Talking Movies

October 31, 2020

They did the mash, the monster mash

It is a dark and stormy night.

Three thunderous knocks on a door.

The heavy door creaks open, faint classical music in background.

VIKTOR: Oh God, it’s you, Monster.

MORRIE: Master, we’ve been through this. (beat) You know I prefer Morrie.

VIKTOR: (sighs) What do you want?

MORRIE: I was just leaving the barn and noticed all the chandeliers blazing away in the mansion. Are you … having a party?

VIKTOR: What?! No… Nooo, I was just … looking for something.

MORRIE: And you left the candles burning in all the rooms?

VIKTOR: Morrie, you may not have noticed this, but, I’m really, really rich.

MORRIE: Well, see, I also thought I heard music.

VIKTOR: Oh! Um, Gundula is just messing about on the piano.

MORRIE: I thought I heard strings.

VIKTOR: She’s lilting the violin part.

MORRIE: There’s more than one violin part, it’s the Trout Quintet.

VIKTOR: She’s throwing her voice.

A faint trumpet.

MORRIE: That was a trumpet!!

VIKTOR: Okay!! Fine! (beat) I have a small chamber orchestra in the mansion, because (beat) I am in fact … having a party.

MORRIE: And you didn’t invite me… (beat) Are Dracula’s Wyrd Sisters here?

VIKTOR: That’s Count Dracula to you, peasant! And … yes, they are. And what’s it to you whether they’re here or not anyway? You’re a married man!

MORRIE: HA! Some marriage. She can’t stand the sight of me!

VIKTOR: Oh come on, you two were literally made for each other.

MORRIE: You were there! She took one look at me, and screamed. Not a word, just a shriek of despair when she saw my face.

VIKTOR: Well, who wouldn’t shriek when they see your face for the first time.

MORRIE: What?…

VIKTOR: Without wishing to hurt your feelings, Morrie, I could have done better. This hideous looking face, the bolts, I mean, you’re not my best work. If we’re being perfectly honest I was only 60-40 certain of success with you. If I’d been 80-20 I would have rooted around the graveyard a bit more for better materiel, like I did with the Bride. That’s why she’s such a knockout.

MORRIE: Talking of knockouts! (beat) HUBBA HUBBA! Who is that foxy lady?

Viktor slams the door shut. Faint music disappears.

VIKTOR: Are you trying to get us both torn limb from limb?! You better hope she didn’t hear that. You can’t call her a foxy lady, she’s a wolf-woman. That happens to be Miss Lycanthrope Bohemia.

MORRIE: Oh Master, you got to let me in to this party.

VIKTOR: No, absolutely not. You can’t come in, for two reasons. First, I have a lot of sophisticated ladies in there. Not only do I have Miss Lycanthrope Bohemia, but I also have three former Miss Transylvanias; one of whom went on to be Miss Balkans The last thing I need is you (beat) rampaging around the place roaring ‘HUBBA HUBBA’ at them. Second, I have the Golem of Prague in there, and he’s a very nervous character. One look at your misbegotten misshapen just awful face and he might go to pieces, literally. Then instead of driving him home to the Chief Rabbi in my best carriage in the morning, I’m shipping him back in crates. And Shlomo is a personal friend. I don’t want to tell him he’s got to do the Kabbalah magick from scratch again over some clay because my Monster scared the life out of his Golem.

MORRIE: (beat) Sometimes I think you just try to be hurtful.

VIKTOR: Oh, don’t I do enough for you, Morrie? For instance, don’t you and the Bride have to go to couples counselling at 9 tonight, with the therapist I suggested?

MAURICE: How did you know that?

VIKTOR: What?

MAURICE: We always go at 5, but Dr Bergmann sent a carrier pigeon to the barn earlier, moving it to 9, and I haven’t been out since then, and neither has the Bride, so… Wait…

Viktor noisily opens the door. Faint music reappears.

VIKTOR: So, if you’ll just be on your way, I have a party to get back to…

MAURICE: (beat) The only way you would have known … it had been moved to 9 … was if you asked Dr Bergmann to move it to 9, just to keep me away while you were having a party!

VIKTOR: Okay!! Fine! You got me.

MAURICE: Master, if you don’t let me in to this party, I’m, I’m going to do something drastic!

VIKTOR: Oh yeah, like what?

MAURICE: I’m, I’m going to gatecrash the next party you throw. And by God, won’t you be sorry then, Viktor!

VIKTOR: That’s Baron Frankenstein to you, peasant!

Viktor slams the door, then immediately creaks it open again.

VIKTOR: If you pass Igor on your way tell him to forget the new silverware, the werewolves are being picky enough eaters as it is without that slap in the face.

November 18, 2011

Breaking Dawn: Part I

Respected writer/director Bill Condon takes the helm of the good ship Twilight, and surprisingly runs it onto the rocks of tonal inconsistency and painful protraction.

This is a film of three parts, each deeply flawed. First Edward and Bella get married in an incredibly prolonged section. The sublime Billy Burke has a number of wonderful comedic moments as Bella’s father. He snipes with Bella’s mother Sarah Clarke, instantly notices the wall of graduation caps the Cullens suspiciously possess, and gives a deliriously pointed wedding speech. Edward and Bella then fly to a private island off Rio for their honeymoon in an incredibly prurient section. Bella wants to be turned after the honeymoon, a decision Jacob doesn’t take too well, given Edward’s super-strength. Edward is equally concerned about the ‘Man of Steel, Woman of Tissue’ conundrum, though bizarrely his focus for potential lethal injury is her arms and shoulders, and he knocks Bella up while knocking her about in bed and destroying the room. Edward’s dumbstruck horror at this unplanned pregnancy sees Robert Pattinson set a high benchmark for comedy reaction shots for others to follow.

Bella returns to the Cullen house to deliver her vampire child, in the final section of the film. Sam, leader of the wolf pack, declares this abomination a violation of the treaty and encircles the Cullen house. Jacob insists on protecting Bella against them, but her all-devouring baby might kill her first as Kristen Stewart wastes away impressively. There’re wonderful comedic moments for the Cullens, surrounded by werewolves and desperate for blood, as well as some presumably politico-allegorical strife between Alice who refers to the foetus while Rosalie refers to the baby. Fellow werewolf Leah tells Jacob “Happiness of any kind is better than being miserable over someone you can never have” but this is countermanded by the pregnant Bella’s bizarre statement to Jacob, “It feels complete with you here”, as Edward looks aghast at this Jules and Jim proposition. The heavily-flagged werewolf ‘imprinting’ sequence is actually effective, but its first shot is so unintentionally funny as to undercut it.

Any notion that splitting the finale was an artistic rather than a commercial decision is dispelled by this film not reaching the 2 hour mark yet, like The Art of Getting By, being farcically padded with pointless montages in the hope that mediocre pop songs will disguise that sod all really happens. Melissa Rosenberg, Dexter producer and screenwriter of the entire saga, enjoys herself with a flashback revealing that a rebellious Edward killed murderers, a monster that killed monsters, as he dubs himself. Just in case you didn’t get the reference Dexter’s brother (Christian Camargo) shows up at the wedding as Edward’s cousin, accompanied by a blink and you’ll miss her Maggie Grace. Film though is a director’s medium. Condon starts promisingly with a self-referential gag as Edward kills someone during Bride of Frankenstein, featured in Condon’s biopic of its director James Whale. But thereafter Condon’s lethargic tone-deaf direction seems to say “This is beneath me, but it pays well”.

David Slade’s approach to directing Eclipse, by contrast, seemed to be saying “This is a great opportunity, and I can make it plenty nasty”. Slade of course had a better plot to work with, because Eclipse had a plot, but Condon renders the honeymoon sequence excruciating to watch with its Austin Powers choreography and unarticulated sexual nervousness, while the tartness Slade brought to handling the love triangle is largely absent throughout. Condon only achieves the required supernatural nastiness, which Hardwicke and Slade used to ground the eyelid-fluttering lip-biting romance, in the closing horror scenes which seem to be as gory as the rating allows, with the final image being cheered at my screening. But that final image sums up the film: you can see it coming for about 90 seconds but Condon still builds up to it very, very slowly – laziness or high camp?

Condon moves into Whale pastiche with his campy ending, credits and post-credits sequence – offering hope that a Fassbendering British actor might save the final film.

2/5

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