Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Movies about books - what's your favourite?

With this being the first post in a while, I was going to report back from the Literary Society meeting in November, when members - and some guests - discussed the potential for a literary festival on this fair isle. I had to miss the meeting, but I had a trusty spy there, who gave me the lowdown.

But, well, reports smack of admin, and I'd hate this post to end with your unconscious forehead crashing onto your keyboard. So how about a bit of bit of fun research...? We'll save the report till the next post.

One of the ideas thrown into the mix at a recent meeting with the IOM Arts Council (as an aside, we've downloaded grant/underwriting application forms for 2011/12, deadline is February 8) was to stage screenings of writing-related movies.

One of my favourites is Wonder Boys. Released in 2000, it won a raft of nominations and awards from various critics, but was largely ignored by the public, which was a shame, but perhaps understandable, as it lacked explosions, violence (although a poor dog does get it) and sex.

It follows a couple of days in the life of Professor Grady Tripp (Michael Douglas), a lecturer who has spent the last seven years failing to follow up his critically acclaimed debut novel. His wife has left him, he's having an affair with the Dean's wife, his nagging editor is in town for the university's lit fest, and he's babysitting his best student, who claims to be living out of a locker in the bus station. Oh, and his proposed 250-page manuscript has crept up to the 2,500-page mark...

It's a lovely film, beautifully directed by Curtis Hanson, with - arguably - a career best performance from Douglas (far less showy than Gordon Gekko) and a fine cast behind him; Robert Downey Jnr, before his Iron Man comeback, as the editor, a pre-Spider-Man Tobey Maguire as student, James Leer, Frances McDormand as the Dean's wife and 'Screamer' as the dead dog, Poe.

So there's your starter for ten. There are plenty to choose from - Misery, Capote, The Hours, the brilliant Barton Fink, Adaptation to name a few - but don't let me influence you.

Assuming we can arrange a venue, and we can get a print of a particular movie, which films would you like to see screened at the festival...?



  1. For the fun of it Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. Johnny Depp makes for a good Hunter S Thompson. I also like Terry Gilliam as a director. Not sure how much writing I'd get done if I was having as much fun as them. Then again, would I care?

    I would say Naked Lunch too – although that is a film of a book which happens to be a book about writing.

  2. I would definitely go with Barton Fink. Or, if you wanted a classic - how about Sunset Boulevard? Or, if you don't mind subtitles, one of my favourite films is The Lives of Others - a German film set in the former East Berlin about a Stasi officer who spends his time carrying out surveillance on a writer. It's wonderful.

  3. Seth, you know, to my shame I've not seen Fear & Loathing - no idea why. Do like Gilliam, though. Naked Lunch... oh yes...

    Cheers for dropping by, Donna. Barton Fink is stunning. In fact, just talking about it, I need to watch it again. Sunset Boulevard - like it. Not seen Lives of Others, but thanks for the heads up.

    Did you enjoy your trip to IOM in April? I was at Erin Arts Centre for the Mannslaughter and Mayhem - cool night's entertainment. You, Stuart and Allan made a great panel. Someone might think you'd done that before together...

    Thanks, folks.

  4. I'll second Donna's The Lives of Others - I really enjoyed that film

  5. Getting round to answering very, very late. I did, indeed enjoy my trip (despite being really nervous). The event was really well organised, lovely people attended, and the Isle of Man is gorgeous. I shall be coming back for a visit some time in the near future, as I'd love to pend more time there. Al and Stuart have done stuff together - it was my first time!

  6. Donna, it may have been your first time, but you more than held your own :)

    Glad you enjoyed the trip.