Following on from last week’s list of books, this post turns its attention to cinematic examples of writers and the act of writing. Films of this description are, it turns out, especially tough to find, so I would like to offer a particularly grateful hat tip to Pop Matters and Tales of the Pack for pointing me in the right directions.
1. The Hours. Nicole Kidman’s portrayal of Virginia Woolf is completely engrossing. The entangled stories of three women, linked by Woolf’s creation, Mrs Dalloway, are a wonderful example of understated anguish.
2. Wonder Boys. A modern, Hollywood-hit about writing. I am not personally a fan, but it is on here because a lot of people are, and who am I to judge?
3. Barton Fink. The Coen brothers supposedly wrote this film in three weeks whilst struggling to write another film, Miller’s Crossing. The title character is a New York screenwriter brought to Hollywood in 1941, and the film deals very deliberately with the process of writing and the culture of the entertainment industry.
4. Stranger than Fiction. Will Ferrel plays it straight in this film as a man who begins to hear his life being narrated as he lives it. Emma Thompson, the narrator, turns out to be a novelist, struggling to finish her latest work. Once the two have met, the question of the book’s ending becomes evermore complex.
5. American Splendor. A film about the comic book writer, Harvey Pekar, whose comics of the same name paved the way for the tradition of outsider narratives. The trailer alone was enough to convince me it deserved to be on this list.
6. Capote. Detailing the story of Truman Capote as he wrote his non-fiction account of the brutal murder of a Kansas family, In Cold Blood, this also stars the consistently excellent Philip Seymour Hoffman.
7. Adaptation. I shall hand over to Tales of the Pack to describe this one: “this film did meta before meta was cool. Chock full of enough silliness to entertain cynical writers, seemingly every sort of trope is touched on in this treatise of the mental instability of the gigging writer.”
8. Wilde. Stephen Fry. Oscar Wilde. A classic, and with good reason.
9. Sex and the City. A flippant choice maybe, but Carrie Bradshaw is a writer, and I think the film (and series) perfectly depicts the lifestyle that non-writers think writers have, and which writers can only dream of. Hey, you’ve got to have a dream right?
10. Howl. A combination of first person narrative, dramatisation of the obscenity case and animations illustrating Ginsberg’s famous poem, Howl. It looks both beautiful and fascinating, and I can’t believe I have not seen it yet.