What Do You Think Of The Way Writers Are Depicted In Film And Television?

Writers penning stories about writers is not a rarity in the world of film and tv. While some may criticize this as being a bit lazy and arguably pretentious on the part of the writer, it is a narrative device that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

The effectiveness of these portrayals vary. Sometimes depictions of writers are endlessly fascinating to people, while other times people could care less about watching someone sit in a room and transcribe the conversations that take place in their head. It generally hinges on the level of interest the viewers have with the author in question.

Personally, the last thing I want to write fiction about is writing. I’d rather spare people the not so interesting ins and outs of my writing process in favor of exploring something more fantastical. But what about you? As a writer, what do you think of the way writers are depicted in film/tv? Do you find them completely unrealistic, at least as far as the majority of authors go? Do people think you’re wealthy beyond belief because of these depictions? Do they expect you to pick up the tab because of Californication? Do they expect you to arrive to book signings in a helicopter because of Castle?

It seems that most films tend to favor unrealistic depictions of writers. One of the more outstanding examples is John Cusack’s character in the forgettable two and a half hour explosion that was 2012. Cusack’s character Jackson Curtis lives in a fairly sizable house in LA despite being recently divorced, apparently out of work (he might drive a limo? I forget) and a bit of a mope. He identifies himself as an out of work writer who penned this great science fiction novel that no one read. Despite not seeming to do any other writing outside of said book, he lives comfortably off the massive royalties from the twelve people that bought his book. This seems like a bit of a stretch unless his book jacket was made of diamonds and each copy sold for $100,000. But in retrospect, Cusack’s occupational discrepancy is still probably the most realistic thing in that movie.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t rock star writers out there that don’t live like royalty, but the truth is that they represent a very small minority of the writing community. And even then, most of the vastly successful writers like J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and Neil Gaiman hardly strike me as extravagant or excessive personalities. So, this begs the question, is there really a Rick Castle or Hank Moody out there in real life or are the really wealthy writers just recluses who spend their millions on expensive scotch and alimony payments?

Notable portrayals of writers in film/tv:
David Duchovny as Hank Moody in Californication
Nathan Fillion as Rick Castle in Castle
John Turturro as Barton Fink in Barton Fink
Johnny Depp as Mort Rainey in Secret Window
Jack Nicholson as Jack Torrance in The Shining
Emma Thompson as Karen Eiffel in Stranger Than Fiction
John Cusack as Jackson Curtis in 2012
Michael Douglas as Grady Tripp in Wonder Boys
Nicholas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation
Joseph Fiennes as William Shakespeare in Shakespeare in Love
Geoffrey Rush as the Marquis de Sade in Quills
Gwyneth Paltrow as Sylvia Plath in Sylvia
James Caan as Paul Sheldon in Misery
William Holden as Joe Gillis in Sunset Boulevard
Woody Allen as Harry Block in Deconstructing Harry
Phillip Seymour Hoffman as Truman Capote in Capote
Thomas McCarthy as Scott Templeton in The Wire
Hayden Christensen as Stephen Glass in Shattered Glass
Gwyneth Paltrow as Margot Tenenbaum in The Royal Tenenbaums
Ben Stiller as Jerry Stahl in Permanent Midnight
Albert Brooks as Steven Phillips in The Muse
John Cusack as Edgar Allen Poe in The Raven
Dianne Wiest as Holly in Hannah and Her Sisters
Everyone trying to kill Tim Robbins in The Player

Update on the Ready Player One Movie and Armada’s New Release Date

Armada-Ernest_ClineNews on the ‘Ready Player One’ movie has been somewhat scarce of late, but the recent announcement that the script is being rewritten by Zak Penn signals that not all is lost for the adaptation of Ernest Cline’s bestselling novel. Although it’s not incredibly promising when the only update you get on a long delayed production is that it’s undergoing rewrites, at least this means that the movie is not completely mired in development hell.

Admittedly, ‘Ready Player One’ is tricky material to adapt. It’s a highly referential, 80s nostalgic sci-fi tale that more than likely requires a CG heavy budget. But I’m confident if they put it in the rights hands and give them the necessary resources, they can do it justice. Hopefully the recent box office success of somewhat kindred sci-fi spirit ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ will give it a nudge in the right direction.

Although the movie rights to Cline’s next book ‘Armada’ have already been sold, the book itself seems to be experiencing some delays, too. Originally announced back in 2012 and slated for a September 2014 debut, ‘Armada’ is now looking at a July 2015 release date. There aren’t many details about why it got pushed back, but delays like this aren’t uncommon in publishing, so I’m sure they are just touching it up. Either way, I look forward to its release. I’m sure the wait will be worth it.

Snowpiercer: Summer’s Secret Hit

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I’d spent a significant amount of time hyping ‘Snowpiercer’ before its release (even going as far as putting it on my best movies of 2013 list before I had actually seen it), so I have no idea why I waited so long to sing its praises. I got a chance to see it back in April when I imported the cool looking French DVD a few months before the Weinsteins got over their squabbling and released it in June. I’m not sure what caused the delay in writing about it. Maybe I was just mulling over the complexities of the story or compiling the elements that I liked about it. Either way, like all of Joon-ho Bong‘s movies, there was a lot to process and I found myself thinking about it not only the next day, but weeks and months later.

I get that the movie wasn’t for everyone and those that were expecting straight turn off your brain popcorn fun couldn’t overlook some of the allegorical aspects of the film (and even then, I know there are people who just straight hated it), which is certainly fine, but I thought it was wonderful and should finally cement Joon-ho Bong as one of the best filmmakers out there. In my opinion ‘Snowpiercer’ is an eccentric masterpiece and it marks the third master class film Bong has made for three different genres (respectively, ‘Snowpiercer’ as┬ádystopian sci-fi, ‘The Host’ as a monster movie and ‘Memories of Murder’ for the serial killer genre).

And while America has seemingly embraced it in even its semi purgatory limited/VOD release, I am really happy to see the sheer amount of theories and attention it has received weeks after most releases have faded from the clipped attention spans of summer moviegoers. One such theory about the film’s meaning is in the video below, an interesting take on Snowpiercer’s class warfare (I know almost all theories about the film confront class warfare, but this one has an intriguing interpretation of the middle class, especially in the roles of Namgoong and Yona).

Either way, I highly recommend checking out ‘Snowpiercer’ if you are looking for something outside of the traditional summer mold. ‘Snowpiercer’ is still in theaters, available on VOD and if you have a region free DVD player, you can even import the French DVD from amazon.

Also, in somewhat related sci-fi news, you should go see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy.’ It is awesome. So is the soundtrack.

Snowpiercer Extras:

– The Snowpiercer Graphic Novel (amazon)

– Snowpiercer’s Gnostic Symbolism (io9)

– Chris Evans on Snowpiercer (hitflix)

– Breaking Down The Filming Techniques Used in Bong’s 2009 ‘Mother’ (youtube)

– 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Snowpiercer (hitflix)

Trailer For Dennis Lehane’s ‘The Drop’


The new trailer for ‘The Drop‘, the upcoming adaptation of Dennis Lehane’s (‘Mystic River’ and ‘Gone, Baby, Gone’) short story ‘Animal Rescue’ and now forthcoming book of the same name has hit the internet, and needless to say it looks amazing. Mostly because of Tom Hardy, but Noomi Rapace, a moody score and the late great James Gandolfini don’t hurt either. The novel releases September 2, 2014, while the movie is due to release ten days later on September 12, 2014.

‘Gone Girl’ Trailer


The trailer for David Fincher’s adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s bestseller ‘Gone Girl’ has hit the internet this week. The preview, which channels a little bit of ‘Zodiac’ along with pretty much every movie David Fincher has made, gives us an eerie montage of Ben Affleck insisting that he didn’t kill his wife (Rosamund Pike) while intercutting some footage of their apparently tumultuous relationship.

The adaptation definitely looks like it will be a good one and Fincher, whose last film was based on another popular book in ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’, surely knows the expectations associated with fan heavy source material. So, I’m sure he’s up for the task. It is also cool to see that Gillian Flynn was able to write the screenplay for the adaptation, a chance that most authors don’t get when their books head to the silver screen. ‘Gone Girl’ hits theaters later this year on October 3.

Related:

– Gillian Flynn on adapting her book and advice for writers (hollywoodreporter)

– ‘Gone Girl’ movie page (imdb)

– ‘Gone Girl’ the book (goodreads, amazon)

– Gillian Flynn’s page (gillianflynn)

– Other book adaptations to be on the lookout for in 2014 (flavorwire)

 

The Book Thief Trailer

The first trailer for Markus Zuzak’s ‘The Book Thief‘ was released to the internet today. The book, a phenomenal YA story following the life of┬áLiesel Meminger in Germany during the Holocaust, has earned heaps of praise and awards since its release in 2006. Downton Abbey vet Brian Percival is at the helm of the adaptation to direct and it is also very cool to see Geoffrey Rush in the cast, since he is usually amazing in whatever he does. Although I do find it odd that this trailer appears to suggest that the movie has removed the “story as narrated by Death” angle, which I thought was a fairly pivotal part of the book. This trailer seems to imply that Liesel herself has taken over the narration duties, but we shall see if that is true or not. ‘The Book Thief’ is currently slotted for an awards season November 15, 2013 release.

‘Catching Fire’ Gets A Proper Trailer


The Hunger Games sequel Catching Fire finally got a proper trailer this weekend at Comic-Con, showcasing the troubles that are in store for District 12 victors Katniss and Peeta on their post Hunger Games tour. Be warned, this trailer has mild spoilerish material confronting the main twist of this book, which honestly is going to be public knowledge by the time this movie rolls out in November, but if you want to go into this one completely fresh, I would avoid watching this trailer.