Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Tuesday Talkback: Good movies about writers

Yesterday I railed against spec scripts about screenwriters, but every now and then there's a good movie about a writer. Here's your place to present your counterarguments. What movies about writers were actually pretty good?

My favorite is probably Misery. Here, James Caan's writing profession is mainly used an an entry into the real theme - obsession - as a novelist finds himself a prisoner of his "number one fan."

Interestingly, Sunset Blvd. also deals with a writer held prisoner in a manner of speaking, also by a somewhat unbalanced woman.

There are a couple others that are certain to come up in comments, but as I'm not over the moon for a few likely suspects, I'll leave them for more determined fans to discuss.


  1. I agree that writing about writing seems to be the worst kind of self indulgence, but when I really think about it, there are plenty of films I love that are about writers and the act of writing. Although I imagine in all cases they are written by seasoned screenwriters, and not a novice trying to break into the business.

    Here's a list of some of my favorites:

    Henry Fool
    Naked Lunch
    In a Lonely Place
    Shakespeare In Love
    Wonder Boys
    Synecdoche, New York

    And what about something like Amadeus? That's writing, and it has some nice ideas about writers of varying degrees of "talent", and the problems and frustrations that come with both abundant and limited talent.

  2. Bullets Over Broadway, about a playwright.

    And Deconstructing Harry.

  3. There seems to be a pretty huge difference between the films mentioned above (at least the ones I've seen) and the films Bitter talked about yesterday. Not to speak for him, or anyone else for that matter, but as mentioned: Misery's story is really about obsession.

    The stories about writers that I have enjoyed are not about the writer writing. "Shakespeare in Love" isn't about Shakespeare writing Romeo and Juliet; it's about his love affair as he writes Romeo and Juliet.

    Even if a script were written about Shakespeare the Writer, it would be a biopic of a famous writer more so than a self-indulgent project with no arc.

    I could probably elaborate further but I'd need my own blog and less 9-5.

  4. The Shining.

    A fair number of Stephen King's stories center on alcoholic writers as the main character but not all of them have made it into respectable movies.




  6. Carlos gets the prize. Uou're absolutely right that there is a big distinction between what I discussed yesterday and the - admittedly mostly fine - movies being presented as examples today.

    However, the examples today are on topic due to the way I phrased the question. I just don't want anyone to come away thinkng that most of these titles present a legitimate counterarguement to the point I made yesterday.

  7. Not a movie, but Castle on ABC would certainly count.

    Writing about murder while solving murder and sustaining it as a series, with cameos by actual novelists.