Stuck In Love and 10 brilliant films about being a writer…
Surly romantic comedy Stuck In Love, starring Hollywood everyman Greg Kinnear, rising star Logan Lerman and Oscar nominated Jennifer Connelly hits DVD shelves on Monday (November 18) and raises a rather interesting subject…writers on screen…why do they usually come across so badly?
Typically, writers in mainstream Hollywood films either live opulent lives that make actual writers tear their hair out or are clichéd misanthropes who spend all day wandering round parks or drinking themselves to death.
Sometimes though, filmmakers get it right and present writers as the varied and strange creatures that they really are. Here’s 10 gems that do exactly that:
Now let’s be clear about this, we’re talking about the 1972 original and not the 2007 remake. Heavyweights Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine slug it out in this muscular drama about an aging egocentric novelist and a young hairdresser. Brilliantly scripted by Anthony Shaffer, Sleuth offers up twist after twist, getting ever more gripping as it goes. A complete and utter masterpiece.
Cameron Crowe’s love letter to his time as a journalist for Rolling Stone is a warm, wistful portrait of both the excess of rock n’roll in the 1970s and a young man finding his feet and voice as a writer. And, to be honest, it’s worth watching for Philip Seymour Hoffman’s turn as legendary rock journalist Lester Bangs alone.
An absolute classic. This 1990 chiller tells the story of Paul Sheldon, a famous novelist who is rescued from a car crash by an obsessed fan. The film, which won Kathy Bates an Oscar for her completely terrifying performance, is a gruelling journey, which will keep the edges of your seat fraying throughout.
Written by Diablo Cody - the author behind the acid-tongued scripts of Juno and Jennifer’s Body - this twisted coming of age story features Charlize Theron as a divorced ghost writer in her late 30s struggling to keep her life together. Refreshingly brutal in its treatment of its character and full of Cody’s trademark barbed humour, this is an affecting comedy drama full of humanity.
The Squid and the Whale
The film that started it all for American indie darling Noah Baumbach, this 2005 dark comedy follows two writers in the process of divorce and their struggle to reconnect with their teenage sons. Witty and wistful with Baumbach’s typically understated direction, it’s easy to see why we all fell in love with his films.
The fifth film by the nearly always-brilliant Coen Brothers, this movie chronicles the dramas of a promising young playwright who is hired to come to Hollywood to write movies and suddenly develops a chronic case of writers block. This being the Coens, the film has a wonderful screwball quality to much of the comedy, but also a supremely compelling cast of characters.
Still a classic 63 years after it first came out, this tale of a hack screenwriter whose unlikely partnership with a fading silent film star leads him into a life of murder and madness remains a must-watch. Directed by the great Billy Wilder with his usual magic touch, the sparring Gloria Swanson and William Holden are a sight to behold. Seek it out at all costs.
Adaptation. is a strange, but wonderful animal. Written by Charlie Kaufman, with Nicholas Cage playing an exaggerated version of Kaufman and his fictional twin brother Donald, this film features the scribe battling writer’s block and his difficult relationship with his twin brother. Kaufman doesn’t have a twin brother, but he credited a fictional one on the script. It’s a headfuck, but a delightful one.
A charming and off-kilter indie comedy, this 2005 flick starred Paul Giamatti as downcast hospital clerk Harvey Pekar, who scripted his own graphic novel series in real-life. Part graphic retelling, part biographical film, this is a real gem.
Les Mepris (Contempt)
A bit of a leftfield pick, but well worth seeking out. Le Mepris (which translates to Contempt in our lovely mother tongue) chronicles the struggle of a screenwriter who is hired to make a new adaptation of the weighty tome Ulysses a little more commercial. But, when his relationship with his wife begins to break down, the writer’s own personal Odyssey begins to oddly mirror the thing he’s supposed to be polishing up…