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The meta quartet

A sneak preview looks at four new movies about movies.

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By Jay Jennings

Nov. 24, 1999 | In Hollywood, apparently, enough is never enough. Once again, the entertainment industry has turned its cameras on itself with a rash of "flickpics" about the industry ("Bowfinger," "The Muse," "Being John Malkovich"). Salon's show-biz spies have turned up a few more movies about movies currently in development.

"The Blair Pitch Project"
In this low-budget shockumentary, four film students take their cameras onto a studio lot to investigate a mysterious "green light" and to scare producers with their pitches. The terror on the face of one executive is unbearable as a student proposes "a four-hour-long dramatization of Immanuel Kant's 'Critique of Pure Reason' in IMAX." Warning: Audiences have been made queasy by the jerky, suddenly shifting responses of the studio executives.

"Hand on the Moon"
Jim Carrey stars in this hugely hyped biopic about troubled comedian, actor and "Ed Sullivan Show" regular Seņor Wences. Carrey, who turned his head into a hand for the role, is not afraid to play an unlikable character, and his warts-and-all portrayal has Oscar written all over it. Wences is a lovable knucklehead on stage and a temperamental perfectionist off it, who points fingers and grabs credit whenever he can. The tragic end of the actor's career comes when Wences, originally cast in "Cool Hand Luke," loses the part to Paul Newman when he propositions a sock puppet who happened to be an undercover policewoman.

"Final Credit"
Craig Burkhardt (James Woods) is a Foley artist who wants to direct. To attain his goal, he executes a systematic series of murders of everyone above him in the final credits, so he will have to be given a directing job. As the pattern of the murders becomes clearer, directors, production managers and others scramble to be made negative cutters and animal trainers, throwing the industry into turmoil. The only one who can stop the carnage is the next person on Burkhardt's list, boom operator Rip Mitchell (Tom Cruise), a former FBI agent who is trying to break into films. It all comes down to a one-on-one battle between the techies, with Cruise brandishing his boom and Woods making the sound of running away in his Foley pit.

"8 1/2 II: Director's Cut"
The sequel to Fellini's classic film about a director's attempts to reconcile his art and his life is more than a Pirandellian meditation on reality and illusion; it's also an action thriller starring Bruce Willis. He plays Joe Director, who's shooting a film about his own life when Italian terrorists, upset over the English dubbing of "Life Is Beautiful," invade the studio and take hostage the entire cast of "Harry Potter," a live-action feature starring Director's 12-year-old son. Director's mission is to free the hostages without compromising his artistic ideals. Should he crash the terrorist compound in his Humvee with AK-47s blazing from each hip, possibly endangering the lives of the hostages, including his son? Or should he negotiate a peaceful settlement with the terrorists, endangering the box-office bonanza guaranteed by a shoot-out ending of the movie of his life? | Nov. 24, 1999

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About the writer
Jay Jennings is a writer in Tarrytown, N.Y.

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