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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

bias update

obsession: Hamlet; not any particular movie version of it, just the play itself… and every movie version of it (still more of my summer of David Tennant and Hamlet to come, and yes, I know it’s now autumn)
boyfriend: Lee Pace in Pushing Daisies (cuz he’s just the cutest thing ever)
psyched: Quantum of Solace (and man, am I pissed that it’s opening in the U.K. two weeks before it opens in the U.S.)
dreading: Twilight (mopey griefstricken Danish princes? fine. mopey teenage vampires? bor-ing!)
enemy: anyone and everyone even remotely connected to the American remake of Life on Mars, the bastards

Other notes:
• I hated to demote An American Carol from its official “dreading” spot, but it seems to have disappeared from NYC multiplexes before I could catch it. But I’ll still dread it when it comes to DVD.

• That pic illustrating my obsession with Hamlet? I did an image search on Google and that South Park style illo popped up, and I loved it too much not to use it. Here’s the full image:

Adorable. This appears not to be from the episode of South Park featuring Terrance and Phillip’s Hamlet. Maybe someone else just loves the play in all its many glorious manifestations — even the imaginary ones — as I do.



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bias alert
  • Joanne

    If it’s any comfort, we in New Zealand don’t get Quantum of Solace until the end of November. I cannot understand why.

  • MaSch

    Well, what can I say … I’m from Germany and Wall-E opened about a month ago. The fact that we get “Quantum of Solace” one week before you do hardly atones for that.

  • Debbie

    I am heading over the the UK to see Hamlet and LLL later this week.

    If I hadn’t seen and loved the original version of Life on Mars I might be happy with the mediocrity of the remake. I might have even enjoy it.

  • MaryAnn Re: Twilight – I loved the series. I read all four books twice in the space of 2 and a half weeks. I would liken them to Gothic romances.

    Debbie – I never saw the UK Life on Mars, and I didn’t like the US version. I made a point to watch the first episode only because a friend of mine was in it.

  • Sara

    This is the first time I’ve disagreed with you. I really think you need to re-think the dread you feel for Twilight. It’s a fantastic series. It’s not simply a series about moody, teenage vampires… I highly recommend you read it, at least just Twilight. Don’t judge too quickly.

  • MBI

    The trailer for “Twilight” astounded me. Here is one of the most widely anticipated, most heavily hyped movies of the year, based on one of the hottest, best-selling book series in recent memory — a series which has the potential to be spoken alongside Harry Potter. And it looks like SHIT. Not just that it looks a movie that’s not going to be good; it looks like a movie that isn’t trying to be good. It looks like a movie that no one has invested in. It looks like a cheapo barely-released-to-theater knockoff of a better series. It looks like “The Covenant,” the single worst movie I’ve ever seen in theaters. If this were a pilot for an original Sci-Fi Channel series it would still look terrible. “The Da Vinci Code” was an awful movie based on an awful book but at least it looked like a blockbuster, you know? The trailer didn’t make it look good, per se, but it looked like it at least justified the amount of attention it got.

    My God… “Twilight.” Just… I don’t get it.

  • Ryan

    I’ve read as much of Twilight as I could, it’s an assault against decent literature. (Both in terms of quality of writing and content) I think it was targeted at teenage girls, which is disturbing considering that the subtext of the books is that the protagonist is best off in a co-dependant somewhat abusive relationship.

    It always amazes me that great authors like Hobb or George R. R. Martin can only garner cult followings, while drivel like Twilight or Danielle Steel’s stuff gains huge followings.

  • Alli

    I read the first Twilight book after someone I admire told me it was good. It was the worst book I’ve ever read. It was horribly written, and the characters made me want to rip my eyes out. Bella is a selfish twit, and no matter how many times the author tells us how smart she is, we never actually see it. Show, not tell Meyers. Edward is a sexist stalker. He never listens to single word Bella says (though I wouldn’t listen to that Mary Sue either). Meyers even chickens out of writing the fight scene at the end by having Bella pass out (it’s written in first person, and we have to suffer through her stupid thoughts for the entire book).

    It’s also a horrible message for young women: it’s totally cool to give up your future, your family (but they’re a poorly written piece of crap too, so I don’t blame her) and your everlasting soul for a guy, especially if he is super hot and sparkles in the sun!

  • MaryAnn

    Well, what can I say … I’m from Germany and Wall-E opened about a month ago. The fact that we get “Quantum of Solace” one week before you do hardly atones for that.

    I agree. It’s crazy that big films like these don’t open around the world on the same day, or close to.

    I really think you need to re-think the dread you feel for Twilight. It’s a fantastic series.

    You’re talking about the books. I’m talking about the movie. And I haven’t judge anything yet, except the marketing of the film. I’ll give the movie a fair shot.

  • John

    I want someone who has read these Twilight books to explain something to me.

    He’s a vampire, right? Why’s he running around in broad daylight? Did the author just choose to ignore that part of vampire lore or something?

  • He’s a vampire, right? Why’s he running around in broad daylight? Did the author just choose to ignore that part of vampire lore or something?

    Hi John. The vampires in this universe differ in some ways from vampires in others.

    *****spoilers*****
    They can go outside during the day, but sunlight makes them sparkle brightly, like diamonds.

    It makes sense in the books.
    *****end spoilers*****

    I think these books make a really good read; especially given that I was obsessed over the entire series and read it again right after I finished it the first time. Like I said before, I read these books twice over the course of 2 1/2 weeks. While working full time and taking two classes.

    They reminded me of Jane Eyre a bit, at least in how they made me feel reading them. And I definitely identified with the main character. Except that sometimes she did really stupid things. (If she did smart things though, the books would be pretty boring.)

  • Ryan

    Except that sometimes she did really stupid things. (If she did smart things though, the books would be pretty boring.)

    -That is the definition of lazy writing…but I suppose if Bruckheimer and Bay have taught us anything it’s that Americans want garbage and they want it immediately, when it comes to entertainment.

  • Today’s Guardian has an interesting article on Hamlet.

    “As Britain hurtles toward a depression, and everyone seems more and more miserable, no wonder Hamlet, and plays which reflect its themes, have started springing up everywhere. It has been suggested that as the recession deepens theatre will see more and more feel-good shows. If the success of these Hamlets is anything to go by, audiences don’t want to go to the theatre to run away from their problems, but to stare down the heartache, the thousand natural shocks and the sea of troubles.”

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/stage/theatreblog/2008/oct/28/hamlet-jude-law-david-tennant-korsunovas

  • MaryAnn

    How popular would *Hamlet* be at the moment if not for David Tennant and Jude Law? When a nonstar makes a production of *Hamlet* a hit, then I’ll buy that.

  • blake

    You Americans are so lucky.
    You get Elvira, Mistress of the Dark who, even though she’s older than my mum, is totally hot…sometimes.
    But she was definitely hot in late 80’s and early 90’s.
    I only came across her (so to speak…) accidentally on a episode of Lois and Clark : The New Adventures of Superman and she is the coolest thing ever.I’m fact, I’d as far to say that I like Elvira more than M.J. likes The Doctor.She only goes to comic con’s and convention type things in the US., though.You can’t even buy her second film in the U.K.
    No reason to mention this except I saw that you had a bias metre and I thought I’d add my thoughts for girlfriend suggestion.

    Oh, and Quantum of Solace I wouldn’t get too excited if I were you…

    Your enemy is the same as mine, we should team up to put television actors down, y’know, to put them out of their misery. We’d be doing them a favour.

    I heard that Twilight is as big as Harry Potter stateside is that true–I’ve have never heard of it over here

    One last thing:
    Thanks for saying Autumn, I’m sick of hearing Americans call it “Fall”.

    Oh, and thanks for putting me on your my space friends thing.

  • Alli

    Blake, Twilight isn’t as big as Potter. Nothing is. However, the media likes to compare the two fandoms together, especially the hysteria it causes when a book is released. But yes Twilight, for whatever reason, is very big here, especially amongst young women and their mothers. I have a pretty good feeling the Brits won’t fall all over it like the Americans.

  • blake

    I hate re-reading my posted comments–SO MANY MISTAKES!!!
    Apologies to all.

    y’never know about the Twilight thing, The Spiderwick Chronicles is a U.S. thing and it did well over here, mind you, it was good.

    I’m not sure a bunch of young vampires on screen will do well, we got this childrens’ show call Young Dracula which ,although I’ve never seen it, comes highly recommended by parents and kids.

    “Why go out for hamburger when you can have steak at home”

  • Alli

    Oh it will do well. It may get a 20% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but it will make a boat load. Never underestimate the power of adolescent girls.

  • blake, if you knew anything about your own language and its usage, you would know that the word “fall” was the original word in use by the brits when they came over to this side of the atlantic… “autumn” is a later adoption. we use both over here, but yes, the colloquial usage is “fall.” too damn bad for you. stop using the word “lorry” or “lift” then.

  • blake

    I’m not gonna argue with you. I’m pretty sure that I acknowledged the fact that I make many mistakes when I comment.

    I wrote a really biting comeback.
    So biting I decided to delete it.
    It was just too biting.
    Even I was appalled at the bitey-ness(?) if it.
    But I promise you it was a bad (as in good) bite.
    Ouch.

    It wasn’t anything personal.

    Bronxbee, I think you need a cuddle.

  • “Bronxbee, I think you need a cuddle.”

    typical male response to any intellectual argument.

  • blake

    I said you won, leave me alone…
    I’m gonna have a little cry in the corner.
    Whhhaaaaaa–SOB SOB–WAHHHH
    You won alright, you won what more do you want from me– blood!!!????

  • MaryAnn

    Okay, cut it out, both of you.

    Talk about the topic of the post, or don’t talk at all.

  • yes, ma’am.

  • blake

    Yes, boss.

  • D

    “It’s not simply a series about moody, teenage vampires…” Really? Because everyone I know who read the books told me it was that. Like an entire series made of season 1 buffy and angel relashionship, minus what made the show great.
    I also heard that the lead characters have an unbelievable self-centerdness( I don’t know if that’s a word. I’m not American, so spare me).

  • Jurgan

    “Like an entire series made of season 1 buffy and angel relashionship, minus what made the show great.”

    Season 1 wasn’t even great anyway. It was good, but it didn’t find its feet until season 2. If it had stayed at that same level, I doubt I’d’ve kept watching. My brother took something like a year to watch season one and a month to watch the rest of the show.

    Yeah, off-topicish. Point is, it doesn’t sound that appealing. I’ve seen the midnight parties at Barnes and Noble, so I can see why people make the Harry Potter comparison, but Potter was an international phenomenon.

    “They can go outside during the day, but sunlight makes them sparkle brightly, like diamonds.”

    And here I thought Anne Rice was the pinnacle of vampiric homoeroticism…

    (Okay, maybe that’s not fair, but “sparkles?” Am I really supposed to take that seriously?)

  • John

    Thank you, Jurgan, that’s exactly what I was thinking. And thank you Lanna for clarifying that.

    I don’t know, to me, the ‘sparkles in the sunlight’ thing just seems like taking the easy way out. Figuring out how a teenager would interact with someone who bursts into flame in sunlight would have been too difficult, so let’s just drop that part of vampire lore. The more I learn about this series, from fans no less, the less I want to read it.

  • Ryan

    It’s just lazy, poor writing, full of trite cliches and a disturbing subtext. Including myself I have NEVER spoken to an author, or aspiring author who was impressed by the series.

    Kudos to whoever marketed it, though.

  • jenn

    The Twilight books were horrible. For the reasons already voiced, and for soooo many more reasons! When I saw the trailer it reminded me of the treatment Eragon got. Not very good source material to begin with, made even weaker by the Hollywood machine. Eragon pretty much flopped, but I really can’t see Twilight tanking.

  • I’ll say it again, I really, really liked Twilight

    And I have talked to lots of people who liked it. Just the other day I talked to two very well read women who just finished the series.

    I guess you could say that “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

  • D

    Jurgan: Yeah, not until the Angelus story arc the series showed us what it really could do.
    “And here I thought Anne Rice was the pinnacle of vampiric homoeroticism…”
    My gess is that the diference lies on the fact that the homoeroticism is actually intentional on the vampire chronicles…
    And the Eragon books are trash, but entertaining trash. The movie? Not so much…

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