Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Writing movies

The CBC recaps movie treatments of the writing life, noting in particular the dramatic depictions of creative inspiration and of writer's block. The list includes The Shining, Barton Fink, and Adaptation.

Missing from the list:
Henry and June
Naked Lunch
Mrs Parker and the Vicious Circle
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

all of which I love, and which feature as a source of inspiration — a cure but also occasional cause of block — to some degree or other, alcohol, sex, and drugs. Ah, the writer's life.

What movies would you add to the list?


Tim said...

I often wind up feeling as though a lot of these films really fail to capture what the process is like. I think that's one of the reasons I liked Adaptation as much as I did.

The Shining has always been one of my favorite horror films, though I still don't see it as a film about writing. King did, of course, explore that topic a lot, including his more recent Secret Window.

I suppose on some level the movie adaptation of AS Byatt's Possession is about writing. While it's really about the romances, the fact remains that it's literary in nature.

In the same way, The Hours revolved around Virginia and her quirky habits and personality. Of course, as in the previous movies, we get glimpses of her process, while the rest of the story revolves around different threads.

Lastly, I can't help but think of Shakespeare In Love. It might not be a serious look at writing, but certainly gives us an entertaining look at the process. And, in my experience, it may reflect a more accurate picture of a writer's method than any of the aforementioned films (with the exception of The Swimming Pool and Adaptation).

Oh, and even though I've not seen it yet, we now have Capote.

Martha said...

How about Smoke? The writer doesn't spend much time writing, though-- he's mostly just blocked and suffering. Though I suppose that can be an accurate depiction of process.

patricia said...

How 'bout the movie Deathtrap with Michael Caine and Christopher Reeve? Love and death.

Oh, and Sideways. Rejection and alcholism.

Suzanne said...


Hee, hee!

Lizzie said...

I honestly think that Sideways was one of the most overrated movies that I've ever seen. Sorry, but ugh!

Interesting that Stephen King movies came up a couple of times in this discussion. That figures: one of our most prolific writers would have to write about writing now and again, it's all the guy must do!

Isabella said...

Some great suggestions.

Patricia: I don't think I've ever seen Deathtrap. I'm going to hope it happens to be playing on tv one night soon when I have insomnia.

On the whole, I agree with Tim, that while some of the characters happen to be writers, most of these movies are hardly about the writing process. While The Shining has a great scene about writer's block, the movie would've worked if Jack has some other occupation. Similarly, Sideways (which I loved, Liz — what's not to like?) — that Miles is a struggling author is hardly the point of the movie.

(I haven't seen The Swimming Pool either, but will look to rent it.)

Tim: Good point about Shakespeare in Love. I didn't list it precisely because it's not a "serious" examination of the writing process, but that doesn't mean it's less accurate.

I'm inspired to see Naked Lunch again tho'. In my drug-addled recollection of it, there were glimpses of reality behind the surreal encounters, hinting at how the ordinary becomes tranformed into "story," whether via the use of enhancing substances or plain old exaggeration and imagination.

Lizzie said...

"Sideways...what's not to like?"

How about the fact that it was a depressing slice 'o' life?

I prefer my buddy movies to have cuter buddies!

If I wanted to look at "reality" I'd steer clear of the movies, natch!

Plus, Pinot Noir over Merlot? Give me a break...