Wednesday, September 02, 2009

The Long Goodbye (For Alexis & Nika)

I didn’t know Alexis enough to say we were close but knew him enough to feel kindred with him. And maybe that was all it took - - -the too few run-ins, the too few conversations, the too few emails, the too few fond anecdotes. Why else would there be this much shock and fear and regret and grief? Why else would all the cinema in the world suddenly feel so outmoded and impotent in the face of what happened? But let’s not put cinema down, as it was, after all, the magnet that drew us to each other - - -this mad fervid love for it that many thought almost freaky. Having declared my unwavering fealty to it even before I was in high school and knew better, I always thought my love bottomless and indomitable but the depth Alexis’ feelings ran - - -and the things it made him do - - -makes mine look like a petty crush . It put me to shame. But also had me keyed up. If there was one thing Alexis left with me, it’s knowing that there was still, and will always be, much more cinema to fall in love with.

Much as I'd like to say I was writing this as a friend, and much as I know Alexis wouldn’t mind if I did that or called him one, I feel it’s not entirely my place to do so. I’m writing this instead as a fellow lover of cinema and a fellow writer, a fellow film critic if you will. This blog was my secluded little pocket of the internet to write about something I loved. I never factored in that there would be traffic- - -the spotlight and me never really did see eye to eye, always had a touch of the hermetic, camera shyness. But the very first thing Alexis said to me when I was introduced to him was ”Hi. I like your blog”. It was immensely flattering. And it would later fuel me to not just write, but write faster, write truer, write more - - -my sloth may be my downfall but I’m getting there. But it was also immensely daunting knowing there was someone reading, let alone someone like Alexis. It was the second most frightening thing he ever said to me,really.

The most frightening thing was when he asked much later on if I really was shooting my first film. I told him sheepishly that I had shot one scene. Who knows what he would have thought of it had he lived to see it finished? Not that it would’ve mattered, I figured, long as I make it with generosity and conviction and love. That's how Alexis did his work. And that's how everyone in this ragtag so-called scene of ours sets out to do theirs, too. That's how he would've prefered it, I think - - -I don't know, I won't know. But it's all about love,in the end. The last few days I've been swimming in this warm and fraternal and almost familial inundation of community, this coming together in consensual sorrow,bonded by this shared and senseless loss and by this shared love for both cinema and for two people who gave so much for it. Too much.

Love is,as Alexis once said, the first impulse of critics. It is also the first impulse of friends.

Peace for the last time, Alexis and Nika. I hardly knew you but I'm glad I did.

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