Thursday, August 10, 2006

Writers are boring to watch

Good points from Mr. Wells, whose website I wrote for briefly, once upon a time:
Writers --- serious writers of books and plays as opposed to, say, journalists -- are not very interesting people to make films about. They're almost as bad as painters. Morose, self-destructive depressives...terrific. Unless the film follows the writer on an intense real-life adventure of some kind, as Fred Zinneman's "Julia" did with an episode in the life of the young Lillian Hellman. Or better yet, if the movie somehow injects its writer character into a surreal realm of his/her own devising, like Joel and Ethan Coen did with John Turturro's gloom-head screenwriter in "Barton Fink", or like David Cronenberg did with a William S. Burroughs-like character in his adaptation of "Naked Lunch."
From another post:
The history of movies about writers is mostly colored in varying shades of tedium.
He's right -- there's nothing terribly cinematic about a guy sitting at a typewriter for hours at a time, wandering around the office, smoking, drinking, writing some more, petting the cat, playing with the stress ball, wandering around some more, writing some more... watching grass grow would be more exciting. Still, there are exceptions; Wonder Boys and Adaptation come to mind.


Reel Fanatic said...

If I may, I would add Barton Fink to the list of ones that work .. I know there's a lot more going on in that Coen brothers' classic, but it's still basically a story of epic writer's block

Captain Mike said...

Misery. Throw Momma From The Train. Shakespeare in Love. Bullets Over Broadway. That's about it.

The writing process must involve physical torture, glorious lovemaking or terrific comedians to give life to the words. Otherwise, it's just not very cinematic.

There are plenty of good journalism movies, though, probably because each one involves a specific story, giving the protagonist writer a mission. Almost Famous, All the President's Men, even Citizen Kane sort of qualifies... you know what I'm saying.