Thursday, September 10, 2009

Alexis and Nika and love for cinema

More than a week after film critics Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc were gunned down in their home in Quezon City, Manila, police have rounded up one suspect in the killing. The Inquirer has the story (cache).

Looking at the senselessness of the crime, I'm speechless. What a waste.

Easier to wrap my head around are the tributes to Alexis and Nika that have continued to pour in as film bloggers and critics eulogize two of their own.

Among the latest is Jeffrey M. Anderson of Cinematical, who was moved by the piece Alexis wrote Nika, "The Letter I Would Love to Read to You in Person". The key passage:

He argued that "the first impulse of any good film critic, and to this I think you would agree, must be of love. To be moved enough to want to share their affection for a particular work or to relate their experience so that others may be curious. This is why criticism, teaching, and curating or programming, in an ideal sense, must all go hand in hand."

That got me thinking, and I pondered it for hours over the weekend. It shamed me for wallowing in such petty matters as whether or not Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is any good, or worth anybody's time. And indeed, aside from a few easy laughs, it's not much fun slamming the latest beloved blockbuster, and my main reason for slamming films like that is that they deliberately undercut my beloved art of cinema; they don't even try. I have to admit that my real pleasure comes when I can help spread the word about something I love.

Indeed. Life is too short to waste on bashing bad movies, fun and cathartic as it may be from time to time. I'm not saying I'm going to stop writing about movies I don't like or change my approach, but I might try.

Filipino director Raya Martin, a friend of Alexis', also talks about love for film in a stirring eulogy prepared for the memorial service. Here's an excerpt that I loved:

You were supposed to move out of the house the day your dad died. We were going to be housemates, a house full of DVDs and books and all those lovely things that we called cinema. I was going to shoot every second every minute of every day and you were going to write beautiful things about beautiful films made by beautiful people. We were going to publish the quintessential Filipino film magazine. We were going to write love letters to Hammy Sotto. We were going to make fun of bad films all day, and when we’re tired we’ll just walk to Lav’s place for some wine and diss some more. Khavn was going to pick us up, Arleen, John, Sherad, we’ll drive to the end of the world. We’ll travel the world festival after festival after festival celebrating. I was going to watch girls with you and you were going to watch boys with me. We would find our inbox filled with mails from every famous critic in the world nagging about your article deadlines. Peranson wrote last night checking on all of us here. I’m so happy we got to do that pards, best English film magazine in the world, your first published article and you wrote about me. Tangina pards I’m so happy for us we were always taking these steps together. Which is why I can’t imagine life without you now. I can’t imagine not getting any of those emails before my premieres saying how proud you are of me. I was hoping finally we would be in Cannes together soon. Apichatpong wanted to meet you finally.

Read the whole thing.

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