MCN Columnists
Mike Wilmington

By Mike Wilmington

Wilmington on DVDs: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn; A Fish Called Wanda

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part One (Two Stars)

U.S.: Bill Condon, 2011 (Summit Distribution)

You’d think that the eagerly awaited marriage of Bella Swan (as played by Kristen Stewart) and Edward Cullen (as played by Robert Pattinson) of the Twilight movie saga would solve some of that series’ sex and repression issues.  But no such bloody luck.

It turns out here that sex is not the cure-all many of us were raised and TV-bred to think, or that it often becomes in the average Hollywood movie.  The Cullens‘ posh Rio de Janiero honeymoon suite keeps getting torn and hacked to shreds every morning after, to the distress of the honeymooners and the consternation of the help. And there‘s even a pregnancy — perhaps more problematic than Mia Farrow’s in Rosemary’s Baby. But, instead of wedded bliss, the world‘s favorite human-vamp couple are plunged into more high-grossing  gloom and distress.

Bella is pregnant and sick. Edward is distraught. The Cullen family, including Dr. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli) is concerned. Bella’s dad Charlie the cop (Billy Burke), is bewildered.. And Jacob the pec-man (Taylor Lautner) gets angry again — perhaps because he thinks he should have taken over the movies by now. Meanwhile, the big, bad werewolves race and bound through the woods, and the vampires gather in covens, and the crowds line up at the multiplexes, and the critics sharpen their knives and…Gee, why can’t they all just let these two kids  have a high old sexy time in Rio?

But no….Breaking Dawn, Part One, the latest chunk of the Twilight Saga — set in a world where handsome vampires and sexy werewolves pursue repressed young teenage girls through the hills and forests of Forks, Washington — continues the series’ obsession with the love that dare not show its face and lovers who seem trapped in an old Production Code.

From the beginning, and all the way through her books “Twilight,” “New Moon,” “Eclipse,” and now “Breaking Dawn” (Part One, at least), novelist Stephenie Meyer has  hewed to the rules of the teen‘s or young adults book game and kept onstage sex  out of the stories, even though the movie stories are mostly about sex or the consequences of sex, about the difficulties of vampire and humans making love (without therapy), and of werewolves and vampires getting along, or werewolves and humans getting it on.

Instead, the main characters of Twilight’s four installments — nervously romantic teen Bella, broodingly romantic heart-throb vampire Edward, and sneeringly romantic wolf guy Jacob Black — mostly stare longingly at each other, plunge into melancholy and wait for ecstasy, while other more evil vampires (like Michael Sheen) are up to sinister tricks elsewhere,  and  werewolves prowl the Washington woods. The movies can’t do anything much about it, because novelist Meyer and her adaptors — constant screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg, and, here, new director Bill Condon — stay steeped in that skittishness about sexuality. (It seems odd at times that this movie was directed by the man who made a movie about the Kinsey Report.)

So Breaking Dawn the movie starts with what looks like a typical classy wedding between Edward and Bella (with Jacob popping up for a little good-will mission). There’s some genuine undressed bedroom hanky panky when Bella and Ed are safely hitched. But then the pregnancy begins, to everyone‘s disturbance, and soon the whole vampire-werewolf friction thing starts up again too. As for the rest, you’ve probably seen part of it by now, or read the book, and, if you haven’t, you probably don’t want to know.

Kristen Stewart and Pattinson and Lautner (of the infamous Team Edward and Team Jacob), act about like they did in the other movies, which means passably okay, as long as you‘re not looking for Tracy and Hepburn (or even for Seth Rogen and Kristin Wiig). Stewart and Pattinson don’t rise above the material, but they don’t sink beneath it either. The best acting in the movie comes from Anna Kendrick as Bella‘s snappy schoolmate Jessica, delivering a sarcastic little wedding party speech that sounds as if Kendrick made it up on the spot. (Maybe she did.)

It’s still near-monosyllabic, flavorless, colorless soap opera stuff. And it’s almost anti-literary, anti-character too — even though Meyer has said that her four Twilight Books were modeled on such favorite novels or plays of hers as: “Pride and Prejudice” for “Twilight,” “Romeo and Juliet” for “New Moon,” “Wuthering Heights” for “Eclipse“ and A Midsummer Night’s Dream” for “Breaking Dawn.” What, no “Anna Karenina?” No “Middlemarch?“ No “Streetcar Named Desire?” (“Bella! Bella! Bella!  “I have always depended on the kindness of vampires…” “Happy vampire families are all alike. Each unhappy vampire is unhappy in its own way…” )

Bill Condon of Gods and Monsters and Dreamgirls, as well as Kinsey, is the new director, succeeding Catherine Hardwicke, Chris Weitz and David Slade. (My suggestion for the sequel after the next sequel: Tyler Perry or Rob Zombie.) The movie, despite its hollow dialogue and sometimes punishing slow pace, does look sort of good. (Guillermo Navarro shot it.) The legions of Twilight fans, and all the members of team Edward and team Jacob (and Team Bella), won’t want it any different, of course. And I’m sure there are worse things you could be doing with your time. Reading the books, maybe. Or drinking blood.

Extras: Documentary: Commentary by Bill Condon; Six-part documentary; Wedding video; Edward and Jacob fast find.

A Fish Called Wanda (Three and a Half Stars)

U. K.: Charles Crichton, 1988 (MGM)

The spirit of the old Ealing Studio comedies, intact but a bit raunchier, is revived in this hilarious comedy about a stiff but randy barrister (John Cleese), who gets involved in a heist, run by the delightfully shady Jamie Lee Curtis and the delightfully bonkers Kevin Kline — who won one of the rare comedy role Oscars.

This movie, written by Cleese, was directed by top Ealing veteran Charkes Crichton (The Lavender Hill Mob, The Titfields Thundrbolt)  is really, really funny. And I just realized how you could make a good movie out of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part One. Shoot it all over again, in L. A. and Santa Monica, with the cast of A Fish Called Wanda (as they were in 1988) in the lead roles.

John Cleese replaces Robert Pattinson, Jamie Lee Curtis take over for Kristen Stewart, Kevin Kline is the new Jacob Lautner, and, as for Michael Palin (No relation to Sarah, though he’d probably make a better Vice President), he can play either Billy Burke’s part (Kristen’s father) or one of the werewolves. Eric Idle and Terry Jones can do cameos as nasty or twitty high schoolers who turn into vampires. (Jones can do Anna Kendrick’s part.) Terry Gilliam can design the creatures, do domw animated interludes, and edit the yearbook. The Title: A Werewolf Called Wanda. Gilliam directs.

On second thought, the gang above could do anything they wanted, and the hell with the what the tween mass audience craves.  They were all fantastic. Hey, I’d like to see A Werewolf Called Wanda right now. Team Cleese! Team Kline!

Be Sociable, Share!

Comments are closed.


awesome stuff. OK I would like to contribute as well by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to modify. check it out at All custom premade files, many of them totally free to get. Also, check out Dow on: Wilmington on DVDs: How to Train Your Dragon, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, The Darjeeling Limited, The Films of Nikita Mikhalkov, The Hangover, The Human Centipede and more ...

cool post. OK I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some amazing and easy to customize. check it out at All custom templates, many of them dirt cheap or free to get. Also, check out Downlo on: Wilmington on Movies: I'm Still Here, Soul Kitchen and Bran Nue Dae

awesome post. Now I would like to contribute too by sharing this awesome link, that personally helped me get some beautiful and easy to modify. take a look at All custom premade files, many of them free to get. Also, check out DownloadSoho.c on: MW on Movies: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, Paranormal Activity 2, and CIFF Wrap-Up

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

Andrew Coyle on: Wilmington On Movies: Paterson

tamzap on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Magnificent Seven, Date Night, Little Women, Chicago and more …

rdecker5 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Ivan's Childhood

Ray Pride on: Wilmington on Movies: The Purge: Election Year

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon