I should probably admit that I swallowed Barton Fink hook, line, and sinker

Says Cup of Chicha: “Films are very likely to fail if they are about any one of these three subjects: a writer, depression, a real person. Sylvia’s artistic suicide is as predetermined as its subject’s.” She offers a complete and intelligent assessment of the film’s many shortcomings, which I’m unable to assess because I haven’t seen Sylvia myself (and G-d willing will not).

This seems like a good time to revisit an amusing instructional piece, “How To Make a Movie About a Writer,” written by Carrie Hoffman and Rusty W. Spell:

The writer should probably be a man. He should definitely look bookish. He should wear glasses—round and/or dark, assumed to be thick. His clothing should be in bland shades of khaki or olive, unless the writer wears all black like a beatnik. Make sure he wears wool jackets with leather patches on the elbows….

He drinks lots of coffee and smokes, optionally but preferably an alcoholic.

He should live in New York City, where all writers live. His apartment is squalid, even if he’s a “successful” writer, success in quotes since all writers are by nature struggling.

The writer reads a lot (though not as much as he writes), so the apartment is full of books, old-looking ones, filling bookcases, stacked in the hallway by the staircase. Messy stacks, with no seeming order. Your writer’s apartment, like his clothing, should be more or less messy, though he should claim that the organization is in his head, getting upset when anyone tries to arrange his seeming non-order. All of this demonstrates the writer’s difference from other “normal people”–the writer doesn’t follow convention. He is a misfit, possibly a curmudgeon, and lives a life of solitude….

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