NSI love Oriwood Make a movie about the movie industry. This genre conveys the character of Tinseltown, from the giant ego of stars to the dignity of screenwriters, but the message is that there really isn’t a business like show business. For example, “Sullivan’s Journey” (1941) ridicules the protagonist, a socially liberal director who wants to make a serious film. In the end, Sullivan (Joel McCrea) realized that the deprived people really wanted a comedy of escapism, not a dark drama. A movie idol who runs the risk of escapism with the arrival of sound. what does he do? Of course, he invented the musical.
Some films are more clearly Hagiographic. The Disney movie “Saving Mr Banks” (2013) was set out with the help of Tom Hanks’ most unfriendly people to prove Walt Disney’s splendor. The Coen brothers portrayed Hollywood like hell for the famous screenwriter of Barton Fink (1991), but when they returned to the fictional studio Capitol Pictures, “Hail, Caesar!” 2016 Was all sweet and light. Even Quentin Tarantino was forced to create a lovely (in the case of bloody) love letters to trade with “Once Upon a Time in … Hollywood” (2019).
It does not deny severe criticism from within the industry. Billy Wilder’s “Sunset Boulevard” (1950) is probably the best example. William Holden plays a writer whose relationship with the old man Starlet ends face down in the pool. Humphrey Bogart also served as the storyteller of “In a Lonely Place” (1950). His screenwriter has so much jaundice that when he becomes a suspect in murder, he seems uncertain whether he is innocent or not. From the brutal producer of Kirk Douglas in “The Bad and the Beautiful” (1952) to the exhausted actor of Jack Palance in “Big Knife” (1955), Tinseltown seems to be a glittering place in the mid-20th century. Did not look like. Perhaps it was a post-war melancholy mood, or expected to be blacklisted with communist witch hunts.
A new and terribly entertaining satire, the Beta Test, supports this poison pen tradition. Jim Cummings and PJ McCabe, who co-authored, co-directed and co-starred in the film, were aware of the legacy of these films and “The Player” (1992), following Paranoia’s film executives. “’Sunset Boulevard’ is an ugly picture of Hollywood,” says Cummings. “And’The Player’was as ugly as our movie and was released 30 years ago.” But the creators of “Beta Test” wanted ugliness. “We talked about not cleaning the world. Much of Hollywood we show is backstreets and wire mesh fences,” says Cummings. “We wanted to make it as unattractive as possible.”
“Beta Test” is the story of Hollywood agent Jordan (Cummings). At first, his life looks as sophisticated as a tooth. He is due to get married within six days and is also keen to close important deals with potential clients. But after he accepts a mysterious invitation to an anonymous sexual encounter, things begin to unravel. Cummings said the private duplication reflects his public role, showing “a constant doublespeak, a constant lie.” The movie explores “what it’s like to date someone you’re watching always lying and how it affects your relationship.”
The entertainment landscape has changed irreparably over the last two decades with the advent of streaming services. When the film was released in the UK, negotiations were taking place in Hollywood to avoid strikes by 60,000 workers who were demanding better wages and reasonable time. These are the changes Jordan is trying to navigate in the movie. His company aims to “package content”, that is, to open up its own role by gathering several stars for the project and collecting fees for the work. This represents a shift in role from expression to something like production. (This practice has recently sparked a protracted controversy between the Writers Guild of America and major talent agencies.)
Another important change occurred in the #MeToo movement. The movement gained momentum in 2017 after several women came forward to blame producer Harvey Weinstein for sexual misconduct. The unpleasant Hollywood boss is more than just a fun figure. Kitty Green’s 2019 drama “Assistant” comes to mind when you see Jordan openly yelling at his secretary in the “Beta Test.” In this drama, invisible executives offend, abuse, and bully staff.
In recent years, executives famous for such abuse have been dismissed. Do you think Cummings has made any meaningful changes? “Obviously Waynestein is in jail, but the support system that took this guy to where he was is still working. They’re still in the same company … so no.” Perhaps Hollywood I have never needed more introspection than today. ■■
The “Beta Test” is currently being screened at a British cinema and will be released at an American cinema on November 5th.
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