Well, it has happened.
Hollywood has recruited some of its most well respected directors to helm the forth and final film in the Twilight Saga abortion. Directors who, judging by the fact that all have been nominated and/or won Oscars in the past. Then again, that kind of prestige doesn't really mean a damn thing anymore. Hell, Robert Zemeckis beat out Tarantino the year of Pulp Fiction for what amounted to Tom Hanks playing Rain Man with a Southern drawl. In short, the system is rubbish, but the Twilight books, four thickly bound novels that have consumed popular culture for the past 3-4 years and have inspired a fanbase that has Trekkies begging them to get a life, are painful. And any directors at the helm of the ubiquitious 'Saga' are subject to scrutiny.
The announcement came earlier in the week, and, in time, I'm sure plenty more directors will be asked to film this super emo vampire flick. In an age where the teenage demographic craves kinder, gentler vampires who are emotionally abusive and toy around with their human gal pals, it's disheartening to think that now the pool of people in line to make a quick buck will most surely double.
So, who have been chosen? Spielberg? Spike Lee? Anyone? Surprisingly, the people in the loop thus far are Sofia Coppola, Bill Condon, and Gus Van Sant. Seriously, I am not making any of this up. Why pick any of these three for effing vampires and teenage angst? The answer lies herein. Take these mini 'reviews' to be a prospective future, knowing what each director is capable of, I'm sure we can pin point all three, along with their artistic directions. In short, god help us all.
Going along with her typical themes of isolation and friction among a mostly negative space, Coppola's forth film still maintains the moody and bittersweet tone that has garnered her copious amounts of acclaim in art house cinema. Keeping Twilight's angsty lead, Kristen Stewart, who is no stranger to bored expressions and vancant gazes, feels like a Coppola natural. Armed with enough eye rolls and pouts to put Scarlet Johansson to shame, Stewart takes the already lackadaisical Bella Swann and treads new(yet relatively similar) grounds. Bella feels like an outcast in her hometown of Forks, a problem that is not helped by her ever absent boyfriend, the sparkly vampire, Edward. Spending the bulk of her time lying in bed, listening to her dad's My Bloody Valentine records in her underpants, Bella so desperately craves the happiness and attention she currently lacks. Enter Jacob, the kind, and also isolated, man who she encounters and has a beyond platonic, but not quite carnal, friendship with. After the orignal Jacob, the wooden Taylor Lautner, was kicked out pre-production, Coppola smartly made a quick casting decision, letting Bill Murray fill in the role instead. Murray is captivating as always, going beyond the teen wolf persona, his face filled with enough bittersweet emotion to make any woman swoon. Allowing The Jesus and Mary Chain to score this mood piece was a smart move on Ms. Coppola's behalf, for their guitar strains evoke a strong feeling for displacement and teenage fury. And when Jacob leaves to fight the werewolf war, he whispers nothingness into Bella's ear, leaving the audience with stuff to ponder for weeks.
Gus Van Sant
Boldy foregoing the typical Hollywood Blockbuster route, Van Sant takes the teen franchise and goes completely independent on the film. Using teenage non actors, and working with a mostly improvised script, Van Sant lingers strongly on the voyeuristic and unflinching aspect of Breaking Dawn. The film is shot on a handheld camera, and features shots and scenes that go on longer than seven minutes(trust me, I counted), ultimately exposing the underbelly of the seemingly calm Forks, WA. The result mixes Van Sant's film, Elephant, with Elvira: Mistrss of the Dark, and in all aspects, it feels painful to watch. As Bella and Edward walk aimlessly around together, playing vampire baseball at an abandoned playground while discussing Leo Tolstoy, we are shown snapshots of their lives, and we pinpoint the displeasure and distance between the two leads. Slowly, Edward becomes obsessed with Jacob, a young but streetsmart hustler who just so happens to be a werewolf. Decidedly more homoerotic than Meyer's novel, Van Sant's film pits the naive Edward with the sexually manipulative Jacob, who isn't afraid to shoot up or kiss boys or die slowly. Instead of bulky and hunky, Van Sant's Jacob Black is needy, tragic, and an egotistical teenager who feels stronger than he actually is. Slowly, reality unfurls, leading all three players into dire circumstances. Instead of using loud action packed music to fill dramatic gaps, Rachmaninov instead blows through the tension, leading the viewer down a disturbing, but pretty divide.
Nominated for Nine Academy Awards, Breaking Dawn reinvents the musical genre, taking it two new heights! In her second Oscar nominated role, Jennifer Hudson is especially noteworthy as the dumpy underdog, Bella Swann, contrasting the dull and vacant Bella the series has grown accustomed to. But this Bella has a dream, a dream to sing in a music group along with her two other gal pals. And boy, can she sing! Managed by the cold and charismatic Edward Cullen, a vampire with a slick eye for talent, Bella propels her rag tag group to the top. Trouble is, Edward is now pursuing the prettier(Read: Skinnier) Jessica, an also noteworthy Anna Kendrick. Dumped by the man she loved, the one whose child she is carrying, Bella pleas in a moment of drama that will cause audiences to weep while their hairs stand on ends. Think "And I Am Telling You..." but with fangs. Meanwhile, the band rises to the top with a freshfaced new member, although Jessica feels like she has cheated her once good friend, Bella, out of the fame she so clearly deserved. But with the help of Jacob, Bella's old friend who plays the piano, Bella decides that her true calling is to sing out, no matter what her weight or popularity may be! Condon teams up with Death Cab for Cutie's frontman, Ben Gibbard, to write and compose twenty whopping songs that bring Breaking Dawn beyond the vampire genre. Here is a loud and fun, and quite stellar film that encompasses everything a musical should include. Is there substance? Well...it's colorful!