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FilmsAsia: Asian film reviews
Soh Yun-Huei
Dave Chua
Brandon Wee
Wong Lung Hsiang
Felix Cheong
Foong Ngai Hoe
Adrian Sim
sieteocho
Chris Khoo
O Thiam Chin
Lau Chee Nien
Sinnerman
Ambient Noise
Drakula
daface
Sarhan Rashid
Ying Wuen
Liverbird
Ellery Ngiam
Toh Hai Leong
Toh Hai Leong, Auteur
Wong Kar Wai
The Seduction of Wong Kar Wai
Tsai Ming Liang
Lav Diaz
Mikio Naruse
Leslie Cheung
Jonathan Foo Interview
Chinese Ghosts
Assassins in Asian FIlms
Sex in Asian Cinema
Erotic Cinema of the Shaw Studios
Homosexuality in Chinese Films
My Left Eye Sees Creativity
Hollywood Remakes
Comic Book Superheroes
One League of Social Consciousness
Emerging Trends in East Asian Cinema
Postwar Korean Cinema
Decline of Hong Kong Cinema before 1997
Bollywood
Rise of Afghan Films
Singapore's Mini Cinema
Creating A Singapore Cinema
Why Cinema is Important to Singapore
Singapore Film Industry
Rites of Passage
Replying to Critics
Daniel Yun Interview
Singapore International Film Festival
Bangkok International Film Festival
Tokyo International Film Festival
Toronto International Film Festival
Writer's Block
15
19
2046
Acacia
All Tomorrow's Parties
And Also the Eclipse
Another Heaven
At Five in the Afternoon
Audition
Avalon
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress
Bangkok Haunted
Barking Dogs Never Bite
Batang West Side
Battle Royale
Bear Hug
Beautiful Boxer
Beijing Rocks
Bend It Like Beckham
Best of Times
Betelnut Beauty
Big Durian
Big Shot's Funeral
Bird Man Tale
Blackboards
Blissfully Yours
Blue Kite
Bounce Ko Gals
Brighter Summer Day, A
Butterfly
Cafe Lumiere
Cat Returns
Chinese Odyssey 2002
City of Glass
City Sharks
Clean
Color of the Truth
Color Blossoms
Confucian Confusion
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Dark Water
Desire
Destination 9th Heaven
Divine Intervention
Dolls
Double Vision
Dumlings: 3 Extremes
Enter the Phoenix
Era of Vampire, The
Eye, The
Eye 2, The
Eye 10, The
Face
Fat Choy Spirit
Floating Weeds
Fog of War, The
Formula 17
Friend
Full Alert
Garuda
Gemini
Ghost in the Shell
God or Dog
Golden Chicken
Golden Chicken 2
Goodbye, Dragon Inn
Grudge
Guru, The
Hana-Bi (Fireworks)
Harold and Kumar
Headlines
Hero
Hidden Blade, The
Homerun
House of Flying Daggers
House of Fury
House of Sand and Fog
Howl's Moving Castle
Hypnotized
I Not Stupid
In the Mood for Love
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs III
Innocence: Ghost in the Shell 2
Install
Iron Ladies 2
Isle, The
Jan Dara
Jealousy is My Middle Name
Joint Security Area
Ju-On: The Grudge (2003)
July Rhapsody
Khakee
Korban Fitnah
Koroshi
Kung Fu Hustle
Lan Yu
Last Life in the Universe
Last Samurai, The
Legend of Zu, The
Liang Po Po
Love/Juice
Love Letter
Lucky Number
Marry a Rich Man
Me Thao
Medallion, The
Metropolis
Monrak Transistor
Moveable Feast, A
Munna Bhai M.B.B.S.
Musa the Warrior
My Left Eye Sees Ghosts
My Neighbors The Yamadas
My Sassy Girl
Naked Weapon
Name of a River, The
New Police Story
Nobody Knows
Nobody Knows How to be a Film Critic
One Leg Kicking
Ong-Bak
Perfect Blue
Phone, The
Ping Pong
Pirated Copy
Princess D
Quill
River, The
Road Home
Romance of Book and Sword
Runaway Pistol
S Diary
S21: The Khmer Rouge Killing Machine
Samsara
Scent of Green Papaya
Seoul Raiders
Sepet
Seventeen Years
Shall We Dance?
Shanghai Knights
Shaolin Soccer
Shower
Shutter
Singapore Gaga
Skywalk is Gone
So-Called Friends
So Close
Someone Special
Song of the Stork
Spider Forest
Spirited Away
Spring Summer Fall Winter Spring
Stories About Love
Storm Riders
Summer Holiday
Sumpah Pontianak
Super Size Me
Surprise Party
Swing Girls
Tale of Two Sisters, A
TalkingCock
Tears of the Black Tiger
Teenage Textbook Movie
This Charming Girl
3-Iron
Three: Extremes
Tokyo Raiders
Touch, The
Tree, The
Truth or Dare
Twelve Storeys
Twenty-Four Eyes
Twins Effect
Twins Effect 2
Virgin Stripped Bare by her Bachelors
Visitor Q
Volcano High
Warriors of Heaven and Earth
Waterboys
Way Home, The
Welcome Back Mr McDonald
Wesley's Mysterious File
When I Fall In Love With Both
Wishing Stairs
Wolves Cry Under the Moon
Woman is the Future of Man
Women's Private Parts
World Without Thieves, A
Zombie Dog
A Time to Live A Time to Die
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   Writer's Block  



 

Writer's Block
by Ken Lyen

My friend is writing a musical about an author suffering from writer's block. In his story, a relative helps him overcome the block by recounting a personal experience, which becomes incorporated into the new story.

As an author who suffers intermittently from writer's block, this type of story resonates with me. It is a theme that has been frequently explored by many writers and filmmakers. I'm not sure if watching films about writers who are stuck in their writing, will help you get unstuck. Unless, of course, the subject of your writing is an author inflicted with writer's block!

Bells Are Ringing (1960) is a film musical about a playwright with writer's block, played by Dean Martin. He has 9 hours to complete the first draft, and 2 weeks to write the second draft of his new play. A telephone operator, played by Judy Holliday, finds out about his problem, and goes beyond her call of duty to help inspire him to write.

In Paris When It Sizzles (1964), William Holden is the drunken screenwriter with writer's block. He has 48 hours to complete his screenplay. His secretary, played by Audrey Hepburn, assists him, and their creative efforts are played out on the screen. Not unexpectedly the two protagonists fall in love.

The film, The Gambler (1997), is about famous Russian author, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who is debt-ridden and needs to complete his novel in 27 days. His young stenographer helps him write, and the fictional scenes are interwoven between the real life romance.

A slightly different slant of this genre is taken by The Muse (1999). This is a film about an award-winning screenwriter played by Albert Brooks, whose writing has lost its edge. He is unable to complete his next screenplay, until he is visited by a muse, played by Sharon Stone, who claims she is the daughter of Zeus. She lands him in awkward situations, that are incorporated into his screenplay, and he regains his inspiration to write again.

The Man from Elysian Fields (2001) is about a man who is losing his ability to write, and running short of money. He becomes the paid toy-boy of a wealthy lady, the wife of a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist, who is now terminally ill. The help of this novelist is sought, but events turn out more complicated than expected.

Adaptation (2002) is a quirky book about twin brothers, one of whom has writer's block. He is unable to adapt a non-fiction book with no dramatic story line, into a film script. His brother is a successful screenwriter, albeit a shallow one. Both twins are played by Nicholas Cage.

Alex and Emma (2003), is also referred to as The Gambler, and draws its inspiration from both The Gambler, and Paris When It Sizzles. It is about a debt-ridden author, played by Luke Wilson, who has 30 days to complete his novel. His stenographer, played by Kate Hudson, helps him write the novel. Like the two films it is derived from, not only is the fiction depicted on screen, but also the leads fall in love.

FILM

MALE LEAD

FEMALE LEAD

DEVICE USED

Bells Are Ringing (1960)

Playwright with little motivation has 2 weeks to write the second draft of his play.

Telephone operator of an answering service helps inspire him to write.

Old-fashioned way of sitting in his flat until he finishes writing.

Paris When it Sizzles (1964)

Author has 48 hours to finish a screenplay.

Stenographer helps author finish novel.

Screenplay story acted out on screen.

The Gambler (1997)

Author in debt has 27 days to finish a novel.

Stenographer helps author finish novel.

Fictional scenes crosscut with real life.

The Muse (1999)

Screenwriter has lost his writing edge, and has difficulty completing his next screenplay.

Kooky muse, who may or may not be an ancient goddess, helps inspire him to write.

The muse lands the screenwriter in situations that become incorporated in his writing.

The Man from Elysian Fields (2001)

Failed novelist unable to pay his bills desperate to get book published.

Becomes toy-boy of the wife of a terminally ill Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist.

Dying author helps novelist finish his book.

Adaptation (2002)

Screenwriter stuck adapting a nonfiction book with no dramatic story line.

No obvious muse, but possibly his twin brother might have some influence.

Comparison with his brother, a successful writer, may have helped.

Alex & Emma (2003)

Author has 30 days to finish a novel.

Stenographer helps author finish novel.

Novel's story has bearing on real life.

It is often said that all the plot ideas in the world concerning love and romance have already been written, staged, or filmed. The prime example is Romeo and Juliet, which has been reincarnated in literally hundreds of writings.

To come up with a truly original idea is virtually impossible. Hence, while I do not expect my friend to shatter any barriers, I hope he will add some new variations to give a fresh take on an old formula.

So how do you cure writer's block? There must be myriads of remedies, each one specific for that individual. Find a muse if you can. This seems to be the most popular method suggested by many Hollywood films. The muse can be your partner, your friend, your student, or your mentor. The Man From Elysian Fields has someone else doing the writing, but this is cheating. In real life, you might have the help of a writing consultant or dramaturge, and some may actually do part of the rewriting, often uncredited. If the consultant does a significant percentage of the rewriting, he or she deserves credit for it.

Other ways to overcome writer's block include going on a holiday, doing something out of the ordinary, trying another art form, playing some sports, acting, attempting some manual labor, or playing interactive games. Alternatively, stick some superglue on your bum and sit staring at your computer screen. Whatever!

Best of luck!

14 December 2005