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December 14, 2010 9:48 AM   Subscribe

BAD WRITING - the movie

Now playing in Hollywood ....

What do George Saunders, Margaret Atwood, Miles Corwin, Nick Flynn, Aimee Bender, D.A. Powell, Lee Gutkind, Steve Almond and David Sedaris have in common? They all agree that Vernon Lott's poetry is pretty bad. Don't worry, Lott asked for it. In his documentary "Bad Writing," Lott presents these well-known authors with a sample of his poetry in an attempt to suss out what, exactly, makes writing bad. He'd found his early -- and yes, mostly lousy -- poems in a basement, and the older-and-wiser Lott struck out across the country, visiting writers and writing professors asking them what bad writing is, exactly.

Everything about Bad Writing works. It's smart, funny and has an attitude. Made for around a $100,000, and financed by the director's uncle and his sister, the movie looks as tight and clean as anything Michael Moore has come up with. There's no bad lighting, no bad sound, no bad anything and this movie has the potential to do Napoleon Dynamite numbers.
posted by philip-random (17 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
"...this movie has the potential to do Napoleon Dynamite numbers."

I don't remember any musical numbers from Napoleon Dynamite. Other than the moonboots dance scene, but that doesn't really count because they weren't singing. Has it since been Gleeed?
posted by Eideteker at 9:59 AM on December 14, 2010


BAD EDITING - the trailer
posted by theodolite at 10:00 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's a must-see for any writer who's ever wondered, "Am I any good?" or even "Is my writing bad?"

How about for any writer who's thrown up his or her hands and said "Aw, screw it"?
posted by blucevalo at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


I agree - that's a poorly edited trailer.
posted by davebush at 10:19 AM on December 14, 2010


"... this movie has the potential to do Napoleon Dynamite numbers."

Am I missing a deeply layered joke or am I the only one weirded out that somebody writing for the Boise Weekly is using phrases that wouldn't be out of place in an over-the-top parody of Variety reviews? Is this a parody of bad entertainment journalism writing? Am I just not getting the "boffo box office between the lines" here?
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:26 AM on December 14, 2010 [1 favorite]


These days I am more interested in good writing.
posted by grobstein at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [2 favorites]


Move over terps! The tappingest toes on this week's bijou screen belongs not to a heel-beater, but a failed worshiper at the shrine of Calliope! This should play big even in the sticks, but it bound to rally in the big city BO as a potential underdog sleeper! I went to Harvard! They make me write like this!
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:39 AM on December 14, 2010 [10 favorites]


What's immediately striking to me is how much more physically attractive the "good" writers are compared to the filmmaker. I wonder if that's a result of their success or a contributing factor to it.

Anyway, it's a good concept for a documentary. I would watch it.

(That Boise Weekly piece is pretty ridiculous ("seeing-the-Beatles-at-The-Cavern sort of feeling"). It reads like a PR release for distributors.)
posted by mrgrimm at 10:45 AM on December 14, 2010


Am I just not getting the "boffo box office between the lines" here?

Both were small independent films made by young people in small towns in Idaho.

Napoleon Dynamite was created in Preston, ID for $400K and grossed over $46million.

Bad Writing was created in Lewiston, ID for $100K, and might someday make real money.

I'm positive that is the connection which brings that line about this rather odd turn of phrase, which undoubtedly means much more to the typical reader of the Boise Weekly.
posted by hippybear at 10:51 AM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


Hrm. That last sentence there doesn't seem to be in actual english. But I hope my point is clear regardless.
posted by hippybear at 10:59 AM on December 14, 2010


This is very confusing because I've already been thinking of Napoleon Dynamite as "Bad Writing: The Movie" for years.
posted by Wolfdog at 11:19 AM on December 14, 2010 [6 favorites]


Wow, if they wanna make a lot of money on this indie, they are gonna need a much punchier trailer, that appeals to something bigger than the cross section of awkward humor fans who like Margaret Atwood.

That said, I am one.

And as much as I'm glad I found out about this movie, I don't think any and every wry indie trailer should be on the front page. MetaFilter: all meta things, great and small?

Which also reminds me, can anybody relink that wonderful silly meta "documentary about the making of this film" that was here some years back? It's so hard to google for.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:35 AM on December 14, 2010


The trailer should go like this:

(movie trailer voice guy)
In a world filled with good writers
[flash clips of famous writers looking unimpressed]
one man
[vacant stare from our hero]
must learn why his writing sucks.
[flash clips of famous writers saying "this sucks" "this is terrible" *grimace*]

DECEMBER 2010

Bam, and you're out.
posted by echo target at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2010 [3 favorites]


"There's no rule that says you get steadily better"

oh.
posted by From Bklyn at 12:59 PM on December 14, 2010


Wolfdog, you beat me to the joke I was going to make about Avatar.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:50 PM on December 14, 2010


"If pressed, they'd say that sometimes they just want to gallop through a story -- or in the case of Larsson's novels, proceed along with a weird methodicalness that taps into what appears to be an amazingly widespread streak of latent obsessive-compulsive disorder. They'd say that they're not, at the moment, equal to the demands of literature, but that just last week they finished "Disgrace" or "Wolf Hall." And then they'd say, Would you mind? Are we done here? Because I'd really like to get back to my book."

Why we love bad writing - Salon
posted by mrgrimm at 10:10 AM on December 15, 2010


Thank you hippybear -- I'd forgotten Napoleon Dynamite's Idaho roots, and it makes total sense that someone from Boise would talk about it in the way that people in LA talk about most other films for that same reason. I still think it's silly when anyone does it, but at least now it makes sense.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 10:23 AM on December 15, 2010


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