High whattage

Am at last using these extra days to myself (HK has an extra public holiday following Easter) to clean up the golden crap that’s accumulated over two years; now look what’s popped up by the by — a London Review of Books review of Twilight the movie, not only raising the better spectre that is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but also dashing any illusions against its diamond shores of reason:

In accordance with the adage about the rubbishy book making for the better movie, Twilight the film is great. The mise en scène luxuriates in the dinosaur-age greenery of the temperate rainforest, the ugly rainwear from Wal-Mart dampness of school and diner and Main Street, day after day after day. … It was the first time I’d been to the cinema for ages and I bounced out full of beans.

Then afterwards I found myself feeling wretched, in a way I really haven’t for years and years and years. Why can’t I be freed of the need for food and sleep, why can’t I squirm exquisitely in skinny trousers, why can’t I be for ever beautiful and young? Awful memories were dislodged, of being young and full of longing — a really horrible feeling, a sickening excess of emotion with nowhere, quite, to put it. …

In our day we don’t have to visit a cinema to hallucinate life into images of immortal perfection; they flicker everywhere around us, emptied of the animal and plumped up instead with plastics. And so, the question is not so much about entering the [quoting Jalal Toufic] ‘labyrinthine realm of undeath’ as whether anyone can ever really be said to leave it. …

[A dream the narrator, Bella, has in which she sees herself ‘ancient, creased and withered’ in a mirror while her ‘beautiful vampire’, Edward, strolls gracefully towards her is] Dorian Gray, of course, but it is also a brilliant, terrifying observation about what it is to be mortal and ageing in the world of ‘magazines’ and ‘old masters’, to feel your body judged and found lacking, to know the situation is irremediable. The horror of this may not always be noticed by the teenagers who are Twilight’s designated audience. but the [‘middle-aged fan contingent’] Twilight Moms most likely feel it deeply, and like to make a great big noise, as a way of hiding from the fear of it, the disappointment and the shame.

— “The Beautiful Undead” by Jenny Turner, London Review of Books, 26 March 2009, pp. 37-39

I must admit thinking as I watched the film that this sort of wacked-out romance (in intensity if not in ridiculous messiness) is the sole preserve of the achingly beautiful or impracticably bold — I might enjoy the telling of the tale, but don’t expect me to empathise with the characters’ troubles.

The string that went ‘ping’ during the days of Cave of the Golden Rose and The Princess Bride has been snapped, perhaps. But if I still have to catch myself from floating away when I hear the theme music to Cave of the Golden Rose, or the opening words of Jay Chou’s 七里香, maybe there’s some hope left.

Anyway, Turner in her review quotes Toufic from a 1993 pillow-book entitled (Vampires): An Uneasy Essay on the Undead in Film, in which he writes (according to her):

… clumsiness, ‘most characteristically tripping’, is … often a sign that a person may be ‘crossing the threshold’ to the ‘altered realm’.

When I read that, I was like whaaaaat — I’ve always had this problem of tripping over one foot or the other as I try to walk and think at the same time. Nice to know a theory, even if the reason implies I’ve got one foot in the grave.

Peace out.


2 thoughts on “High whattage

  1. The first paragraph is just about how the movie is pretty good — she’s saying that Twilight is a movie that proves that books that aren’t that good often make great material for movies (maybe because they have simpler plotlines). The vague parts are just elaboration of how the movie is good; I didn’t want to quote everything cos it’d have been too long!

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