I like to consider myself a writer. Not that that’s my profession; more like it’s my personality type. And most writers write, in some form or another, about their own lives. Unfortunately, I feel like movies about writers have kinda lied to me over the years. The lives of writers in movies are a lot more interesting than my life. Maybe that’s why I find movies about writers so interesting.
With that in mind, here are my 7 favorite movies about writers. Spoiler Alert: Don’t look for The Secret Window.
7. The Men Who Stare at Goats – Okay, this one may be cheating a bit, since the flick’s protagonist, Bob Wilton, is a news writer and not a creative writer. Still, news writers have to be effective storytellers, and the story Wilton tells is a doozy. It’s all about how the U.S. military had a program to develop psychic soldiers. As Wilton investigates further and follows Lyn Cassady into Iraq to get details, the truth turns out to be far stranger than he could ever imagine. No wonder the movie begins with a title card that reads “More of this is true than you would believe”.
6. Wonder Boys – Grady Tripp is a writer who teaches college creative writing courses. His personal life is a mess and he can’t figure out how to end his second novel. Into the chaos comes James Leer, a student whose writing catches the attention of Grady’s editor. Oh, and one of Grady’s students lives in his house and has a crush on him. Oh, and also, Grady’s having an affair with his boss’s wife. Laughs ensue.
5. Adaptation – Written by the eccentric Charlie Kaufman, who also wrote Being John Malkovich and The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Adaptation deals with the difficulties Kaufman had while trying to adapt the novel The Orchid Thief. Kaufman ends up writing himself into his screenplay. He also has a brother who writes a screenplay that he sells for a million bucks, putting even more pressure on Charlie. All writers write about their struggles in participating in their art. This flick visualizes that struggle.
4. American Splendor – Based around the life of real life comic artist and writer Harvey Pekar, this flick tells the story of how Pekar came to write and illustrate comic books, all while dealing with the vicissitudes of everyday life. For anybody who feels like they have something to share, something they want to say to the world, this flick is pretty inspirational.
3. Barton Fink – Written and directed by the brilliant Joel and Ethan Coen, Barton Fink is a story about… Well, I’m honestly not quite sure what it’s about. It has something to do with the title character, a playwright recruited by Hollywood, trying to write a b-movie wrestling picture. Barton has something to say, but the question is whether the studio brass will let him say it. Along the way he meets Charlie Meadows and things go brilliantly and mind-bendingly off the rails.
2. Sunset Boulevard – Screenwriter Joe Gillis signs his own death warrant when he takes a job writing a script for former silent movie star Norma Desmond. Their relationship is fascinating and makes the viewer a little queasy, considering how nutty Norma is. Writing a story can be murder for a writer. This movie takes that concept and makes it literal.
1. Seven Psychopaths – Marty is a screenwriter trying to write out a script called Seven Psychopaths. His buddy Billy doesn’t help much, especially when he pulls a dog-napping caper with Hans that goes awry. The script Marty’s writing becomes real life, and things get kind of surreal before the end. This movie has everything I think a good flick needs: Great writing, good acting, awesome characters, a few laughs, some cool violence, and it messes with your head. Kinda the way writing a story can mess with your head and make you question your own reality…
Anyway, that;s my list. Did I miss anything? What’s on your list? Lemmie know.