Creating the Impossible
A review of Nick Admussenâ€™s Movie Plots
by Nathaniel Kostar
Nick Admussenâ€™s Movie Plots is an original new chapbook published by Epiphany Editions. In 30 prose poems that take on the titles of different movie plots, ranging from Coming-of-Age Drama to Asian Horror Movie and seemingly everything in between, these poems push the boundaries of genre, challenging the nature of poetry and film. Whether they are poems, actual plots, or some new hybrid form would make for an interesting class discussion. But without a doubt each piece is an experiment more unique, challenging, and insightful than the majority of whatâ€™s coming out of Hollywood.
Humor, fantasy, political and social commentary, and an overall understanding and compassion for the human condition are a few of the many threads stitched into this tightly woven chapbook.But what stands out most in this collection is Admussenâ€™s ability to create what seems impossible, to stretch the limits of the imagination until we can clearly visualize something which moments before was unimaginable. And in doing so, Admussen casts us into surreal worlds that not only reflect the nature of our own realities but provide insight into them.
Do not be alarmed as poems and plots manifest into animate beings, shots take place â€œoffscreen,â€ or when a silent filmâ€™s only scene is of an orchestra playing. In one plot, Vintage Pornography, the film is on a â€œthree-minute repeating loop.â€ And in another, the film consists of a â€œtwo-hour display of a still photograph.â€ But it would be unwise to think these could never be movies, for while they might be difficult to produce, many of them could and should be movies. In fact, Admussen challenges his readers in the last paragraph of his afterword by writing, â€œYou have to make the movies yourself.â€
Perhaps no two poems are more poignant than the opening poems of the collection.
Coming-of-Age-Drama tells the story of two Chinese teenagers who have â€œdecided,â€ against the wishes of society, that they are in love. They â€œstroke each other through their clothes and never talk about it.â€ â€œThe heat of their feelings makes them quick to laugh,â€ but all the while they are being hit with â€œinvisible heavy-particle radiation with which the city power plant showers their town.â€Â They are being destroyed by (societyâ€™s) radiation as they fall in love and caress each otherâ€™s bodies. Both beautifully and ominously, Admussen writes, â€œThe electricity remains on.â€Â
In the next poem, Murder Mystery, a mother of two watches the family dog attack an injured bird. She observes the dog and considers her husband, realizing that everything she loves about him, â€œthe way he insists on her primacy and beauty and utility in his life…the feeling that he would fight ruthlessly to keep her well and next to him, his success in business…his authority over the children, his constant return to and ability with her body in sex…is all arbitrarily focused aggression.â€Â The woman realizes that she is the bird being attacked, â€œa feathered reward for the grudging obedience of a violent heart.â€
But Movie Plots is not without humor and lighter moments.Â In fact, sexual jokes are common in this collection, and fittingly so, given the number of movies driven by or attempting to save themselves with sex. In Internet Romance, â€œOur hero googles Jonathan Reed. He googles him deeply.â€Â And in Test Pattern, â€œThere is probably sex; if there is no sex; there is the insinuation of sex; if there is no insinuation of sex, then viewers create sexual allegories while they watch.â€ In a poem entitled Sequel,
â€œall those sexually excited by the filmâ€™s objectifications are led up to the front of the theater, slapped, and shocked with tasers. Those remaining in the audience who find this violence stimulation are stripped naked and â€˜PERVERTâ€™ is written on their bodies.â€
In this poem (or film), the audience is held responsible for their reaction to the film, perhaps just as responsible as the filmmakers ought to be for making it.
Date Movie begins with â€œthe plot kisses the viewer on the mouth. It kisses sweetly, dotingly, it knows how the viewer prefers to be kissed, and it is hard for the viewer to pay attention to where, exactly, the plot is putting its hands.â€Â Itâ€™s hard not to smile, imagining a plot seducing a viewer, quite literally, yet is that not exactly what a good date movie should do?
Even the chapbookâ€™s political commentary is clever, ironic, and humorous.Â Comic Book Slugfest is worth quoting at length. It reads:
Health insurance companies are withholding the production of a cheap drug which will sizably increase mathematical aptitude and the drive towards thrift in all who take it.Â There is an office in the Capitol that measures the poundage of excess war materiel, and when it exceeds a set limit, the clerk presses a button and hostilities are declared.
Here, the powers-that-be are manipulating the masses in a cold and calculated manner as though they are evil villains in a comic book. But while it is fantasy, one cannot say that health insurance companies always operate in the interest of their clients or that wars are not big business in America.
But perhaps no one line embodies this collection more so than the opening of Test Pattern. It reads, â€œA thing which does not exist appears.â€Â Â In Movie Plots, Admussen is successful in creating impossible worlds, worlds that do â€œnot exist.â€
This collection could be Admussenâ€™s challenge to directors, movie makers, and writers to be more creative, to imagine more ambitiously, to attempt to create the difficult, the impossible. Or it could just be Admussenâ€™s experiment, composed for the sake of beautyâ€”art for artâ€™s sake. But regardless of the intention behind these poems, what is certain is their ability to transcend the normal in their content, form, and language. And in my opinion, if a group of filmmakers possessed the courage and talent to adapt one of these poems into a feature film, it would have the potential to be a hell of a movie.
To order the book go here.
Creating the Impossible