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!

http://apple.com/trailers/sony/capote.html

7 comments:

blankfist said...

For your links to be hot, Crane, you should include them in a href element, as such:

<a href="your link here">The text you want us to see</a>

It would look something like this: The text you want us to see

blankfist said...

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blankfist said...

See? Html can be fun!

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Fried Pepperoni said...

I have no idea what Heath's talking about...but anyway, I think you may be right Crane about the lack of films regarding authors and the creation of their life's work. There aren't as many as one would suspect there perhaps ought to be. Off hand, I guess you'd include FINDING NEVERLAND in the mix, as well as THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD which was that film with Vincent D'Onofrio about the dude who wrote Conan The Barbarian. There are others I haven't seen, like QUILLS, WILDE, and A SOLDIER'S DAUGHTER NEVER CRIES, which are about/loosely based on actual authors but I don't know if they tell us anything about the creation of their work.

It's weird, though, isn't it? Think of all the movies about writers out there, from THE SHINING to WONDER BOYS to everything Woody Allen ever did, and then compare that stack to the stack of biopics about authors - it would be woefully lopsided.

The reason for this? Barring a few exceptions, I don't think most folks would be interested in watching a person sit at a desk for hours, days, months, and years and then balance their personal life. Sure, there would be interesting exceptions - but I think to create a story arc out of these scenarios, you'd probably get a bunch of movies that resemble a lot of other bland biopics unfortunately. These stories might be better suited for memoirs/autobiography, no?

blankfist said...

What are you talkin' about Harwell?

Anonymous said...

I think this blog is great (except for some of the comments), but I checked all weekend and then again today, and there have been no NEW posts. What's up?