cover image Our Secret Life in the Movies

Our Secret Life in the Movies

Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree. A Strange Object (, $14.95 trade paper (168p) ISBN 978-0-9892759-6-5

McGriff and Tyree’s collection of flash fiction has a concept that’s sometimes too high, though it definitely has its upside. Both esteemed film scholars, they have selected 39 favorite films and each written very short stories inspired by them. The source material is eclectic but largely obscure. There are only four mainstream movies (among them On the Waterfront and Blade Runner), and a handful that could be described as cult (e.g. Donnie Darko, Jesus’ Son); many of the rest will be unknown, even to avid filmgoers. Perhaps unintentionally, they’ve written an entertaining entry in the subgenre of “must-see-films” books. “Sheets of Galaxies” by McGriff, about a teenage would-be astronaut, and “Thrown Rod, Cruel Stars” by Tyree, about people obsessed with conspiracy theories, are both vivid nuggets and, while they might leave the reader unsatisfied, could also prompt them to watch (or rewatch) “Intergalactic,” the Beastie Boys music video that inspired them. So too the stories inspired by Jennifer Baichwal’s Manufactured Landscapes and Carlos Saura’s Cria Cuervos. With Michael Mann’s Miami Vice as a starting point, McGriff imagines tough-kid antics, while Tyree tracks a young criminal in training; both are colorful and provocative in light of the source. Thus do movies prompt us to dream. Read the book with a pad and pencil, and make your own list. (Nov.)