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Former Batman (1989) Michael Keaton plays a former superhero movie star trying to break out as a Broadway actor and director, in a quest for serious dramatic work that he has always wanted to prove he can do.
There’s a complication, though. His alter ego won’t leave him alone, and while he turns down the offer of a sequel, he seems to retain the character’s abilities.
You can’t deny this movie has an identity all of its own, but I couldn’t help being reminded of a few other films. For more backstage drama and artistic conflicts, try these tales from the green room.
As Darren Aronofsky found during research, the dance world is incredibly strenuous. In the movie, a ballet dancer in a prestigious company is caught between pressure from her former ballerina mother and the director, and loses her grip on reality in the process.
It’s partly a tale of inhabiting a part and striving for something singular to the exclusion of all else, but also reveals deep problems.
Black Swan visits darker places, edging on horror, but you’ll immediately recognise the format – a performer is driven by visions that the audience can’t always distinguish from reality. The big difference here is that there’s certainly something amiss, we just don’t know how far it goes.
This easy-going adaptation of Robert Kaplow’s book imagines the powerful personality of Orson Welles from the point of view of a young actor cast in his production of Caesar.
After being discovered while playing an impromptu, but faultless, drumroll on a kit outside the theatre, the teen is thrown into the tense atmosphere of the auditorium, where Welles’ impetuous behaviour rules.
I’ve got to say, I found the opening scenes a little slow, but it was worth sticking it out. Things soon pick up, and there’s also a mostly instrumental soundtrack of songs like Let Yourself Go¸ which sets the scene.
In Johnny Depp’s first collaboration with Tim Burton, he appears in a biopic of B-movie director, Ed Wood. Martin Landau plays Bela Lugosi, portraying a friendship that mirrors Burton’s own connection with Vincent Price.
Shot in black and white, it recreates the feeling of the sci fi movies its subject made, lending it an atmosphere all of its own. There’s something so unstoppably cheerful about Johnny Depp’s Ed that I can’t help but warm to him, even when he’s making a highly questionable movie-making decision.
Let’s close that stage door a moment. In our next two movies, we follow a playwright as he crafts his most renowned work, before heading to an imagining of extreme reality TV.
Marc Forster’s loosely biographical movies about author and playwright J. M. Barrie covers one of his most creative periods, but closely links it with the family he famously befriended. They would inspire his work, but in the movie we also see him entertain them with his flights of imagination.
Finding Neverland is more about charm, with all its Edwardian styling, and a situation that nobody can completely understand, but the way it mixed fantasy with reality should be familiar.
A man is living a nice, tidy suburban life. Unfortunately, his entire life has been lived inside a huge television studio, and everyone in it is an actor.
It’s not as unpredictable as Birdman, and there’s definitely more of a glossy finish. We’re also in on the secret that this guy is living a life he doesn’t know is just an elaborate television premise, but the conflict feels similar.
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