There ought to be a rule for young filmakers not to have a main character who's an artist, writer, or filmaker. It's just so easy for the writer/director's surrogate to take on far more existential suffering than the character can really sustain. Or when that's not the issue, then it's the problem of how do you represent the creative process on screen. (At least in the Kunstlerroman you get hundreds of pages to try to show the growth of the Artist -- but it's still potentially tiresome.) Watched Washington Heights a few days ago on DVD -- it's a good enough film all in all -- warm but not too cheesy in its portrayal of the Washington Heights neighborhood in NYC, and the lives of first-generation young people struggling to define themselves in relation to their parents' culture and their own. The always watchable Manny Perez plays the main character, a cartoonist who has to take over his father's bodega. So far so good. But the parts of the film that deal with his drawing are just so predictable, and so unrealistic. He's a good artist, but his comics aren't great comics (i.e., Art) until he starts to write about his father, and the immigrant experience. Since the filmmaker is already doing that, it just seems like a heavy-handed lesson. Then he's able to sell his comic right away, to the hot Latina executive who just happens to be newly single... Actually I'm making the film sound much worse than it is -- which is precisely my point. Without the strain of the "Art" theme, it'd be a more solid film.
Yet, watching him draw his comic isn't half as painful as, say, listening to the god-awful prose supposedly written by the Jenny character on the L-Word series, which thanks to a friend who'd taped it, we just got to see. It's positively embarrassing to watch her "write" her short stories which are supposed to be so artistic and thoughtful. Argh. Overly Romantic in the capital R sense -- navel-gazing about her feelings, talking about ripping her bleeding heart out. Ugh.
I'm trying to think of a movie where I liked the artist/writer character. I'm sure there are a few but the negative examples are popping up faster.