Film directors are as a general rule megalomaniacs, and would not quarrel with that description. They make their careers out of directing other people's lives. They have the confidence to substitute their own fantasies for ours. With the patience of the obsessed, they can order a millionaire star to repeat the same small gesture over and over, until it matches some dream only the director understands.
"Strangers Kiss" is a movie about a director like that, the lives he controls, and the chances he takes. It is a movie about the making of a movie -- and it's no coincidence that the movie within the movie seems inspired by Stanley Kubrick's "Killer's Kiss." Indeed, the movie's central character also seems inspired by Kubrick, in his single-minded determination to place his film above everything.
The difference is that Kubrick makes epics and the movie being made in this film is so low-budget that the director and producer live in a sort of loft above the set where they're shooting. This is an inspired stroke of design: The filmmakers not only act like gods on the set, but look down on the set from their Hollywood Olympus.
The film's director is played by Peter Coyote. The time is the mid-1960s, and we can guess that the Coyote character grew up on Saturday matinees and film magazines, and is now preparing to dethrone Howard Hawks. The film he's making is a lurid mid-1950s melodrama and we see scenes from it in black-and-white, intercut with color scenes of its making and unmaking.