4 (Sort of) Biopics you should watch

10 Jun

The Notorious Bettie Page

Directed by the Mary Harron who also directed American Psycho, The Notorious Bettie Page uses the hearing at which Page was called to testify as a framing device. Switching between black and white and glorious Technicolor it follows the life of the Queen of Pin Up and Bondage from small town girl with a rough upbringing to the icon she is remembered as. The film mixes raunch with quieter moments of reflection showing Page as a multi faceted character with vulnerability and naivety rather than just a body to be gawped at.

Howl

An arty film with a mosaic like structure. Firstly we have a New York publisher on trial for publishing a collection of poems by Beat Generation icon Allen Ginsberg, then there is Ginsberg being interviewed and reflecting on his life and writing career and this supplemented by flash backs which is interspersed with gorgeous animation and James Franco as Ginsberg reading the eponymous poem. It is visually engaging with a dreamlike feel to it and doesn’t alienate those (like myself) who were unfamiliar with Ginsberg’s work before.

 

All That Jazz

Not strictly a biopic but the life of the main character mirror that of writer/director Bob Fosse to a tee. Fosse juggled editing a biopic about comedian Lenny Bruce with trying to stage the Broadway musical Chicago, hence the title. Similarly, Joe Gideon (played my Roy Schieder) uses a cocktail of drugs and sex to plough through his own fanatic attempts to stage a Broadway Musical and edit a Hollywood film. He isolates everyone around him as he flirts with death (literally. She keeps appearing in dream sequences) and experiences heart complications. It isn’t a musical itself though it does show the performers sings and dancing. However it does have one of the best final scenes of any film I have ever watched.

Adaptation

Again not strictly a biopic by screenwriter Charlie Kaufman makes himself a character in the film and gives himself a fictional twin brother. It follows him struggling to turn the book The Orchid Thief into a film and Kaufman penned the script while struggling to turn The Orchid Thief into a film… Add to that the fact that the real life author of the book is a character in the film (played by Meryl Streep) and some of the book is dramatized and you get a mind bending, oddball film that is worth watching for Nicholas Cage’s portrayal as the goofy Kaufman bothers alone.

About the Writer: Sarah is a filmmaker and writer with an obsession for luscious visuals and a distain for tomatoes (they are a sneaky and untrustworthy foodstuff). If she’s not blogging or tweeting, she’ll be watching films or running around with her video camera

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