(part one of until I get sick of writing about it)
I’m not going to be one of the pretentious folks slagging off the Twilight books until I’ve read all of them. Since I’m two down right now, you’ll be getting plenty of thoughts on the subject later on.
For now, I’ll talk about the movie, which I have seen (and thoroughly, girlishly, insensibly loved).
Once upon a time I was a regular film critic. Even contemplated film school. One of the films that made me think I could do it was Catherine Hardwicke’s Thirteen. She (and co-writer Nikki Reed, herself thirteen at the time and now one of Twilight’s vampires) managed to capture all the terror of being a teenager.
I couldn’t think of a better director for a movie all about being a hormonal lovestruck teen girl. While Thirteen is a coming-of-age story that feels like a horror film, all about going there when you’re way too young, Twilight is a love story with horror-film elements that’s all about holding back. (Alisa Valdez-Rodriguez has a piece up today about the essential conservatism of Twilight, which I plan on arguing later, when I’ve finished the books.)
Hardwicke and her team fleshed out characters who were simply cartoons on the page (Bella’s mom, for instance) and added a multiethnic supporting cast, breaking up what would’ve been otherwise a quite white book. But more importantly, she trimmed the fat and junk and left us with the important part of the story.
So when Troy blogged a few days ago that Hardwicke was not going to direct the next movie (and the book I like best out of the two I’ve read) I let out a wail that would rival that of the loudest teenage fangirl.
Against my will and better judgment, I’ve become a Twilight addict. There are two parts to good writing, as any comic fan knows, and only one of them is good prose style. The other is the ability to come up with a story that readers will obsessively follow. Something addictive. The best comic writers have it in spades, and so does Twilight. I’m 28 with an English degree–I know from good writing. Yet I can’t wait to read the next Twilight book. And hell, I don’t even feel guilty typing that.
I bet Catherine Hardwicke loves Twilight the way I love Twilight. And I wonder if they’ll bother to find another director who both loves the books and sees their flaws the way she did.
Over at EW, Amy Wilkinson asks if a woman should be chosen to direct New Moon. My first answer to that is they should find a way to keep Hardwicke if at all possible. Don’t mess with a good thing, Summit. If that’s impossible, I would tend to say yes as well, simply because my heart wants to see more movies directed by women making bank at the box office and thus providing more opportunities for women directors.
But Wilkinson has a very valid point. I started an argument over at BUST mag, where I also blog about comics, by posting about Minx books written and drawn by men. Some of my favorite comics about women have been written by men (yes, guys, I’m mentioning Local again, as well as this week’s Phonogram: The Singles Club and hell, even Tulip in Preacher). There’s nothing that says men can’t understand women or women can’t understand men. A male director could do an excellent job on New Moon, and a female director could turn it to utter crap.
Women tend to be sensitive about this stuff because we get fewer opportunities. There are fewer women writing and directing films, and fewer women writing and drawing comics. And anyone who argues in comments that it’s because women don’t want to do those things or they simply aren’t good at them is getting soundly ignored. I want a woman director for the Twilight films because it will annoy me to see the woman director who created the opportunity for the sequel dumped and a “bankable” male director brought in.
I submit that whomever the director of New Moon is, the movie will 1. not bring in rabid outsider fans of that director’s work who wouldn’t have seen the movie anyway, and 2. do fantastically well at the box office even if it’s crap.
But the best way to make it not crap and to drive up demand for the remaining two installments would be to find a director who cares about the material, with all its faults, and looks at Hardwicke’s movie for a lead.
(I ain’t gonna lie–I’ll most likely see it even if Brett Ratner directs it.)