The MIA Effect

Sometimes you decide to take a slight detour into another field to see how it might work out for you. I’ve been writing fiction and essays now since I was in high school, and when life threw me a wrench, it seems that all that was placed on hold. Only when the Moon was full, or inspiration, as intermittent as it was, came with a deluge of creativity, did I resume writing, only to stop just before the end, or end a story and shelve it onto my hard drive, never to be touched again.

November came at me with a hard bang. I felt as though perhaps I had said all I would want to say about movies, because with all the online reviewers that there are, many who vie for your attention with interviews and giveaways, perhaps this was not the road for me. Perhaps I could use a break and just see movies with the sole intention of enjoyment, not that plus criticism.

That is when I brought out my hard drive and searched for stories I. had written ages ago, stories that were sitting silently in the abject dark and telling their tales to no one. When I opened the first file, a horror story I wrote late in 2002, my heart sank and soared. It was as though I had come across a child I had given up for adoption and found again. The story unfurled itself to me, revealing its secrets, its twists and turns, and its final denouement.

I realized that the volume of work I had in that one box needed to be polished and developed and sent into the outside world so that others could read and enjoy (or not, I mean, let’s face it, not everyone will like a story one does the same way I don’t enjoy every movie my favorite director does.

So, starting around Thanksgiving, I took that story and began working on it. It was crude, but good, and could itself yield a few others at least through its characters. I set to work on every item I had created — some mere sketches and half-written scenarios — because their worlds begged me not to let them die in the dark. I could, in fact, return to movie-reviewing later on, or so do with less frequency at a rate of a movie a week.

So that is where I’ve been all these months. I’ve been at the Mac tapping away, performing acts of pentimento over tales that I might not see in the same light, reconfiguring plots and characters, repurposing characters into new scenarios, and lastly, making sure that I typed The End after each one.

As a matter of fact, I’m still in the midst of that. Late at night, I’ll be slaving away while the world sleeps, living an imaginary life, resolving the unresolvable. Movies have come and gone and we are now into the end of the winter season. I have seen at least 30 movies, all — well, almost all — which I have loved and hailed. I was swept away by Spielberg’s ultra-kinetic take on West Side Story, a movie I have now seen thrice. I was put off, then on, by Rade Jude’s Band Luck Banging or Loony Porn, the movie that I was set to write about on the 18th of November (followed right away by Branagh’s sensitive portrait of the life of a boy in late 60s Belfast. I was conflicted, but won, by the difficult story Maggie Gyllenhaal directed in The Lost Daughter, and completely floored by my personal choice of Movie of 2021, Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog.

I just didn’t write about them. I was too busy writing.

But, while I can’t turn back time, and I won’t yet do a list of the best of 2021, I’m back to seeing new releases and at least discuss one classic a week, and gobble up as many festival films as I can, within reason, without turning my back on storytelling.

Because that is ultimately where I feel I will make the biggest splash.

That is humbly all.

Humbly yours,

NYCCritic.