It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything for CHUD. I’m sure that a great many people didn’t care when I used to…just as I’m sure many won’t care now.
And if you do have any interest in the fact that I’ve returned from the wilderness – you won’t in a few seconds. Because I’m about to make a statement that will force everyone who reads it to question my credibility, my intelligence, my sanity, and (probably) my sexuality. By the time I’m finished, no one who reads this site will give a runny shite about anything I write ever again.
My name is Jason Pollock, and I think that TWILIGHT is great.
It’s been a slow build, but it clicked for me a couple weeks ago, while I was typing a bit of blather on the Facebook. I found myself, strangely, defending the film’s young cast. It struck me that it’s entirely possible that these kids are the future of Hollywood. And I say – “good for ‘em.”
Let’s take a look at that cast, shall we?
We know Kristen Stewart can give a solid performance, but she was on her way before she wound up reluctantly representing entire generations of crazy cat ladies-in-waiting. As for Robert Pattinson, he was a bland dude in another bland franchise based on another bland batch of books before this one, so bully for Mr. Morrissey Hair. It’s the supporting cast that interests me.
I liked Kellan Lutz’s work in Jessica (Bring it On) Bendinger’s directorial debut, Stick It – and it seems he’s making a play for “action guy”. He’s starring in a beat-‘em-up alongside Sam L. Jackson, and he’ll be having his own Poseidon adventure in Tarsem’s The Immortals. At one point, he was on the list of guys being weighed for the Conan redux. At this point, I’d buy that Kellan Lutz could kick my ass before Schwarzenegger could. And who knows – he might not get out-acted by a Rob Bottin-fabricated foam rubber duplicate of his own head!
Speaking of potential action stars, it seems like Taylor Lautner might be on to something. The guy was once in danger of losing his spot on the Twilight roster when Summit realized that there is, inexplicably, more than one Twilight book – and the his character was supposed to be all sinewy and “badass”. Lautner got to keep his gig partially because of fan outcry, and partially because of a work ethic that saw him suddenly gain fifty pounds of muscle. He’s got a look that runs counter to Hollywood’s need that every young actor has to come out of the Rube Goldberg-ian Play-Doh machine that extruded/excreted Zac Efron, which is cool – because I’m tired of seeing the same four white kids trying to grow a ‘tache or butch it up in Brando drag. Lautner’s next flick is filled with Sigourney Weaver and Alfred Molina, so perhaps he can learn a little something from his elders.
Ashley Greene…well – she hasn’t really done anything yet, aside from be hot all the time. Absurdly, achingly hot.
Ahhh, to hell with it –
It’s ironic that a film franchise no male would ever be caught dead watching is so filled with foxy females. And it’s pretty great that these women lucked into a franchise where there are millions of eyes on them, as such high profile exposure might help them get work in the future, thus replenishing the dwindling actress pool. We’re so desperate for female leads who aren’t Botoxed-out little haggards that we’re putting that ugly woman (homely – “homely woman.” She’s not “ugly,” she’s homely) from the Girl With the Shitty Tattoo series into things.
We’re so desperate that we’ve cloned Julia Roberts and made her Catwoman. We’re trying to make Greta Gerwig an actual romantic lead. Apparently, we need more women for movies – and the fact is that places like the Twilight franchise are where we’ll find them.
The trajectory is: Take a supporting role in a narratively-inert, sorta’ bizarre movie based on a book filled with monsters and Mormon-tinged nuttiness – win Oscar for Up in the Air.
Another (unrelated) trajectory might be: Take a supporting role in a narratively-inert, sorta’ bizarre movie based on a book filled with monsters and Mormon-tinged nuttiness – get paid more than the entire rest of the cast for a few minutes of pasty screen time.
Granted, Michael Sheen was probably just aping The Bloodrayne Gambit (not to be confused with the Robert Ludlum novel of the same name) popularized by Sir Ben Kingsley (itself a riff on the “Salkind Sting” created by Marlon Brando in the ‘70s) – but the idea that a truly great actor can parlay those gifts into a stunning payday for doing a bit of absolutely nothing is another thing to love about this franchise. I think Sheen is fucking awesome, and I think it’s cool that he made serious ends to goof off in this mess. If a massive payday for something like Twilight allows him to take great roles in potentially fine films whose budgets don’t look like the Gross National Product of Guam, then that’s just another reason Twilight is alright by me.
Just let’s not take it too far, Sir Michael – I haven’t seen Tron: Legacy yet (unlike the fannerds, if a movie looks not so great to me, I don’t say I’m gonna’ “wait for video” – then show up on opening night for X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I really don’t go) but it looks like you may have left your dignity in your other trousers.
But why cast Sheen at all? Why ditch a perfectly fine (and foxy) Rachelle Lefevre for Bryce Dallas Howard? Why add Stewart’s Runaways bandmate Dakota Fanning to the mix? Summit seems to want for this franchise the only thing that has eluded it thus far – actual respectability.
To that end, Summit has tried to fill the films with respected thespians (though admittedly, Kristen Stewart is only a rumored thespian), and they’ve handed the big finish to Bill Fucking Condon. Gods and Monsters’ Bill Condon. Kinsey’s Bill Condon. Dreamgirls’ Bill Condon. STRANGE BEHAVIOR’S BILL CONDON.
Summit has a Box Office Beastice on its hands, and – oddly enough – instead of trying to make the films cheaper, they’ve tried to bring the quality and production values up (Please note: I didn’t say they succeeded – I said they’re trying. And in this day, that’s laudable).
Meanwhile, the knowledge that there’s a regular infusion of cash set to fall from the sky like clockwork (or until the Twilight films are finished), means Summit is a studio/distro entity that is in a place to make interesting moves – many of which are not safe. More of which have not panned out – but all of which stand as evidence of a company that wants to do well – and do right. To my mind, you can make and release Twilight sequels and spinoffs until Robert Pattinson’s hair just refuses to do that anymore if you give the world The Brothers Bloom. And Sex Drive. And The Ghost Writer.
And they handled Hurt Locker. And Fair Game. And they’ve got Mabrouk (JCVD) El Mechri’s next film coming. And Juan Antonio (The Orphanage) Bayona’s next. And Duncan (Moon) Jones’ next.
And TERRENCE MALICK’S NEXT.
And DRIVE ANGRY hits in a week and change. Nic Cage has fantastic hair in this one, so you know it’s gonna’ be rock n’ roll.
Summit is producing or distributing interesting work from interesting filmmakers in every genre – and they probably wouldn’t be in a position to do so without their box office monster.
And speaking of monsters…contemplate this on the Tree of Woe (or Life, apparently):
There’s a whole mess of young women reading a series of books in which the protagonist is positively torrrrrtured with regard to which MONSTER she wants to FUCK more. Think about that…really.
Some time ago, I was sitting in on a panel discussion in which my beloved Clive Barker was lamenting the state of horror. Many of the people in the room were bemoaning Twilight, but I advanced the notion that this franchise could serve as a gateway to actual decent literature/films. In the same way I’ve always thought that when I met someone who liked Harry Potter, I could recommend The Thief of Always instead of merely making fun of an adult for liking an insipid and poorly-written kid’s series, I see someone who likes this franchise as someone with their window open. They’ve been introduced to some pretty weird concepts with these books (none so weird as Mormonism, but weird nevertheless), so some of the really good stuff might be an easier sell. Instead of insulting someone’s taste…I could be the shepherd. I could say, “Hey – if you like Giorgio, you’ll love Primo.”
(Having said that – if your idea of “literature” comes from the Scholastic Book Club order form you swiped from a third grader, you may want to rethink TONS OF YOUR LIFE…
…says…the guy who…wrote a spec script…for BUNNICULA)
Still, some girl likes Twilight – foist the Lost Boys on her. If she digs that, watch Near Dark with her. If she likes that, marry her. You may have to bite her when you guys do it, but I do that anyway, so…
So that’s me with 1500 words about Twilight. Great start to my new journey here at CHUD, right? You’re thinking that I’ve no credibility at all. You might be thinking, “This bag of douche actually watched Twilight?” Or maybe (probably) I lost you after that picture of Ashley Greene.
But yeah – I have watched Twilight. I’ve actually seen them all. I watched them the best way possible. With some good friends…and some OLD FRIENDS.