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Total eclipse of the art?

Eclipse, the third film in the Twilight franchise, based on the Mormon-authored teen-celibate-vampires-&-werewolves-saga, has been getting a mauling at the hands of some British critics in today's FT and Guardian that would make Jacob's doggy fury seem like wee batsqueak.  This one is better than the second, which was dire - slow, and often terribly flat.

The first film is a classic of high school longing and angst, and by far the coolest and funniest.  However, this one, though also flat in places, is never dull for long.  Instead, the B-plot, a growing army of newborn Seattle-based grungy vampires planning to come and massacre Bella and by extension Forks, is constantly intercut, to only slightly jarring effect, with the soapy romantic (and bizarre) love triangle between the undead Edward, and the incredibly buff Jacob.

This is the part I enjoyed.  The romance - easily as emotive and moving as anything in a James Dean film, or any equivalent coming of age teen movie you'd care to name (Say Anything) - is filmed against a backdrop of snowy peaks and green firs worthy of David Lean.  This gives the lovers an epic film.  The screen kiss between Bella and (gasp) Jacob is very thrilling and lovely.  I dare anyone with a heart and adolescent bone in their body to not be impressed.  There are some good join-forces-with-the-enemy jokes.

Kristen Stewart has eclipsed both male leads Pattinson and Lautner in the beauty department - her onscreen charisma factor is very high indeed, and she makes dark-haired girls the new blondes.  I'd nominate her for an Oscar for this film.  She has imbued Bella with the fiery spirit of Scarlet O'Hara, and the haunting anguish of Ilsa, in Casablanca - two classics this franchise bases key beats on.  Critics who complain about this must be humourless grumps (sorry, Peter!).  Give me a break.  Eclipse is the summer swoon flick.  Blood simple.


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With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.