One of the perks of being a famous actor AND having a number of fancy graduate degrees is that you get to write essays about movies for the Paris Review (named for a city Franco himself once dicknosed!). James Franco recently took on Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part One (a film Franco once expressed interest in appearing in) for the fancy-pants periodical, and he did it in what I must say is most Armond White-ian fashion. He compared Twilight side by side with Alexander Payne’s The Descendants, much like Armond did with Kick-Ass and Lady Gaga’s Telephone (or Arthur and Your Highness). Okay, fine, so the parallel review is a classic device. I just wanted to connect Professor Dicknose with the Trollmaster General somehow. It seemed apt.
The movies are in many ways very different [you don't say!]. 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).
Saying something “devalues motherhood” seems abstract and not particularly useful to me, but I did sort of feel the same way about the financial component in The Descendants, where half the plot was George Clooney, playing the heir to a massive real estate trust in Hawaii, trying to decide what to do with his kingly fiefdom. And his eventual decision wasn’t exactly populist. Meanwhile, I haven’t seen Twilight, but it doesn’t seem like you’d have to stretch the material to achieve vapidity.
[on Twilight] 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 f*ck 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. [ParisReview]
What can we imagine? That they want to bang the dude of the team they root for? Jeez, for a guy who films dong-flopping gay basketball films and once sat in the room while a male prostitute earned his fare, he sure seems demure all of a sudden. I think it’s interesting that just putting on the film critic hat is enough to make even James Franco seem like kind of a prig. I was kind of hoping that he’d dicknose the entire profession. It’s what we’ve come to expect.