Book Review: These Are Not Movies: screenplays for films that will never be made.
By Michael Scott
In the Naco Gallery at 1665 Dundas Street — enjoying a dirty little Americano, and the blustery aftershock of yesterdays snow storm — I have read the last fifty pages of Adam Tomlinson’s exquisitely packaged collection of screenplays: These Are Not Movies. The volume contains nine commissions from an apparent who’s who pantheon of Ottawa’s small press community. Each short story, whether by accident or design, is an exquisite and personal rumination on the theme of loneliness. It is scarcely possible to review the screen plays individually, because all of the work is so clean, and precise. Characters are dexterously, and believably voiced. Plots are carefully mapped. All nine of our stories are told crisply and with a minimum of fat.
As I read through the volume, I felt a warmth growing in my heart. I felt that, just by listening to these fictional people explain, desperately, their varying feelings of isolation, I was somehow helping them. Like “Nell” in J.B. Staniforth’s “Inertia,” it was both my honour, and duty, to rise, in that moment, and give of myself to someone else. It mattered little to me that those others, to whom I was being so supportive, were fictional, and could never know me. In fact, this made my dedication to them even more selfless.
I had begun to wonder, though, before I sat down today, if the contributers to These Are Not Movies, had missed a unique opportunity. The mandate of the piece was to present screen plays as short stories, to create movies that would “never be made.” Was there not a chance here to create a movie that was actually, completely unfilmable, and still have it reach an audience? The first five of these scripts, were not only plausible, but — owing to their small casts, focused, minimalist story lines, an obedience to classical unities — actually cheep, easy, and deeply interesting ideas for movies.
I was not disappointed with todays read which, began with “Itch of Idealism,” by Colin White and Adam Tomlinson. The sweet story, within a story, within a story — of a prickish mouse, and a turtle that destroyed the Earth — provided the surrealistic element that I had been craving. From there things just got stranger, and the volume climaxed with a beautiful and sickeningly crafted mutual-rape-style love scene, between an aristocratic junky and his piano. I rest now, assured that sequence could never, regardless of budget, skill, or planing, ever be filmed by anyone.
I felt compelled, by the inertia of this book, to read all the way to the final page, where — in Tomlinson’s biographical note — his posthumous dedication to his grandmother, finished my reading experience by putting a pleasant, biter sweet lump in my throat.
Highlights include “All The Single Dragon Slayers,” by Jennifer Whiteford, “Itch of Idealism,” by Colin White and Adam Tomlinson, and “Play,” by Michael Reid.
Raouf Lefy’s “Their Blue Glow Flickers,” was very likely brilliant, but I failed to grasp most of in on my first read, and so will have to look at it again after the weekend.
Buy the book @ http://www.40wattspotlight.com/movies_front.html
or buy other books @ http://www.woodenrocketpress.com/