I’m often in touch with New Orleans filmmaker, documentarian and screenwriter Dave DuBos so I’ve no excuse for missing Mike Fleming‘s 2.8 Deadline story about DuBos’ forthcoming film version of Butterly in the Typewriter, based on Cory MacLauchlin’s biography of “Confederacy of Dunces” author John Kennedy Toole.
DuBos wrote the screenplay and will direct the New Orleans-set film starting in May.
Thomas Mann (Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Kong: Skull Island) will soon begin inhaling pasta, ice cream and cheeseburgers to play the late Toole, who attained Victor Buono-like proportions before offing himself at age 31.
(l. to r.) Butterly in the Typewriter costars Susan Sarandon, Thomas Mann, Diane Kruger.
Susan Sarandon will play Toole’s mom; Diane Kruger will also star.
I love the notion of a butterfly in a typewriter — that darting, dancing, elusive thing that you’re trying to capture when you write. It’s from an unpublished O’Toole poem called “The Arbiter.”
“Any widely admired screenplay that has not been filmed over the period of several years (like, for instance, the various efforts at adapting John Kennedy Toole‘s A Confederacy of Dunces) is either doomed to stay on the sidelines for eternity or it won’t pan out if it finally does get made. And the reason is that oft-referenced rule of creative potency.
“Once something has been written (be it a novel or a screenplay), the movie version has to be made within four to six years or the film will feel faintly musty or ossified or precious on some level.
“Once the egg is laid, it has to hatch within nature’s timetable. Strike while the iron is hot or the magic will escape. Because once the ship has sailed, the ship has sailed. As Lem Dobbs has acknowledged via a quote from Frederic Raphael, to wit: ‘Screenplays don’t age like wine — they age like fruit.'”
Again — DuBos’ relatively recent screenplay is not an example of this syndrome.
At the end of the piece I wrote that “nobody will ever want to see a movie about a fat, brilliant, super-depressed guy living with his mother in New Orleans, based on a novel authored by a fat brilliant guy who killed himself at age 31.” I take that back. Well, partly. Mann is going to put on some pounds, as noted, but “he isn’t going to do a Robert De Niro,” DuBos says. As long as we’re not dealing with a massively obese guy, I’m ready to roll with this.