- Total Eclipse of the heart. Team Leo you guys!!1!
Eclipse: Gentle reader, with the Wednesday release of Eclipse, I could’ve made the effort to see it in advance of this week’s column even without a press screening. But I did not, in part due to my observation that you can get all of the fun audience-wide giggling with (presumably) less shrieking if you see a Twilight movie any time during its first week or two rather than opening night. For what it’s worth, this is supposedly the best of the Twilight lot so far. Perhaps any fans (or whatever) of the books can enlighten me as to whether the book version is really a consensus favorite (as several articles about the movie imply) or the one where absolutely nothing of interest actually happens (as any cursory summary of the events of the book would have me believe). The director creating that faint echo of hope is David Slade, who did Hard Candy (pretty good!) and 30 Days of Night (pretty bad!). Ideally, a Twilight movie should be some kind of deranged cross between the two, but I’m guessing that’s not what we’re getting in Eclipse; at best, it’ll maybe be a little more stylish and atmospheric than the Chris Weitz version. Put that on your business card, David Slade: More stylish than Chris Weitz. At this point, I’m just eager for the cast members to be freed from this nonsense.
Kristen Stewart can maybe go back to being a character actress; I was surprised to find her so effective in Adventureland and The Runaways; maybe always playing twitchy tomboys is A-OK when she’s not supposed to be vampire-besotted. Robert Pattinson, well, I just watched some chunks of Remember Me this week, and maybe he can go to acting school or something? Actually, Pattinson reminds me of one of those pop-punk bands that gets way too big way too fast, and wind up playing amphitheaters on like their second tour ever, and consequently wind up kind of sucking at music. Call him R-Patz! at the Disco; there’s a good chance he might’ve sucked anyway, but throwing him into the spotlight when he’s barely done anything isn’t going to help matters. Taylor Lautner, well, hopefully he’ll do some painfully earnest action movies and then an exercise tape or something.
The Last Airbender: I was all set to not see this movie based on a perfect storm of stuff I don’t care that much about: anime; Nickelodeon series; M. Night Shyamalan adapting anime and/or Nickelodeon series. But the most recent trailer looked way cooler than the others, so dammit, I guess I’ll probably see it, as I tend to do when movies feature heroes riding giant lizard things. Actually, if this movie sucks, I will blame every single person who thought it was clever to suggest that Shyamalan needed to stop writing his own screenplays, get out of his head, and direct someone else’s material. I’m not saying Lady in the Water or The Happening were very good (though I will say that Unbreakable and Signs are fucking awesome), but it’s depressing when the only thing anyone can prescribe to writer-directors perceived as showing writing weakness is to stop creating original screenplays, especially given how inevitably that translates to adapting a popular novel, TV show, comic book, videogame, or other movie. The solution to a bad-writing problem is not to adapt a Nickelodeon show. The solution to this problem is to write better. We need more sui generis screenplays, not fewer. Even if occasionally one of them has crazy self-serving meta-fairy-tale narratives that make no sense. The Last Airbender won’t have that, but if it fails, it might not be in an interesting way.
Love Ranch: Joe Pesci has been in semi-retirement for many years. Only two things can coax him out: his buddy Robert De Niro directing an epic about the Central Intelligence Agencey; and the director of Ray and The Devil’s Advocate making a movie about America’s first legal brothel. Maybe he just has a crush on co-star (and director Taylor Hackford’s wife) Helen Mirren, in which case, okay, that kind of makes sense. My question: will Hackford make two more movies about American brothels, mirroring De Niro’s rumored/discussed follow-ups to The Good Shepherd?