Movies about writers – Finding Forrester

Finding Forrester was good, heart warming and inspirational just as it was supposed to be. Not very many surprises. I don’t want to talk about the plot though, I want to talk about the writing aspect of the film.

Sean Connery’s William Forrester endorses the organic shitty first draft, says you must write the first draft with your heart and when you go in to draft it again you use your head. In fact it’s depicted as the only way to write something. Now, I may be an organic shitty first draft fanatic but it’s clearly not the *only* way to get stuff written! Still, I suppose it’s the most romantic view of writers: dictated to by the muse and the universe, and much more interesting visually than showing someone doing screeds of research and meticulous planning.

The whole thing where he tells the kid to ‘don’t think, just write’ was neat. I’ve done this exercise myself a bunch of times and in fact, I believe I have to stop myself thinking when I’m writing the first draft of things. Otherwise the internal editor gets in the way and you start to doubt yourself. I think it’s appropriate that they showed just how hard this is to achieve as well. Jamal sits and stares at the typewriter for hours, unable to write a single thing. This is painfully accurate for how writing can be.

Editing and feedback is shown as being crucial to the growth of a writer. I liked that too, since if you’ve been following my writing posts you’ll know how much I get out of good constructive feedback. The simple fact of the matter is that you cannot view your own work with the requisite distance that the best editors have. You have to be brave enough to give your work to someone else and hear what they think about it. Now, if we could all have literary geniuses living up the street with nothing better to do that go through our work with a red pen this whole writing game would be a lot easier. Alas.

The other thing this movie addresses is the idea of a writing prodigy. I’m not really sure how I feel about this concept. I want to believe that my writing is excellent, but I don’t claim to be a prodigy. Does this mean I should give it up? Move over and let the super talented people take the publishing contracts? That doesn’t seem right to me. But then maybe this is another choice the movie makers made to make the film pacier and more interesting. You don’t want to see someone failing and failing to do well.

Overall an enjoyable movie and one I will watch again some day.


11 thoughts on “Movies about writers – Finding Forrester

  1. Argghhh, typing fail! The second ‘my’ should be ‘for’. Um, clearly the word ‘for’ is really similar to ‘my’… mumble, mumble, lame excuse, mumble…

  2. I think I watched this moive when it was on TV one weekend day. From what I remember I quite liked it. So maybe I should see it again. I read LJ where you said you were going to do a series of reviews on writing movies, and was trying to think of movies with writers.. and I thought of Misery. Does that count? I’m not sure what you would learn from it though? Maybe just that you should watch out for psychos?

  3. Margie: I think I’ll avoid the movies where writer’s are tortured…Also I don’t think I’ll read Poetic Justice. But not really because of a a reason.

    On my list to blog about are: Adaptation, Stranger Than Fiction and The Hours. I need to watch Sunset Boulevard and Barton Fink. Other suggestions for writer themed movies are appreciated!

  4. Naked Lunch is about writing, and makes a good double-bill with Barton Fink. However as it’s by David Cronenberg and about William Burroughs, it’s somewhat gross and disturbing – I always found it weird that it was only rated R13.

  5. Naked Lunch really creeped me out. It’s a great movie and not gory or scary. It’s just weird bug creepiness but it gave me freaky dreams. But then again just reading Burroughs has that effect on me. 🙂

  6. My brilliant career is my favourite movie about a writer. You should definitely watch it. I love Judy Davis. There are loads of biopics about writers but often they don’t focus much on the writing as much the rest of their life. Basketball diaries, The Hours etc

  7. Debbie: Yeah, sad but true. I guess that not many filmmakers have the imagination to see writing as cinematic.

    I’ve never seen My Brilliant Career but I should – I love Judy Davis as well (and oddly enough, she’s in both Naked Lunch and Barton Fink). She also played a writer in Impromptu (Baroness Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin, aka George Sand) but that was more about her affair with Chopin.

    And of course she was in Deconstructing Harry, an odd Woody Allen movie that’s very much about the writing process.

    Basic Instinct, of course, is a movie about how murder mystery writers commit murders as research for their books. (Which could be what Agatha Christie was really up to when she went missing for a couple of weeks in 1926…)

  8. Hey, I’m writing a murder myserty at the moment! I haven’t killed anyone. Honest.

    Actually I watched a movie about Agatha’s mysterious disappearance not long ago. ‘Agatha Christie: a life in pictures’. It has DeWitt of Dollhouse fame in the titular role.

    Impromptu is well worth watching. I have the DVD if you want to borrow it some time. Judy Davis is great as is Julian Sands as Liszt and Mandy Patinkin as Musset. You just have to suspend disbelief to convince yourself that Hugh Grant can do a passable Polish accent. Deconstructing Harry is also worth watching.

    You should do some Writer themed movie nights!

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