get so frustrated with Netflix’s library and system that it makes you nostalgic for the last corporate industry giant that dominated home-viewing distribution? Blockbuster may be today’s punchline for a company’s failure to adapt. Still, once upon a time, these franchised rental stores were as ubiquitous as McDonald’s. This documentary goes into the rise of video rentals and how Blockbuster knocked all its competitors out of business until industry changes wiped them out to leave one store standing.
“Dolemite is My Name” (2019): Are you a fan of underdog let’s-put-on-a-show stories? Check out this Netflix original movie starring Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore, a vulgar comedian turned actor and producer who embraced the blaxploitation genre after becoming an underground but viable genre in the 70s. Murphy is in excellent form here, channeling some of his best career work, as the ambitious and optimistic Moore encourages his crew to make the best of his first movie, “Dolemite.” This is a must-watch if you’re a fan of bad movies and stories behind-the-scenes.
“Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond” (2017): Jim Carrey generated much acclaim in his role as Andy Kaufman, the cerebral 70s-80s comedian, in 1999’s “The Man on the Moon,” but to everybody on the movie set, he was a terror. “The Great Beyond” takes Carrey’s behind-the-scenes footage of the shoot, showing us how he entirely inhabited the role of Andy (and the comic’s nasty alter ego, Tony Clifton) while interacting with his co-stars, the crew, and even director Milos Foreman. The documentary also interviews Carrey in the present, as he reflects on his career and memories of the role. “Jim and Andy” brings us into the mind of a lead actor and calls us to judge what makes a “good” performance.
“The Artist” (2011): Curious about the silent film era but never watched anything yet? Fire up this modern film inspired by the history and style of the birth of cinema. George Valentin (Jean Dujardin) is a silent film star whose career is about to be radically altered by introducing sound into the medium, whether he likes it or not. A young ingénue he’s been mentoring, Peppy Miller (Bérénice Bejo), quickly becomes a movie star who adapts quickly to “talkies,” furthering the insecurities of Valentin. Director Michel Hazanavicius creates a charming world that skillfully blends the best techniques of the silent and modern eras. “The Artist” went on to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards. This distinction sets potentially unfair expectations, but if you’re just looking to enjoy something about Hollywood’s golden era, you’re likely to have a blast here.