This week on Psychotronic Netflix, we’ve got ten flicks serving as fictionalized biopics of interesting people, including musicians, actors, martial artists and hoaxsters!
10. Harlow (1965)
In 1965, you had two choices for soapy biopics of starlet Jean Harlow — the Alex Segal-directed pic with Carol Lynley, or this Joseph E. Levine-produced film with Carroll Baker in the title role. This one’s pretty ridiculous, but it does feature Red Buttons and Angela Lansburg.
9. Telstar (2008)
I’m not saying it’s aliens that influenced tone-deaf music producer Joe Meek in Nick Moran’s 2008 film starring Con O’Neill and Kevin Spacey, but it’s aliens.
8. Color Me Kubrick (2005)
Con artist Alan Conway is the focus of Brian W. Cook’s film, starring John Malkovich (in gleeful form) as the man who impersonated Stanley Kubrick in the ’90s in exchange for money, booze and sex.
7. Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life (2010)
Based on his graphic novel, Joann Sfar’s biopic of musician Serge Gainsbourg isn’t exactly traditional, but it is entertaining and, of course, features a solid batch of music, following the performer from Nazi occupied France to his rise to fame and affairs with Jane Birkin and Brigitte Bardot.
6. Martin and Lewis (2002)
There was bound to be at least one TV-movie biopic in the batch, and John Gray’s 2002 portrait of the relationship between Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis is a pretty good one, thanks to strong performances by Jeremy Northam and Sean Hayes. (You can probably figure out who plays who.)
5. Man on the Moon (1999)
Milos Forman returned to pop culture biography after AMADEUS and THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT with his 1999 film about Andy Kaufman, and it works mostly due to a strong performance by Jim Carrey. With Courtney Love, Paul Giamatti as Bob Zmuda, Vincent Schiavelli, Danny DeVito and Jerry Lawler as himself.
4. Howl (2010)
Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman (THE CELLULOID CLOSET, the upcoming LOVELACE) directed this very non-traditional biopic of Allen Ginsburg centered around the writing and obscenity trial of his titular poem, starring James Franco as Ginsburg, with Jon Hamm, David Strathairn, Mary-Louise Parker and Bob Balaban.
3. Walker (1987)
Alex Cox’s oddbeat biopic of 19th century adventurer William Walker starring Ed Harris is an impressively political film, and one of Cox’s best non-punk related works. With Richard Masur, Rene Auberjonois, Sy Richardson, John Diehl, Peter Boyle and Marlee Matlin.
2. Ip Man (2008)
Known as the grandmaster of Wing Chun and the master of Bruce Lee, Yip Man is the (loose) subject is this flick featuring Donnie Yen in one of the best martial arts films in recent years — it’s also the subject of Wong Kar-Wai’s new film, THE GRANDMASTER.
1. Serpico (1973)
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