Under the Influence: Writers on Film


UNDER THE INFLUENCE is on Hiatus. It brought some of world’s top literary figures to the screening room at the Crosby Street Hotel. Each writer introduced a film that has influenced their work. The film is screened, followed by a discussion with MICHAEL MAREN then cocktails, canapes and a book signing arrange by local bookstore McNALLY JACKSON. Past guests have included Martin Amis, Jennifer Egan, Paul Auster, Jim Shepard, Nick Flynn, Michael Cunningham and Roy Blount, Jr.

Watch this space for updates.

March 26: Susan Minot Presents, Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”

MinotBannerOn March 26, at The Crosby Street Hotel Susan Minot will present  Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, Rear Window.

Minot on REAR WINDOW, "In "Rear Window," Alfred Hitchcock showcases his particular strengths in story-telling - his understatement, his delight in character, his genius for suspense and mastery of narrative as a visual medium.  The characters in "Rear Window" appear to be solving a murder, but what they are really doing is learning how to work out the geometry of love.  This movie is one of his best, and as delicious as any movie gets."

We'll screen the film, talk about it with Susan, and retire to the lounge for drinks and eats.

For reservations contact the hotel directly:
T: 212 226 6400
E: [email protected]

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June 17 – Meg Wolitzer on Terms of Endearment

Released in 1983,  Terms of Endearment won Best Picture,  Best Actress (Shirley Maclaine) Best Director (James Brooks), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Nicholson) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Brooks).

Roger Ebert called it "a wonderful film:" He wrote,"There isn't a thing that I would change, and I was exhilarated by the freedom it gives itself to move from the high comedy of Nicholson's best moments to the acting of Debra Winger in the closing scenes."

Meg Wolitzer on Terms of Endearment:

Terms of Endearment, though it has Jack Nicholson in top form in its cast, is a movie that's firmly carried by women.  And not only that, but women being funny.  (At least most of the way.) Imagine an era when two strong actresses (Shirley Maclaine and Debra Winger) could open a very commercial film.  That era feels so long ago, and when you see this film, with its combination of smart written comedy, fully developed characters and, finally pathos, you may wish it was 1983 all over again.

Join us for what will be an amazing evening.

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Andre Dubus III on Scorsese’s Mean Streets

On February 25th, Andre Dubus III presents Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets

On February 25th, 2013 Andre Dubus III comes to Writers on Film at Soho's Crosby Street Hotel to present Martin Scorsese's breakout film, Mean Streets.  Andre  is the author of five books: The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, Bluesman, and the New York Times bestsellers, House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days, and his memoir, Townie, a #4 New York Times bestseller and a New York Times "Editors Choice".

Andre Dubus on Mean Streets:

I was fourteen in 1973 when this film came out. I don't recall how or where I saw it, but I do remember seeing parts of my own mill town life up on that screen (this had never happened to me before): the petty violence; the deeply male posturing of who was in charge of the room and who wasn't; the almost universal need, it seemed, to be the one in charge or at least to look like you could be; how the loss of face was so often gasoline on a fire where the irrational almost always over ruled the rational and people got hurt. I didn't know it then, but walking away from that theater I was beginning to feel those first nascent pulls toward artistic expression.

As always, a lively discussion, great food and wine will follow the screening. Reserve now by calling. 212 226 6400 of go to the web site for The Crosby Street Hotel.

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Nick Flynn Tackles Hal Ashby & Harold and Maude

Sept 10, 2012 -Come hear Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City and watch his presentation of the classic Hal Ashby film Harold and Maude. Nick's memoir is also about to be release as the film Being Flynn, with Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano

It will be a great discussion with, as always, fine food and wine to cap the evening.  I'll be flying in from Wilmington, NC, where I'm in pre-production on my own film, A Short History of Decay.

Come see us, September 10 at the Crosby Street hotel. Click here for more info and reservations. It's an evening that cinephiles will not want to miss.


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Roy Blout, Jr. Takes on The Marx Brothers

On January, 23, Roy Blount, Jr. visits Writers-on-Film to talk about The Marx Brothers' Duck Soup and its influence on comedy and his writing. Tickets are now on sale.

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Michael Cunningham on Altman’s McCabe & Mrs Miller

On October 3, 2011,  I'll be talking with Pulitzer Prize recipient Michael Cunningham about Altman's McCabe and Mrs. Miller.  He says "I saw McCabe and Mrs. Miller in college, and it was by some lengths the most beautiful movie I'd ever seen.  Lush and lyrical but also deeply real, free of sentimentality.  I was particularly thrilled by McCabe's love for Mrs. Miller, who is tougher than any of the men.  McCabe loves her, in part, because he's finally met his match, in female form.  Although I haven't been exactly conscious of it, I realize that throughout my writing career, I've been trying to duplicate some of the thrills of that movie:  the gorgeousness that doesn't exclude mud and excrement, the woman who is nobody's fool. When I was asked to pick a film for the series, it took me less than a minute to choose McCabe and Mrs. Miller."

Join us for a discussion of the film and its relationship to Cunningham's work. For reservations, contact The Crosby Street Hotel at 212 226 6400.

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Jennifer Egan on Pulp Fiction

6/27/11 Discussing Pulp Fiction with Jennifer Egan


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Jennifer Egan on Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarentino's upending of chronology in PULP FICTION electrified JENNIFER EGAN when she first saw it, years ago. She remembers deciding, quite consciously, *I have to do something like that*. A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD is where she was finally able to make it happen.

Come watch the film and join the discussion with Pulitzer Prize winner Jennifer Egan on Monday, June 27th.

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Jim Shepard on Herzog’s “Aguirre”

Two Serious Guys Talking about a Serious Film

We had a full house for Jim Shepard's presentation of Aguirre last week in New York.

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Jim Shepard on Herzog’s Aguirre

The next event in the Writers-on-Film series will feature  JIM SHEPARD on April 11. Jim's new book  YOU THINK THAT'S BAD will be published on March 22, (less than a week before Jim joins us in Sirenland).  When asked to compare the book and the film, Jim wrote: "You Think That's Bad shares many obsessive preoccupations with AGUIRRE, and with Werner Herzog's aesthetic project in general." More recently, Jim told Bomb Magazine:

I grew up on movies, like many, if not most, of my generation, and so of course they’ve affected the way my imagination works. Various reviewers have noted that my stuff tends toward the visual and the visceral, for example. And though I have a lot of voice-driven stories, I wouldn’t say that my fiction tends toward the ruminative.

Jim wrote a fascinating essay on Aguirre in The Believer, back in September 2004 in which he contrasts Herzog's film with the Oscar-winning epic, Lawrence of Arabia, which came out a decade earlier. You couldn't find two more different films both in style and intent.  And it's hard to imagine two leading men more different than the smooth, pretty Peter O'Toole and rough-as-gravel Klaus Kinski. The contrast between the films says a lot about the intervening decade. I can't wait for this discussion.



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Paul Auster on The Best Years of Our Lives

Paul and me discussing "The Best Years of Our Lives."


The initial reviews have been good.  We were covered in the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy, and in the  Overnight New York blog, which said:

Auster knows the movie intimately; a character in Sunset Park, his latest novel, watches it obsessively. (A low-key book signing followed the screening.) And Maren’s questions were skilled prompts.


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Paul Auster Kicks off Writers on Film

When I asked Paul Auster which film he'd want to screen for the inaugural Writers-on-Film event, he didn't heisitate: The Best Years of Our Lives, the 1946 William Wyler classic about three soldiers struggling to adapt to  civilian life after the second world war. The film, he explained to me, figures prominently in his latest novel, Sunset Park.

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