Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thursday: What I Have Been Reading, Vampire Edition!

First off, reviews of the new movie "Twilight." The reviews are all pretty "so-so," mostly involving praise for the cast and the director, Catherine Hardwicke. Some of what I consider to be highlights are as follows:

The New York Times
gets the tone of the critic perfectly when it opens its review with:

It’s love at first look instead of first bite in “Twilight,” a deeply sincere, outright goofy vampire romance for the hot-not-to-trot abstinence set. Based on the foundational book in Stephenie Meyer’s best-selling multivolume series, “The Twilight Saga” (four doorstops and counting), this carefully faithful adaptation traces the sighs and whispers, the shy glances and furious glares of two unlikely teenage lovers who fall into each other’s pale, pale arms amid swirling hormones, raging instincts, high school dramas and oh-so-confusing feelings, like, OMG he’s SO HOT!! Does he like ME?? Will he KILL me??? I don’t CARE!!! :)

LOL. But the Times also touches it with a needle when it concludes:

If Ms. Meyer has made the vampire story safe for her readers (and their parents) — the sole real menace comes from a half-baked subplot involving some swaggering vampires who like their steak saignant and human — it’s only because she suggests that there actually is something worse than death, especially for teenagers: sex. Faced with the partially clad Bella (who would bite if she could), Edward recoils from her like a distraught Victorian. Like Ms. Hardwicke, the poor boy has been defanged and almost entirely drained. He’s so lifeless, he might as well be dead — oops, he already is.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the aisle sits Time Magazine's Richard Corliss, who judges that, "So Twilight isn't a masterpiece — no matter. It rekindles the warmth of great Hollywood romances, where foreplay was the climax and a kiss was never just a kiss." Can you see my eyes rolling?

However, Mr. Corliss does manage to win the award for "Most Outrageous Statements Likely to Anger My Girlfriend" award, all of which I will reiterate here, because it will be funny:

a) "The Cullens are a fastidious family of vampires; in their tennis whites, with their regal airs, they resemble the aristocratic Flyte brood in Brideshead Revisited."

b) "Defiantly old-fashioned, the film wants viewers to believe not so much in vampires as in the existence of an anachronistic movie notion: a love that is convulsive and ennobling. Bella could be any Hollywood heroine in love with a good boy whom society callously misunderstands. She's Natalie Wood to Edward's James Dean (in Rebel Without a Cause) or Richard Beymer (in West Side Story). Cathy, meet Heathcliff. Juliet, Romeo."

and, of course:

c) "Hardwicke is faithful to the book's chaste eroticism. The couple must put off having sex because, well, it could kill Bella. (AIDS metaphors are unavoidable here.) Yet waiting has its own delicious tension."

LOL and weep.

However, there is at least one voice of sanity amidst this howling storm of nonsense, and it belongs, believe it or not, to Roger Ebert:

Come on now, what is "Twilight" really about? It's about a teenage boy trying to practice abstinence, and how, in the heat of the moment, it's really, really hard. And about a girl who wants to go all the way with him, and doesn't care what might happen. He's so beautiful she would do anything for him. She is the embodiment of the sentiment, "I'd die for you." She is, like many adolescents, a thanatophile.

Ebert gets bonus points for the use of "thanatophile," which, I believe, is not a neologism, but he is using it in an unusual sense. I think it is supposed to be synonymous with necrophile, but it obviously isn't. Ebert's use is way, way more awesome

It's all about Thanatos, darling. Thanatos.

Post-Script! Sub-Question! In what way or ways does Christianity itself, in particular the Church of Latter-Day Saints, of which Ms. Meyer is a member, embody the principle of Thanatos, and how is this reflected through the myth of the "good" vampire?

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