Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Twilight: The Trashening

It is no secret that I find the popularity of the Twilight series completely ridiculous. The biggest reason being that I'm a fan of the darker vampires, such as those of Ann Rice, Blade, or Underworld (I've no idea why Kate Beckinsale is not considered one of the hottest woman on earth). I wish that just the silliness of these books was the travesty that I am bringing to you today, but alas, it is not.

I was quite content with the option of never having to see the recently released movie. My wife went with friends without me. I was glad to hear it. Last night I endured torture of the likes that would make Daniel Craig's Bond scream out in pain. I saw...Twilight.

What follows is my attempt at describing the pathetic dung heap that is this movie called Twilight. Oh that I were just talking about the story, the sappiness, or the differences in my view of vampires verses those on display. But no, the production quality of this film may be the worst I've seen in a very very long time. Twilight, is in essence, a home movie (and not of the high quality kind such as The Blair Witch Project) billed as a blockbuster . Robert Redford wouldn't have allowed this kind of crap at the Sundance Film Festival. I spent half the movie in a fit of giggles at just how bad this movie is.

Let's begin with the most positive thing I can say about this. The premise of the story is good. Boy meets girl, girl likes boy, boy likes girl, boy wants to eat girl, girl wants to be eaten by boy, others want to kill boy and eat girl. Pretty standard fare for Hollywood.

The absolute worst acting I've seen at least all year, and I'm sure going farther back than that. Edward was OK, and James was OK, and I'm not decided on Dr. Cullen. Other than those 3, it was pathetic. Lines were delivered as if they were memorized seconds earlier, with no knowledge of how they fit into the story. Nearly every action taken felt completely inorganic. I could understand the vampires being a little wooden, but the mortals should appear like they have a pulse and not like 80's era animatronics. I swear that one of the vampires, when told he was playing a monster, thought Frankenstein and not Dracula. Bella seems to have not been up on her tetanus shots, because she seemed to have lock-jaw through most of the movie. And could someone mention in the comments if Bella stutters? If that is true to the book, I won't make fun, but if it's just because she can't remember her lines, that's just sad.

To go hand in hand with the acting is casting. I'm told the blonde vampire is supposed to be attractive. L.A. has a myriad of wanna-be actresses, it's not like that part had any acting to do. Find someone to just stand there and look pretty OK, is that so hard? Other than Edward was there a single person in this movie with any experience at all? What did they spend their money on?

And what about that dialog eh? The movie was almost entirely made up of exposition. It's ok to spell out everything in words in a book, but in a movie there are more tools at your disposal...use them. Every other scene had dialog that explained what happened in the scene before. Not to mention the Bella narrative that could have been easily replaced with actual acting. I would also rail on the sappiness of some of the lines, but that would be like beating a crippled leper, for lying in your path. I can only be so mean...yes, even me.

Not all of the blame can be laid at the feet of the piss poor selection of actors. The director should never have let half those takes end up in the can. Ever heard of take 2, take 3, etc.? If your actors are getting it this wrong, you need to provide them some direction, maybe a couple run-throughs, and multiple takes if necessary.

There is a common problem that crops up in half of the movies made from books. The author gets involved and can't bare to part with any - I mean ANY - of the scenes. So instead of actually developing any of the scenes on screen, they provide a taste of what the scene should be then move on to the next, like a hyper active nat. They then make up for the discordance with narrative and overly wordy dialog to explain what happened in the previous or current scene. "This is what you should have taken from the previous 15 seconds. OK on to the next 15 seconds!" Develop the freaking story with visuals, don't read it to me!

The camera work. I lack the words. If everything else in your movie is done by amateurs, the last thing in the world you need is a handheld camera to muck things up even worse. There isn't a single thing going for this movie, the least they could do is frame shots half way decent. This film didn't have the chops for a handheld, use a tri-pod. Dolly's would help with the sporadic panning as well. If you don't know what zoom is for, don't use it.

What you get at the end of production is largely the result of editing. You have to provide the editor with quality building blocks (which this movie didn't), then it's up to them, with the director, to put together the final vision. If the vision was disconnected ramblings of a 60's B movie with ADHD, they were spot on.


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

What would you do

My wife posted a blog about how I embarrassed her recently (last night) at a friends birthday party. Here is where I run you through the sequence of events and let you think about what you would have done.

We're at a fairly casual style, seat yourself, restaurant with friends and their family (brothers, sisters and their kids). The oldest child is probably around 8 and has lost his ability to sit quietly while adults are talking (we left our child with Andrea's parents because we're considerate like that). He's running around making a ruckus...so what.

After a while he's crawling around between the table and the wall behind me, Andrea, the friends parents and what not. He can't get past my chair so he just starts pushing it/me in an attempt to knock me over so I'm not in his way. I just scoot my chair in so he can get to wherever it is he's going.

He continues back and forth for a while. Whenever he passes me and perceives my elbow or some other body part is in the way, he just gives a good shove instead of say, ducking. I try to keep my appendages from sticking out too far, so as not to offend his sense of personal space.

Not long after, he's crawling around under the table. I learn this because I suddenly feel his head between my legs.

What would you do next?

In my case I close my legs, which happens to squeeze his head. 1. I'm protecting the private property, and 2. Maybe he will be deterred from having his head in my crotch. After trying to crush his head between my knees for about 3 seconds (I wasn't squeezing all that hard, just sending a message) I let go, and figure he'll go away.

Two seconds later there is a head between my legs again.

What would you do next?

I go for the head-between-the-knees squeeze again and add a little hair tug.

The kid quickly demonstrates he has no respect for any adults at all. Perhaps he has never had any adult around him discipline him for anything...EVAR! He starts hitting.

What would you do next?

I catch his hand on a swing and bend his fingers. He starts crying. In my view, problem solved. The mom of said hellion is upset at me now for making her boy cry. Other adults (the grandpa) who don't believe in parenting razz me about if he was hurting me. "Oh your in trouble when your kid get's bigger." No. No I won't be in trouble, because I'll teach him that a man's crotch is NOT where his face belongs!

The only thing I wish I had done differently is that I should have threatened to call child protective services. After all, where would an 8 year old boy learn to put his head in a man's crotch except for from his own father?