Red Is The New Black

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part Two *** (out of five)

It may seem a little perverse to go see only the final episode of a five-film franchise, but I reckon you should at least taste the Big Bits of popular culture, and there’s no doubt that the Twilight franchise is one of them, so taste it I did. What was fascinating was how completely involved I became.

The film is corny, terribly staged (will explain later) and laughable at times – a lot of times – but is also oddly, almost insanely involving. I was hooked from the moment it began – from the credits sequence, which has a highly specific look, borne of blood on white snow and the constant birth of natural things such as flowers and leaves and little bugs, filmed in close-up against a very dramatic score – and then the thing just gets more portentous from there. And, somehow, it all works. Sort of.

It’s all very tonally specific, and the tone is bonkers. But it’s so intriguing, and everyone looks so good. Kristen Stewart is simply stunning, and now that she’s a Vampire (no spoiler alert, trust me) she’s great fun to watch – she jumps and jumps and jumps and jumps and jumps… oh, and she’s good at arm wrestling too.

If you’ve already seen the first four, of course you’ll be seeing this one. But if you haven’t seen any of them – why not see this one? It’s crazy fun for less than two hours. Beautiful young people stand around in a very beautiful forest-house (it’s set in Washington State, outside Seattle) discussing the ins and outs of Vampire law as it relates to Bella (Stewart’s) child. The way they stand about is hysterical – because they literally stand about. Because they’re Vampires, they don’t drink or eat (except blood, I guess) – so they literally literally stand about. It looks ridiculous. And yet so beautiful…

The incredible fun of joining this series at its final hour is all about enjoying the crazy ride. Obviously, over the course of the thing, it’s deviated from any sense to total ludicrousness – and it’s a really enjoyable ludicrousness. From the opening minute, I thought, “Wow, this is gonna be the guiltiest pleasure of my week.” I was wrong. It’s the guiltiest pleasure of my year.

God Bless America **1/2 (out of five)

Bobcat Goldthwait is a truly unique filmmaker. His artistic career began as a stand-up comedian, but when he got sick of the persona he created, he began making films, starting with Shakes The Clown – about an alcoholic clown – and continuing with Stay – about the implications of telling your boyfriend you once blew your dog (no kidding!) – and hitting a high point with the somewhat brilliant World’s Greatest Dad, which managed to entice Robin Williams into the lead role of a writer who abuses his son’s suicide for his own success. Can you see a – very dark – trend here?

Goldthwait goes darker still in God Bless America, offering us the story of a pissed-off American Journeyman (Joel Murray) who “goes postal”, and embarks on a killing spree, targeting not the most vicious of America’s population, but the most vacuous. It’s an intriguing satirical idea, and it works very effectively in places, while being tremendously didactic and heavy-handed in others. I’ve charted Godthwait’s career as a filmmaker from the beginning, and when I heard the concept of this I was tremendously excited. It’s a disappointment that the film isn’t simply more clever, more subtle, more truly subversive. It is so angry it wears its anger on its sleeve, as opposed to hidden within its jacket pockets, like its protagonists’ firearms. A little warning, too: although it’s certainly a (black) comedy, it’s very violent.

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