Louis Bayard

  • The Bad and the Beautiful

    An obsessed auteur, denied major-studio financing for his audaciously personal project, follows his own path to glory. Declaring himself writer, producer, director, and star, he makes the picture on his terms—ruling his set with an iron fist, shouting down naysayers, and, in his darkest hours, clinging to the belief that he is changing the face of the art form.

    Am I speaking of Orson Welles? Jean Renoir? John Cassavetes? Or am I speaking, finally, of Tommy Wiseau?

    If that last name doesn’t ring a bell, you still might know Wiseau’s chef d’oeuvre, a 2003 drama titled The Room. If even that

  • The Last Picture Show

    The final sequence of Abel Gance’s silent epic Napoléon (1927) unfurls in something called Polyvision: a triptych of screens in which the center panel shows the main action, while complementary or simultaneous action plays out on the side panels. In person, the device can feel more theatrical than cinematic, particularly if you’re lucky enough to have a live symphony orchestra playing along. And yet I can’t think of a better template for the sensibility we bring to watching movies: filtering the main event through the unending stream of images that floods our brains.

    There is, in other words,