Monthly Archives: May 2012

Sorry. I forgot Johnny Depp

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On my recent post dealing with cool movies about writers, I made a terrible omission.
Namely, “Secret Window,” about a writer who loses himself in his stories with Stephen King like consequences. While you can see the ending coming from a league away, the movie stars Johnny Depp as the writer.
Need I say more.

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Yes, writers can be movie heroes.

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When it comes to action movie heroes, a writer isn’t going to save the world.
In “Die Hard,” no writer takes on terrorists with a computer to rescue hostages.
Indiana Jones flashes a whip and pistol not a pen and paper to beat the bad guys in any of those four movies.
A battalion of writers doesn’t storm beaches of enemy territory with thesauruses.
In none of the Alien movies did Ripley fight those monsters with adverbs and action verbs.
And do any of those Avenger heroes plot their novel after they remove their tights? I don’t think so.
So people of the writing persuasion usually are not the stuff of action movies (the exception is probably “Romancing the Stone.”)
One reason why there aren’t writer action movie heroes is that someone sitting in front of a computer screen or scribbling away is not too exciting or sexy unless they are writing in the nude. Wait, forget I wrote that.
Nevertheless, there have been some terrific films about writers as the central characters. But I am focusing about the ones that also deal with the hell and joy we all go through as we try to tell a story.
Here are some of my favs.
“Shakespeare in Love” — Sure there is romance, cool costumes and Judi Dench, but the film was also about Shakespeare’s struggles to finish a play, and how inspiration comes from life as well as the other way around.
“Wonder Boys” — A great movie about writer’s block, which parallels the blocked life of burned out author Michael Douglas.
“Capote” and “Infamous” — movies about Truman Capote’s writing of “In Cold Blood.” Capote gave the craft his all until he had nothing much left.
“The Hours” — Electrifying Nicole Kidman as a Virginia Wolf and how the process can leave you crazed enough to fill your pockets with stones and talk a walk into a river.
“Adaptation” – Brilliant and so true, particularly when the Charlie Kaufman character is paralyzed with self-doubt. As a writer I laughed and cried simultaneously.
“Stranger than Fiction” — Emma Thompson is wonderful as the tortured writer facing a deadline, a life crisis, and the character she created.
“Sideways” — yes it is about wine and love. But when Paul Giamatti’s character falls apart at a rejection of his manuscript and starts drinking all the wine he can get his hands on, I totally empathized.
These movies are not only darn entertaining, and well written, but full of truth for writers, that is, you are not alone. Great films, overall, even if none of the writers in them pick up a machine gun and save the world.