Five movies in a week*

November 25, 2008

Nov. 16: Let the Right One In

Nov. 16: La Belle et la Bete

Nov. 22: JCVD and Slumdog Millionaire

Nov. 24: Twilight

i: Let the Right One In.

It had an impossibly high rating of 97 percent when I decided to leave work a few minutes early to catch an afternoon show at E Street. (It’s since gone up to 98 percent.) “Terrifying,” they said, comparing it to some of the scariest things Guillermo Del Toro has come out with the last few years. Others were calling it the anti-“Twilight,” a description I could get behind. Plus, it’s in Swedish.

Nordic mystery, vampirism, youth angst…these are all normally things I can get behind. This time? Not so much. I’d really like to see the movie all those reviewers are flouting, because it seems like it would be awesome.

ii. La Belle et la Bete

French! The ’40s! Experimental film! Jean Cocteau! Ripped off by Disney!

In news that should surprise no one with any awareness of pop culture, there’s a Disney movie about this very same story. It is very popular. There is singing and dancing and Jerry Orbach, and it won Oscars. Strip all that off, though, and this was the source material Disney stole. Think they gave credit for it? Hells no.

If and/or when I ever have kids, they’re getting this version first.

iii. JCVD

Speaking of off-the-wall French filmmaking, No kidding, this is probably one of the most fun movies I’ve seen this year. This one and the one below are coming out as the audience favorites from the festivals this year, and they both deserve it. I secretly want Jean-Claude Van Damme to get nominated for this.

iv. Slumdog Millionaire

Danny Boyle does edgy really well. And he does crowd-pleasing family warmth just about as well. This is the first time I know of that he’s done both at the same time, and it’s good. Not spectacular, not life-alteringly awesome like, say, “Trainspotting” was, but a solid good.

v. Twilight.

Ugh. Ugh ugh ugh. Ugh.

I haven’t read the books. After reading about the last one and its not-even-thinly disguised anti-choice awfulness, I lost any interest in reading them.

I had my vampire phase. Every girl I know had a vampire phase. Mine manifested through Laurell K. Hamilton books, which (like every series of everything ever), got less fun to read as the series went on and as I got older. But I still read the Charlaine Harris books, and I’m digging the “True Blood” adaptation on HBO, so there’s still a part of me that digs that stuff. Maybe it’s better to say I had my lame vampire phase, and once I got through it I settled into an appreciation of the better pop culture vampires, which Jezebel has helpfully collected for me. (Spike! Oh I miss you.) All of this is a long way of saying I’m not dismissing the whole movie because I just don’t get little girls and their love for brooding, pale and mysterious men. It’s entirely possible I would have read the Twilight books if they were around 15 years ago, though I’d like to think I had enough sense as a 13-year-old to have recognized them for the dreck they are.

Yeah, yeah, I’m saying all of this without reading them. Because no good source material could have brought such an awful movie from the normally great Catherine Hardwicke. Can someone explain this to me? What the hell is up with the massive box office for this movie? Great, so suddenly Hollywood realizes women and girls go to the movies, too. But ladies, if you keep turning out for shit like this, we’re not going to get anything better. This is how the boys got “Punisher” and “Daredevil.”

As I sat watching the prom scene at the end and itching to get the hell out of there, I realized that certain things are best left to die at the age of 17, including affection for bad vampire books, chaste boyfriends, and melodramatic swooning. I need to get drunk or something, because the brain cells that thought seeing this was a good idea deserve to die.

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