Movies with writers as main characters:
84 Charing Cross Road (1987). The definitive writer’s film, this is the cinematic adaptation of Helene Hanff’s book of the same name memorializing her long-distance friendship (and romance?) with a London bookseller. New York never looked lovelier, and neither did Anne Bancroft, who plays Hanff. She’s equally matched in charm and brilliance by Anthony Hopkins.
Sylvia (2003). I just saw this a few weeks ago and wasn’t overly impressed. Gwyneth Paltrow plays Sylvia Plath with the refinement and touch of glamor befitting a Smith College girl, but without the edge you would expect from someone who flirted almost daily with the idea of suicide. Like everything else about Plath, the film reduces the poet’s accomplishments to mere prologue to her actual, eventual suicide. Not the best film about a writer ever made, but hey, you take what you can get.
Delirious (1991). A little-seen John Candy film about a soap opera writer who finds his creation coming to life, with himself as a primary character in it. A little bit of Stranger Than Fiction, with a dash of The Purple Rose of Cairo thrown in. Not the best there is, and I’m not really partial to films about writers in the TV biz (although I lurv lurv lurv the current NBC-Thursday-night-Must-See-TV show 30 Rock), but Candy was a great one to watch in his heyday, and watching this makes you realize just what a gem he was while he was still with us.
Something’s Gotta Give (2003). There are so many things wrong with this movie, the primary one being that Jack Nicholson gets Diane Keaton instead of the gorgeous and charming Keanu Reeves. Who the hell wrote this script, and why would they work so hard to make Reeves’ character so appealing, only to have him crushed in the end as we all witness his painful loss of the girl to a man who’s well past his sell-by date? Anyway, Keaton’s character is a playwright, and I only throw this film in the list because I’m writing a play, and, well, that’s a good enough reason, right? Oh, and did I mention that Keanu Reeves is in it?
Me Myself I (1999). No, not the Jim Carrey movie. The brilliant and beautiful Rachel Griffiths stars in this Australian film about a woman who can’t seem to be happy with the life she has. She gets the opportunity (very It’s a Wonderful Life) to see how things would have been had she gotten married, had kids and a suburban home instead of foregoing all of that for the dreary life of professional success as an award-winning journalist, city life, travel, and hot young teachers begging for her attention. Great feel-good movie for thirtysomething single gals wondering about the meaning of life.
Down With Love (2003). Yeah, it’s silly and frothy and very, very pastel-ly. But seriously, who can resist a tuxedoed Ewan McGregor in all his Scottish-accented glory? Both he and Renee Zellweger were so perfectly cast and enjoyed such great chemistry that filmmakers paired them up again several years later. In this dead-on homage to old Hudson/Day classics, both play writers — he of the Esquire kind, she of the Barbara De Angelis school — trying to outscheme each other into, well, love.
Romancing the Stone (1984) and Jewel of the Nile (1985). Not much writing (except for the first few minutes of each film), but at least you can see Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in top form and at their sexiest. Damn, movie couples never looked so hot on screen. Turner plays frumpy, shy romance novelist Joan Wilder, and Douglas is the mercenary stuck in a Colombian jungle whom she enlists to help track down a missing treasure. The sequel isn’t quite as good as the original, but still a fuckin’ great ride. They just don’t make movies like this anymore.
Yeah, I know, I’m missing quite a few, and I haven’t seen Freedom Writers yet either. But these are my favorites so far, and really, any writer who hasn’t seen 84 Charing Cross Road needs to get on Netflix.com or to their nearest video store and watch it. It’s the gold standard, people.
If anyone has others they’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear about them!