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The Next Big Thing in Movies: Film Director Biopics

The Next Big Thing in Movies: Film Director Biopics (photo)

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The hottest directors in Hollywood right now have been dead for decades. Yesterday it was announced that two different filmmakers are currently developing projects based on the lives of two other (and slightly more unalive) filmmakers. First, the Los Angeles Times reported that Sacha Gervasi, the director of the hilarious rock doc “Anvil! The Story of Anvil” is in discussions to write and direct a biopic about The Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. The film would be based on Stephen Rebello’s book “Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of ‘Psycho,'” and focus primarily on Hitchcock’s work on that production. According to The Times Steven Zeitchik:

“Among Rebello’s many insights is that the 1960 hit ‘Psycho’ was a departure for the ‘North by Northwest’ director, a more explicitly shocking film that was meant to compete with other low-budget horror pictures — ‘The Blair Witch Project’ of its day.”

That’s all absolutely true: after “North by Northwest,” Hitchcock decided to switch up his usual working routine and make a small horror film with the crew of his television series, “Alfred Hitchcock Presents.” I read Rebello’s book as a teenager — actually I read it several times because it was one of only a handful of film books I owned — and it’s a good read. In my memory, the best stuff in it were all the details about the battles over the film’s then-taboo subject matter: seeing star Janet Leigh in her (GASP!) bra and slip, for example. Presumably, if Gervasi wanted to, he could play a lot of that stuff for comedy: showing how this incredibly tame material was so absolutely scandalous back in 1960.

The other directorial biopic in the works comes from “The Usual Suspects” and “Superman Returns” director Bryan Singer, who, according to The Hollywood Reporter, is attached to direct an adaptation of “Bye, Bye Life: The Loves and Deaths of Bob Fosse” by historian Sam Wasson. Fosse directed his own interpretation of his life back in 1979, and the film that sprung from it “All That Jazz” is one of the most interesting biopics (or maybe autobiopics) of all time. Roy Scheider played Fosse (named Joe Gideon in the film) as a guy with a lot of creativity and a lot more flaws. The film is heavily stylized and deeply hallucinatory (Fosse imagines himself dying, then actually is dying, then is watching himself dying on a soundstage in the middle of a tap dance) and it gets stranger and stranger as it goes along; the title of Wasson’s book comes the film’s final showstopping musical number in which the Fosse character (SPOILER ALERT!) dies and ascends to musical theater heaven (or simply gets zipped up in a body bag). Singer’s biopic will certainly be compared to Fosse’s own version, so it will be interesting to see where he goes with the material.

So is this a new trend in Hollywood? Almost; the unwritten rule is you need three movies before you can write a trend piece. And these films aren’t exactly trailblazers; there have been other biopics and docudramas about filmmakers. Robert Downey Jr. played Chaplin and at least seven different men have played Orson Welles, most recently Christian McKay in Richard Linklater’s 2009 film “Me and Orson Welles.”

Hitchcock and Fosse are both fine subjects for movies, but the number one guy I’d like to see a directorial biopic about? Werner Herzog. Kinski, “Fitzcarraldo,” saving Joaquin Phoenix from a near-fatal car crash. It would be the greatest movie of all time.

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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