Monday, November 23, 2009

What Up With That: New Moon

Two things fairly dominated my weekend. The first was getting the theme song for Keenan Thompson's SNL skit, "What Up With That" stuck in my head for two days, as it still is stuck in my head. The second was capping off an otherwise enjoyable weekend by going to see New Moon on Sunday night.

I've already talked about my feelings on the Twilight series, book form. I saw the Catherine Hardwicke-directed first movie alone in an empty theater in Spokane after the Twilight craze was already full blown and still contagious. I subsequently read the books but, for me, it has always been that first movie that captured the best of overblown teenage melodrama on par with The Breakfast Club and Say Anything. It was lovelorn stickiness glossed over with a gorgeous and haunting Carter Burwell score, "I love you" a million times and still somehow barely stale, even amid sparkly skin and googly-eyed montage. It was teenage melodrama Art.

If the first movie took everything that was good about Stephanie Meyer's books and made it better, the second movie takes everything not good about the books and makes it worse. But what do you expect from a male director, much less someone responsible for the American Pie franchise. (If anything, Pie movies are the antithesis of what the Twilight story is; a boy fantasy full of pants-off shenanigans, while Twi-heroes Edward and Jacob are girl-swoon gentlemen all the way.)

And so, the Art is gone. Same goes for any continuation of the Carter Burwell score, which is heartbreakingly substituted with a generic Hollywood Movie mix that blends into the background. All the Hardwicke details are gone, replaced with terrible ancient-vampire wigs. Supposedly fashion-forward Alice Cullen is dressed in clothes only a grandmother would find stylish. Bella's night terrors? Laughable. Conscience-ghost Edward appearances?  Stupid all the way to their swirling-smoke disappearances.

The worst is that Twi-hards having gotten over-obsessed to the point of loving any film adaptation that stays true enough to the books, and not realizing that it isn't the books alone that make these films. Because the source material isn't The Grapes of Wrath; making a good film from them takes an artistic sensibility, a gentle-enough perspective, which Chris Weitz doesn't have. Doesn't anyone see what could have been?

It was just a year ago that Twi-hards successfully rallied to keep Taylor Lautner in the role of Jacob Black when producers wanted to replace him with someone more buff. They should have rallied around Catherine Hardwick as well. (I'll just unleash my rampant feminism here and say,) But a woman hardly ever gets that same kind of support.

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