On The Plurality Of Worlds: To those not of it, what is referred to as the "film blogosphere" is a relatively monolithic and one-dimensional virtual space populated by feisty nerdy fanboys on the one side and slightly befuddled old-media refugees on the other, and its concerns are largely...hermetic. Even when they are emanating from ComiCon [sp?], and concern the biggest blockbusters of the day.
Which makes it even more painful to contemplate the coverage of the horrific losses to film criticism and scholarship that occurred this week. In the world of this site, the Thr Auteurs Notebook, the awful murder of the young international film critics Alexis Tioseco and Nika Bohinc is a galvanic catastrophe both personally and in a larger context of criticism's and cinema's development. But on other sites, the more putatively normative, Hollywood-concerned places presided over by Jeffrey Wells, David Poland, Anne Thompson, et. al., it's a non-event. Such is the case even at the supposedly more edgy and indie-sensitive Spout. (And let me just point out right here that my observation does not equal a condemnation, as I don't want the Spout kids to think I'm picking on them unduly again.)
So where does this undeniable and awful loss "fit in," as it were, in the "film blogosphere?" Looking at it from outside its heartbreaking-at-any-level personal tragedy component, the loss is to the most thoughtful and activist and really revolutionary component of the whole thing, the group of critics who, however you might have differed from them in particulars of aesthetics and ideology, really walked the walk for the new, the fresh, the real. Nika and Alexis, as memorialized on this site by Gabe Klinger, were not of the festival circuit routinely fetishized by Wells, Thompson, Spout, and yeah, myself and my former organization; no, they were of Berlin, Rotterdam, Ljubljana, Trieste, Hong Kong, outposts of world cinema shrugged off by the big festival types of the American mainstream press. Alexis championed Philpino film to the extent of showing his Manila students a 12-hour native film by Lav Diaz, a still from which is above. Me, and mine, are still trying to absorb our first viewings of Rivette's Out 1: Noli Me Tangere. Alexis, not yet 30, had gone ahead of that, it seems.
Consider this passage from J. Hoberman's review this week of Lisandro Alonso's Liverpool: "Alonso has stylistic affinities with an international group of youngish Festival directors—Albert Serra, Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weersathakul, and Fred Kelemen are the best known—who might be called exponents of New Realism or the New Depressives. Each, though, has his own personal interests." Its disinterested tone doesn't lack respect, but it also indicates, as ground-breaking and passionate a critic as Hoberman is and has been, that he doesn't see himself as a force to champion these and other such filmmakers. That would have been the job of the younger guard that included Nika and Alexis.
And what have I been up to earlier this week? Getting into an increasingly nasty and destructive pissing contest with my old bete noir David Poland, and let me just say right off the bat that while I still believe I'm right, it's not worth it, and I'm actually profoundly ashamed of how low I allowed my rhetoric to go therein. But. Let me note that in the midst of said pissing contest Poland makes the staggering proclamation that "ideas are more important than grammar." As if ideas could even exist without grammar. The epistemological idiocy of Poland's perspective aside, he nonetheless sometimes creates valuable work, as in his recent video interview with former Fox head and current independent producer Bill Mechanic. Mechanic is one of the savviest and aesthetically advanced execs of his generation, and any film lover or critic interested in what's really happening in Hollywood today needs to check this out. So give Poland credit where it's due—he had the access, get the guy in front of a camera, and let him talk. It would be sort of odd for me to leave off an implied plea for better communication within the varied sectors of the "film blogosphere" with a huffy announcement that I shall never cite or even mention a certain party on this site or any other ever again. And yet. I don't know what to do. Constructive criticism seems to be an oxymoron in certain of these parts, and I myself could very well be part of the problem. One of the many reasons Nika and Alexis will be missed is that they were part of the potential solution.
UPDATE/CORRECTION: And, typically, I got something fairly seriously wrong; as it happens, the ever soulful, ever observant Kim Voynar, blogging from an arm of Movie CIty News, did indeed create a very considered and beautiful post about Alexis and Nika, which deserves to be read and absorbed by all, from every corner of the so-called film blogosphere...