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Learn Cinema’s Secret History With These Streaming Classics

Learn Cinema’s Secret History With These Streaming Classics: Barbara Steele in '8 1/2'

Barbara Steele in '8 1/2'

The release of the Entourage movie this weekend might offer up the first big screen helping of the adventures of Vince, E, Ari and the rest of the crew from the long-running HBO series, but it’s far from the first time cinema has turned the camera upon itself. In case the chance to see Vincent follow his heart into directing isn’t enough for you, here are ten other movies about movies for you to enjoy on both Netflix and Hulu.

MAN WITH A MOVIE CAMERA (1929, Netflix)
A classic of Russian silent moviemaking — wait, come back! — this documentary by Dziga Vertov is an abstract piece that simply records everyday life in four Soviet cities, without commentary of any sort. Despite that, it’s surprisingly visually exciting, inventing a number of different visual styles that’d go on to become staples of cinema in the decades to follow.


SUNSET BOULEVARD (1950, Netlfix)
The darker side of Hollywood — or, at least, as dark as you could be in 1950s Hollywood — is on display in one of Billy Wilder’s masterpieces, as William Holden and Gloria Swanson portray the downside of tinseltown, with cameos from Buster Keaton, Cecil B. DeMille and gossip columnist Hedda Hopper. Sure, there’s no Turtle to lighten the mood with some broad comedy, but somehow it still manages to be one of the most classic pieces of moviemaking about movies.


A STAR IS BORN (1937, Netflix)
The origins of a starlet are explored in William Wellman and David O. Selznick’s beloved melodrama about the career of Esther Blodgett, a rural beauty who finds fame as Vicki Lester, Hollywood starlet who forgets what’s important to her but is, of course, reminded when it counts. So good it’s been remade twice.


PEEPING TOM (1960, Hulu)
A psychological thriller that almost killed the career of director Michael Powell, Peeping Tom centers around a voyeur and serial killer who hides behind his camera, creating an uncomfortable commentary on the nature of cinema and cinema audiences. While this didn’t play well for the audiences in ‘60s, viewed today, it’s impressively dark and captivating.


8 ½ (1963; Hulu)
Arguably the masterpiece of Federico Fellini, this movie — which won two Oscars, and has been listed as one of the best movies ever made by the British Film Institute and, surreally, the Vatican — focuses on what a famous director thinks about when he’s blocked on his latest project, a science fiction movie loosely based on his own life. Expect beauty and weirdness in equal measures.


STARDUST MEMORIES (1980, Hulu)*
Reminiscent of Fellini’s movie, Woody Allen’s Stardust Memories also features a moviemaker thinking about past relationships and inspirational figures while taking stock of his career — except this time, he’s far more neurotic and thinks about women like Charlotte Rampling and, in her movie debut, Sharon Stone. That Woody, always with an eye for up and coming talent.


TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN! (1989, Hulu)
We’ve all been there — crushing on stars from the silver screen who we’d never meet, or have a chance with if we did. Pedro Almodovar’s hilarious comedy about a former psychiatric patient who doesn’t understand such rules (to the point where he kidnaps the actress he’s in love with) is a good reminder of fictional exceptions that prove the rule.


WES CRAVEN’S NEW NIGHTMARE (1994, Netflix)
Seeking to relaunch the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, Wes Craven took a meta road with this late entry in the series, making a movie about himself and his troubles making the movie — troubles that include Freddy Krueger crossing over from fantasy to reality, because it’s that kind of movie, of course.


THE DEAL (2008, Hulu)
A broad satire of the political play that goes on inside modern Hollywood, The Deal features William H. Macy, Meg Ryan and LL Cool J as self-obsessed power players in the movie industry who somehow luck into a project that might work out for them despite everything. Imagine a The Producers that does for movies what that did for musicals, and you can tell exactly where this is headed.


TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE (2012, Netflix)
What happens if you blow your budget on a movie with nothing to show for it? According to this surreal comedy from the minds that brought you Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, the answer is “go into hiding to escape being killed.” Things only get stranger, with appearances from the likes of Jeff Goldblum, Ray Wise, Zack Galifianakis and Steven Spielberg… kind of.

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