writers and their subjects

"Ever since I was a child, folks have thought they had me pegged, because of the way I am, the way I talk. And they're always wrong."
- capote.

i never cared for any of truman capote's writing. just not interested at all. and tell you the truth, after seeing capote, i still don't have any interest. but i will say, that as a movie about a writer, and the writing process, it's quite good.

capote is about truman capote and the time he spent investigating the murder of four people in kansas. he spends his time interviewing everyone touched by the killings, and he becomes fixated with the truth that perry smith, one of the murderers, has to offer. it's interesting to learn how obssessed a writer can get, to the point where journalistic integrity starts to take a back seat to personal obssession. and in the end, all that matters is the truth, regardless of how it is achieved.

the direction of the movie is amazing. it's very simple and controlled, with near still shots and wide angles and long, scenic (but clean) images. it's almost as if a movie was made out of a half a dozen photographs. the mood of the movie could be reproduced in just a handful of these images. it's amazing.

the lingering problem with truman and his inability to finish the book, is the fact that he needs to know what happened that night, from perry smith's mouth. i can understand that. i can understand being in a situation where you can't see the ending to the book, and it is just torture. that you'd do anything to get that ending down. even if it eventually destroys you, as it did to truman. something he did during the writing of in cold blood, eventually destroyed him. the screenplay by dan futterman is really sophisticated and complex and very well done for a first time actor-turned-screenwriter.

"Okay, James, I wish you hadn't shot my girlfriend's dog. Even though Poe and I weren't exactly what you'd call simpatico, that's no reason he should've taken two in the chest."

- wonder boys.

another movie about a writer who can't seem to get to the ending, is wonder boys, which i always thought was an amazing movie. one of my favorites. you have michael douglas as grady tripp, an aging writer who has been writing his second novel for years because he is unable to stop, with a book that is well over a thousand pages. then there's tobey maguire as james leer, his student, who can't seem to tell the difference between reality and a narative. and katie holmes as hannah green, another student who is attracted to douglas' tripp.

wonder boys, you have a similar situation where a writer is trying to get to the ending. although this time, it's not a simple truth that he's trying to get to, it's just a truth of the self, a self-realization. the movie is really entertaining, and it's great to see how real life problems can interefere with the progress of a book, and conversely, how a book can become a burden to the writer. steven kloves wrote the screenplay based on the book by michael chabon, and it is incredibly smart and whitty and funny. the strange thing is, i have no desire to read the original novel, which i'm sure is amazing and probably even better than the movie (all books that come before the movie usually are. except fightclub.)

watching both these movies makes me realize again how great it is to be able to write. it almost makes me want to start up again. almost.