The life of a writer isn’t traditionally exciting. It involves a lot of sitting alone in a room for hours with a computer, staring at walls to find the profound, and training for the day procrastinating will become an Olympic event. The most dangerous thing that can happen is a paper cut, skyrocketing insecurity, carpal tunnel syndrome, or the development of an unhealthy addiction to Twitter and napping.
But if you go by what movies show us, the life of a writer is one fraught with constant life-threatening danger and perforated with madness. This week’s DVD/Blu-Ray release of Martin McDonagh’s Seven Psychopaths is a perfect example. Colin Farrell’s struggling screenwriter (which is 90% of screenwriters) finds himself constantly removed from his desk and surrounded by murderous psychopaths. So, in honor of McDonagh’s film, we’ve decided to honor cinema’s persistent torment of authors and gather together movies that inject danger into everyday writerly situations and processes.
WARNING: Major spoilers everywhere.
THE WRITERS: Being John Malkovich screenwriter, Charlie Kaufman, and his twin brother, Donald, who are struggling to adapt Susan Orlean’s non-fiction work, The Orchid Thief.
THE WRITERLY SITUATION: Adapting isn’t easy. It’s a perpetual battle between how much to stay true to the original source material and how much liberty to take. To say nothing of the challenge of reducing novels hundred of pages long to a two hour movie. No matter what you do or how well you do it, you’re going to face inevitable “the book is better” dismissals.
THE DANGER: Charlie Kaufman is so creatively crippled by the pressures of adapting Orlean’s book that he starts to over-think the material and question the legitimacy of it. Which leads to him and his brother to travel to Florida to spy on their subject. Things go wrong fast as they’re caught and threatened at gunpoint in a swamp. All of which leads to Charlie’s twin brother dying and witnessing a man-hungry alligator chomp down on Chris Cooper.