Thursday, August 18, 2016

5 Indie Films for Aspiring Writers

Writing is a wonderful endeavor. It’s creative freedom, it’s catharsis, it’s a space for the voices in your head to have their day in the sun. But it’s also incredibly frustrating, heartbreaking, and just generally frowned upon. Having just graduated with a creative writing degree, I can’t tell you how many times I heard, with a pitying look and a disinterested smile, “Oh, a writing degree? What are you going to do with that?”

I'm going to write you into a book and then the world will hate you as much... Ahem. (source)

Sometimes you feel like no one understands you. Sometimes you feel like you’re wasting your life. Sometimes the world looks incredibly bleak but also somehow indescribably funny. You know what I’m talking about. These movies do, too.

Starter for 10

The year is 1985, the setting, Bristol University. A young James McAvoy is a wide-eyed freshman determined to make the University Challenge team, captained by a young and dweeby Benedict Cumberbatch. They bumble over beautiful women; they get into vaguely pathetic fist fights. Nobody is cool in this movie--they’re all huge nerds. And I love it. I first fell in love with James McAvoy after this movie, watching him stay in and read or study trivia questions instead of going to parties.

Literary Nerd Quote:

“I'm currently wrestling with the Romantic poets. Not literally, of course, as they have been dead for some time now. What do the so-called Romantic Poets mean by the term ‘Romance’? It's certainly not hearts and flowers, though an appreciation of extreme beauty was a vital source of inspiration. But the notion of the Romantic poets as swooning lovelorn fops is a fallacy.”


What do you do when money problems keep you from going on the celebratory Europe trip that was supposed to happen between graduating with a degree in Comparative Literature and Renaissance Studies and grad school? Get a job at a theme park, of course, because you’re not qualified for anything else. Also smoke a lot of weed. Jesse Eisenberg, Ryan Reynolds, and Kristen Stewart star in this film that got me through my senior year of college.

Literary Nerd Quote:

“Herman Melville wrote fucking Moby Dick, and he was so poor and forgotten by the time he died that in his obituary, they called him Henry Melville. You know? Like, why bother? They're just gonna forget our fucking names anyway.”

Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen’s movies are great for writers. They’re always so witty and nuanced, and I’m sad to say that I’ve seen far fewer of them than I should have. This one, however, is a literary goldmine. Owen Wilson goes to Paris and fraternizes with all of his artistic idols in the wee hours of the night. Featuring most of the literary greats, this movie is one great exploration of art after another. Like most Woody Allen films, it has an all-star supporting cast, including Marion Cotillard, Adrien Brody, Rachel McAdams, Tom Hiddleston, and Michael Sheen, among many others.

Literary Nerd Quote:

“If it's bad, I'll hate it because I hate bad writing, and if it's good, I'll be envious and hate it all the more. You don't want the opinion of another writer.”

Adult World

This film tells the story of a young poet’s life after college. Emma Roberts plays a pretentious recent graduate desperate to be published who takes a job at a porn shop because she can’t find a job anywhere else. She also spends a fair amount of time stalking her favorite living poet, played by 80s star extraordinaire John Cusack. And, adorable as always, Evan Peters plays one of the voices trying to make her see reason. You laugh because you know her, you cringe because you see she’s you.

Literary Nerd Quote:

“How do you feel about failure as a concept? 'Cause, you know, all the best people are failures these days. I failed many times. Continue to fail. Beckett said, ‘if you want to make art, you have to fail.’ And so, the artist's job is to fail better.”

Liberal Arts

This movie speaks to my soul. It says everything I’ve ever wanted to say to my fellow young writers and then some. Being an English major himself, Josh Radnor’s second foray into filmmaking is the painfully accurate story of a young(ish) liberal arts graduate who misses his college days so much he dates a 19-year-old (Elizabeth Olsen). A conversation about Twilight ensues, followed by discussions of David Foster Wallace and the Romantic poets, and an oddly inspirational conversation about caterpillars led by Zac Efron. I can’t recommend this movie enough.

Literary Nerd Quote:

“I love books. I do. In, like, the dorkiest way possible. Like, I love trees ‘cause they give us books.”

What's your favorite literary nerd quote?

1 comment:

  1. Ooh, can't wait to check some of these out. I'm an English major, and it's always so encouraging to see stuff that actually suports literary nerds rather than bashing them.