Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video essay celebrating the best meta-movies within movies.
You gotta admit, it’s always a treat when there’s a movie within a movie. After all, who doesn’t love a fake trailer?
Meta-movies tend to act as bite-sized Hollywood satire, a quick way to take potshots at genre conventions, aesthetics, and marketing techniques. A one-off gag is all well and good. But at their best, meta-movies can tell us a fair amount about the fictional world that they’re a part of.
To give an example: the fake teasers that precede 2008’s Tropic Thunder lampoon everything from awards-hopeful Oscar bait (“Satan’s Alley“) to overwrought action franchises (“Scorcher VI: Global Meltdown“), clearly establishing the satirical gait of the actual film to follow. These fake trailers also introduce us to our key players, a gaggle of actors whose in-universe film choices tell us what we need to know about their Hollywood status.
As the video essay below emphasizes, the best meta-movies are the ones that transcend mere throwaway genre satire and wriggle their way into the narrative itself. The essay makes a distinction between “fictional movies within movies” and “movies predominately about the making of fictional movies.” So don’t expect to see any appearances from Living in Oblivion‘s low-budget indie film or The Player‘s “Habeas Corpus” or the titular movie in Hail, Caesar!. Instead, you’ll find a thorough and delightfully celebratory breakdown of meta-movies that add a little spice to the films that they’re a part of.
Watch “The Best Movies Within Movies“:
Who made this?
This video essay is by the New York-based Patrick (H) Willems. Willems has been making content on YouTube for the better part of a decade. You can find Willems’ own directorial efforts and their video essays on their channel here. You can also find Willems on Twitter here.
More Videos Like This
- For another sample of Willems’ work, here’s their video on why Dick Tracy is arguably the most marvelously bonkers comic book movie ever made.
- And here’s Willems on why baseball is the best cinematic sport.
- Willems gained a degree of notoriety for making short re-imaginings of existing films through the quirky lens of Wes Anderson. Here’s his take on what it would look like if Anderson had directed an X-Men movie. There are adorable center-framed shots, personalized stationery, and plenty of other well-observed details that amount to one killer parody.
- And finally here’s Willems on why the formula of the music biopic is a little broken.