Reviews > Published on November 3rd, 2014

Bookshots: 'Our Secret Life in the Movies' by Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


Our Secret Life in the Movies

Who wrote it?

'Our Secret Life in the Movies' may very well hit you right where you live – as long as you live in your head, and your head is in severely poetic disorder.

Michael McGriff and J.M. Tyree

Plot in a Box:

Two film nerds overdose on mostly obscure movies and riff on their disjointed but colorfully worded afterthoughts.

Invent a new title for this book:

Citizen Arcane

Read this if you like:

…to get high and make up poetic shit with your equally baked friends.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Two imaginary versions of the authors when they were kids

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

The two best students in an advanced creative writing class in Boulder

Setting: would you want to live here?

Where? In the authors' heads? Living in my own is tough enough as it is, thanks.

What was your favorite sentence?

The witch didn’t look sinister, but I got the sense that she was a little bit concerned about the way I was growing up.

The Verdict:

I wanted to love this book. Really – I did. The authors and I have a lot in common: a mental-illnesslike love of movies and a taste for grotesque Americana. One of them (J.M. Tyree) and I both write for Film Quarterly. But it turns out that I need coherent narrative a lot more than they do, not to mention a much clearer connection between the films and the fantasies they spark.

Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, for instance, inspires a snippet called “The Man Who Married an Egg,” the first sentence of which is, “After my father leaves us, he buys a dozen large eggs and takes a perfectly brown, perfectly egg-shaped egg for a wife.” Is it wrong of me to ask what this has to do with Blade Runner? Admittedly, I haven’t seen Blade Runner in years, but I don’t recall any egg wives in it.

The stories they tell are funny, strange, lurid, imaginative, unlikely, personal, smart, articulate, involving, and unnerving. The authors write beautifully. The tales shine. There is just no need to tie them into the films; it's a gimmick, and it doesn't work.

I didn’t get this book at all, but that’s hardly to say that you won’t. Our Secret Life in the Movies may very well hit you right where you live – as long as you live in your head, and your head is in severely poetic disorder.

About the author

Ed Sikov is the author of 7 books about films and filmmakers, including On Sunset Boulevard:; The Life and Times of Billy Wilder; Mr. Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers; and Dark Victory: The Life of Bette Davis.

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