Sunday, June 05, 2011

Top 10 Films about Writers

1. An Angel At My Table (Jane Campion, 1990)
Funny how the only two vaguely famous NZ authors are female (the other is Katherine Mansfield, in case you're wondering). Jane Campion's film of Janet Frame's life is harrowing yet uplifting and intensely moving.

2. Henry Fool (Hal Hartley, 1997)
One of Hartley's best, with garbageman Simon writing 'the great American poem'.

3. Barton Fink (The Coen Brothers, 1991)
John Turturro as the playwright selling his soul to write a Hollywood movie script.

4. Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)
Enjoyable college drama/comedy with Michael Douglas as professor Tripp, unable to finish his second novel. Soundtrack includes a healthy dose of Dylan as well as Neil Young and Leonard Cohen.

5. Morvern Caller (Lynne Ramsey, 2002)
Adapted from the excellent book by Alan Warner, and with a great soundtrack featuring Can and Aphex Twin, the film starts with the writer already dead, having finished his novel, committed suicide and left his book to his girlfriend, Samantha Morton. Lynne Ramsey doesn't make nearly enough films. Her first since Morvern Caller, an adaption of We Need to Talk about Kevin, is out later this year.

6. Before Night Falls (Julian Schnabel, 2000)
The life of Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas.

7. Naked Lunch (David Cronenberg,1991)
Cronenberg was perhaps the best choice for the 'unfilmable' book by William Burroughs, even if the results were somewhat pedestrian. Ornette Coleman and Howard Shore supply the atmospheric music.

8. Prick up your ears (Stephen Frears, 1987)
...Literally! Gary Oldman stars as gay playwright Joe Orton.

9. Tales of Ordinary Madness (Marco Ferreri, 1981) / Barfly (Barbet Schroeder, 1987) / Factotum (Bent Hamer, 2005)
The colourful life of sleazy beat writer Charles Bukowski has inevitably led to some film adaptions, none of which really capture his deadpan blend of poetry and poverty. And Bukowski was a pretty ugly guy – having Mickey Rourke and Matt Dillon play him is just plain wrong.

10. The Arbor (Clio Barnard, 2010)
The most recent on the list, and certainly one of the most original: the life and times of playwright Andrea Dunbar told via mimed tape recordings of family and friends as well as in situ extracts from her play The Arbor. Dunbar is probably now best remembered as the writer of Rita, Sue and Bob Too!, made into a film by Alan Clarke.

Do Say: Where's Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters, Romancing the Stone, Sunset Boulevard, The Player, Adaption, Sideways, Finding Forrester, Total Eclipse, The Squid and the Whale, Gonzo, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, The Shining and Misery?
Don't Say: Where's Love Actually (Colin Firth strand)?

1 comment :

Colin said...

But where is Love Actually?