The Weird Hollywood Shared Universe

Some films share such a thematic or atmospheric connection, they might as well be part of the same shared universe, especially when watched in some proximity to one another. Case in point: Movies that take place in the sordid underbelly of Hollywood and that the decadence so far as to give it a supernatural spin. Hollywood as an echo of Hell. The following films all seem to take place in that universe, and might make a good setting for an Unknown Armies RPG-type role-playing game, or inspire a Fiasco playset (I'll get on it when I get a bit of free time, maybe). Films like...
Mulholland Dr. Perhaps the most seminal work in this "genre", David Lynch's masterpiece is full of bizarre and disquieting characters, only some of which perform at the creepy Club Silencio, but heads into stranger waters still with the odd blue box which may be Pandora's, a receptacle for the character's memories/her other time line, or a soul-trap. Oh and there's the monster hobo behind the diner too! However you decide to explain the film's mysteries, there's a weirdness that will speak to you. (Notably, three more of the films below will reference streets in their titles.)
Maps of the Stars. David Cronenberg's just as decadent Hollywood is a bit less crazed, and you can totally see the ghosts that haunt the characters as figments of their imaginations (Cronenberg himself does not believe in an afterlife and has said it's about being haunted by memories), but the feeling of it is the same, and ambiguity for its own sake is worthy. And of course, the film doesn't take any prisoners in showing the corrupting influence of Celebrity, which is key to this shared worldview.
Barton Fink. It doesn't get any more corruptive than the Devil, and when the Cohen Bros.' would-be scriptwriter Barton Fink moves to Tinseltown to ply his craft, he moves into Satan's own hotel, then must spend the entire film fighting the world's corruptive influence on his work and on his soul. For a story set in Hollywood's Golden Age, definitely check out this one.
Sunset Boulevard. Or this one! Perhaps not as obvious a supernatural thriller as the films above, the whole thing is narrated by a dead man floating in a pool, and its depiction of a decaying, rotten Hollywood is filtered through the story of a heavily made-up, insane, practically undead has-been. It's a zombie picture, where the zombies are celebrities' careers.
Magnolia. Many of the characters in P.T. Anderson's film have Hollywood connections (more on the TV side, which makes them even more unseemly, I think) and their decadent misbehavior brings on one of God's plagues in the last act! In the shared universe I propose, what's a rain of frogs when you've already got ghosts and demons?

Of course, you may add to this list. Should there also be weird tech like in Time Lapse? Does meta-text count as a new kind of magic as in Seven Psychopaths? Is the supernatural element even required to fit this world, or would L.A. Confidential or Inherent Vice count? Broaden or limit the scope as much as you like, but let us know what else fits your idea of Hellywood.

1 comments:

Doc_Loki said...

If you're willing to branch out from film, then Clive Barker's "Coldheart Canyon" could go nicely with this, as could some of the Brubaker/Phillips comics - "The Fade Out" is the obvious choice, but "Fatale" too.

 

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