From Sarah, With Joy

Sarah Allen on the craft, business, and joy of being a writer.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

M is for Movies

Though we writers work primarily with words, it has to be acknowledged that movies have changed the way stories are told, including in literature. I think this is good in a lot of ways. Not to mention that movies are simply a fabulous and awesome medium in and of themselves. So today I want to talk about a few movies that I adore. Not a list of favorites, I could no more do that for movies than I could for books. But these are movies I love, that tell the kinds of stories I want to write. So here we go.

5 Movies I Wish I'd Written:

1. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: This is one of those movies I came out of with a giddy smile on my face. I didn't even need the exotic part. But really, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith all in a retirement home together? DEFINITE YES. Which is to say that I just loved loved loved the characters in this one and the situation. I don't know what it is about old folk romance but this movie is my happy place.

2. Another Year: Mike Leigh has become my favorite director. I have felt more understood and validated by his films than by any other director, this one included. I really appreciated the simply good protagonists in this movie and their very real life struggles. They are a happy, settled couple trying to negotiate relationships with unhappy people in more complicated situations. That is a very tight balance to walk, and its not often portrayed. As in, we typically see the other side. So this movie and these characters and their story felt very refreshing to me.

3. Dan in Real Life: This movie is very underrated to me. Again, I love the real-life ness (ha ha) of it. How the central focus is the family dynamic. This kind of subtle, simple story is so rarely portrayed, and in my mind, so much more poignant and urgent than a lot of the big blockbuster thrill stuff that comes out. Adorable and sweet. And I don't just mean Steve Carrell, though he's a big part of that.

4. The Truman Show: I am not natural at plot. Which is probably evident in the movie choices I've given so far. They are all very character driven and quiet and many people don't like them for exactly those reasons. The Truman Show is a good example of how I've ended up sort of solving my plot problem. I take a real life situation and then add weirdness. A normal middle-aged guy at a job he doesn't like who wants to travel an then HIS LIFE IS A TV SHOW. Plus, Jim Carrey...I'm a fan.

5. Babe: Another very underrated movie. And James Cromwell is an underrated actor. Really I think he's what makes it for me, the character of Farmer Hoggett. Hmm, this one is harder to explain I guess. I just will always, always love those characters who are quiet and subtle (Hoggett hardly says a thing the whole movie) but who are this well of strength and humor and love underneath. Atticus Finch is a perfect example. And no, I don't think its too much to compare the two of them. And we see them through the clear, wide eyes of a pig or a little girl. And it is a beautiful, beautiful thing.

There's my list! Do you like these movies too? What movie above all illustrates the kinds of stories you like to write most? What movies do you wish you had written?

Sarah Allen


8 comments:

  1. I expect all these movies to be remade in 3D within the year.

    If i ever get a book published I'd like Bill Nighy to do the audio version.

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  2. I love the Finch/Hoggett comparison! Never would have thought to compare these two characters and/or movies but you're right...

    Really like your movie picks too! I don't think I could pick favorites either (there are just too many good ones to choose from) but these are great ones!

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  3. The Truman Show was one of those movies for me that, on surface, didn't impress me much but has lingered with me in the years since.

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  4. Oh, I love Babe. And you are so right about James Cromwell. He was also totally excellent in LA Confidential.
    Loved the Truman Show as well. I haven't seen the other three but will have to check them out sometime.

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  5. Dan In Real Life is one of my favorite movies, and I agree that it is very underrated. It was just on TV the other day and I fell in love with it all over again.

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  6. You picked two of my favorite movies. The Truman Show is a classic and possibly Jim Carrey's best work.
    If you had written them, you would be pretty darn wealthy now! Keep at it!

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  7. Good list. The Best...Hotel was by far my favorite. I wonder if it was the story or the outstanding cast.

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  8. James Cromwell is one of my favorite actors. He made "Babe" into a classic. Sadly, Babe in the City was sunk without Cromwell's presence.

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