New Moon (Movie)

New Moon Poster Laying its every useful plot to inevitable appealing use, New Moon hit every note possible for fans. 

I don’t know about you, but I think maybe director Chris Weitz was nervous; while making New Moon he had to pull all stops available to his budget to please everyone. As we all know, the first instalment’s director was rumoured to have been fired. Why not? Her frenetic directing was widely panned. Perhaps Weitz identified that he needed enough verisimilitude to hook the audience, but not too much to freak them out. In short he did not find any need to add more than what was provided; the plot was by the book, enough to be plausible for the rabid fans and enough not to keep them for longer than two hours and ten minutes. And so far via that simple formula he achieved his commercial success. 

Within New Moon’s small universe, all it really wants is to jumpstart a tale of love triangle to end all love triangle stories, and it’s quite successful frankly. New Moon is a story of a young girl coming to terms with the absence of option to be with her choice and gets tangled with a rebound.  But I don’t want to spoil the grand narrative that so many young girls have fallen for, so you either read a decent summary, read the entire series or just watch it yourself. 

What was first notable in the opening scene was the musical scoring. It seemed to have made an effort to blend the scene well in order to guide the viewer’s focus on what emotion the scene is trying to convey. Although the pacing of the moon in the opening (to introduce the title of the movie) looked like an eclipse to me, I found that it was a decent attempt to be artsy. In addition, given that the demographic New Moon is catering to, there is a significant amount of quality non-commercial-formula music here. Artists  like Thome Yorke (Ear Damage), Anya Marina (Satellite Heart) and Bon Iver & St Vincent (Roslyn) graced the film and the collaboration was not as disposable as Paramour. 

Pattinson, Stewart and LautnerNow let’s get down to the actors and their characters. 

Kristen Stewart who plays Bella has remarkably improved her stoic acting. There are now more ranges in her facial expression compared to Twilight and she gradually owns a character so many of us doubted her with. While I felt the need for more acting flair, I’ve identified that there was a significant amount of effort in her part. It seems that she is more akin to looking tired, tortured and depressed than looking forlorn. The best scene she’s done was when she was static while the months from October to January flew by. I also enjoyed the simple way she looked when Billy Burke (Charlie Swan) was telling her that she needed to go. 

Robert Pattinson on the other hand, who for all his deficiencies as the main squeeze and wrangler of young girls, can never be accused of not trying. Although I’ve identified that he is chugging laboriously towards Edward’s essence (come on people, what is up with the unsightly stubbles and eewish chest hair?), he did try his best by spewing as much chutzpah proper for quoting Shakespeare. That, and getting his ass kicked by a little girl. Talk about well-mannered torture.Lautner, Stewart and Pattinson 

After Twilight presented us with the two main characters, the dust settles for the new hero, Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner. 

I am telling you he is a dead-serious hoot. I think I need not say more but for a warning, you’ll need to stitch your enthusiasm to keep from snickering over his hot bod. I am not afraid to admit that watching Lautner strut around sent scintillating chills down my spine. Depending on your tolerance, he can be brutally convincing that he is Jacob Black. And because of the ease, Lautner looks like he’s actually having the kind of good time morphing actors achieve. And I must say that his discipline to gain 30 lbs to earn the role roundly delivers. 

Unlike the book there’s no time for real tears in movies of this sort, though there’s plenty of space available to marvel the director’s ability for pacing done in soundless speediness (his time-lapse are smooth). Trust me, given that New Moon is over two hours, it held together quite well… well for the fans of the book.

 Ratings: starstarstarstar_halfstar_2

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The Historian

The HistorianThis is the story of how as a girl of sixteen, I went in search of my father and his past, and of how he went in search of his beloved mentor and his mentor’s own history, and of how we all found ourselves on one of the darkest pathways into history.

It opens simply and sometimes the simplest way is the best approach and foundation to an epistolary epic. From the first few words, it bolsters the extensive mammoth which is The Historian; a 909-paged debut novel written by American author Elizabeth Kostova. It is difficult to ignore and perhaps one of the most entertaining and enthralling post modern non-horror vampire story.

It will be most appealing to those who wish to revisit the tasty classic Gothic vampire (the kind that doesn’t glitter in the sunlight) fiction. Here, we meet the standard heroes who are garlic-toting travel addicts. Our villains on the other hand, are scared of the cross and sun but has a potent force to instigate utter fear and chaos.

The thing that most haunted me that day, however, as I closed my notebook and put my coat on to go home, was not my ghostly image of Dracula, or the description of impalement, but the fact that these things had – apparently – actually occurred. If I listened too closely, I thought, I would hear the screams of the boys, of the ‘large family’ dying together. For all his attention to my historical education, my father had neglected to tell me this: history’s terrible moments were real. I understand now, decades later, that he could never have told me. Only history itself can convince you of such a truth. And once you’ve seen that truth really seen it – you can’t look away.

 Our protagonist: Academics. Our antagonist: Dracula. It follows the recounting of a father and daughter’s dark meanderings after discovering a textless vellum. From here, they are torn apart by the need to find the truth in the disappearance of the people they care for and the cruel fate they’ve been forced into. We read vicious but clever events that stretch from Amsterdam, Budapest, Istanbul, Bulgaria and Philadelphia.

Although this is no Bram Stoker, looking at it via birds eye view can give you an idea that this is about exploring the infamous impaler of the 15th century; after his death and the disappearance of his body. It also puts together a great travelogue – like looking at old moving pictures – and detective story.

While I paced through The Historian, it came to me that this is a vampire equivalent of The Da Vinci Code. Which mostly means: facts, fiction, passports and melee. The thought played casually in my head, perhaps due to its primary genre which is thriller/ suspense. There isn’t much Bram Stoker-ish incidents in here but there is more than enough scare and blood for you to feel the need to flip its pages as your heart quickens with excitement. Suffice to say, it was difficult to put down. It was also very appealing that the novel provided memoirs and letters that offered personal and heartfelt considerations.

Upon realizing that this is about Vlad Tepes (or more famously known for his fictitious equivalent, Dracula), I’ve managed my expectations thinking it would be heavily laced with violence, hedonism and plenty of bitting. However, given that the character’s POV is purely academic, the plot is treated subjectively and if anything, it was outright intelligent. But note that the handful of frightening outcomes of certain events and seemingly harmless nights stimulate lingering fear and a dash of passion.

Despite its several mention of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, The Historian runs full steam with its own weight. And although Kostova has a flare for Victorian style of writing, she never loses her readers. She unceremoniously brings them along by intermingling research, intrigue and the occult. She also has a way of setting danger on a sort of foreplay that leaves you guessing if she will finally provide a climax or not. And if she ever does, there is a careful calculation of recant so you stay until she is ready to end the story.

It may be safe to say that it’s a timeless contemporary of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which concludes both triumphantly and sadly. But one thing is for sure, The Historian is a notch (or two) smarter than Ann Rice’s vampires. A must read for fang fans.

Notes:

Written By Elizabeth Kostova

Published by Little Brown in 2005

ISBN: 0-316-01177-0

Twilight (Movie)

twilight_movie-71711Twilight has steadily become a phenom that no decent person can guess a Mormon inked it. With a dash of Catherine Hardwicke (Lords Of Dogtown fame), the stage is set for a blockbuster flick even moms can appreciate. If you’ve been living under a rock the size of Forks Washington and don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you read it first before moving forward. But if you don’t have time, you can always read a shortcut.

I wanted to see the movie ahead of everybody else because I felt the need to know long before it gets blemished by lopsided opinions caused by the Edward Cullen Mania. We know that fans have gone gaga over the books because for some twisted reason it reminds us how it felt to be foolish and free again. And for most readers, it allows them to foster their ideology that life is a fairy tale. And as any normal human with a living beating throbbing heart, the need to live vicariously through other people’s lives have been a prevalent drive. So throw in a tortured soul with a James Dean-ish good looks (plus a James Franco swager) and an unlikely girl – that girl being you in your imaginations – attention is obtained. Seeing it in the big screen stokes the fire further.

So what about the movie? Well, there was a collective scream inside the theatre when the title went up and the decibel reached fever pitch when the audience saw a glimpse of the protagonist. Every now and then, a girl or two would let out a squeal declaring her affection. It would have been laughable if it weren’t so annoying (my seatmate kept muttering “Oh Edward” it was creepy). But I tried my best to focus on what I was watching and not give the legions of Edward Club a finger (he is not real! and be quiet, I’m watching here).

I took a mental note of the few things that I noticed and I hope it’s not just me – I have this nasty feeling no one is really watching the movie, they’re just watching Edward, I mean Robert Pattinson.

2933919966_6833244faf_o1>. Charlie is suddenly interesting. Billy Burke, the actor who played Charlie Swan, did a good job in being the good father that Charlie is. In the adaptation, he is more involved and conversant. There was more emotion in his character and although he had few lines, it was delivered well, matched with expressions that seemed to finish his sentence. And oh, I like that they added the pepper spray in there.

>. Fork’s Kids. Correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t Angela Webber end up with Ben Cheney and not that Asian guy Eric Yorkie? And the surfing, that was very Hardwicke. In the book, they seem to be a bunch of boring kids easily satisfied by long walks on the beach. Also, they seem more human … meaning more rowdy just like any high school kid.

>. Bella’s clumsiness. She wasn’t clumsy enough. She’ll trip a bit and slip once but it does not deduce that this girl is a magnet for accidents. She’s just a magnet for voyeur vampires with disco ball tendencies when the sun is out.

>.Jasper and his I’m constipated look, oh wait Edward does that too. Jackson Rathbone (the actor) is in need of another facial expression, anything but that look. I can’t help but laugh looking at him. He either looks like he needs to go to the bathroom or he needs to hurl. I understand that he is the new “vegetarian” in the family and he is channelling every possible strength not to kill, but can he not find another look a little less comical? He doesn’t look like he has a tortured soul, he looks like he just drank a dram of bad milk.

21twil600>. Edward and his “don’t push it, I can kill you” turmoil. Girl wants boy and boy wants girl. He creeps into her room to try something cool and she gives in. When things get hot and heavy, the poor boy cuts the act and keeps himself in check. Bummer! But that was one hell of a no tongue kiss; deeply sincere with a funny flying and hitting the wall ending.

>. Do vampires fly? They seem to be. The stunt elicited nothing but half-baked action that proved to be a menace instead of a draw. It suggests too much that it eventually appeared hokey. For a moment, I was waiting for a broom to appear under them.

>. It took Laureant a baseball game to realize he’s hanging out with the bad guys. Duh.

2933060117_972831a86d_oTwilight is challenged by the fact that it’s impossible to encapsulate a 500-paged book to two hours. So I allowed the very many missed events slip. Yet it summarized all the awkward lines that the book suffered. It also gave Edward the right amount of “I’m brooding” and “I’m happy” look. It didn’t linger in his melancholic wretchedness that Meyer thought to be sexy. Instead, it was cut to size to allow the little exposition of the story to travel smoother. Hardwicke also provided a better transition for the three nomad vampires (instead of just appearing suddenly towards the end). In the book, Bella loses consciousness and later finds out what happened in the ballet room. In the movie, it was realized by allowing the audience to watch two vampires slug it around.

The cinematography was also decent. It was able to afford the weather called for each scene. The green and cold surroundings transposed well in the shots that it numbs the desolate feeling of the fall season.

There are loose ends in Twilight but I tried to sink my teeth into it, yet I can only say I’m entertained. The book is much better, it almost always is.

Ratings: starstarstarstar_2star_2

The Lullaby I Hear From A Book … The Saga

What makes me crazier than usual is I can hear songs, scores, lullaby, and sound effects in my head when I read a good book. I get so lost that my fluidity from simply sitting in my room, reading, and transporting myself unknowingly in the pages of any book, is sublime. I failed to buy a new book the last time my friends and I went out so I’m left to reread one particular book that drove me to tears. Some books just have the careless ability to open old wounds. And soon after reading it, I heard a song on the radio that seemed appropriate for the closing credits … or maybe the part where the girl learns to move on or at least fake it.

For those who have read New Moon and hear Better In Time by Leona Lewis can perhaps understand why it’s been following me around like a shadow.

It’s been the longest winter without you. I didn’t know where to turn to. See somehow I can’t forget you. After all that we’ve been through. Going coming thought I heard a knock. Who’s there, no one. Thinking that I deserved it. Now I realize that I really didn’t know. If you didn’t notice, you mean everything. Quickly I’m learning to love again. All I know is I’ma be okay. Thought I couldn’t live without you. It’s gonna hurt when it heals too. It’ll all get better in time. And even though I really love you. I’m gonna smile cause I deserve to. It’ll all get better in time. How could I turn on the TV. When there’s something there to remind me. Was it all that easy. To just put aside your feelings. If I’m dreaming don’t wanna let hurt my feelings. But that’s the path I believe in. And I know that time will heal it. If you didn’t notice. Boy you meant everything. Quickly I’m learning to love again. All I know is I’ma be okay. Thought I couldn’t live without you. It’s gonna hurt when it heals too. It’ll all get better in time. And even though I really love you. I’m gonna smile ‘coz I deserve to. It’ll all get better in time. Since there’s no more you and me. It’s time I let you go. So I can be free. And live my life how it should be. No matter how hard it is. I’ll be fine without you. Yes I will. Thought I couldn’t live without you. It’s gonna hurt when it heals too. It’ll all get better in time. And even though I really love you. I’m gonna smile ‘coz I deserve to. It’ll all get better in time.

Twilight Over Half Blood

I’m sure you’ve heard it by now but if you still haven’t, they are moving The Half Blood Price’s screening from November of ’08 to July of ’09.

I’ve already planned my November calendar and this one swims against it. From my trip, I’ll fly back to the city and catch the movie. But since it’s not going to happen anymore, I think going back from my vacation from cold cold north will not be very exciting as I hoped it would be.

harry, hermione and ron
Harry, Hermione and Ron

Harry Potter

Apparently there have been issues with the movie’s editing that they had to bring it back to the chopping board for a more fit version. The recent writers strike influenced the stability of the script prompting a need to rethink and innovate the loose ends. In addition, the motivation for a tricky change of date is that there won’t be anything big for U.S. Summer ’09. Perhaps what Warner Brothers is after is the same wave the Dark Knight rode on. It is hard to deny that the juggernaut that is Batman had things set for them having no equal competition in the market. Summer blockbuster almost always transmit bigger income as opposed to a fall release. Records show that Order of the Phoenix reeled in more than the other HP movies because it released mid-summer.

Edward, Bella and Jacob
Edward, Bella and Jacob

Twilight

With the untimely change in the line up for November film release, Summit Entertainment saw the opportunity and jumped the track. They are now releasing Twilight on November 21 instead of December 12. This new-born phenomena authored by a supposed JK Rowling wannabe, saw a window difficult to pass. Twilight has been building enough momentum to be noticed, that cradling the very much peeved Potter fans became difficult to pass. Its potential is believed to be strong enough to make the Twilight Series a franchise.

With or without replacement, it’s hard to deny that so many fans are upset with Warner Brothers decision. It’s rather difficult to see past the fact that they’ve already made an announcement and we’re missing Harry Potter this 2008.

Twilight better be worth it.