Monday, December 7, 2009

NEW MOON AND THE PEPTO BISMOL SCHOOL OF ACTING: A GUEST REVIEW BY KELLY RIAD



“Here, here will I remain with worms that are thy chamber-maids; O, here will I set up my everlasting rest; and shake the yoke of inauspicious stars from this world-wearied flesh.”

There’s a reason Shakespeare has endured the ever-changing map of humanity. The man (or men, depending on whichever conspiracy theory you subscribe to) could write. His mastery of words painted pictures so beautiful, that he invoked emotions the heart knew not it had. His plays have been recreated on stage and screen; either left alone or twisted and transformed to adapt to the current state of society.

Those words above came from his decidedly most famous play, “Romeo and Juliet.” It was said by author, Stephenie Meyer, that the play had inspired the second novel in her best-selling The Twilight Saga series, NEW MOON.

Let’s just start there—Saga. The word means any narrative or legend of heroic exploits.

Against two warring families and age-old mutinies, two teenagers found love, lost loved ones and each other, and yet despite all their obstacles, not even death could keep them apart.

It’s brazen, at best, to compare NEW MOON to Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers. Despite the lack of heroics, what’s really at loss? The soul? The humanity? Fortunately both were safe since I didn’t see either in this movie. What I did see was young Hollywood’s attempt to be taken seriously and falling far from the mark.

But they cannot solely be to blame. Some, if not a lot, of the fault lies within the pages of the books themselves. Let me say this. I was a faithful follower, preaching the gospel of TWILIGHT to any who would listen. Passing the books around, I might as well have been wearing a white, short-sleeved button up dress shirt with a black tie, riding a bike from house to house. The first movie cured me of this madness. The second was like trying to smoke a cigarette after years of having quit—it just made me gag and left a terrible taste in my mouth.

My friend, Aubrey, and I decided to make a day of our NEW MOON watching experience. We took a half-day at work, had lunch at this great burger joint called Twisted Root, where you’re given a character’s name to pick up your order. She was Cindy Lauper. I was given Bella Swan. It was kismet.

The matinee of NEW MOON could otherwise be known as the Walk of Shame showing. The patrons were all older, there were a few couples. Even in the darkened theater, you could see the guilt on their faces. We staked our seats in the middle, propped up our feet on the chairs in front, and huddled in for worst.

Simply the opening had me rolling my eyes. Aubrey and I giggled, snickered and snorted (well, I snorted) through most of the movie. On more than one occasion, I felt the urge to call an ambulance for Kristen Stewart’s eye-fluttering, nostril-flaring, heavy-breathing, epileptic histrionics. While this story is supposed to be about pure, passionate love, if someone looked at me with the twisted, constipated face Robert Pattinson’s Edward looks upon Bella, I wouldn’t shed a tear to see him walk away.

And then there’s Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black—well, at least he made eye contact while delivering his lines.

The scenes of tortured dreams Bella suffers after Edward’s leaving apparently translated into sounds of actual torture on the screen, with Stewart sounding more like she was in labor, then love’s labour’s lost. And somewhere in all of this, was the complete lack of emotion. The “Ouch. Paper cut” acting depicting a tale that has prompted a maelstrom of emotion from its readers, to the point where women tattoo the words on their bodies, girlfriends dump their boyfriends, and people are divided into “teams,” and yet the characters move from scene to scene with little more than a blip on the emotional radar.

This has already been said, but it’s one of the few things worth noting about the movie. The Volturi were the lone beacon in this dark, moonless night. Michael Sheen is mesmerizing. His very small amount of time on screen is the only break you receive where you can actually get lost in the story, where you forget you’re watching a bunch of twenty-somethings play make-believe. Dakota Fanning, with few lines but much more spoken in the simple expressions on her face, restored faith in the future of Hollywood and entertainment. You watch her and sigh, thinking, “Thank God, she will endure.”

The movie ended with Aubrey and me standing up and nearly bolting for the exit. We usually linger awhile in our seats, enjoying the music of the end credits, letting the whole experience sink in before we leave the movie world and re-enter reality.

I honestly don’t know what it is about the books that has made them literary crack. The characters are flawed, and not in a way that makes them endearing or relatable. Bella is boring, somewhat psychotic, and completely submissive. Edward is possessive, controlling, and melodramatic. Jacob is manipulative and inconsiderate. The story’s been done before—even Meyer’s admitted the books that inspired her. There’s no real sacrifice. Should our hearts break for Bella because her high school boyfriend dumped her? And yet we couldn’t get enough of the books. We couldn’t, until we saw the movies.

I give NEW MOON 1 Kristen Stewart lower lip bite out of 5. NEW MOON is the girl you pick up in a bar you thought was hot—you get hammered and go home with the book; you wake up sober with the movie.

4 comments:

the hamster said...

kelly -

this is great. you may get some debates on this, but it's great. i especially love the last line about going home drunk with the book and waking up sober with the movie. that is priceless! i'm stealing that line.

keep the hits coming. and tell your husband to send me some zombie film/book reviews.

Tiffani R said...

I don't know you Kelly, but I like you already. A friend of mine recommended the series but I'm not all that into vampire stories so I had my mom (who is) read Twilight. Her report, "Wow. This book is boring - why is it so popular?"
Needless to say, I did not read any of the books - but was tempted by the movies........
until I saw some clips and realized that apparently the new cool way to act on screen is: completely emotionless.

When New Moon came out, I could feel my resolve breaking. My friends are all into the books and movies and so I thought, "well, maybe this is like LOTR - I didn't really like the first one, but the second one hooked me in.... maybe I should see these movies after all."

Thankfully, your review comes just in time to stop me from wasting $13 (seriously, $13 not including popcorn!). I'll save my money and go see Sherlock Holmes after Christmas instead.

John Barber said...

I love having such disparate opinions on a movie... It takes me back to the old days of THE HAPPENING...

Great work, Kelly!

myleswerntz said...

Ah, the Happening--I'm still right on that one.

I LOVED the last line of this review. Thanks, Kelly.