Aspiring authors love movies about aspiring authors. They envision themselves as the protagonists of these films, and their positive, or at least eventful conclusions, lend hope to the Pulitzer-Prize winner within. For the penniless writers of today, there exists an abundance of these hopeful films, due reassurance in the pursuit of an ever-elusive career.
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Baz Luhrmann’s adaptation of a 1952 classic, the 2001 Academy Awards nominee for best picture, Moulin Rouge! follows hopeless romantic Christian as he decides to leave a life of comfort in England to join the Bohemian Movement of late 19th century Paris. Though writing for pennies, drinking absinthe with a host of characters, Christian falls in love with Satine, a talented aspiring actress and a courtesan at the Moulin Rouge. Christian and his eclectic band win approval to produce a show of bohemian values, “Spectacular Spectacular.” Satine stars in the show, Christian imagines it, and the two work together to preserve their love from the relentless dilution of greed and the jealousy of a wealthy duke without whose financial backing the show could not go on.
My takeaways: magical realism and mixtures of contemporary music make for one great film!
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Bradley Cooper stars in this 2012 film about a devoted author frustrated by the potential that he may never complete the casa sui of which he has dreamed. Balancing the responsibilities of adulthood and married life with the pursuit of emulating authors like Hemingway, Cooper’s character Rory stumbles upon an antique leather bag within which rests a brilliant manuscript on life and love during WWII. For reasons he cannot describe, Rory transcribes the written scroll into type, leaving the document open on his laptop. Soon enough, Rory’s wife finds The Words and praises them as the culmination of his hard work. The formerly frustrated and cash-strapped writer submits this plagiarized text and finds acclaim throughout the literary community. What follows are a series of lessons to be learned from Rory’s deceit, as well as an encounter with the manuscript’s true author, who, to paraphrase, asks why Rory fails to carry a notepad on person—not very authorly.
My takeaways: never steal someone else’s work and always carry a journal and pen. More importantly, anxiety mounts while dreams stall, but without integrity all dreams dissolve.
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A seemingly brainless alcoholic of few words, Henry Chinaski spends his days wasting away life in a grimy bar with fellow drunkards. Though subsisting in his dingy dump of an apartment, Chinaski devotes more energy to picking fights with the barkeep and tending his wounds through the drink than to making money. The beginning of the film intermittently portrays Chinaski scribbling what one imagines can be no more than drunken idiocies, making the viewer think its plot runs no further than charting the decay of a drunkard. Soon enough, however, this destitute writer must decide between building a life with the fellow barfly with whom he has fallen in love or the publisher who has finally discovered the rare quality of his prose.
My takeaways: though often it takes years of numb silence from literary bigwigs, even a whiskey-toting troublemaker like Chinaski has a voice worth hearing.
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A successful college student, Ryden, graduates from university with aims of beginning her career in publishing. In spite of her love for literature, she can’t seem to land the job of her dreams. Meanwhile, her former classmate, who you can’t help but dislike, gains employment at the same publishing house at which she always aimed to work. Ryden is forced to return home, where she struggles with unemployment and the aggravation of returning to the “nest.” Eventually overcoming the frustration of joblessness by receiving an offer at that previously unattainable dream job, Ryden must decide whether to stick with the path she had always planned or follow the potential love of her life to New York.
My takeaways: the planned life seldom takes shape in the manner we plan it, but with patience, the unexpected twists and turns outshine our expectations.
Ever an enticing subject, the story of struggling artist has not yet reached its terminus. Many stories remain to be watched and even more remain to be written. Perhaps these stories of hardship and perseverance can help you make a contribution to this lively lore.
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