Sunday, August 05, 2007

Which Write Is Right?

Jack Lipnick: We're only interested in one thing, Bart. Can you tell a story? Can you make us laugh? Can you make us cry? Can you make us want to break out in joyous song? Is that more than one thing? Okay!

When asked what I felt was the best movie about writing and being a writer, my first answer was it had to be Barton Fink, the Coen Brother's surreal exploration of a tortured playwright cum screenwriter's soul (played by John Turturro).

Barton Fink: I gotta tell you, the life of the mind... There's no roadmap for that territory... And exploring it can be painful.

But then I remembered...

Charlie Kaufman: To begin... To begin... How to start? I'm hungry. I should get coffee. Coffee would help me think. Maybe I should write something first, then reward myself with coffee. Coffee and a muffin. So I need to establish the themes. Maybe a banana nut. That's a good muffin.

Could I really exclude Adaptation, Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman's surreal exploration of a tortured screenwriter's soul (nicely played two ways as twins by Nicolas Cage)?

Charlie Kaufman: The script I'm starting, it's about flowers. No one's ever done a movie about flowers before. So there are no guidelines...
Donald Kaufman: What about "Flowers for Algernon"?
Charlie Kaufman: Well, that's not about flowers. And it's not a movie.
Donald Kaufman: Okay, I'm sorry, I never saw it.

I'm torn. Are these the best movies ever about writing and being a writer? Or are there others that should be considered.


13 comments: said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Of the two you posted, I feel like Adaptation is truly a film about writing, whereas Barton Fink is a film about a writer.

For me, nothing captures more fully the pain and joy of writing than Adaptation, and it manages to be a really great example of a modern screenplay as well.

So, nothing against Barton Fink (which is a close second for me), but my vote goes to Adaptation.

Bill Cunningham said...


Grumpy O. Selznick said...

Hmmm. Isnt a film about a writer, in some way, a film about writing. We only talking movie writing here? Give us some rules man.

I like both movies, but for me Adaptation kinda loses its way in act III. Doesnt ruin the movie but leaves it short of the Coen Brother's classic.

wcdixon said...

To clarify, and I guess I made it sound just about movie writing, it can be about writers or any writing I suppose.

"Bullets Over Broadway" is another one I just recalled.

English Dave said...

Sunset Boulevard

- The ultimate ''writer as prostitute'' flick.

DMc said...

Fuck! I can't believe somebody got to Sunset Blvd before me.


There is no better metaphor.

Although Chazz discovering his inner writer in Bullets was, to my mind, more elegant than Adaptation.

Dante Kleinberg said...

"The Heavy Pen" sketch from Kids in the Hall counts, doesn't it?

The setting: A lectern on a stage. A stodgy professor-type played by Dave Foley introduces, followed by writer Kevin McDonald. (dialogue copied and pasted from

Dave: [indifferently] Alright people. People. People, can we quiet down please. Alright, we all know why we're here and I assume you're all excited, as am I. We're here, of course, for the reading of Thomas Piper's new novel. Now this is his second novel, and his first in ten years--his first novel, of course, being "The Grains of Sands of Time of Destiny" -- a novel which turned the literary world, literally, on its ear. Hmm, that was very very similar to a joke. I wonder how that got in my brain. Anyway, let's welcome Mr. Thomas Piper, please.

Kevin: Thank you. I'm sure it comes to no surprise to anyone that following the success of my first novel, I fell victim to what is commonly referred to as a "writer's block." Now there are two ways one can deal with this condition. One -- ignore it, forget it, it's over, stop writing. Two -- write through it. I chose to do the latter, because I'm a writer, and writers write. I would now like to read to you from my novel. It is semi-autobiographical based on my experiences over the past ten years in trying to write this novel. "The Heavy Pen."

[reading from book:] "Chapter One. The Night fell like, uhhh, uhh, oohh, let's see, like umm-umm, umm, umm, ooooooo . . . [turns page] . . . oooooo. Oh, the night can fall so many ways. Well, umm. Well, um. I know. Write whatcha know. Write whatcha know. What do you know? What do I know? I don't know anything. Oh! Lunchtime! Chapter Two. Umm, umm, umm. C'mon, c'mon. Umm, umm. You're the writer. . ."

Brett said...


I'm tapped out.


meanwhile, I ain't proud, but...

You've been TAGGED for another damnable meme-thread:

Once you’ve been tagged, you must write a blog with ten weird, random things, little-known facts or habits about yourself. At the end, choose at least 5 people to be tagged, list their names and why you picked them. Don’t forget to leave a comment that says “you’ve been tagged” and tell them to read your latest blog.

Deal with it, or just ignore it.

Webs said...

"The Shining". "Misery" works, too.

Anonymous said...

I love Barton Fink. I love Adaptation.

Thanks for reminding me of my feelings for them.

Tim Thurmeier said...

I really really enjoyed Adaptation. I'm trying to think of other films about writing....and for some reason the only think I can think of kind of off topic. Has anyone seen Lady in the Water by M. Night? He plays a character in the film who will write something that will "change the world". I think the guys a little too high on himself. Although, the movie did bomb. I know, off topic, sort of. He's a writer in the film! So that's how I link it.

English Dave said...

''Fuck! I can't believe somebody got to Sunset Blvd before me.''

Blame the time difference, I had a head start. lol