One of my Facebook friends wanted to know if anybody knew about movies about writers and artists. I got to the post about a day after she’d posted it and there were a few answers.
Stevie, Henry and June, Carrington, The Hours, Capote … I immediately though of a few more that I loved like Julia and Basquiat.
But then I wanted to show off and list a few more so I went to my old friend Google and found out much more than I ever even guessed.
Movies about Writers
Christina Katz – The Prosperous Writer has compiled a list of 263 Movies about Writers & the Writing Life. I’m not sure they would all go on my list, but this list is certainly impressive.
20 Greatest Movies about Writers
20 Greatest Movies about Writers is a blog post by Mike Le, a writer/producer living in Los Angeles. He is also the creator of the webcomic DON'T FORGET TO VALIDATE YOUR PARKING. It is beautifully put together with a poster and a video for each movie.
He explains:” I had always wanted to be a writer living in the Big Apple – it was a desire straight out of a Woody Allen movie. The mosaic colors and mental acoustics were so vivid with this dream that it painted me as occupying a nice apartment in upper Manhattan with my junior editor at VOGUE Euro-Asian girlfriend who had enough style to make up for my lack thereof, while I labored away at my great American novel, at my desk under my framed Velvet Underground poster, in the evenings after a full day’s work on the staff of THE NEW YORKER magazine. Well, ahem. In the cosmic battle of dream versus reality, reality won, and instead, I ended up in Hollywood, suffering writer’s block on an untitled science fiction screenplay I couldn’t for the life of me figure out the ending. So instead of hunkering down to finish my script I walked every day to my local video store and rented movies about other people writing. Something about watching movies about writers inspired me.”
It’s fiction but the first film about a writer that came to mind was ‘The Shining’.
For me, top three are: The Hours, Adaptation and Shakespeare in Love. Can watch a thousand times and still take away something new.
By far, the best movie about writers is “Stranger Than Fiction,” with Emma Thompson, Will Ferrell, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Dustin Hoffman. I don’t usually appreciate Will Ferrell humour, but he is exceptional in this move. Enjoy the story the first time you watch it; but belly-laugh your way through the “author and writing humour” in subsequent viewings.
Still yet to see Howl, Kathleen, though it’s a must for me (eespecially as he’s one of the biggest influences on both my writing and my body image!).
Barton Fink was the Cohen Brothers’ big breakthrough movie, Karen, I think their third after Blood Simple and Raising Arizona, and the won that won them the Palme D’Or at Cannes if I remember. It features a wonderfully paranoid and frenetic John Turturro holed up in a hotel trying to write a commercial screenplay for a larger than life producer played with relish by Michael Lerner. It’s a brilliant Faustian allegory of the artist selling their creative soul as the hotel around him slowly turns into a hell-ish, fevered, delirious prison filled with fire and sulphur, and haunted by a magnificently demonic Hemingway-esque character played with glorious panache by, of all people, John Goodman. An absolute masterpiece
I loved Howl. And The Wonder Boys. An absolute favourite is Anonymous, which posits the real Shakespeare as a bumbling oaf and the guy who did the writing as somebody very different. Amazing acting and action. See it if you haven’t. I’ve never seen Barton Fink but will now.
Howl – the film about Allen Ginsberg and how the US censors tried to silence him – is fantastic.
Movies about writers seem to be as prolific as books about writers. There’s something epic about the struggle with the empty page. And a look at a few of those that spring quickest to my mind show that the writing process is also a fabulous metaphor
The Shining – claustrophobic descent into madness
the best film, about writing of all, Barton Fink – the descent not just into madness but literally into a Hell of yoru own making
Wonder Boys – a desperate but ultimately failed attempt to make some kind of sense of your life and construct a world that has the direction yours lacks
The World According to Garp – a very literal illustration of the fact that life is what happens when you’re too busy writing books