About Me

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I'm an NYC-based director, and this is an outlet for my various musings about theater and about the city of New York. Sometimes the subjects run together, sometimes they are entirely separate, but between the two they comprise the most fitful, most intense, most trying love affair of my few years. They fill my head, my heart, my mouth every hour of every day; they could fill a book.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Why Breaking Dawn Is the Worst Movie Ever

I'm taking an immediate break from my new task to find what I love to do in order to tell you why Breaking Dawn was the worst movie I've ever seen in my entire life.

That is not a hyperbole.

Watching it, I kept thinking, I can say with absolute confidence that this is THE worst movie I have ever seen. And I've seen all the other Twilight movies. No, seriously, there is nothing right about this movie.

And let's just talk about the problems with the movie. Let's not go into my problems with the source material. Let's not re-hash the fact that Bella is basically THE WORST ROLE MODEL EVER for adolescent girls because not only does she seem to have no interests, ideas or identity beyond her sparkly boyfriend, but she actually ceases to be able to function when he's not around and repeatedly puts herself IN MORTAL PERIL just to hear his voice. Or how annoyed I get that she acts so superior to her classmates and all their silly, childish thoughts and interests when, in fact, they are the ones who seem to be living healthy, active, grounded lives. Or how impossibly frustrated I become when I think about the fact that this book is lauded as having a positive message for teenage girls just because it promotes abstinence until marriage, completely overlooking all the other poor decisions it glorifies, like getting married at 18; obsessive, co-dependent relationships; and, oh, I don't know, WILLING TO DIE FOR A BOY. I mean, SERIOUSLY people, she wants to sacrifice her identity, her life and her SOUL to be with Edward. And this is a good thing? We're supposed to LIKE this girl?

Oh, whoops. I guess I did end up talking about it. Sometimes I start ranting about Twilight and I just can't stop.

Anyway, back to the movie, which could have been four short, expository scenes:

Bella and Edward get married.

Bella and Edward go on their honeymoon. They have hot, if slightly kinky, sexy-time.

Bella finds out she is pregnant, possibly with a scary demon baby. Everybody worries.

Bella gives birth to aforementioned scary demon baby, and subsequently becomes a vampire.

Done and done. If you're wondering how they stretched these scenes out into an excruciatingly long two hours, save your money, cause I'm about to tell you.

Let's start with scene one.

Bella and Edward Get Married.
She walks down the aisle, they look lovingly at each other, they say I do. THE END. This is EXPOSITION, folks. This is SET-UP. THIS IS NOT PLOT. And yet, it takes up maybe the first third of the movie.

Because we have to have a detailed reaction to the wedding invitation from every single person that Bella or Edward has ever met ever. (Relatedly: if you happened to be betting on how long it takes Taylor Lautner to shed his shirt, if you guessed longer than two seconds, you totally lost.) And we get a weird wedding nightmare where Bella finds herself atop a pile of her bloody, mutilated friends and family. Why? Don't know. The idea that Bella's loved ones are in danger never ever factors into the movie again. Not even vaguely. Though it does explain the otherwise completely inexplicable look of panic/indigestion that Kristen Stewart sports throughout her walk down the aisle and basically the entire rest of the movie.

Everyone else, go about your business for a sec. Grab a snack. Check your email. I need a quick word just with K-Stew. Kristen. Listen. You are ALLOWED to have more than one expression. In fact, I would say it's ADVISABLE. It's not good acting if you always looked distressed. Especially if you're supposed to be ecstatically happy. Shhh. Trust me.

Okay, everyone, you can return. Back to the wedding: we also get (most unbearably of all) an impossibly long, overwrought walk down the aisle, punctuated by long, overwrought stares at each other - which mean that they're in love - underscored by an overwrought, emo/hipster soundtrack. All of which culminates in a kiss where (originally) everyone watching disappears, and is SO long (and tongue-y) it made me feel awkward not only for myself, but for every fictional person in attendance at that fictional wedding.

This is pretty much the entire movie

The long, overwrought, entirely unnecessary pauses between every line of dialogue and deep, meaningful looks that I can only assume are supposed to communicate the deep emotion that Bella and Edward feel continues as...

Bella and Edward Go On Their Honeymoon
First of all, I have NEVER seen anybody look so pissed off to unexpectedly be on vacation in Rio. Seriously, Kristen. It's not bad acting to smile once in a while.

Second of all, I can almost forgive unbelievably drawn out staring and sighing and plaintive music here because at least it's kind of sexy. Except before we get to anything even remotely resembling sexy-time, we get what feels like LIFETIMES of them staring at each other, and then staring at the house, and then staring at each other some more, and then staring at the bed, and then staring at each other some more. And this is AFTER the taxi ride during which they stare at each other, and then stare pensively out the window, and then stare at each other some more, until they get to the boat in which they...

You get the point.

Additionally, after a night of enjoyable, if rough, passion, Edward decides that he will never touch Bella again, even though she's literally begging for sex. "Last night was the most amazing night of my life," Bella says at one point. "Why don't you believe that?" Hmm, I don't know, Bella, maybe it's because you only have ONE EXPRESSION and you currently look like you're about to puke.

But Edward is having none of it; he can't risk hurting her as she is SUCH delicate flower, unable to make decisions or assess risks on her own. I'd be annoyed at the chauvinism here, except, Edward, I can't say I blame you - Bella hasn't exactly asserted herself as a strong or independent woman.

So, anyway, you say a drawn-out, overwrought chess-playing montage can't be done? I say nay! Because it happens here, and we don't even get the sexy to make it palatable.

(Oh, and PS, maybe it's just the Sarah Lawrence feminist coming out of me, but I find the entire idea of sex and sexuality in this movie to be almost offensively patriarchal. "Last night was the most amazing night of my life"? Please. Why is (first-time!) sex by its strictest heterosexual definition so A) important and B) earth-shatteringly, life-changingly ah-maz-ing? I'm pretty sure they could have reached some sort of compromise, if-ya-know-what-I-mean, that in reality Bella would have probably found more satisfying. And also? I find it hypocritical and gross that despite (or perhaps because of) its message of abstinence, sex is treated as this be-all, end-all of relationships, the holy grail of two people being together. It's such a disgusting exemplification of the simultaneously overly-puritanical and over-sexed society we live in.)

... Sorry.

Anyway, eventually...

Bella Finds Out She's Pregnant, Possibly with a Demon Baby. Everybody Worries.
This scene comprises the bulk of the movie, and can basically be boiled down to the following: everyone in the world gathers around Bella because she is So Special, and commence stroking her face and looking concerned about her.

That's it.

Okay, Jacob and his band of werewolves briefly pop up. And, to be fair, Jacob occasionally surfaced in the previous two scenes as well, largely to repeat the some variation of the line: "I'm worried about Bella's safety and wish I could kill Edward." In scene three, he accidentally sics his werewolves on Bella (oops!), but then he goes over to warn everybody, and they invite him into their circle of face-stroking and concerned looks.

Again: that's it.

Bella Gives Birth to Aforementioned Scary Demon Baby, and Subsequently Becomes a Vampire.
You'd think this part would be exciting, because the demon baby (which is not actually a demon baby at all, snooze) breaks her back and then Edward eats it out of her stomach.

You'd think.

But no, this part of the story is shot from Bella's point of view who, in true Twilight fashion, blacks out during the most interesting part.

The werewolves come to kill Bella too, which you'd also think would get interesting, but right as the fight starts to heat up, Jacob comes out and tells them they all have to leave and they just do.

Seriously?? Has anybody involved with this project ever even read a story? Do you not know how this works?

So anyway, that's that. The movies pretty much over at this point, except for the part where it's really not at all. Bella is basically dead and Edward has... injected vampire venom into her heart? Um, sure, okay. The point is, WE ALL KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING. DOES ANYBODY NOT SEE WHERE THIS IS GOING?

And yet, before Bella can turn into a vampire and the movie can end, we need at least ten minutes of Edward looking sad, and Jacob looking angry, and back to Edward trying to save her again, and back to Jacob looking sad. And then a weird CSI-inspired sequence of the vampire venom inside Bella's body, and then more of Edward looking sad, and Jacob looking angry, and Edward trying to save her, and Jacob looking sad and oh my sweet lord we all know that Bella is going to turn into a vampire please for the love of god just make it happen. Look, I'm not a playwright, but I'm pretty sure it's not suspense if everybody knows what's going to happen.

And then, when you think you just can't handle it any longer, then and only then do Bella's eyes open all red and vampire-like and the worst movie in the entire world is finally over.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Next?

Something I read while meandering the interwebs struck me recently. I thought it was from this poster, but I guess I'm reading/latching on to way more inspirational garble than I realized. Anyway, the sentiment that struck me was something along the lines of, "Do what you love and the money will follow."

I suppose it makes since that a thought like that would stand out to me, as I've been back in New Mexico for about a month and a half, and did not expect to be jobless and adrift for so long. (Being jobless and adrift is why I left New York, people!) So you could say I am currently deeply ingrained in the process of figuring out how to make the money follow and, if we're being totally honest, what exactly I love in the first place.

Upon reflection, here's what I think: if I had read this in New York, I would have been angry, because doing what I want to do without working about the money was a luxury I simply didn't have. I wished I had it a million times over, every time I saw an internship I couldn't apply for, a volunteer opportunity I couldn't make time for, a class I couldn't take. And now I do have that luxury. Having that luxury is a big part of why, at almost 30, I moved back in with my parents.

So why am I worrying so much about getting a job?

With that in mind, I've been thinking about things that I could do, would do, if I weren't worried about making money. It's time to change my attitude. Full speed ahead.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rose in Harlem

Look up and just a little to the left. Unless you’re reading this from an RSS feed (in which case, hey, thanks for adding me) you’re going to see a little picture of a yellow rose winding out of a city window. This icon is my avatar for both my blog and my Twitter feed. I love this icon. Until a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would ever want to change it.

The picture itself was snapped by me back in 2006. My roommate (one of four of us, squeezed into a little apartment up on 145th) had brought the plant back from work one day, a heavy, green, sickly thing. She told us it was a rose “bush,” although from the wilted sight of it, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. She was determined to nurse the tiny plant back to health; I predicted it would finish dying by the end of the week. But my roommate was gentle and attentive: she pruned back its dying leaves, repotted it, gave it food and water and what little light our alley-facing kitchen could afford. Within a few months it became a sturdy stalk, waxy, thorny and altogether definitely resembling the plant from which roses grow. Still, despite its metamorphosis, I could not have been more surprised the day I saw a little yellow bud appear on the stalk, a bud which proceeded to bloom, expand, and wind itself across our window.

The image of a little yellow rose bud blooming against all odds has been a powerful symbol for the life I persevered toward in New York. It is to me, a sign of hope – the possibility of life, of beauty, even through the smog and sulfur of that impossible city. The visible proof of what enough care and dedication can do.

When I started thinking about my move back to Albuquerque, I thought briefly about retiring the icon, wondering if the “rose in Harlem,” image really made sense anymore. But its depiction of hope and my wish to find and nurture beauty even in unlikely places still held true. So, so far, it’s stayed.

There’s another reason, though, that I chose to let a picture of a rose represent me online. I’ve always liked the idea that my face is more or less invisible to the general virtual public. When I first started working as a director in New York City, I found that my biggest handicap when it came to finding work was my youth. Not my inexperience, my youth. People didn’t even want to talk to me. They didn’t want to get to know me long enough to find out how inexperienced I was. My face told them all they needed to know. I went through a phase where I made a deliberate effort to “dress like a 30-year-old,” (whatever that meant) under the wisdom that one should dress for the job she wants, not the job she has. People ten years older than me were getting the jobs I wanted, I thought logically, so I should dress ten years older than I am.

That was a long time ago; I was barely past 20 then, now I’m nearing 30 for real. But I still have a very young face, and a very soft, girlish look. When I started talking to other artists online, I sort of relished the idea that I would be judged solely for my ideas and not for the way I look. Nobody would be able to say to me, “You’re too young, too cutesy, too blonde to contribute to this conversation.”

But I’m not in New York anymore, nor desperately seeking theater work. I’m looking for new kinds of work now. I want to find the community; I want to find and nurture the beautiful local arts, business, and culture we have here. And I’d like to write, really. I’d like to turn this blogging, which I’ve enjoyed so much, into something more.

And I’m new here. Maybe it’s a good idea to put a face to a name. That way, I might see somebody on the street or at a party and they’ll say, “Hey, I know you. You’ve got that amazing blog I’ve been reading. Here, have a job.”

It will happen exactly like that.

In any case, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s a help or a hindrance to have my face a tiny bit obscured. And I’m wondering if it’s worth it to part with my beloved rose.

What do you think? Are you ever judged, correctly or incorrectly, on the way that you look? Have you ever hidden your face (or put it everywhere) as a strategic move?