Books about writers are kinda boring. I've tried reading a few and have usually been unable to fully separate the actual author of the book from the book’s main character. It gets too weird and I waste too much time wondering if the author really did stalk her sixth grade boyfriend and catch him peeing in the boys’ room. Watching movies about writers though, is something I can’t get enough of.
In the movies, writers have all the fun. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that screenwriters have no idea how novelists and short story writers live, or they want to make everything on screen as far from the truth as possible, unless the movie is heading for an Oscar. Then the writer is some tortured hack who spends way too much time worrying about the readers and their rent to actually write a decent book. Bonus points toward realism if they’re living in their parents' basement or sponging off a frustrated spouse.
My favorite writer movies, though, are the ones with protagonists who’ve written one book and become obscenely wealthy from it, has lots of groupies, and is so creatively constipated from the pressure of needing to write the next bestseller that all they can do is sleep with groupies, do drugs, and hang out in Parisian cafes while smoking Gauloises and making friends with hapless ingénues who will eventually save them from themselves and become the muse for the next Oprah Book Club pick. It's like writer porn. Very fun. Very addictive.
So basically, whenever I steal some time away from my laptop, I sit in front of Netflix trying to find my next favorite writer film. Right now, I’m on the hunt for Ghost Writer, starring Ewan McGregor. It’s a spy flick, but with a writer. Strange, I know.
Here’s a list of my faves and why:
Henry and June – I adore French writer, Anaïs Nin. This is the story of how she met and influenced Henry Miller and his wife, June. In this gorgeously made film, I could barely keep my eyes off Uma Thurman. Very sexy overall.
Stranger Than Fiction – The main character in this, Will Ferrell, is an IRS agent who suddenly begins hearing his life being narrated by the writer, Emma Thompson. A fun and fresh take on the writer film.
Adaptation – This movie is another strange and funny one. I can’t even begin to describe its ridiculousness but I’ll just say it has Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep sharing a screen.
Stuck in Love – I love unconventional love stories, and this is certainly one of them. Greg Kinnear is funny and tragic, and the story twist will absolutely melt your heart.
Young Adult – Charlize Theron is amazing in this. She’s a bitter writer of young adult novels who is stuck in the past while being on the cusp of a present life change. By turns funny and sad. I saw this one in the theater!
Finding Forrester – In a lot of ways, this feels a bit like Dangerous Minds, the Principal, or any of the scores of white savior in the hood movies out there. Sean Connery plays a brilliant but reclusive writer who helps a young black student from the Bronx bring out the brilliance in his own writing.
Have you seen any of these? What are your favorite writer movies?