What's the best movie about a writer? Not a journalist but a real writer, a poet or novelist, and someone who actually existed. “Capote” maybe? Even there, it's Capote's investigation, and the drama surrounding that investigation, that intrigues us. It's not Capote at the typewriter. Rewrites are drag enough to do on your own; imagine watching someone do them.
Despite all that, Hollywood's having a go this fall with three new biopics of writers.
On Sept. 8, in “Rebel in the Rye,” Nicholas Houte plays J.D. Salinger, who escapes the horrors of his World War II experiences by writing “The Catcher in the Rye.”
On Oct. 13, in “Goodbye Christopher Robin,” Domhnall Gleeson plays A.A. Milne, who escapes the horrors of his World War I experiences by writing the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.
And also on Oct. 13, in “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women,” Luke Evans, our new go-to handsome scumbag, plays the titular (and titilated) professor, whose bondage fetishism, extramarital living arrangements and desire for submissive women, lead him to create the greatest female superhero of all time.
I think the last has the best shot of being good, but it's the Salinger that's closest to my heart. I'll probably see all of them anyway.
Random thought: Why are all three writers played by British actors when only one of them (Milne) is British? Scratch that. We know why. Americans never seem artist enough for Hollywood. Shame.
Random trivia: Marston died in 1947 in Rye, New York.
Non-random question: If you could see any author's life on film, whose would you choose?
Holding out hope that this will be the epigraph for the Salinger biopic:
“The goddamn movies. They can ruin you. I'm not kidding.”
– Holden Caulfield