The play's the thing in Olivier Assayas' latest film, Clouds of Sils Maria, which stars Juliette Binoche as an actress preparing to star in a revival of the play that made her famous. The twist is that Binchoce's Maria Enders is playing the older woman of the play, who is driven to suicide by the younger woman, originally played by Maria and now being played a tabloid-friendly starlet (Chloe Grace Moretz). This set-up allows for the film to reflect on the passage of time and how we react to it. It's an interesting subject, and as the parallels between the play and the film, and the film and real life begin piling up, it's clear that Clouds of Sils Maria is operating on multiple levels.
"Hail, Caesar!", the latest film from Joel and Ethan Coen, is set in Hollywood in the early 1950s, the final years before the collapse of the studio system. Josh Brolin plays Eddie Mannix, a studio exec whose job entails putting out all the fires started by the stars of the various films in production at the studio. These stars include George Clooney as an actor in a Ben Hur-like epic who gets kidnapped, Scarlett Johansson as the star of an 'aquamusical', similar to the ones starring Esther Williams, and Channing Tatum, who plays a Gene Kelly-like dancer starring in a sailor musical. The amount of time and detail given to these movies-within-the-movie is evidence of the brothers' love and appreciation for moviemaking, without which the movie would be in danger of feeling hollow and disingenuous.