Late last year, I found a list of movies that every writer should see in The Writer magazine. They were each about writers and their creative process and how their personal situations influenced their craft. Some were about real people and others were fictional. We rented most of those movies and I wrote about them here and here and here. I'm expanding that list with two movies we just saw: Starting out in the Evening and Nim's Island.
Starting Out in Evening is an Independent film about Leonard Schiller, an aging novelist (Frank Langella), who has been working on his 4th novel for 10 years. He's basically blocked, stuck in more ways than just as a writer. Enter Heather Wolfe (Lauren Ambrose) a graduate student who is writing her thesis about him. The meeting/collision of generations and genders rendered by these two actors is terrific. I want Heather Wolfe's insightfulness and forthrightness. I want Schiller's commitment and fortitude. A parallel story about Schiller's daughter Ariel played by one of my favorite actors Lili Taylor adds dimension to the story.
Nim's Island is mainstream with Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin. Cindy loves Foster and I'm a fan of Breslin who is a great child actor (Little Miss Sunshine and the Ultimate Gift are examples of other films she's done). I saw the previews of this movie and was attracted by the fluff. I admit to enjoying light comedy with silly adventure and a sappy ending. But I didn't know the movie was about a writer. In a very playful way it explores a conundrum of fiction writing, i.e. the way characters and life braid until what's real and what is imagination get tangled in fantastic ways. I doubt if some of my more highbrow friends would care for this movie, but I love the fantasy and the way it took me out of myself into the giggles. (Aside: Cindy and I used a Christmas gift certificate to see this movie last night. We were the only ones in the theater, a unique experience we took full advantage of by talking out loud and putting our feet up on the chairs in front of us.)
Both movies contrast youthful exuberance with the stickiness, when growing older, to things that inhibit joy.