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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Fair Play – a review

Jim Murdoch on The Truth About Lies, has an interesting review of Fair Play, a collection of short stories or a novel by Tove Jansson:

The little red light came on. Fassbinder confronted them in all his exquisite, controlled violence. It was very late when he was done. Jonna switched on the lamp, slipped the cassette into its cover, and put it on the shelf labelled “Fassbinder”.
“Mari,” she said, “are you unhappy that we don’t see people?”
“No, not any more.”
“That’s good. I mean, if we did see them, what would it be like? Like always, exactly like always. Pointless chatter about inessentials. No composition, no guiding idea. No theme. Isn’t that right? We know roughly what everyone will say; we know each other inside out. But here on our videos every remark is significant, nothing is arbitrary. Everything is considered and well formulated.”
“All the same,” said Mari, “sometimes one of us might say something unexpected, something that didn’t fit, something really out of the ordinary that made you sit up and take notice. You know, something irrational.”
“Yes, I know. But make no mistake: great directors know all about the irrational. You talk about things that don’t fit – they use such things, with a purpose, as an essential part of the whole. Do you know what I mean? Apparent quirkiness but with a point. They know exactly what they’re doing.”
“But they’ve had time,” Mari objected. “We don’t always have time to think, we just live! Of course a filmmaker can depict what you call quirkiness, but it’s still just canned. We’re in the moment. Maybe I haven’t thought this through… Jonna, these films of yours are fantastic, they’re perfect. But when we get involved in them as totally as we do, isn’t that dangerous?”
“How do you mean, dangerous?”
“Doesn’t it diminish other things?”
“No. Really good films don’t diminish anything, they don’t close things off. On the contrary, they open up new insights, they make new thoughts thinkable. They crowd us, they deflate our slovenly lifestyle, our thoughtless way of chattering and pissing away our time and energy and passion. Believe me, films can teach us a huge amount. And they give us a true picture of the way life is.”
Mari laughed. “Of our slovenly lifestyle, you mean? You mean, maybe they can teach us to piss our lives away with a little more intelligence, a little more elegance?”
“Don’t be an ass. You know perfectly well…”
Mari interrupted. “And if film is some kind of edifying god, wouldn’t it be dangerous to try and emulate your gods, always knowing that you’re coming up short? That everything you do is somehow badly directed?”

One Response to “Fair Play – a review”

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    Yeah, it was quite a delight. I think considering some of the stuff you’ve been writing recently you might really appreciate it. Check out the three chapters at the end of the blog.

    jb says: OK. I’m on my way . . .