Five Most Outstanding Fake Movies

One a recent episode of Jessie a faux Danish arthouse film was mentioned in passing. It was called Cries of Ice and Pain and elicited from me one of the few genuine laughs that show can ever get. However, it did bring to mind that there are quite a few fake movie titles mentioned or chronicled either in a film or on TV shows that are funny and in some cases that I’d want to see.

What I will list below are just the five most outstanding examples that come directly to mind. I’m sure I like many others, and as I’ve said before no list is ever complete, and I’d welcome additions to this list and other suggestions.

Je Vous Présente Paméla (Meet Pamela) in François Truffaut’s Day for Night

Day for Night (1973, Les Filmes du Carrosse)

I have a long history with Day for Night. Since I first saw the film I have watched it anew on the eve of every new production I’ve directed. While Day for Night is about the production of the aforementioned film there are but fragmentary glimpses of what the film actually is. However, there is enough information that would make it an enticing view. It may seem, in terms of the synopsis we get, to be a plain film, but the scenes viewed suggest otherwise.

The Purple Rose of Cairo in The Purple Rose of Cairo

The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985, MGM/UA)

Woody Allen’s faux film may be eponymous with the one he actually created. However, Allen beautifully and lovingly created Golden Age touchstones that made Farrow’s character’s obsession strike very true. While I personally, based on what is shown, may not have become obsessed with the tale, I could if a whole existed and I admire it for inducing such passion.

Don’t in Grindhouse

When dealing with faux films that are conveyed through faux trailers there are quite a few options one could consider. The bumps at the beginning of Tropic Thunder being quite memorable. However, if my wanting to see the film is a criteria, and is that an accurate rendition of a trailer style is also, then I must include Edgar Wright’s Don’t from Grindhouse. It not only emulates trailers of a certain era, but is also a hilarious send-up of the horror genre. For what else do people yell out at characters more than “Don’t…”?

The Pain and the Yearning on Seinfeld

Seinfeld (Castle Rock Entertainment)

The faux title that was the genesis for this post in all likelihood owes a debt to this Seinfeld faux film. I highly doubt there was a sitcom ever that created a vaster array of fake films than did Seinfeld. As with all things Seinfeld, the films are quite memorable, such as the tagline from Death Blow, or the climactic moment in Cry, Cry Again that is taped over with Elaine’s awkward, spastic dance. The amazing thing is we never see these films at all. In this episode we see video tape boxes, on occasion one sheets, and this is as close to seeing the film we ever get. It’s mostly about voice acting, scoring and the dialogue the main characters have about the film. What made me choose this one is that the one-line synopsis Elaine reads is “An old woman experiences pain and yearning,” which is a hilarious send up of the vague synopses some film have, particularly art films that are harder to summarize.

The Foot from Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (2011, 20th Century Fox)

One very old trope by now is: kids, without their parent or guardian knowing, watch a horror film and are terrified for the rest of the night. They subsequently cannot sleep and/or get paranoid about everything. Perhaps the best twist on this I’ve seen is The Foot in Diary of a Wimpy Kid 2 because the film they watch is highly ridiculous, but then they’re scared by it making an old hat routine much funnier than it normally is.

As mentioned before there are likely many other ideas that could’ve been on here. I’d be gladly reminded of some.

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Make Your Own Film Festival: Pick an Actor

Much in the way computers, be them Apple or PC, can liberate you from zone restrictions for a country-specific film festival the same can be true if you’re building a festival around an actor and they happen to be a foreign performer.

The focus of this film festival, which will serve as an example, is Robinson Stévenin. Acting, it would seem, has always been in Robinson’s blood. He is the son of the well-known French actor Jean-François Stévenin, who is perhaps best known for playing the role of François Truffaut’s Assistant Director in the film about filmmaking Day for Night.

His breakout role was in the film Bad Company (Mauvaises frequentations) where he played a young man who so enraptured his girlfriend she agreed to start an ad hoc prostitution ring with him. It’s a truly effective and great film that a one-line synopsis does not do justice to. For this role Robinson was nominated for a César Award (France’s Equivalent to the Oscar) as Most Promising Actor. He would go on to capture that award two years later for his role in Transfixed (Mauvais genres), which featured in this festival.

The Children’s Revolt

His first recognition came for his role in The Children’s Revolt a film about a rebellion in a children’s penal colony in the 19th century. Although he is by no means the lead in this film his performance, as the so-called Lil’ Shaver (Rase-Motte), he is such a standout as a precocious, funny, eloquent kid that he not only receives a favorable quote on the DVD cover but also captured Best Actor at the Paris Film Festival in 1992. What’s more impressive is that he seems to be playing a lot younger than he is in this part, and his scene with the Countess is most definitely one of the highlights of the film.

La Petit Lili

This is quite an interesting film and a great role for him. The film co-stars Ludivine Sagnier, known from Swimming Pool and Peter Pan, as his girlfriend and muse who stars in a short film he makes. He screens it for friends and family and it does not go as swimmingly as he hoped and in essence it starts snowballing in a way that will affect everyone. The characters retire to their separate quarters and start re-examining their lives. In this part he manages to portray the dichotomy of sensitive, brooding artist and also the malcontent who flies off the handle when hearing something he does not like. Yet his anger is justified at times and he handles intellectual dialogue with tremendous effect. He manages to turn the bitter petulant teenager into a character who is not reviled but can be an identifiable protagonist.

Transfixed 


As mentioned above this is the role that won Robinson the César as Most Promising Actor. It is inordinately rare to see an actor completely and totally change his persona and not just his appearance. In this film Robinson plays a transsexual prostitute embroiled in the middle of a whodunit it in Brussels. He is completely and utterly transformed and plays the part to a tee. You are never truly left watching a performance but a character. For whatever is lacking in the plot the performance more than makes up for it.

Mon Colonel

Yet another face of Stévenin – here he plays a soldier serving under a totalitarian Colonel in Algeria. Through his diary he reveals the details of his tour of duty and these pages are slowly delivered to the military assisting the police in the investigation of the Colonel’s murder many years later. Here Stévenin can be seen as a duty-bound man with a conscience who is still a bit of an idealist, but slowly loses some faith but struggles to do what is right and not always just follow orders. It is a tremendous piece of work, and the fact that it is shot in black and white shows the timelessness of his star-quality.