Dialogue is the story?
April 17, 2012 5:32 PM   Subscribe

Movies, shorts, and plays: Talking heads or dialogue-heavy?

I'm looking for some inspiration for some ultra-low-budget, possibly just for fun movie making. Even if they had a big budget, can you point me to movies, plays, student stuff on youtube, web episodes, anything that moves a story along, and culminates it, primarily through dialogue and subtext?

I want to create something where *something actually happens,* but it's "just" a few people talking alone in 1-3 locations. I suspect stuff like this is usually abysmal and navel-gazing, but I'll take that as a challenge.
posted by zeek321 to Writing & Language (21 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Primer is impressive in that it's done almost entirely through dialogue. Birdland would probably work too.

I assume My Dinner With Andre is a given.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:40 PM on April 17, 2012

Anything by Aaron Sorkin.

I find The West Wing to be especially adept at this type of storytelling, but Sorkin's specialty seems to be "turn something with low stakes and not especially cinematic into an exciting nailbiter solely through the use of dialogue."
posted by Sara C. at 5:40 PM on April 17, 2012

Glengarry Glen Ross
posted by Mchelly at 5:41 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Would "Before Sunrise" and "Before Sunset" meet your criteria? It's mainly the two characters walking and talking about life, etc.

Or "6 Degrees of Separation"?
posted by foxhat10 at 5:58 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Per Glengarry Glen Ross and Six Degrees of Separation, most plays adapted into films would probably do nicely.
posted by Sara C. at 6:03 PM on April 17, 2012

The Booth at the End -- a short science fictional TV series that takes place (IIRC) entirely in one booth in a diner.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 6:10 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

Seconding Primer which was made for $7000.

As Sara C. suggested, movies made from plays tend to be very dialogue driven with little action. On of my favorites is Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

See also movies made by John Cassavetes.
posted by Loudmax at 6:12 PM on April 17, 2012

The Man From Earth

posted by Tom-B at 6:15 PM on April 17, 2012

Swimming to Cambodia
posted by mannequito at 7:12 PM on April 17, 2012

Coffee and Cigarettes sounds like what you're looking for. It's basically ten short movies about people talking over coffee and cigarettes.
posted by book 'em dano at 7:17 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I see that people have already suggested the ones that immediately came to mind. So consider this a second to most of what's already been posted.

12 Angry Men
The Last Supper
Lots of Woody Allen films
Lots of Kevin Smith films
Nine Dead
posted by INTPLibrarian at 7:56 PM on April 17, 2012

Just watched the new Roman Polanski "Carnage" which is just four people in a room and it was excellent.
posted by caliban at 8:09 PM on April 17, 2012

Eric Bogosian's "Talk Radio."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:17 PM on April 17, 2012

Waiting for Godot
posted by SisterHavana at 9:30 PM on April 17, 2012

Some movies I've enjoyed that are essentially just one long conversation: Tape, Melvin Goes to Dinner, Interview.

And a couple movies I really love that have some action, but are still mostly dialogue and use a very limited location: Buried, The Disappearance of Alice Creed.
posted by Sibrax at 9:48 PM on April 17, 2012

Mamet's Oleanna, there's like no possible way you could do worse than the existing film version.
posted by stoneandstar at 10:07 PM on April 17, 2012

Walking and Talking.
Seconding Carnage and Melvin Goes to Dinner.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:14 PM on April 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

You Can Count On Me
Reservoir Dogs, oddly enough.

Other Play->Movie suggestions
Death and the Maiden
posted by davidjmcgee at 7:13 AM on April 18, 2012

Henry Jaglom, maybe
posted by rhizome at 10:14 AM on April 18, 2012

A lot of Shakespeare's plays. The radio version of the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Probably anothing by David Mamet. Danton's Death by Georg Buchner - it's been a few years since I've last seen that, but I remember it as pretty dialogue-driven. How about Under Milk Wood?
posted by rjs at 12:35 PM on April 18, 2012

It's been ten years since I saw it, but Thirteen Conversations about One Thing might fit.

Also, The Trip - it has more like half a dozen locations, but it's practically all (very funny) talking between two people.
posted by kristi at 9:18 AM on April 19, 2012

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