Friday, September 16, 2005
A Gay Writer With a Fey, Lispy Voice Falling In Love With a Mass Murderer: Best Picture of the Year?
Last posting for the week. Unless something amazing happens this weekend. Anyway, this movie (pictured left), Capote, is coming out at the very end of this month and the trailer makes it look fantastic. Gripping, meaningful, suspenseful, the whole thing.
It's about the writing of Capote's masterpiece, In Cold Blood. In Cold Blood is considered one of the few literary examples of a usually pretty sordid genre called True-Crime. In the book, Capote describes the killing of a Kansas family by two men, (while the family members were in their house, in their beds), the efforts of the police to track down the killers, and then Capote's interaction with one of the accused. The book is chilling and very much worth a reading. I'm looking forward to Capote because it's the story of a writer creating their immortal work, the one they'll be remembered for, (and also because Philip Seymour Hoffman affects this great Capote voice and because Catherine Keener's in it playing Harper Lee). I know this particular story has a lot of great material to play with, perhaps moreso than most formation stories. What's it like for a self-involved gay man from New York, obsessed with his literary reputation and his social status, to investigate a horrific crime in Kansas of all places? What happens when he does that? And of course there's a lot of investigating to show (which is usually pretty interesting) and most novelists don't really have to do much investigating when they write their fictional stories. But, I believe any depiction of an author's life during the formation of their best novel has in it the potential to be a riveting film. What was John Kennedy Toole's life like when he wrote Confederacy of Dunces? How did he interact with New Orleans? Was he anything like his main character? What was his life like after he'd finished it and then leading up to his suicide? John Irving composing Garp? Tolkien during the writing of Lord of the Rings? Or not even stories about the formation of classics or stories about heartrending deaths of famous writers, what about more popular, still-living novelists? Wouldn't a movie about Stephen King composing Carrie be interesting? Working all of those shit jobs to make ends meet? Writing in the laundryroom while his wife, Tabitha, who's sitting with their sick son is calling to him, "Think up another monster, Stephen, quick!"
Sure, there's more drama inherent in certain authors than others, but there's a lot of drama to be mined out of every one of them. In essence the story of famous writers are lottery stories -- one day they're poor or just unknown, the next day they're either respected and famous or rich or both. With a lottery the windfall is just dumb luck; with breakout novels, the writer has (presumably) earned their sudden success. Admittedly, there have been a few bad movies made from writer's stories (Plath I guess is one, though I haven't seen it, blanking right now on other examples, I'm sure you folks know some), and I'm not arguing here for a hundred Shakespeare in Loves, but just a bunch of good movies that I know are out there waiting to be filmed. We'll see them one day (probably one about JK Rowling sooner than later, I'm thinking), but I'm just not wanting to wait so much to see them.
By the way, here's a link to the trailer. Just copy and paste it into the html bar. It's a good one!