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December 7, 2011 | by

The latest Alexander Payne outing, The Descendants, is based on a book, but unlike Breaking Dawn: Part 1, the book it is based on has not amassed an army of followers so ardent that they have their own moniker. The Descendants and Breaking Dawn were released on the same weekend. Undoubtedly one is making a play for an Oscar. Undoubtedly the other will dominate every MTV award category, including best kiss, best dude moment, best male shirtless scene, and whatever else the network that produces the Jersey Shore celebrates. The movies are in many ways very different. But both use sex as a submerged theme while on the surface promoting a wholesome idea of family values; both seem to devalue motherhood; and both deal with characters who are so financially secure that they are almost impossible to identify with. The Descendants is a much better film, but that is because it is not hampered by the precedent of an extremely successful book, a rabid fan base, and a studio that is out for green (so much so that they are willing to split the product into two films, even if it means stretching the material thin to the point of vapidity).

Alexander Payne likes his characters quirky, ugly, and pathetic. They are middle class. They are not in shape. They deal with death, and divorce, and affairs, and always in the ickiest ways: think Matthew Broderick preparing for an affair by washing his genitals in a motel, Jack Nicholson’s grotesque hot-tub scene with Kathy Bates, Thomas Haden Church sneaking back into the house where has just slept with another man’s wife only to hear the couple recounting the affair while having sex. Hardly anything is pretty in the typical Payne film. But The Descendants is not a typical Payne film. The movie takes place in Hawaii. It stars George Clooney. It features the gorgeous Shailene Woodley as his eldest daughter. It features her bikini so prominently that the two strips of material practically have a place on the cast list.

At the beginning of the film, Clooney’s character makes a disclaimer about Hawaii, saying that it isn’t full of people sitting about and enjoying themselves; it is full of suffering people who have to work for a living. But the movie proceeds to show exactly the opposite: Clooney doesn’t work, his daughters are taken out of school, and the whole lot get to relax at clubs and eat ice cream. They are trying to track down a man who had affair with Clooney’s wife—but this hunt takes them to all the most lavish island resorts, on islands that Clooney’s family happens to own. Everything, in short, is pretty. Everything is Payne-lite.

Of course, there’s trouble in paradise. Clooney’s character’s wife cheated on him. But, aside from thirty seconds at the beginning of the film, when we see her enjoying herself on some water skis, we never meet her. She spends the rest of the film in a coma. We hear about her love of boats and drinking. A few tears are shed. But every confrontation with her is necessarily one-sided. Everyone gets off easy: the cheating wife doesn’t have to answer for herself, and the wronged husband doesn’t have to be humiliated by a divorce. Life is simple in Hawaii; as it turns out, so is death.

Death comes pretty simply in the latest installment of Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” series, too: the conceit allows the filmmakers to get away with murder, literally. Meyers has set her vampire story in adolescence (never mind that Edward is more than a hundred years old and could probably be Bella’s great-great-grandfather), and the constraints and abilities of the vampires become a metaphor for the emotional chaos of high school. In the first “Twilight” installment, Edward can’t kiss Bella because he is afraid that he will get so excited he’ll lose control of himself and suck her blood; for them, sex is tantamount to death. Not that this sense of decorum prevents Edward from killing evil vampires, or nearly murdering a group of young men whose rape-fixated thoughts he can psychically overhear. Edward has murdered, and in Breaking Dawn we learn that he has murdered lots.

Of course, a few other forbidden territories are broken in as well. The protagonists finally marry, having waited until the wise old age of eighteen, and since the book and the film dutifully show them being wed, they are then allowed to fuck each others’ brains out. For a film that claims to be sexually responsible, the “Twilight” movies are awfully dependent on teenage sex to attract viewers. The actors prance about like pieces of meat, their disturbingly developed bodies on full display; Taylor Lautner’s rippling teenage chest is just a little better than the child beauty-pageant stars at the end of Little Miss Sunshine. The fans have divided themselves into teams (Team Jacob and Team Edward) and, considering that they already know the outcome of the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob, the choice of a team can mean little more than—well, you can imagine.

Not that sex leads to anything splendid when it finally does happen: Bella (spoiler alert!) becomes pregnant with a vampire that apparently develops to birth size within weeks, requires her to drink blood, and is eating her from the inside. This terrifying picture of pregnancy culminates with Bella’s rival lovers giving her a C-section, as if they are playing some perverse adolescent game of doctor.

Motherhood is the fall guy in The Descendants, too. It’s revealed early on that the daughter hates her mother because she caught her mother cheating; it is the daughter, in fact, who reveals the affair to her father and aids in the hunt for the other man. The mother remains comatose, and the movie suggests that the adulteress got what she deserved. Not even her lover, when he finally surfaces, loves her.

Bella initially fares little better; despite the boys’ best efforts, she dies in childbirth. But not to worry! She can be saved by being turned into a vampire, a recourse not available to most teen moms. But then again, those “Twilight” creators know how to get their blood—and eat it, too.

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  1. anna | December 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    I absolutley love and trust James Franco’s Movie reviews. The Twighlight review is particulary witty. I would say is there anything this man can’t do? But what does it matter.

  2. Jen | December 7, 2011 at 5:18 pm

    I appreciate the wit with which Mr. Franco writes his review–and it’s a well thought out review–but it just seems like people are so unnecessarily hard on movies these days.

    Movies are made for different purposes. Some are reaching for depth and nuance (Oscar worthy), some are strictly entertainment value (Twilight), and some are just plain bad.

    I don’t think Twilight falls into the final category. It’s well shot, well funded, and it’s actors do a good job with what they’re given. The plot obviously strains credibility, but it’s scifi/fantasy, and that’s what that genre does–there’s no way around it.

    It accomplishes what it set out to, which is an entertaining piece that suspends our reality. When did that ever become such a bad thing? Just saying.

  3. bob | December 7, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Didn’t he want to be part of the twilight movies? They turned him down and now he bitches about breaking dawn. He read the books and apparently saw the twilight movies many times…..quite funny when you think about it!

  4. favia | December 7, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    “… the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob, the choice of a team can mean little more than—well, you can imagine.”

    what does he mean by that? I don’t speak english very well.
    :)

  5. zuzu | December 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm

    A great article! Thanks, Paris Review & J. Franco.

  6. Queso | December 7, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    I’m beginning to think Franco is some kind of vampire-esque immortal that never sleeps. I enjoyed his reviews and the fact that he must have the greatest time management skills in the known world.

  7. Eric | December 7, 2011 at 9:54 pm

    this article reads like the one page essays I had to write every Friday in 8th grade english.

  8. Bree | December 8, 2011 at 2:48 am

    I love this review, finding that perfect balance between witty and informative is sometimes a challenge but I feel that the writer nailed it! I normally don’t give to much credence to movie reviews because, after all, an opinion about a movie is normally very selective. In reading this I felt like I was enjoying a good story rather than a run of the mill rotten tomato article. It is so frustrating to me how movies these days seem so out of touch with reality- the emotions and situations in The Descendant are very much a realistic occurrence yet the fact that they always seem to have an endless supply of cash and good looks in these movies is irritating. I wish more movie reviews were written like this!

  9. Jimmy Miller | December 8, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I love the brutal honesty in this review. I see too many reviews that fail to go beyond the surface level of the movie, they just sort of superficially review or critique the film. Except for a few good reviews I occasionally find at CinemaBlend most just try to resemble what the “top critics” say or what is popular. Having saw The Descendants I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it. The film does a fantastic job at fusing comedy and drama. Besides 50/50(Joseph Gordon-Levitt & Seth Rogen) it was one of the best dramadies( I know that’s not a word) I have watched all year. The film was very well written and its ability to create laughter and sometimes tears touching on all elements of the emotional spectrum was superb. Having been a fan of Clooney’s work for a so long I honestly cant remember the last time I saw him cry in a film which was a delight to see for some reason. Speaking of crying the author of this review Mr.Franco or should I say Dr.Franco has a very good on screen cry he makes it look so natural by using sense memory(Funny or die video a must watch)clooney take notes. I have to agree with Bree about one thing though, movies can be out of touch with reality at times. ” An endless supply of cash and good looks”, can be irritating to some cinephiles like myself.It was still a solid movie nonetheless. As for Twilight I cannot draw any sort of analysis due to the fact that I have never read any of the books or watched any of the movies. Therefore I will not blast a movie i have not watched or a book I have not read which I think so many people do just because they think it’s somehow cool to hate what is considered mainstream and popular(otherwise known as an indie-hipster but that’s for another topic I could ramble on about later). Kudos to James for writing an authentic review.

  10. Jimmy Miller | December 8, 2011 at 7:18 am

    “… the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob, the choice of a team can mean little more than—well, you can imagine.”

    what does he mean by that? I don’t speak english very well.

    @Favia Based on my understanding what James is referring to when he mentions Team Edwards or Team Jacob is simply stating what character you are most attracted to its a polite way of saying which character you would rather sleep with in a way. Its such a tough choice do you prefer that 21st century looking pretty boy(Team Jacob) or the androgynous yet mysterious Team Edward lol.

  11. favia | December 8, 2011 at 11:59 am

    thank you jimmy miller!

  12. Lauren | December 8, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I think what he meant by the “choosing teams” comment was that since most people already know the outcome of the story from reading the books,choosing a team is pretty useless.

  13. Jonathan Ponder | December 8, 2011 at 4:40 pm

    I can’t speak to what is written here about the Twilight movie (I’m just barely aware that there are things called Twilight movies), but The Descendants is a fantastic movie and Franco’s take on it is simplistic and just plain inaccurate. Which of these sins is worse? Well, I was pondering this question and how someone who is such a good actor and apparently pretty damn smart could so completely mis-see, mis-read, a really good movie, and I realized that the two sins go hand in hand here; the inaccuracies grow out of an unfortunate, simplistic approach, i.e the labored comparison between these two movies. Eric, above, nailed it: “this article reads like the one page essays I had to write every Friday in 8th grade english.” I was going to be a bit more charitable and say it read like something in a college freshman composition course, but you get the idea. The assignment would be something like “Find two unlike things and write an essay in which you compare them and find specific similarities between them. The point of this assignment is to find unexpected connections between things that on the surface seem very different.” A fine assignment for encouraging students to think creatively and critically at the same time, but also an assignment that is more than likely going to produce some forced, awkward, and cringe-inducing comparisons. In the case of this review, it caused the writer to grasp for vague points of comparison (which frankly sound like they came from bad lit crit theory) and then to inaccurately summarize characters and plot points in order to force them to support his thin, very thin, thesis.

    I take issue with just about every claim made here about The Descendants, but I’ll offer just one example of Franco’s inaccurate and simplistic take on the film:

    Early in the review: “…characters who are so financially secure that they are almost impossible to identify with.”

    And later: “At the beginning of the film, Clooney’s character makes a disclaimer about Hawaii, saying that it isn’t full of people sitting about and enjoying themselves; it is full of suffering people who have to work for a living. But the movie proceeds to show exactly the opposite: Clooney doesn’t work, his daughters are taken out of school, and the whole lot get to relax at clubs and eat ice cream. They are trying to track down a man who had affair with Clooney’s wife—but this hunt takes them to all the most lavish island resorts, on islands that Clooney’s family happens to own. Everything, in short, is pretty.”

    This is an inaccurate and myopic take on the people in this film. In fact, when a family’s wife and mother is in the process of being taken off life support to be allowed to die, it kind of makes sense that you would take the girls out of school for a few days and spend time together as a family, and it makes sense that the father might take a few days off work, although the film does show Clooney’s character working on his day job late at night, even in the midst of what will probably be the most difficult confluence of events and realizations in his entire life.

    And as to the setting of the film and the characters’ place in that setting, this film is not just showing a bunch of rich loafers (although some in the extended family undoubtedly are that) in Hawaii with no explanation of where their privileged lifestyle came from. It actually is giving an interesting snapshot of a very specific class of people: rich white landowners in Hawaii, people whose family has been in Hawaii for more than 100 years, people who authentically call this place home but who, in another sense, really don’t belong. That’s interesting. I haven’t seen this particular class/subculture in a movie before, and if I can fault the movie at all in this aspect, it’s that I would have enjoyed seeing more of this extended family and the larger cultural and political dynamic that it exists within.

    That is just one interesting layer, among many, of character, setting, and plot in this film that Franco seems to have completely missed. The one good thing about the review is that, because of the inaccurate and superficial summary sections, there are few, if any, spoilers. You can read this review, go see the movie, and feel as if you never read a review of the movie you’re watching.

    For a much more careful and accurate review of the film, go read Roger Ebert’s review. For starters, it’s evident that Ebert actually watched, and saw, the film. Better yet, just go see it yourself. It’s good.

  14. K | December 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Hey “Bob”, he was talking about wanting to be a part of the movies as a JOKE. Sarcasm is wasted on waste-of-skin idiots like you.

  15. Jimmy Miller | December 8, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    @Jonathan Ponder I think what Franco meant by characters who are so financially secure that its almost impossible to identify with is more of a general statement about movies than a critique of the film. In other words most of the people who go to see movies would fall somewhere in the middle class and yet many movies portray the struggles of a rich white family with an endless supply of cash, and somehow the audience is supposed to identify with this can seem absurd an unrealistic at times. I realize and Im sure Franco realizes that even rich landowners are human and suffer from the same problems as the everyday person such as love, death and tragedy, but the way its portrayed on film is just not realistic. Yes it makes sense that his daughters would be taken out of school and that Clooney would stop working for some time, but you and I know that’s not the case for the majority of people is it. It’s sad to say this but most people cannot just stop everything they are doing and go island hopping in search of a man, instead even in the face of tragedy they must continue to “work for a living”.

  16. James | December 8, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    For someone who petitioned the director heavily for a role in the film, Franco offers some awfully bitter words about “Breaking Dawn.” His “Paranoid Reading” of the film seems bizarre, and is left unsupported. I am disappointed that the Paris Review has engaged Franco to review a film he was turned down for, without he or the editors acknowledging his relationship with the production.

  17. Juliana | December 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    K– James actually did want to appear in one of the early Twilight movies as he has read the books, but it fell through. I heard him discuss this in an interview. I think he would have made a great vampire and added some spice to these ridiculous movies.

  18. Juliana | December 9, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    I really like his honesty, as usual. I think he is spot on with this review. Breaking the last book into 2 movies is for greed only. There is no need otherwise. Love the comment regarding the MTV awards- it will win, best kess, best shirless scene, etc. So very true! Would love to see a “mainstream” movie with James. It would be hilarious!

  19. Shannon | December 10, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Personally, while the review is witty it sounds like he is a little bitter about not getting a role in the movies.

  20. edina | December 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    Breaking Down:
    Just imagine an elastic that you stretch slow, than release…yes, gonna hurt!

  21. Jose Gainza | December 12, 2011 at 11:20 am

    I hope James Franco keeps writing these reviews and other things in this forum because I find them highly interesting and worthwhile. And many of the comments were exciting too. Thanks.

  22. Jose Gainza | December 12, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    P.S. However, a little later in the day I re-read the Franco’s BREAKING BAD article … and I believe I understand the implications of his explicit criticism of the two movies. He is talking about what he names: the subject matter and themes of these two films (art), and literature in general. One movie is experiencing phenomenal box office success and the other is headed to be nominated for awards, and seem to promise to depict family values—when in reality they hardly do, as the many examples James Franco lists illustrate. But does that mean they are bad movies by bad, immoral writers? And I believe that is what Franco is getting at. For the most part criticism of James Franco’s debut work of short fiction PALO ALTO has been harsh (just check out Amazon.com). He has been called a bad writer who should just stick with acting, and the reasons mostly given are due to his subject matter (e.g. teenage prostitution, teacher-student affairs, drug use, violence, suicide, etc.) I have taken a close look at PALO ALTO and though some of the subject matter was difficult to go through, I cannot say James Franco is a bad writer; he is in control of his writing, his language, and is a serious student of the art form. But Franco never claimed to propagate family values, which Twilight and The Descendants seem to do. And yet Franco does not advocate the values of his characters. His realist fiction is an expose of how things really are in a picturesque town like PALO ALTO, as he the author assessed it—which leaves the debate open about which values are the solution. But it is curious that the fans of Twilight and The Descendants seem to crave the values that James Franco exposes with his examples.

  23. Mary | December 12, 2011 at 9:00 pm

    Was an OK review, however the writing could be better:the use if the word “ickiness” didn’t go down well with me, but that’s just me.
    However, these reviews make sense and have influenced me further not to see them.

  24. Jasna | December 12, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    Guys, take it for what it is – a personal opinion, a review none the less…. if you don’t agree with it in it’s entirety, take a chill pill, and remember that because it is controversial it will none the less amplify the publicity for BOTH movies, and for those who haven’t seen BD or The Descendants (gasp) – after reading the review – they will probably want to know what all the fuss is about, see the movies and form their own opinion. I for one, LOVE the review – it’s though provoking, and highly opinionated! GO JAMES FRANCO – keep in mind, that most people suffer from TALL POPPY syndrome!!!

  25. Bridget21 | December 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Good review. Though there are spelling errors throughout. Also, Franco seems to be trying too hard to prove himself “intellectual”. The first thing you learn in any essay writing class is to use the most simple vocabulary possible. It’s all about communication, not about trying to prove your own intelligence.

  26. lisi | December 12, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    His wanting to be in Breaking Dawn had little to do with the subject matter. His seeking involvement with the film had more to do with a Yale project he was helping an undergrad with.
    I liked both reviews, though I already had my own formed opinions on Breaking Dawn and his review only validated it. I wanted to see The Descendants, though and I still do.

  27. BluntDinerz | December 13, 2011 at 4:10 am

    Nice review. A lot of insight. Kind of weird coming from a highly successful actor but, what the hell, you got an opinion. I like how you pointed how the films devalue motherhood, and the thing about the characters being too wealthy to identify with is a good point too. I’ve been noticing that lately in a lot of movies.

    I’m curious, did you use your celebrity clout to get this gig, or did you have to submit your writing to get it? It’s fantastic writing, you deserve to be here, I’m really just curious. Is this something you want to do for a while, or is it like the soap opera?

  28. BluntDinerz | December 13, 2011 at 4:12 am

    Didn’t Paul G. go back to the bedroom in “sideways?”

  29. LuLu | December 13, 2011 at 4:31 am

    Oh no, “K” James wanted to be cast in these films. His talking about this can still be viewed on YouTube. No sarcasm I’m afraid. He loved the franchise at the beginning. No joke.

  30. Marissa | December 13, 2011 at 11:10 am

    The review is excellent. I have yet too see Breaking Dawn, but have read the book. I thought, the movie personally should be rated R. That’s all they do, for at least 1 chapter, after Bella is turned. So, Mr. Franco is dead on. I can’t disagree, but I honestly wished Breaking Dawn, would have been one movie. American movie goers, can handel it. The whole team Jacob or Edward, is stupid and frankly, I’m neither and don’t care. The movie is mediorce, with mediocre actors.

  31. Elle | December 13, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Things that I thought while reading this:
    1. James Franco was who 14-year-old me pictured as Edward while reading the Twilight series.
    2. If I was Shailene Woodley, I would probably faint because James Franco called me gorgeous.
    3. This review is nothing that I haven’t read before.

  32. Bella | December 13, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    BEST REVIEW …THUMBS UP JAMES:) LOVE IT

  33. Amy | December 13, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    -Not a fan of Franco and his inappropriately sized ego but I have to agree with him on “The Descendants”. Its not a great film and I think its ahmpered by the exact problems that he lists. He shies away from criticizing Clooney’s performance which is uneven at best. Clooney has become such a superstar that people can’t react to his performances honestly anymore. He has some good moments in this film but most of the time, he is wooden and lacks subtext. In other words, the character is a repressed character, so its more difficult to play. A great actor could suggest all kinds of emotions bubbling under the surface which Clooney only sometimes does. His voiceover, is atrociously bad. Shailene Woodley steals every scene from him and that’s too bad.

  34. Jen | December 13, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    This review is great. Remember, all that we leave on this earth is our art… Franco gets it.

  35. jazzybema | December 13, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    this just sounds like a case of sour grapes to me, since when is he a critic? I think he is just an actor out of sorts because he didn’t get the parts he wanted,kind of juvenile

  36. Sarah | December 13, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    Great review. Brutal honesty.
    thanks James! we love you

  37. Alice | December 14, 2011 at 6:03 am

    Even though I am a person who is OBSESSED with twilight, I must admit that review was hilarious and rather true. Very witty and of course – no one could deny what has been written!

  38. Cally | December 14, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Freaking funny.
    Jen: movies are not “made for different purposes these days.” they have always been made for entertainment. It’s peoples expectations that have changed. it’s the forms of entertainment. Try watching “All About Eve” and tell me Breaking Dawn isn’t wretched. Filmmaking is storytelling. Storytelling is the basis of human language. It is our oldest tradition. If storytelling has come to this, then I fear the worst for humanity.

  39. Sasha | December 15, 2011 at 12:26 am

    For those who’re going on and on about him auditioning for Twilight and being bitter about not getting the part, please remember that this was BEFORE it turned into such a big deal. The Twilight script was taken up by an INDEPENDENT FILM STUDIO and was set to be directed by Catherine Hardwicke (the director of powerful and engaging movies like Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown). He probably didn’t expect it to turn into such an overnight sensation thanks to mainstream media (though the book, to being with, is a complete piece of crap). I’m guessing he’s thankful he didn’t get the part… cos no serious actor would want to be known for starring in Twilight. Just like no serious actor would want to be associated with Baywatch… no matter how successful it was!

  40. frank hirtman | December 15, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Franco writes beautifully! I wish 90% of the “professional”
    film critics out there did as good of a job.
    That said, I disagree with his take on “The Descendants” (a wonderful movie).

  41. tpl | December 15, 2011 at 10:59 am

    Certainly a delight to read!

  42. ZABA | December 16, 2011 at 1:42 am

    I thought James had great insight on both films and was witty as well. The comment on how “he must be jealous” is a bit juvenile, especially since it’s quite obvious how bad the Twilight series have become. And I agree with the comment that George Clooney’s acting lacks subtlety and range.

    I’m so tired of how some bloggers still want to crucify him for his Oscar-hosting performance. To me, it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t half as bad as they’ve portrayed.

    Why is it that when someone does what he wants and go for it, he is labelled as pretentious?

    As he points out in numerous occasion, there are people who expects actors to just act. When they do something else, it’s frowned upon or lashed at. As far as I’m concerned, he is pretty courageous to do all the things he’s doing openly, i.e. w/out a pen name. He is a very talented and exciting actor to watch, and a true artist.

  43. Gordon Naki | December 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

    Yeah, I had a problem with Payne’s movie because there is no real pain that shapes the characters. In this time of high unemployment, who really cares about spending time with a rich family in Hawaii dealing with teenie and tweenie crises? And the film avoids dealing with the issues of the locals, who are struggling with high unemployment on all the islands. We are getting a glimpse of the privileged haole in Hawaii, and it really is quite trite and boring.

  44. Page McKinkley | December 24, 2011 at 6:16 am

    It’s interesting watching some critics bend themselves out of shape over the reality they don’t actually decide or get to tell the market what they should enjoy or support.

    The Descendants, an average, faux-tear-jerker, hardly deserves the critical mauling it receives here. So one has to wonder why Franco has? Could the spoils of clicks and traffic gained by name-checking two films recently on everyone’s lips be the motivation?

    Surely not?

    As for the Twilight movies, targeting a franchise clearly geared at the teen market seems a little cheap — even for Franco. One wonders if the same scathing treatment would be handed out to the countless films marketed with either subtle or overt sexual content since time immorial, from Gone with the Wind to American Beauty et al? In which case Franco’s oddly puritanical concerns seem even more overplayed.

    Media, being the soundbite merchant that it is loves to rhapsody about teen “rabid fans” or “menopausal moms,” as if somehow their money isn’t as good as anyone else’s. But the fact is; it isn’t critics that pronounce the bottom line — but audiences. That doesn’t mean reviews or criticisms aren’t valid, simply that critics are not the sole arbiters of opinion.

    Similarly, reverse prejudices based on Stewart or Pattinson’s physical appeal are both limited and churlishly motivated, especially considering Pattinson (in particular) did not enter the fray thinking a great deal of himself — and further, whose previous roles did not play up that component. Looks may get you a knock on the door, but only talent and depth holds interest. Megan Fox, case in point.

    What cannot be denied is that both Pattinson and Stewart have potent screen presence. That presence elevated the TS movies above and beyond an over-mined genre and was the real reason why the films connected so strongly with their audiences.

    That these audiences have been largely female is somehow sumgly held against the TS films as evidence of their non-credibility. Would the same argument be levied if males had camped outside duplexes? Apologies if anyone thinks this plays the gender card, but the observation stands as valid.

    As we close out 2011, Patterson and Stewart deservedly emerge as the names to watch and invest in. It was Pattinson’s astonishing comic persona, openness and unassuming freshnesss on the horrifically gruelling press junkets he undertook — not to mention his iconic turn in the Twilight movies–that enabled him to capitalize on the expert way his team have handled his rise. Likewise Stewart’s edgy fragility, behind-the-scenes guidance, and handling of what must at times have been a ‘tricky’ line to walk — notes her as mature beyond her years.

    If critics could put the tall poppy scythes down long enough to realize the TS saga the actors involved, they would see what the insightful can: The faces at the top of the tree have reshuffled and the determined consumer power of an unfairly denigrated demographic has spoken.

    Emphatically.

  45. Page Mackinley | December 24, 2011 at 2:23 pm

    Typo correction:

    If critics could put down the tall poppy scythes long enough to realize the TS saga does not define Pattinson or Stewart, they would see what the insightful can: The faces at the top of the tree have reshuffled and the determined consumer power of an unfairly denigrated demographic has spoken.

    Emphatically.

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  6. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  7. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  8. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  9. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  10. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  11. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  12. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  13. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  14. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  15. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  16. […] a column for The Paris Review, the Oscar nominee takes this film to task for its reliance on nearly-underage […]

  17. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  18. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  19. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  20. […] Dawn but only as performance art? Well, the filmmakers turned him down, and he just happened to review the film and rip it into shreds, probably because he was grumpy about not being able to make it worse by […]

  21. […] if these suggestions don’t tickle your fancy, James Franco wrote a review of “Breaking Dawn – Part 1,” which is a nice meaty read that should take some […]

  22. […] have picked a better movie to ply his new trade on: 'The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1.' In his newest article for The Paris Review, the probably-one-time-Oscar-host compares and contrasts the blockbuster vampire soap opera with […]

  23. […] 2, are used to this sort of thing. Franco, a novelist, installation artist, soap star and film reviewer, would seem a less likely fit, but he’s got form too: witness his scenery–chomping turn as […]

  24. […] Here are a couple of the juicier bits from Mr. Franco’s verbose critique: […]

  25. […] are a bit meandering and often self-referential. As is the film criticism he’s done for Vice, The Paris Review, and a handful of other outlets. But let’s be honest: That’s probably why these publications […]

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