Friday, March 31, 2006

That's not filmmaking, that's typing!

The blonde and I have Capote on tap for the weekend.

Movies about writers are problematic contraptions. If you want to make a movie about what a writer like Truman Capote actually does, you end up with Breakfast at Tiffanys, The Grass Harp, and In Cold Blood. What a writer seems to do is tell stories to a piece of paper or a computer screen, and movies about that cripple themselves from the start. Why do you want to look at somebody sitting around typing? Capote has some things going for it that most movies about writers don't have---the main one being Truman Capote, who talked a lot more than he wrote. Second, it has murderers. Murderers aren't really more interesting than writers, but they are more dramatic.

And Capote is set in a time when writers were more visually and sensorily compelling. They smoked a lot back then. And they used typewriters. Typewriters make great, dramatic noises. And then the actor gets to do that terrific, heroically violent act of slamming the carriage back at the end of every line.

My first commandment for young writers is Thou shalt not write about a writer writing his/her first novel.

A descant upon that would have it that when writers feel compelled to write about a writer at any stage in his/her career, they should ask themselves, "Is this going to be as good as David Copperfield?"

It should also be remembered that while David starts his own story with the line, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show," the pages wind up showing that he isn't the hero.

He's the love interest.

The part of hero is shared by Aunt Betsy, Steerforth, Dan Peggoty, and David himself as a boy, but only while he's a boy.

The lesson in this is that if you really must write about a writer, don't make that writer your hero or heroine.

Writers watch. Heroes do. Let your writer watch your hero.

Movies about writers come into existence when a writer---a screenwriter but still someone who sits still a lot staring at computer screens---decides to write about a writer.

There have been a few good movies about writers.

I'm sure.

There must have been.

Let's say that there have been some movies about writers that I've liked.

Wonder Boys. Adaptation. The Moderns, but the main character, played by Keith Carradine, is a painter and a boxer. The writer in the movie is played by Kevin O'Connor and he is named Ernest Hemingway. Painters and boxers are more dramatic than writers, even writers named Ernest Hemingway, which is the great joke of the movie. Hemingway spends all his time drinking too much, quoting himself, and watching Keith Carradine fight off bad guys and win Linda Fiorentino in the end.

Shakespeare in Love is another special case because it's about a playwright. Playwrights spend most of their time staring at blank pieces of paper and computer screens too but then they go to rehearsals.

Rehearsals are fun because there are actors and actresses there. Actors and actresses are sexy.

And they're dramatic. Especially when they're not on stage.

Also, Shakespeare in Love is set in Elizabethan England. The Elizabethans were very dramatic.

And it had Gwyneth Paltrow.

Shut up! I don't want hear it.

You can bash Scarlett all you want, but if you start on Gwyneth I'm going to have to challenge you to a duel.

I will win.

I've killed twelve men.

Some of them were armed.

That's all the movies about writers I can think of that I've liked.

If you can think of more, help me out here.

Movies about journalists don't count.

Movie journalists are always really private eyes or secret agents.

I just found out that there are two new movies out that are about writers and they sound like movies I might want to see.

I don't go to writer movies.

But I will gladly go to a Zooey Deschanel and Ed Harris movie or to a Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek movie.

That's Winter Passing and Ask the Dust.

I found out about both movies because a blogger named Pops linked to a newspaper article that quotes Lance Mannion. The movie critic who wrote the article, the News-Observer's Craig Lindsey, didn't do to me what AP did to RawStory and He gave me credit and put my URL in his article.

Lindsey was writing about actresses getting naked. What a coincidence. He says that Salma Hayek gets naked in Ask the Dust. So I will go see it.

Colin Farrell probably gets naked too, but Lindsey doesn't say.

Roger Ebert says it isn't all that good.

I'll still go see it.

Even though the website features a quote supposedly written by the movie's writer-hero that has to be the most fatuous thing ever written about the craft of writing.

"My advice to all young writers is quite simple. I would caution them never to evade a new experience. I would urge them to live life in the raw, to grapple with it bravely, to attack it with naked fists."

That blogger named Pops, by the way? He doesn't believe Lance Mannion is my real name.

He also thinks I'm gay.

I have a regular reader who thinks I'm crazy and blogging from a lunatic asylum.

She used to think I was an incarcerated felon blogging from the state pen.

My being gay or crazy or in jail would make a movie about my life more dramatic.

I think it's only a matter of time before they make a movie about a blogger.

Keifer Sutherland will play me.

After all, it will be an action-adventure movie with operatives from the Bush Administration trying to hunt me down.

The blonde thinks I should be played by William Hurt.

A younger William Hurt. Not the Body Heat-Children of a Lesser God young William Hurt. Not that young. But definitely not the old, bald A History of Violence William Hurt.

Shakespeare's Sister will probably say I should be played by John Corbett.

My father says Nicolas Cage.

My brother Larry Mannion says a young Dick Van Dyke.

If those suggestions don't confuse you enough about what I really look like, consider this. Uncle Merlin says I should be played by Shaun Cassidy.

But he thinks it's still 1982.

Uncle Merlin, by the way, should be played by Vince Vaughn.

Who should play you in the movie?

Don't treat this as a version of the old what celebrity do people say you resemble question. You don't want a lookalike playing you. You want someone who can portray the real you.

Philip Seymour Hoffman is out of bounds.

He can play all of us.


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