Wednesday, December 29, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 6: MILF Island

Hahahahaha Carlisle bought Esme a fucking ISLAND? Rule #1 of Vampire Club: Keep a low profile. So only buy one island, okay you guys? Keep it to one! Otherwise people might notice. Previously: Party Down.

Chapter 5: Isle Esme

Edward and Bella board a series of flights: Seattle to Houston, Houston to Rio De Janeiro. Bella wonders where they could be going, especially when they get in a cab in Rio instead of boarding another plane. She assumes they are just stopping for the night and getting a hotel, and feels “something very close to stage fright” as she realizes that means it's time to fuck. (Of course, that part is still only implied. Like Bella and Edward, S. Meyer is putting off “sex” until the last possible moment. I feel like her honeymoon probably wasn't very good.)

But instead of a hotel, the cab takes them to the docks, and Edward loads Bella and her baggage (both literal and figurative) onto a small yacht. As they head out on the Atlantic Ocean, Bella wonders where they could be going and briefly fears they are headed to Africa. Ostensibly this worries her because she doesn't want to “live on this small craft for any length of time” but really it's because of all the black people, right Bella? Admit it.

If you want it bad enough, there's a lot of sexual imagery in this chapter. The plane ride is “long but comfortable.” On the docks, the boat Edward puts Bella in is “smaller than the others,” but “sleeker” and “more graceful than the rest.” It's not the size of the boat, it's the motion of the ocean, right Edward? Once he starts piloting the boat/penis metaphor, Bella notes his skill and realizes that he is “good at just about everything.” Wishful thinking, Bella. Edward is going to be as bad at sex as you will be (unless he's been reading Jasper's thoughts while he fucks Alice. Shudder). As the boat “plunge[s] through the waves,” Bella gets “showered with sea spray” in an especially charged image.

Edward points out an island in the distance-- well, at first Bella describes an “irregular triangle” with “feathery” edges. What is wrong with Bella's brain? (Unless that's supposed to be like, a vaginal image? It's possible.) Anyway it's an island, which Edward tells her is “Isle Esme.” First of all: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Second of all: what? Third of all: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Who gives an island as a gift? I frowned. I hadn't realized that Edward's extreme generosity was a learned behavior.

Either that or Carlisle fucked up BIG TIME a while back. All Kobe had to do was get a big-ass ring for his wife, and he (allegedly) raped someone! I can't even imagine the heinous shit Carlisle was up to to have to buy Esme a damn ISLAND. I mean, I can, but I'll spare you. Alice probably had a hand in it, maybe literally.

Bella gets out soaking wet (from THE SEA SPRAY, get your mind out of the gutter) and listens to the waves “slapping lightly” against the boat, in another symbolic preview of things to cum-- I mean come. The air, Bella says, is “warm, moist, and fragrant.” Jesus. Edward carries Bella to a small house and she practically has a panic attack when he penetrates the threshold (OF THE HOUSE). The house apparently has the same bland, IKEA-display-circa-2001 style of Chez Cullen, and there's a huge white (natch) bedroom with a big white bed in the center. The bedroom is warm, “too warm,” and Edward explains that he had that done on purpose. “I thought... that would be best,” he says. “You're about to have a Popsicle in your vagina.” I mean, he doesn't say that, but that is literally the idea.

Edward asks if Bella would like to go for a “midnight swim” with him. These two really behave like 17 and 18 year olds, delaying sex all the time like this. When I was seventeen I was always trying to put off sex (sarcasm)! She says yes, and he heads to the beach while she heads to the bathroom.

On the way, he shrugged out of his shirt, dropping it on the floor, and then slipped through the door into the moonlit night.


I can't even let S. Meyer build up sexy anticipation because there is just NO WAY that anything sexy is actually going to happen. It's impossible, this is Twilight. I read stuff like that and I'm just like “Ha ha, nice try Stephenie.” But it electrifies Bella, who accidentally kind of sounds like she's checking for an STD already.

Did my skin burst into flames? I had to look down to check.

Whoops. Bella goes to her suitcase, looking for something like “a pair of old sweats.” What a seductress! But all she can find is lingerie “with French tags.” Alice packed her bags, remember? Nicely done, Alice. A little creepy you're trying to find the best way to turn your brother on, though. (You know how Alice designed Bella's wedding dress around Edward's taste? Same deal here, you think? Is it like, a lacy burka?) Bella looks out the bathroom window for Edward but can only see his clothes swaying on a tree branch. ALL OF HIS CLOTHES. BECAUSE HE'S NAKED.

A rush of heat flashed across my skin again.

Do you need a minute? I'll wait. Okay. Bella gets in the shower and shaves her legs again. How fast does Bella's body hair grow? Yikes. She gets out of the shower and wonders what to wear. The lingerie freaks her out too much and, unable to make a decision, she has a meltdown on the bathroom floor and puts her head between her legs, in another image that could potentially be sexual if it wasn't so pathetic. S. Meyer is clearly pleased with her stage fright comparison from earlier because she rolls it out again:

This felt exactly like having to walk out in front of a theater full of people with no idea what my lines were.

“How did people do this?” Bella asks. “Swallow [wait for it!] all their fears and trust someone else so implicitly with every imperfection and fear they had?” Luckily Bella gets her shit together and heads to the beach in her towel. She spots Edward waist deep in the water and looks him over, admiring “the shape of him.” I thought he was waist deep in the water? Is he... already? Bella takes off her towel and walks naked to the water. Edward doesn't turn around. Why wouldn't you turn around? He waits until she's waist deep and next to him before he looks at her and dismisses her claim that the beach and the moonlight are beautiful. “Not with you standing here in comparison.” So Edward is a tits man! I wouldn't have guessed that. It doesn't stay sexy for too long:

“If... if I do something wrong, if I hurt you, you must tell me at once.”

Well, those are two different things, Edward. You might do something wrong without HURTING her, and you might hurt her in a way that's oh-so-right, you know what I mean? John Mellencamp knows what I mean. Anyway, it's totally unsexy to negotiate like this right when you're getting started; they should have established a safe word on the plane and been done with it.

Edward wraps his arms around Bella when she tells him not to be afraid and that they belong together. In a parting sexually charged image, he pulls her “deeper” into the water. And then...

...we cut to the next morning. HA! TOLD YA!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Eclipse Originally Featured A Scene Involving Kristen Stewart In Blackface (Not Even Kidding)

Holy shit. This is Kristen Stewart, speaking on the audio commentary for Eclipse during a flashback scene about the history of the Quileute Native Americans (starting at 0:32:28):

"That whole, the whole 'Third Wife' thing, I actually-- the first thing I shot on this movie was, was basically playing that entire scene out as the Third Wife. And it was fairly ridiculous, as I imagined [sigh] it would have been, like they tried to make me a little bit tanner than I am, and I had two braids, it was a little... I'm not sure."

A little... "unimaginably misguided," maybe? Do you think that was the phrase Stewart was looking for? Or maybe "mind-numbingly crass"? Is this fucking thing in the deleted scenes? Please tell me it is. No, wait, please tell me it isn't.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 5: Party Down

Previously: "How Soon Is Now?" and "Alice Cullen Sets Bella's Khaki Skirt On Fire." Also, today is Jackson Rathbone's birthday. So close to Christmas! What a drag.

Chapter 4: Gesture

The reception starts, Bella says it's “twilight over the river” (hey, she said the name of this saga!) and the sun is setting behind the trees. Edward and Bella are greeted by various extraneous characters; Seth Clearwater is there with his mom, whom Bella observes with her always-withering eye. “Her face was thin and fierce,” she says. You can't be even a little charitable toward the less pretty on your fucking wedding day, Bella? Later Edward will ask if Bella has seen herself in a mirror yet. When she finally does, she rhapsodizes about how gorgeous she is for a while. Such a nice girl.

She sees Billy Black and weirdly muses for a whole paragraph at how he's so magical and exotic and shit. What the hell is that about? I assumed this was a dry party, but... Anyway, she notes that he seems very at ease despite his knowledge that a breach in the treaty will be coming very soon. She wonders if instead of war, there will be “a truce” between the wolfpack and the Cullens. Oh, I was wondering where we were going to get a plot from! There you go! Way back in New Moon, Jacob reminded Edward that the treaty precludes the biting of anyone. Bella is (theoretically) going to be bitten very soon. And of course, I doubt the treaty has any kind of provision excepting cases paranormal marriage/consensual biting; the werewolf founding fathers didn't have a lot of legislative foresight. As history shows, Native Americans are really bad at treaties.

Bella finally meets the Denali vampires. It's uneventful; they seem like nice enough ladies. They apologize about the whole thing where they abandoned the Cullens at the eleventh hour, and one of them makes a joke about how she still doesn't have a husband. “Keep the dream alive,” responds one of the others. This is all in front of Bella, by the way. The Denali vampires are like your mom's weird younger sister who always makes all these self-deprecating jokes about her personal failures and you laugh but mostly to keep from feeling uncomfortable. Thankfully, they shuffle off so Deputy Mark (he did get mentioned more than once! I guess I need to eat my hat or something) can greet the newlyweds.

We get a few nice wedding details: they do the thing where they feed each other cake, Edward actually swallows it (you're welcome?). Then Edward removes Bella's garter with his teeth and throws it in Mike Newton's face. YA BURNT ONE LAST TIME, Mike Newton! But seriously, that's going to be it for Mike Newton, right? Can we throw some of this dead weight overboard or are we going to keep adding characters? Bella dances with a bunch of the dudes at the party, including Mike Newton (ugh he's already back) but Edward cuts them off because Mike is (it is strongly suggested) is thinking about how much he'd like to fuck Bella's fucking face.

Bella has the aforementioned moment where she looks in the mirror and thinks about how much she'd like to fuck herself, basically. (Thought-reading-wise, this has got to be a rough day for Edward.) When you couple it with S. Meyer's obsession with pointing out the dark skin of the Quileutes, Bella's obsession with her own skin looking like “cream and roses” is a little troubling. Really, the excessive whiteness of the gorgeous Cullens is itself a little troubling; also S. Meyer always qualifies talking about the beauty of the Quileutes by exoticizing them – it's like, textbook self-loathing white supremacy. BUT ANYWAY.

Edward becomes aware that Jacob is lurking in the woods outside the party. I don't want to think about what he's doing out there. But really: he came to see Bella. Of course Jacob is going to show up and ruin this (marginally) interesting scene (that was already a little ruined anyway). Edward doesn't tell Bella (or us) anything about Jacob being there until he walks her to the edge of the forest; I half expected him to be like “blow me.”

Jacob comes out and hugs Bella hello, she immediately starts weeping with joy. Dude's only been gone for fifty seven pages, Bella! Relax! Edward excuses himself because he owes Rosalie a dance, Jacob very deliberately holds Bella's hand to his chest. They start dancing, not to the music playing a few yards away, but rather “the rhythm of his heart.” That's some heart you got there, Jacob! Can it do waltzes and shit? They talk for a long fucking time about how nice it is to see each other. There's a lot of predictable re-hashing of Jacob's angst over, you know, EVERYTHING. Dude did just throw a several-week-long temper tantrum after all, never forget. But Jacob stops being apologetic and starts edging toward apoplectic when he says he's going to remember Bella like this and he trails off, suggesting basically that he's going to pretend she died. Bella feels bad. “My relationship with Jacob used to be so easy. Natural as breathing,” she says. When, exactly? Haven't they always been strained by Jacob's pressure to make it something more? Their relationship was natural as breathing in Twilight, when it barely existed, I suppose.

Bella tells Jacob she's not being changed tonight after he assumes as much. He implies that she's putting it off; she says she doesn't want to spend her honeymoon “writing in pain.” Well, maybe you shouldn't have waited to lose your virginity until now, kid! Oh wait, she means the vampire thing. Jacob says it's not like she can have “a real honeymoon” with Edward anyway, so why wait? Bella weirdly snaps and tells Jacob she is going to have “a real honeymoon.” He is taken aback.

Can we talk about how weird it is that everyone is perfectly capable of understanding everyone else's vague euphemism for sex? At no point does Jacob go “Whoa, wait, you're going to have SEX with him? Are we talking about the same thing?” When he expresses his disbelief, he still uses the fucking phrase “a real honeymoon.” I'm a smart guy, and I'm especially good at decoding sexual euphemisms, but even I would ask for clarification before I freaked out like Jacob is about to.

Like she's the nervous virgin bride herself, S. Meyer still can't quite bring herself to be explicit. This scene is still written to sail over the heads of younger readers like some of the earlier conversations about sex in this saga. (Notably, one of the only times the word “sex” is used is during a discussion about NOT having sex between Charlie and Bella.) The problem is (if you can sense where this story is going) understanding the fact that they are going to fuck is going to be important. This is not the time to be quaint! S. Meyer would rather her story not make any sense to younger readers than have to admit the truth. This is the YA fiction equivalent of Abstinence-Only Education.

So when Jacob realizes Bella and Edward are going to fuck, he gets very angry. He says it's a “sick joke.” Jacob's outrage about paranormal sex carries some uncomfortable echoes of the sort of people who object to interracial marriage. And as always, when S. Meyer is invoking a controversial issue (domestic violence, child molestation) the side she seems to agree with is the wrong one. Because Jacob's objections (Edward could kill her, it's unnatural) have been expressed by Edward in the past and will be again very soon. It's bothersome how S. Meyer is both comfortable with creating symbolic parallels to social taboos and then coming down on the very firmly established wrong side. Is Sam Uley going to take multiple wives in this book too? Is Bella going to be impressed by the healthy relationship(s) that result? Jacob grabs Bella and starts shaking her, asking if she's lost her mind. Edward and Seth appear and free Bella from Jacob's clutches; Jacob threatens to kill Edward. Just as abruptly, the wolves appear from the forest and pull Jacob away.

Bella and Edward return to the party, where Bella notices the Cullens all trying to hide their stressed out faces. Jasper and Emmett are hovering near the edge of the dance floor, apparently still ready to jump into action. (Rosalie and Alice are presumably dancing with each other, you're welcome.) I like little details like that; it's a pity they have to come in the midst of such thematic ugliness. Bella tries not to be upset about Jacob; she makes plans to “flagellate” herself for this later. I'm sure Alice packed a whip or two in your suitcase, Bella, don't worry.

As they dance, Edward starts hesitating about the sex. Jacob's getting karmic revenge on Bella, setting in motion the chain that's cock-blocking her like this. Edward starts mumbling about how he should let Jacob kill him for even thinking... and Bella is like “WHOA.”

“You and me. That's the only thing that matters. The only thing you're allowed to think about now. Do you hear me?”
“Yes,” he sighed.


Wow! That was like a quantum leap in terms of Bella's agency, did you see that shit? Emmett asks to dance with Bella, and after that she gets passed around the dance floor for a while. When she finally returns to Edward, Alice appears and starts telling them it's time to leave for the airport. Edward and Bella won't stop kissing, and there's a kind of funny scene where Alice hovers around them making various threats and growling quietly trying to get them to stop. Alice is mollified when Bella finally goes with her to change out of her dress and thanks her for the wedding.

“Everything was exactly right. You're the best, smartest, most talented sister in the whole world.”
That thawed her out; she smiled a huge smile. “I'm glad you liked it.


Bella has a tearful goodbye with her mother and an actually-kind-of-moving farewell to Charlie; he's leaning up against a wall hiding because he's crying. Awwwwwww.

“I love you forever, Dad,” I told him. “Don't forget that.”
“You, too, Bells. Always have, always will.”


I don't know what's going on with all those commas, but whatever. They get in the car, which has a bunch of Alice's only very gently worn designer shoes hanging off the back (“Thug lyfe!”-Alice Cullen). As they pull away, the last thing Bella sees is her parents: Phil has his arms wrapped around Renee, but Renee is holding hands with Charlie. It's a weirdly progressive moment for Twilight, and just a great moment in general.

And then of course Bella hears a piercing howl coming from the woods because Jacob fucks up everything, always.

Monday, December 20, 2010

How To Make Dexter Cookies: A Recipe By Zac Little

Last year I posted this recipe over at the now-defunct angryfilmsproductions.com. I'm reprinting it here in case you all need some last-minute ideas for holiday parties.

So the hardest part is going to be the dough, which is just a ridiculous amount of powdered sugar and an inconceivable amount of flour. I mean, there’s other stuff, but mostly you’re going to be shocked about how much flour there is. I did a size comparison for you, since you might not be able to determine the size of the bowl on your own. Look, it’s bigger than Jesus. Get it? You get it.

That’s half because I doubled the recipe. There is a recipe by the way, and it’s probably the same in every cookbook. It was invented by somebody—Julia Child’s great-grandmother, probably—and we’re stuck with it whether or not it is the optimal sugar cookie recipe, which is probably isn’t. But it does the job. But just look it up because I’m not going to write the whole thing out. You need butter, eggs, almond extract, vanilla extract, and baking powder, and obviously you need an oven and a bowl, and probably other stuff.
And then you need to stir it, and you’re going to need a tool for that. I’ve got this mass-destruction looking Hamilton-Beach thing we’ve never really been able to find a use for. It looks like it could do a number on somebody’s kneecaps, but it turns out it’s not very good with dough.
What I did wrong was I didn’t wait for the butter to soften, so after 20 minutes of mashing that tool against the bricks of butter I was ready to throw the whole bowl into the front yard and be done with it.
But I persevered, and eventually I had something that sort of looked like dough. That’s when you cover it and put it in the fridge for two hours.

If you’re wondering “when do I start drinking?” This is where you start drinking.

By the time the dough is ready you should be prepared to tango with it again. Use a rolling pin to flatten it out—if you’re like me this will take several tries. And don’t forget to lightly flour the pin and the surface on which you are rolling, because otherwise all of your dough will get stuck to the pin and you’ll want to fucking kill yourself. Eventually the dough will look like a Mercator projection of Russia, which is when it is ready.

You can use a gingerbread-man cut out if you want, but I couldn’t find a good one, so I just did my man outline freehand. You can also trace a GI Joe or something, but use pencil, not pen, so you can erase it off the dough before you put it in the oven.
Once you’ve got the man, you’ve got to dissect him. Think like Dexter. Where are the optimal cuts so you can fit the whole body in the trash bag?
There’s a second way if you don’t have the patience for cutting up the body, which is just to cut a bunch of nonsense shapes out of the dough. You have to figure that dismembered body parts sitting in a bag at the bottom of the ocean would eventually stop looking like much of anything.
You’ve got your shapes, so sprinkle them with sugar and cook them. While they’re cooking (375 F for 7 minutes or so) you can get the next batch of dough ready. If you’re like me you’ll get ahead of yourself, so make funny shapes with the dough for laughs.
In case you are wondering what your penis would look like if you ever mashed it up with a rolling pin, this is what it would look like:
Once the cookies have baked and cooled, you have to decorate them. If you don’t have any ideas but you’ve got plenty of frosting, you can practice designs on your face.

I recommend black and red frosting, but if you want to get really gory you could incorporate some green. These are how mine turned out.
Now take a break and restore your electrolytes. Making cookies is draining and you’re not done yet.

The presentation is the key. Emeril once said “give me a sprig of parsley and a slice of lime and I could make your own ears look like an appetizing meal!” Or anyway, the story goes that that’s what he said to Jimmy Hoffa.

You need black trash bags and twist ties. Distribute the cookies evenly and bag them up.
Now your countertop should look like the Bay Harbor Butcher’s dumping ground, but for added effect, if you wrap the bags tight enough, you can always sink them to the bottom of a fish tank as a nice little display.

There you have it! The perfect stocking stuffer for your loved ones, co-workers, cab drivers, whatever! It works for everyone! Provided they watch Dexter. Otherwise explaining yourself is kind of difficult.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

WRITING BREAKING DAWN: Alice Cullen Sets Bella's Khaki Skirt On Fire

In the ideal version of Breaking Dawn, this would follow Chapter 3. The (theoretical) end to Bella's human life will hopefully signal the end of her awful, broken brain, but for sure it will at least signal an end to her choice in clothing. Alice made as much clear in the original text. Allow me, if you will, to drive the point home.

"Alice Cullen Sets Bella's Khaki Skirt On Fire"

Alice Cullen was already in the closet, pulling out turtlenecks and long skirts with violent speed, when her sister Rosalie hopped gracefully through the window. “This doesn't seem necessary,” Rosalie said softly.
“People said that about the Nuremburg Trials too, you know,” Alice grinned.
Rosalie sat on the edge of the bed and watched the clothing start to pile up at her feet.
“Shit, Rose,” Alice said, holding one garment in her hands for a moment before tossing it into the pile, “you can't tell me a straight girl would own this much flannel.”
“Still holding out hope, huh?” Rosalie smiled.
“Shut up,” Alice said. She found Bella's khaki skirt and lifted it triumphantly over her head. “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: I give you exhibit Alpha and Omega.”
“Okay, so Bella's fashion sense is terrible. I'll give you that.”
“Rosalie, the editor of Duh Aficionado magazine called - they want to put you on the masthead. Her fashion sense is fucking tragic, okay? It's fucking genocide.”
“But I'm saying: won't buying her a new wardrobe be cathartic enough for you? We really have to have a bonfire?”
Alice stopped and glared at Rosalie fiercely. “I can't even begin to convey to you how I have suffered this past year, looking at this girl, and knowing what I could do with her.”
“Are you talking about her clothes or... something else?” Rosalie raised an eyebrow.
“Her clothes! She could have it so much better than she has. Could be treated so much better.”
Rosalie arched her eyebrow higher.
“By her clothes, I mean.” Alice coughed and stared at the pile of clothes on the floor.
“Alice,” Rosalie said softly. “She married him. I know that is hard for you to accept. But nothing will ever happen between the two of you.”
“Ever?” Alice said, trying to almost physically force away the doubt. “You think she's going to be content fucking Edward for all time?”
“She'll never know anything better,” Rosalie said. “Inertia, you know?”
“Fuck.” Alice sank gracefully to the floor. “You're right. Inertia. I'm sorry I dragged you out here.”
“It's okay. This will be fun! I'll gather some dry wood.” Rosalie stood.
“No, we don't need to have the fire. It was a silly idea.”
“We're not leaving until we burn that skirt, at least.”
Alice looked up at her sister and smiled. "Thanks Rose," she said weakly.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 4: How Soon Is Now

Jesus, it's the wedding day already? I have to say, structure-wise, this is unexpected. If anyone had held me down two weeks ago and forced me to guess what would happen in Breaking Dawn, I'd probably have predicted that the Volturi or someone else would get in the way right before Bella and Edward's wedding. And then the Cullens would have to fix the problem while also trying to get the wedding happening on time, so as not to arouse suspicion. I'd have given you something remarkably similar to the plot of The Hangover, in other words. But that is not going to happen! They're getting married right now! S. Meyer really wants to get to the fucking!

Part 1: Vampire Blues
Part 2: Old Soul Song
Part 3: Planned Parenthood

Chapter 3: Big Day

Bella wakes up and kicks herself for having a weird fertility nightmare the night before her wedding. Show don't tell, Bella. Trying to shake these zipper blues, she makes Charlie some pancakes. Both of them are fidgety and grumbling about the day ahead of them: Charlie has to wait around and obsess about the fact that Edward will be fucking his daughter soon, Bella has to spend the day in Alice's bathroom. Bella got the better deal. There's all kinds of great Bella/Alice stuff to take out of context in this chapter by the way, starting here:

“Alice will be working on me all day long.”

Alice shows up then, hair “smoothed into sleek pin curls around her pixie face,” and drags Bella from the house. Charlie's all like, “Pop-pop doesn't get a treat?” as they bail. Alice starts bitching out Bella for the bags under her eyes; she's really throwing herself in to this sister-in-law thing already I guess. Alice says Bella will be able to sleep on the plane tomorrow, and Bella realizes wherever she and Edward are going, it will require a plane ride that will start tonight and continue into the following day. Edward is trying to buy as much time as possible before he has to have sex, huh? Or are they going to join the Mile High Club their first time out? I'd be impressed. Hell, Alice would be impressed.

“Damn, why'd I have to lose my virginity before the advent of commercial air travel?”-Alice Cullen

Alice says she's packed Bella's bags for her already, and that it's time for Bella to get over her “aversion” to new clothes. “I'm going to burn that fucking khaki skirt the moment you're out of town,” she says. As they pull into the Cullen driveway, Bella sees that Alice has re-used the “twinkle lights” from the graduation party. (Hey S. Meyer – that seems kind of out-of-step with Alice's character! Doesn't she never wear the same outfit twice?) She puts her hands over Bella's eyes (hot) as she guides her into the house; Bella's not allowed to see the décor yet. Clearly there is going to be some wedding porn in this chapter; Bella identifies several different flowers by smell. I'm not going to list the kinds here, because I have a penis. Also: that's some nose you got there, Bella!

In Alice's bathroom, she's got all of her “paraphernalia of a beauty salon” out on the counter (so I guess she put the usual paraphernalia away) and Bella sits there while she “masked, buffed, and polished every surface of my body.” Every surface of her body? Rosalie turns up and shocks Bella with her enthusiasm; she braids Bella's hair per Alice's instruction. Another great out-of-context line:

Alice moved back to my face.

We hear that Jasper has been dispatched to pick up Bella's mother and Phil at their hotel. Um, that doesn't seem like the smartest idea, does it? Trusting Jasper with that responsibility? Suddenly I'm stressed out. Alice leaves to go get dressed (she doesn't get undressed in front of Bella, which is disappointing and surprising) and returns in a silvery thing that S. Meyer fails to describe any further. I'm just going to assume it is primarily made of body paint. Also: hey, what does Bella's wedding dress even look like? The only sense we get is that it is old. Renee comes in after Alice and gushes over it: “You look like you just stepped out of an Austen movie.” An Austen... movie? Not an Austen... book? (The Algonquin Round Table at Renee and Phil's house is more like the Algonquin Pool Table.) A quick IMDB search reveals that one of the visual effects supervisors in Tim Burton's Corpse Bride is named Emily Austen, but I can't imagine that's what she means. It's possible, though. Anyway, if this is all I have to go on, I'm picturing Bella's wedding dress as like, an antique bureau or something like that. Like Alice has spent the whole day rubbing her with furniture polish.

Renee is excited about the wedding; we learn that she's been in town for two days and Bella's been hanging out with her as much as she can. So we skipped two whole days? Again: note how quickly S. Meyer seems to want to get to this. And in two pages, note how quickly she seems to want to get it over with. She's in such a rush that she stops making sense altogether for a minute:

My mother's voice sounded a little distance away, and everything in the room was slightly blurry. “Such a creative idea, designing a theme around Bella's ring. So romantic! To think it's been in Edward's family since the eighteen hundreds!”
Alice and I exchanged a brief conspiratorial look. My mom was off on the dress style by more than a hundred years. The wedding wasn't actually centered around the ring, but around Edward himself.


What? Also: what? Grammatically, it sounds like Bella's mom is referring to the year of the ring, not the dress. And when Bella says “off by a hundred years,” which direction does she mean? Is the ring or dress from the 1900s like Edward? That would, you know, make sense. But it doesn't explain Bella's turn of phrase. When we're making a big deal about the old time-y nature of the dress/ring/groom, and someone overestimates the age of it, you don't exchange a brief conspiratorial look. You say, “no, it's not that old.” I'm half-worried that S. Meyer is trying to suggest the dress/ring is from the seventeen hundreds. Was she paying attention when she wrote that Edward was born in 1901? Does she think 1901 was in 1776?

Charlie comes in then, and he and Renee have a gift for Bella: two “hair combs” that used to belong to her grandmother, with two sapphires newly installed. Something old and something blue, see? I can see how if you were looking forward to Edward and Bella's wedding, you'd enjoy this kind of stuff. But for the rest of us, this happens:

“That's something old and something blue,” Alice mused, taking a few steps back to admire me. “And your dress is new... so here -“
She flicked something at me. I held my hands out automatically, and the filmy white garter landed in my palms.
“That's mine and I want it back,” Alice told me.
I blushed.


Ha! Thank you for that, Alice. Anyway, then suddenly the wedding is happening. Alice gives Bella a pep talk and then Charlie takes her arm and they follow Alice down the stairs to where Rosalie is playing the piano and everyone else is waiting. Bella is too busy blushing and being nervous to note much of the surroundings. That happens a lot, have you noticed? It sure must be nice having a narrator who isn't particularly observant. That way you don't have to worry about detail!

She catches sight of Edward, who breaks into a smile of “exultation” as she approaches. Charlie takes Bella's hand, and “in a symbol as old as the world” places it into Edwards. Well, it's a symbol as old as the civilized, western, patriarchal world. I guess there are certain religious types who think that is the same thing. We don't get the specifics of the vows (obviously – what, is S. Meyer going to do a Google search or something? No way!) but Bella says they got the minister to change “till death to us part” to “as long as we both shall live.” Heh. Bella realizes she's crying when she tries to say “I do.” Aw. They kiss, and Bella gets so absorbed in the kiss that the audience gets audibly uncomfortable. That's a cute (and rare) detail. (Cute Story: In my wedding pictures you can clearly see the pastor getting uncomfortable with the length of our kiss. He was a jackass, I'm glad we pissed him off. With our LOVE.)

And then it's over! S. Meyer rockets through the wedding stuff because, you know, we've got to get to the sex! Of course, if you got a good sense of where the last chapter was steering us, you'll realize that she's not eager to get to sex for sex's sake. Oh no. We've got to get to the sex so we can get the sex over with and then get to the consequences. That is all S. Meyer ever wanted out of this.

It's weird: all of Eclipse seemed to be a build up to this moment, and yet S. Meyer doesn't seem to relish it or all. She's all too eager to get past it. Why? Because now that we're here, the wedding has just become a plot device to get us to the next thing. That's fine until you remember how many other events we've blistered through in order to get to other plot points in order to get to this. Everything ultimately just becomes a plot device in the service of the next plot device. I feel like we're just plodding through every milestone in Bella's life, trying to get it over with. And here's the rub: she's going to live for-fucking-ever.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ten Movies That Were Better Than Eclipse This Year



I see a lot of movies. I've tried in the past to keep track of exactly how many movies I see in a given year, but any organizational system I implement is either too complicated to maintain or too simple to even remember. So I'll just say the number of movies I see every year is somewhere between "many" and "too many." Hell, this year I saw over a dozen movies just for the purposes of this blog. The point is: I watch a lot of movies. And I love top ten lists. And this is the first year I even have the most marginal justification for publishing my own top ten list, so I'm going to do it.

A few notes: I am just outright exempting Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows pt. 1, because I can't judge it as a standalone film. It just isn't one, okay? I enjoyed it, but I think I enjoyed it as something other than a movie. My memories of the book and my fondness for the actors played too big a role. It might have been terrible - I can't rightly tell.

There are a few movies I suspect might be on this list had I seen them. Particularly: Winter's Bone, Exit Through The Gift Shop, Black Swan, and The American. I'll get back to you on those ones.

The worst movie I saw this year was Dread starring Jackson Rathbone. I don't know what year that one was officially released, but it doesn't matter. It sucks every year. The two worst movies I saw in theaters this year were Let Me In and Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. I wrote at length about my indifference to the LATTER; the FORMER (thanks, Justin!) was simply too direct a remake to really deserve to exist.

Anyway: I saw more than ten movies that were better than Eclipse this year, but here are the ten that were the most better than Eclipse this year.

10. Piranha 3-D

I loathe 3-D. You have no idea the pain it causes me that the greedy pricks behind the Harry Potter movies are apparently going through with 3-D up-conversion for Deathly Hallows pt. 2 while the people behind Breaking Dawn had the good sense to stay away. Up is down and left is right.

But I did have one positive 3-D experience this year: this campy, gory blast from Alexandre Aja. Piranha 3-D packs more blood and boobs into 88 minutes than I previously thought possible. Also: more severed penises than I ever thought possible, but I didn't really think severed penises were something I was ever going to encounter previous to this. I'm not entirely sure this movie would work outside of a 3-D theater experience; if I saw it again at home, I might hate it. But I probably won't see it again anyway, so who cares? I was almost going to say it was worth the price of admission, but 3-D ticket prices are ridiculous. It was ALMOST worth the price of admission, which is really the best you can say about 3-D.

9. The Runaways

I keep waiting for this film to get a little more recognition, but our nation's collective bio-pic hangover hasn't worn off yet. In a few years, I will be vindicated.

8. Shutter Island

Do you guys think Leo DiCaprio won't do a movie anymore unless he gets to play a character with possible psychological issues who has problems with his wife? I can see him getting scripts pitched to him:

Agent: There's this great new movie, and -
Leo: Does it have something to do with the architecture of the mind?
Agent: Well, you could say that...
Leo: Does my character have marital problems?
Agent: Yeah, actually he-
Leo: I'm in.

If that is his rule, it paid off twice this year. I think people who complained about the predictable nature of Shutter Island were missing the point. It was more about mood than plot, and "mood over plot" was big with me this year. Shutter Island is pretty and gothic and has several visually stunning moments (in a year of many visually stunning moments). That is enough for me. Why do we want surprising twists? Twists that are surprising usually stop making sense two blocks from the theater. Fuck M. Night Shyamalan, you know?

7. The Town

Sorry, but Ben Affleck just earned a lifetime pass with me. You probably have to live in Boston to appreciate the great (and real!) locations Affleck used, the pitch-perfect accent Jeremy Renner employs. But even if you've never been to the North End, you'll dig the show-stopping car-chase Affleck sets there late in the film. I was enthralled, and I don't even like car chases!

Ben Affleck, believe it or not, is a filmmaker in the classical style. This year Inception was a movie unlike any you'd ever seen, but The Town was a movie unlike any you'd seen in too long. They don't make 'em like this anymore, you know?

6. Catfish


I don't care if this documentary exaggerated or not. I don't care that I went in thinking it was going to be a Blair Witch-style horror movie. It isn't that; it's real. Or mostly real. It probably doesn't matter, actually. What matters is the experience of seeing it, without knowing anything about it. Don't read anything. Don't even read this. Just see it.

5. Kick-Ass


If the year had ended in April, Kick-Ass would have been my favorite movie of the year. Of course, that is not how years work. But it's still a great time, and certainly is second only to Inception as the best action movie this year. Visual coherence is a skill modern filmmakers seem to be losing rapidly, and Kick-Ass is one of few modern exceptions. (Hell, the fight between Edward and Victoria in fucking Eclipse is another notable exception! That is how bad action scenes have gotten!) Also: it's very funny.

4. Toy Story 3


But Kick-Ass is nothing, humor-wise, compared to Toy Story 3. Hands down, this is the hardest I have laughed in a theater in a long time, and maybe ever. Kudos to Michael Ardnt and the team of fucking miracle workers at Pixar. I didn't get the same emotional catharsis from the last 20 minutes of this movie most critics seemed to get, but that scene in the incinerator fucked me up but good.

3. The Social Network

I can't wait to see this movie again. I suspect if I did, it would move higher up the list. Last year Quentin Tarantino somehow managed to captivate audiences with an overlong movie that mostly consisted of people sitting at tables and talking, and Inglorious Basterds seemed like a rare feat. But one year later, Aaron Sorkin and David Fincher did it again, and maybe did it better? Again, I still need to re-evaluate this thing. I have literally one objection to this movie: a rowing sequence set on the Thames River that feels out of place. The rest of it is crackerjack, and how often do you get to describe something as crackerjack?

2. Inception


Stephanie Zacharek, in her pan of Inception, tried to draw a distinction between "great" movies and "awesome" movies. That's an imaginary, rhetorical distinction. Movies have always been about spectacle. I posit that Inception is both great and awesome, an imaginative quantum leap in filmmaking that is just a pure pleasure to watch. I defy you to not audibly react the first time you see the above hallway scene. I defy you!

1. Never Let Me Go

Gorgeous, heartbreaking, perfect. I have not read the novel on which this film is based, but Mark Romanek's second film is a thing of terrifying beauty.

---

Do you guys have a top ten list? A top five list? Your loose justification for sharing it is in the comments.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 3: Planned Parenthood

Part 1 can be found here. Part 2 is here. (And for the time being, recent/notable posts can be found in the top right sidebar.) For the first time in a while, here is a post that covers a complete chapter! I'll try to do this as much as I can to make it easy for those of you who are reading along. But sometimes there is just too much (horror) for a single post. Share your thoughts in the comments. Thanks for reading.

Chapter 2: Long Night

Edward and Bella are relaxing in bed and she remarks on his apparently unbelievable ability to resist her blood. It reads like Bella's trying to convince herself she's still “got it.” (“I knew the smell of my blood still caused him pain,” she says.) I'm so delicious, how is Edward keeping himself from biting my neck open? Bella's death fetish is going to get a lot more difficult to maintain when she's immortal.

Irritatingly, she starts rhapsodizing about how beautiful his soul is: “More beautiful than his brilliant mind or his incomparable face or his glorious body.” I know soul-beauty is in the eye of the soul-beholder, but him? The moral monster? The virginity-obsessed vampire? The compassionate (paranormal) conservative? Speaking of compassionate conservatives, this happens:

He looked back at me as if he could see my soul, too, and as if he liked what he saw.

What does that remind you of?

Come to think of it, Edward is kind of like George W. Bush (violent yet prudish, stupid),
and Bella is a lot like Vladimir Putin (manipulative, paranoid, inexplicably adored).

Bella oddly chooses this moment to remind us that Edward can't read her mind; it's the first of a few sections in this chapter that seem oddly grafted-on. We know about the mind reading thing and the exceptions already; what's it doing here? It's a long shot that anyone's going to be breaking into the series with this book. Why are we bothering recapping the plot details, then? The only other explanation I can think of is S. Meyer thinks we're so dumb, we've already forgotten this shit. But I haven't forgotten anything.

It's the night before their wedding, which we learn because Edward is trying to get out of going to a “bachelor party” with Emmett and Jasper. But Alice hired (or is) the stripper, right? Actually, we'll eventually learn that it's not even a bachelor party: the three of them are just going hunting. So it's kind of inexplicable that Edward says, “Bachelor parties are designed for those who are sad to see the passing of their single days. I couldn't be more eager to have mine behind me.” It sounds like your bachelor party is for people who are hungry, dude. S. Meyer is trying to wring two different kinds of jokes out of this premise: 1. Edward is an atyptical bachelor, 2. Vampires have atypical bachelor parties. But you can't have both!

Bella complains about needing Edward so much closer, but he's got cold skin, so there's a blanket between them. It leads to this rather awkward sentence:

At least if I had to be bundled up, Edward's shirt was on the floor.

I mean, it's nothing compared to some of the other awkward sentences we've encountered, but still notable. Edward, who is shirtless by the way, is trying to confirm Bella still wants to marry him; he starts invoking her friends and family members she'll no longer see. It's the eve of the wedding, dude! Buzzkill!

“I'll miss my friends, too.” I smiled in the darkness. “Especially Mike. Oh, Mike! How will I go on?”

YA BURNT, MIKE! Actually, that is kind of harsh. “I care about you so little that the fact that I will literally never see you again prompts no emotional reaction in me other than a caustic remark. Have a fun death.” Anyway, then something CRAZY happens. Edward starts asking if she remembers Charlie thinking she was pregnant. You mean the thing that happened five pages ago? Yes, we remember.

“I just wish... well, I wish that he'd been right.”

Whoa now, Edward. This is really happening? This is happening. Okay. I remember listening to a Slate podcast about Toy Story 3 where Dana Stevens was talking about Pixar's remarkable ability to hit all of the theoretical things that could happen to a toy in its “life,” were it “alive” in the Toy Story sense. Sometimes I feel like Stephenie Meyer has a similarly uncanny ability: to hit on every single topic that could offend a reasonable human being.

“Gah,” I gasped.

Right on, Bella. Edward clarifies that he doesn't necessarily want a child now, he's actually upset that he's taking away Bella's biological ability to reproduce at all; this is Rosalie's cautionary tale from Eclipse, redux. Recall that Rosalie's story didn't make a lot of sense anyway: she's upset that Carlisle made her a vampire after she got gang-raped to death because that ruined her ability to have babies. But of course, it was actually getting gang-raped to death that did that to her; S. Meyer was trying to finally give us a negative consequence to immortality and she got desperate. Now she's taking another crack at it, but “you can't have babies!” is still all she's got.

Before Edward can get too ridiculous, he's interrupted by Emmett and Jasper's arrival. Edward takes off (leaving Bella to get ridiculous all by herself), but not before Jasper pops into the window with the aforementioned promise that Edward won't be banging any strippers tonight. (He also brings a calming air into Bella's room, which brings with it another awkward paragraph re-explaining Jasper's powers.)

“We Cullens have our own version. Just a few mountain lions, a couple of grizzly bears. Pretty much an ordinary night out.”

No big deal. Unless they're planning to fuck those animals. You have to admit: Jasper didn't specify. Bella thinks about the fact that it's her last night as Isabella Swan. “Tomorrow night, I would be Bella Cullen.” Is she going to legalize her nickname on the marriage certificate, too? She lets her mind wander worriedly through some other wedding shit. For one thing, the vampires from Denali are coming down, and Bella is totes lime green Jell-o of how pretty they are. Of course, this is before she's even seen or met them. Insecure much? Tanya (the apparent head of the Denali gang) once declared her love for Edward, which is the source of Bella's (totally one-sided) tension. Of course, Edward rejected her, which is kind of important. I'd hate to think how psychotically jealous Bella would have gotten had Edward actually had like, an actual ex-girlfriend.

I like that the Denali clan ends up representing the Cullens' fucked up extended family: there are all kinds of hurt feelings and complications stemming from the fact that one of the Denali people was dating Laurent when the werewolves killed him, so they refused to help the Cullens when the newborn army was coming and now feel guilty about it. I mean, the exact same drama is happening in my family right now. Yours too, I'm sure. Well, maybe not exactly.

Talking about Tanya and the Denali clan allows Bella to transition semi-smoothly into the revelation that the Alaska Vamps used to have a Carlisle-like mother-figure (or maybe their actual mother? It's kind of unclear) who was killed by the Volturi. Explaining her death takes a shitload more exposition, and Bella's transitions get increasingly jagged. Eventually she goes, “Oh hey, Carlisle told me a story once” and goes from there. Okay, whatever. This chapter is not coherent in a narrative sense (Bella goes from bald exposition to apparently dreaming, and in trademark S. Meyer fashion Bella points out that it's kind of weird that she went from narrating to dreaming just then. Ugh.) but it's coherent in a thematic sense. Too bad so far the theme is “something something something abortion.”

So back in the vampire days of yore, there was a rash of empty-nest-feelin' vampire ladies who could not contain their need for children. You know how bitches be. Insatiably thirsting for babies, all the time. (Making them, not eating them. This chapter actually wouldn't be that awful if the women were eating the babies.) So somebody got the idea to vamp a toddler. Nice work, women. First original sin and now this? Fuck.

So a bunch of beautiful vampire two-year-olds started wreaking havoc across the world. Take a minute to consider the optics of that. Two-year-old vampire babies running around, killing whole villages. VAMPIRE BABIES. This is not a parody of Twilight, this is Twilight.

The Volturi apparently commissioned some kind of Blue Ribbon commission, and at the end of a period of study concluded that the babies had to be killed. Well duh. This is like Don't Ask Don't Tell or something. Was there a vampire John McCain demanding they wait until the report was released? And then once the report was released did he try to come up with some other reason to stall? (Do you ever feel like John McCain is running out the clock because he has accepted the inevitability of gays serving openly but he just wants to die before that happens?) Anyway, concluding that the pretty babies had to die was a controversial opinion in vampire circles. “Covens fought to the last man” to save the babies, Carlisle says. (Remember that Carlisle is saying this inside Bella's nebulous flashback/dream. On second thought, just ignore that. It's easier.) Tanya & the gang's mom made one of these vampire babies, obviously, and was killed by the Volturi for it. This all happened before Carlisle was even born, and they still apparently haven't gotten over it. Good grief. GET IT?

So. Can you see S. Meyer fashioning her crude abortion parallel here? She's stacked the deck against herself; Carlisle has told us these babies were deadly and uncontrollable. But obviously S. Meyer is going to come down on the side of “don't have abortions" eventually. That is the rough beast slouching toward us right now, I can feel it. The first three Twilight books were about why you shouldn't have sex. It only figures that now that S. Meyer can't get any more mileage out of that she's going to write a parable about why you shouldn't get an abortion. Not that it is going to be a particularly deft parable.

Bella has her dream, then. Okay. How'd we get here? It doesn't matter. It's an admirably bleak dream, and if it's longer than one second in the film version that will be nice: Bella's in the middle of a field surrounded by the dead and burning bodies of a bunch of vampires. It's strongly suggested the bodies belong to the Cullens, but she can't bring herself to look too closely. Instead she walks toward where the Voluri are huddled around a “beautiful, adorable” toddler sitting on a “hillock.” When she gets closer, she realizes the toddler is actually sitting on a pile of dead bodies containing her friends and mother and father. Creepy! Awesome! But I skipped something kind of important:

I was struck with such a powerful need to save the lovely, terrified child that the Volturi, despite all their devastating menace, no longer mattered to me.

Uh-oh. I can't tell where this is going exactly, but I know I'm going to hate it.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

THE BITERION COLLECTION: Eclipse

The other day, in preparation for watching Eclipse, I re-watched New Moon and Twilight. I don't have that many original observations (though I'm sure sooner or later I'll dress them down on tumblr), but I just want to say that I think I came down too hard on Twilight the first time around. It's kind of... brilliant? I mean, the bizarre editing I originally hated comes off as nervy and interesting now – vampire baseball is still over the top, but take a look at the scene where Bella gets Edward to confess he is a vampire. It looks like it was cut together by Jean-Luc Goddard or something, I'm not even kidding. The overwhelming blue-and-greeness (even the Arizona scenes are blue and green, which seems like a mistake!) of the first movie makes New Moon (and Eclipse, to a lesser extent) look drab and staid by comparison. Twilight also has a self-effacing self-awareness that New Moon weirdly lacks; New Moon tries to behave like a normal, serious movie. And obviously, these are not normal, serious movies.

Eclipse marries the slick production values of New Moon with the jittery self-awareness of Twilight. That sounds like the best of both worlds, and maybe it is? It's hard to say that Eclipse is the best Twilight film, even though it probably is, because none of the Twilight films are very good. My opinion of Eclipse is mostly neutral; I neither liked nor disliked it. I can only fairly say that “I watched it.” I did watch it. It was a movie.

Much like New Moon, Melissa Rosenberg has condensed and edited the plot action such that the film makes more sense than the books ever did. Rather than play up the mystery of the murders in Seattle, we get a parallel story more or less starring Xavier Samuel as Riley Biers; it ends up being structured a lot like Twilight. Here's Edward and Bella in a field, arguing about shit, here's a quickly edited scene of some bad shit happening elsewhere. It fits together better than the two threads in Twilight, because it isn't wholly a screenwriting contrivance. It's mostly a screenwriting contrivance, though.

Still, kudos to Rosenberg, her job is not dissimilar to what we do on this blog. Toward the end of the film, there's a scene where Bella comes home to find Charlie walking Alice to the door. Alice informs Bella that she's given her an alibi for the weekend; the two of them are having a sleepover. You'll remember that in the book that alibi is established through what I called “a complicated-ass Rube Goldberg of a scene” where Alice keeps talking about her family abandoning her and stomping on Bella's foot, trying to force Charlie to come up with the idea on his own. Why? By cutting, Rosenberg saves the film from falling into the same logic holes the book does.

She also cuts out S. Meyer's most objectionable shit: Quil imprinting on a two-year-old is gone, and since we can't see see Bella's thoughts and Jacob doesn't take time to explain himself, we can't see what creeps both of them really are. It hurts the story in that you can't see how batshit Twilight really is, but it helps the story in that Bella's “choice” really feels like a “choice.” (That choice motif is driven hard, though. Take a drink every time someone says “choice.” Just kidding, you'll die.)

Never Forget.

Moment for moment, this movie has some great set pieces. Our first re-introduction to Jacob is camp-tastic, if that is a word. The graduation scene/montage is great. Training for the battle with the Cullens is a good time. The fight with the newborns is visually compelling and all too brief. Victoria's head getting busted off is totally satisfying. You are so dead, Victoria!

(Spoiler Alert)

There are still plenty of problems: multiple scenes of dialogue go on for uncomfortable lengths, kind of like Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof but quite not as bad and with more awkward pausing. Sections of the film drag miserably. A lot of depth and shading is regrettably cut: Edward doesn't crush an iron flower to symbolize the way he'd demolish Bella's vagina, for one thing. Cinematically, we needed that moment.

Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner have only gotten better at somehow straddling the gap between seeming engaged in the material on the screen and being somehow above it. Kristen Stewart barely registers, but is really pretty.

Just try not to look directly at her hairline. Billy Burke remains a fucking gift from the gods. This guy, am I right?
Ashley Greene and Jackson Rathbone actually DO have a lot of sexual chemistry, the Atlantic was right. There is not enough of either of them in here, I don't care if 85% of that opinion is my personal bias. I was also upset to see that Alice doesn't wear red leather pants and a sequined top to the graduation party, but holding out for that one was a long shot.

I'd give the same sexual chemistry compliment to Bryce Dallas Howard and Xavier Samuel, or maybe BDH just brings that to the table on her own. I mean, clearly Victoria is hot: all Edward has to do is chuck a lighter at her and she bursts into flames! Why didn't you do that in the first place, dude?
Hahahaha. And then there is Peter Facinelli. YIKES. WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED, Dr. Cullen? He is suddenly British, or else from Marblehead, Massachusetts. What on earth is that about? It is true that Jasper also suddenly develops a Southern drawl, yes. But Jackson Rathbone manages to play it off like an affectation: Jasper gets all Confederatey when he's giving a lecture or flirting with Alice (if you know Southern expatriates, you know the drawl really does come and go). There is no way to rationalize Carlisle's sudden new (horrible, by the way) accent. Unless it's a “there can only be one highlander” kind of thing and now that Robert Pattinson's accent isn't bad, someone else has to fall off the map. But anyway: yikes.

"Someone's OAHKESTRAYTEENG this."-Dr. Cullen

But that I can say Peter Facinelli is the WORST FUCKING PART of this movie says a lot about the rest of the movie. The rest of it is not bad! Not good, but not bad either! Even Dr. Cullen gets one shining moment, when he finally shuts his retarded-sounding mouth and starts kicking some ass.

Booyah! So, if you haven't already: Mary HK Choi's and Natasha Vargas-Cooper's review of Eclipse is a MUST READ. Here is what they have to say about that final fight:

Mary: What was up with everyone "shattering" like they were freeze-dried fruit? Is that the baseline now? I feel like we should've gotten a warning on that.
Natasha: Like the Terminator 2 style nitrogen shit?
Mary: YES.
Natasha: I didn't know that all you had to do to kill a vampire was like… aim??

So good. Anyway, what did you all think of this movie? I have more nitpicky things to say, I think, but I will save them for the comments.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 2: Old Soul Song (For The New World Order)

A little housekeeping: thank you to TheKelBurrows for some tech support on the last installment. Also thank you to everyone who confirmed that Mount Doom is where Frodo has to throw the ring in LOTR. I don't know what's more embarassing: that I didn't know in the first place or that so many people responded so quickly when I asked. Thanks also to everyone who is telling other people about this blog, please continue to do so. Finally, thanks to LongLiveMufasa for this:


I'm sure a lot of you are reading along, and I expect you guys to be investing this much effort all the time. Back slaps all around! Part 1 can be found here.

Chapter 1 (cont'd): Engaged

Thinking about her brokedown truck gets Bella thinking about her “favorite mechanic.” Jeez Bella, Jacob's been downgraded all the way from “best friend” to “favorite mechanic”? Harsh. But seriously, she gets all pang-y and heartsick as she drives past telephone poles plastered with flyers announcing Jacob's gone missing; in my mind's eye Jacob is moving around in the picture, scowling like Sirious Black or some shit. I can't shake it. Also: I thought Bella mentally divorced herself from Jacob at the end of the last book. Why do we still have to endure this drama? You made your choice, Bella. When you're a Jet you're a Jet all the way.

Charlie's been in full-on Amber Alert mode trying to track Jacob down, and he's mad at Bella and Billy Black for not sweating it. A more skilled author would try to depict Charlie's obsession with solving the Missing Jacob Case as a valve letting the pressure off of his stress over Bella's wedding, but apparently Charlie is cool with that whole deal. We learn as much in a flashback while Bella sits in her driveway and has a smoke (I'm guessing).

Oh, first she calls Seth Clearwater for some info on Jacob. He's somewhere in Canada, doing some soul searching. Canada is the last place I would check for my soul; check New Orleans or somewhere fun! Seth is the new meta character, he's taken the “intratextual twihard” mantle from Aro. When he knows Bella is calling before she identifies herself, he laughs it off and says “I'm no Alice – you're just predictable.” Bella refers to Alice as her “nearly omniscient sister-in-law-to-be” if you're still playing catch-up. She sees the future, folks! (Elsewhere in ungainly phrases: Bella later refers to herself as Charlie's “barely-a-legal-adult daughter.” I get that you are trying to avoid the phrase “barely legal,” S. Meyer, but there are easier ways.) Anyway, I don't care about Bella's worries about Jacob. She shouldn't either! Bella's like a new recruit to the Crips wondering if she can still wear her favorite red t-shirt. No, you can't.

Anyway: the flashback. We cut back to right where Eclipse cut off, Edward and Bella are waiting for Charlie to come home. He does, they sit him down and he immediately assumes Bella is pregnant. All things considered, it's probably a good thing he went that far, so they can pull him back from the ledge and walk him to a different, lower cliff. Edward does a pretty damn good pitch:

“Charlie, I realize that I've gone about this out of order. Traditionally, I should have asked you first. I mean no disrespect, but since Bella has already said yes and I don't want to diminish her choice in the matter, instead of asking you for her hand, I'm asking for your permission. We're getting married, Charlie. I love her more than anything in the world, more than my own life, and – by some miracle – she loves me that way, too. Will you give us your blessing?”

ABC: Always Be CProposing. Charlie nearly chokes to death with rage, it works magic on Bella. “I experienced a rare moment of insight,” Bella says. Ha! You said it, girl. Charlie says he saw something like this coming, and asks what the rush is with marriage.

“So Edward will fuck me,” I said.

But seriously, Edward gives him some bullshit about not wanting to live in sin when they move to Dartmouth. Um, it's called on-campus housing. (Alice and Bella could room together. Imagine the possibilities!) But Bella sees this excuse as ironclad and apparently so does Charlie. Then he bursts out laughing, because he realizes Bella will have to tell her mother and he won't be helping her with it.

Right: Renee, the twice-married supposed enemy of marriage. She's been the source of most of Bella's wedding-anxiety; wouldn't it be kind of interesting if Renee really did get angry and not come to the wedding or something? Oh well: Renee loves the idea. Bella calls and drops the bomb, and her mother's first reaction is “why did it take you so long to tell me?” She apparently thought everything was locked down back when she and Edward visited, and is nothing but enthusiastic about their union. Renee gives Bella the same speech I've been giving her for weeks. “You've never been a teenager,” she says.

“[C]ommitment was never your problem, sweetie. You have a better chance of making this work than most forty-year-olds I know.” Renee had laughed again. "My middle-aged child. Luckily you seem to have found another old soul.”

Back in the present, Bella opens the front door and hears Charlie tell her to stay where she is. Because he's fucking Alice in the living room. Okay, so he isn't, but it seems like that for a minute.

“What's going on?” I demanded, hesitating in the doorway.
“Thirty seconds, please, Bella,” Alice told me. “I'm about to come.”


I might have modified that slightly. In reality, Alice is fitting Charlie for a tuxedo. Bella asks what the occasion is, and Alice slaps her upside the head. “Your fucking wedding, ya douche bag,” she (probably) says. She sends Bella upstairs for a final check on the wedding dress.

I stripped down to my underwear and held my arms straight out.

Hot. Alice instructs her to go to her “happy place” and Bella starts fantasizing about the wedding being over and being alone with Edward somewhere. He apparently has a top secret location in mind for their honeymoon, (so many boring mysteries running through this book so far! Will Jacob come back? What kind of car will Bella get? Where will they vacation? I'm dying!) so she's not sure where to picture it. “But I wasn't especially concerned with the where part.” After all, Edward has to keep up his end of the bargain, and by “his end of the bargain” she means his penis.

Bella says she's only vaguely aware of “Alice and the slip and slide of satin over my skin.” What is Alice DOING? Pay attention to your hot sister-in-law-to-be, please! Instead Bella's still explaining her reasoning for wanting "that one human experience” we all understood was sex five paragraphs ago. “I wanted a real honeymoon with Edward” she says. SEX. We get it. Alice continues to rub up against her (I'm guessing) while she thinks about that night.

I was with Edward in my happy place.

I'm pretty sure that sentence should be sectioned off not like [I was with Edward] [in my happy place], but rather [I was with][Edward in my happy place]. Bella's “happy place” is clearly her nickname for her vagina, right? Or am I misreading that?

Monday, December 6, 2010

BLOGGING BREAKING DAWN, pt. 1: Vampire Blues

It's been nearly a year. It's been nearly a year since I started blogging about the Twilight Saga, and here we finally are: Breaking Dawn, S. Meyer's magnum opus. My expectations are nothing if not high, though they are also just “nothing.” Oddly, the longer this project has gone on, my unanswered questions have only become more numerous. You'd think I'd have come to an conclusion or two by now, but no. I started by asking, “Why is this series popular?” thinking I'd be able to find an answer very easily. I still have no idea. And now I find myself asking, “What the fuck are these books even about?”

Perhaps Breaking Dawn will offer some answers, but probably not. A few days ago I picked up my copy of Chuck Klosterman's Killing Yourself To Live, which is about the kind of immortality rock stars end up with when they prematurely die, and whether or not that immortality is a good or significant thing. It didn't occur to me until I'd started re-reading it how appropriate a companion piece it will make for this. But on page 5, Klosterman starts talking about Sid Vicious and I immediately thought of Stephenie Meyer:

The only thing everyone seems to know about Vicious is that he could not play bass at all. Ironically (or perhaps predictably), Sid's inability to play his instrument is the single most crucial element in the history of punk; he is the example everyone uses (consciously or unconsciously) when advocating the import of any musical entity that is not necessarily musical. The fact that he could not do something correctly – yet still do it significantly – is all that anyone needs to know about punk rock.

Is that the answer we are working toward? Is Twilight the rebirth of punk rock? Don't rule it out.

Book One: Bella

Breaking Dawn is subdivided into books, which is interesting. S. Meyer is going to pull out every trick she knows to convince us we're about to read something epic. (By “every trick she knows” I mean this and only this.) The table of contents only leads us as far as chapter 7, which begins on page 118. And Breaking Dawn is a hell of a lot longer than that. Huh.

Until the epilogue of Eclipse, we had no reason to believe anyone would be narrating this story other than Bella, but now there is the looming threat that Jacob could come along and forcibly penetrate our narrative (forcible penetration being his wheelhouse). This development makes that seem a lot more likely. We can only hope the reason Jacob takes over is because Bella dies in chapter seven. Fingers crossed!

Epigraph

Breaking Dawn's epigraph is an Edna St. Vincent Millay quote:

Childhood is not from birth to a certain age and at a certain age
The child is grown, and puts away childish things.
Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies.

Is this some kind of internal self-criticism? All this stuff with the vampires and the immortality is childish and goofy? The Twilight Saga is an infantile fantasy? It seems almost impossible that S. Meyer would include this for that purpose. But it's hard to know why else it would be here. I have a terrifying premonition about why, and it's a stretch, and yet I am almost certainly right. But it will have to wait.

Preface

Can we get to fucking chapter one already, please? Jesus. There's an episode of The West Wing where something is going on with some foreign countries or something (or maybe this is during the President's MS scandal, it doesn't really matter) and President Bartlet says “All of this posturing is a prelude to something.” I really hope that is the case with Breaking Dawn. I'm not just talking about all the extra pages before this book gets started, I'm talking about all the extra pages that comprised the last three books. There's a whole lot of nothing stretched out behind us, like we've been on a long drive through the open plains, and I'm just hoping sooner or later we're going to turn a corner and find some civilization, you know?

It doesn't even matter what the fuck is happening in this preface. Bella does some extremely vague musing about what you should do “when the one you loved was killing you.” So Edward's going to do something dumb, what else is new? NEXT.

Chapter 1: Engaged

Bella is in a car, repeating “No one is staring at you” to herself like a mantra. I wish instead she was saying “How am I not myself?” over and over and having an existential crisis. It's long overdue. Blissfully, S. Meyer seems to be sparing us the usual re-introduction of characters and locations; we get a line about how Bella is stuck at one of three traffic lights in town, but no obligatory paragraph about what a rainy podunk drag Forks is. If you're new to this blog, though: Forks is a rainy podunk drag. Oh, and our narrator is getting married to a vampire.

We seem to have jumped ahead a few weeks from the conclusion of Eclipse; Bella's impending nuptials are only days away, she can hear the clock ticking. Wouldn't it be great if Bella was out right now because she's cruising for dick? We could have started with her drunk- dialing Mike Newton at 3am, using “I'm getting married tomorrow” as her pickup line, Pete Campbell-style. But of course that is not happening; she's just going to the gas station.

Bella's trying not to focus on the possibility that people are staring at her, but when she looks out her window someone's mom is, in fact, gawking (and that's not a euphemism for anything, it's really the mother of one of her friends). Bella comforts herself with the fact that her new car's windows are tinted, but then is upset by the thought that she has a new car. That's our Bella: always upset about things normal people are pleased by!

A while ago, we hear, Edward got Bella to agree to let him buy her a new car when the truck died. Not long after, the truck died. Well played, Edward. (Does the death of the truck mark a symbolic break with Jacob and the Black family? No, it's just a long set-up for a joke.) The light turns green and, being accustomed to her truck, Bella stomps the gas.

Engine snarling like a hunting panther, the car jolted forward so fast that my body slammed into the black leather seat and my stomach flattened against my spine.

That's an admirably constructed sentence coming from S. Meyer, but I'd imagine a hunting panther would take care to not make noise. Bella pulls up to a gas station and self-consciously gets out. We learn that she's carrying around a fancy Cullen-family credit-card now – I wonder what the limit is on that fucker, and if Alice has reached it yet. (Not enough is made, by the way, of the fact that Alice is the Cullens' primary source of income. Edward didn't buy Bella that car. Alice did!)

Bella's approached by two tourists who are interested in what kind of car she's driving. Brand name watch:

“Um, a Mercedes, right?”
“Yes,” the man said politely while his shorter friend rolled his eyes at my answer.


Dudes! Always so interested in cars! The man asks if it is a Mercedes “Guardian,” which abruptly prompts Bella to go off on a four paragraph tangent about her continuing discomfort with words like “fiance,” and “husband.” Okay, so forget what I said about us being spared backstory.

(I hate how S. Meyer so frequently structures chapters around reveals that nobody gives a fuck about. Is it a Mercedes Guardian or is it not? We'll have to wait a few pages to find out! I'm on the edge of my seat.)

Bella is getting married, and she's worrying What Will The Community Think about that. She also suspects rumors about her “mysterious acceptance to an Ivy League school.” Once again, I'm sure Dartmouth enjoys being depicted as corrupt as fuck, as easy marks for vampire con jobs. (What S. Meyer should have done is alluded to some kind of vampire-only secret society at Dartmouth. That would have been a kind of inspired jab at the ridiculousness of REAL secret societies, but but why am I writing this book for her?) But the “delicate ring” on her finger is the big problem. It's bugging her like she's Frodo gassing up at the base of Mount Doom.

This is the problem with Bella's wedding anxiety: it isn't going to amount to anything. She and Edward are still going to get married, duh! Later in this chapter we will learn that Charlie and Renee have BOTH given Bella their blessing. If there is a scene where Bella gets cold feet and bails, it will be one chapter long and then she'll come back and all will be well. Bella's continued misgivings seem like this weird, vestigial expression of S. Meyer's guilt over marrying off her 18-year-old narrator to a 109-year-old man. Own it, both of you! I'm sick of reading about how much this weirds you out.

Anyway, the bros want to take a picture with the car, so Bella gets in and waits for them to do what they will. They chat and she listens and we learn that this car is not supposed to be available in America yet. It's apparently for Middle-Eastern diplomats, mostly, and has – get this - “missile-proof glass.” MISSLE PROOF GLASS! They wonder aloud if Bella is like, Benjamin Netanyahu's daughter or something while she slumps in her seat.

(The car, I have read, is based on the Mercedes S-Guard, which is BULLETPROOF and can withstand small explosions due to a "self-sealing" gas tank. That is very different from MISSILES, S. Meyer.)

Edward has told Bella this car is a loaner, and that he has to give it back after she's been vamped. So Edward has friends in the Israeli government or something. How does a Christian bigot like Edward make in-roads in the Middle-East? Did Ted Haggard introduce him to someone? That would be a hell of a scoop for Julian Assange, by the way!

There's apparently a whole other (unarmored, presumably) car Bella will get after the transformation, which is another source of anguish for our narrator. I know, what is worse than a new car? TWO NEW CARS, obviously. What's with all the car talk? Is S. Meyer hoping to get some new fans who are going to wait with baited breath not to find out if Bella and Edward have sex but rather to find out what kind of car Bella will get in a few weeks?

Anyway, Bella laughs bitterly about Edward buying her a missile-proof glass-equipped car as the dudes finish taking pictures of themselves humping the engine block or whatever, then she zooms off in the Benazir Bhutto-mobile and heads home.

In the ideal cinematic depiction of this scene, Neil Young's “Vampire Blues” would be playing. Listen to it, you will realize how right I really am.