Friday, November 28, 2008

Transcendentally Twilight

My sis Kat wanted to review Twilight also. Here are her thoughts on the movie...

Transcendentally Twilight: Twilight movie guest review, 11/25/08

I must disclose that I am the blood sister of a woman who's converted forty-one people into the world of Twilight. I am one of the forty-one disciples. That's no small feat. When Jane started blogging about Twilight earlier this year, I thought she was writing about a paranormal tale of aliens coming to take over this earth. Something has taken over this earth indeed, but I'd say the Cullens are much more attractive than aliens.

While reading the saga and taking in all the hype about the movie in post-production, about three things I was positive: First, the trailers were broodingly seductive and awakened the latent gothic adolescent in me. Second, under Catherine Hardwicke's creative force, I knew the movie was going to be magical. And third, Rob Pattinson is easily the sexiest vampire of all time, beating out the favorite vampire of my youth, Kiefer Sutherland.

When I was in art school, the subject of transporting your viewer into the realm of the work often came up. After all, that was the hallmark of greatness. Is the viewer transcended from their everyday world, into the world of fantasy spread before them? Reading Stephenie Meyer's books, I crossed that bridge often. In the movie, my ticket to transcendence occurred during the meadow, the kiss, and the prom scenes. Not surprisingly, those were moments when Edward and Bella's intimacy were captured at their most electric.

Cinematographically, the meadow was beautiful and lush yet dark, mystical, dangerous and foreboding. It conjured up memories of Brothers Grimm fairy tales. When Edward trapped Bella between his arms and began the lines, "and so the lion fell in love with the lamb...," I was totally transported into the ether between them, for all its unselfconscious sincerity and yearning. Fade to the next shot of Edward and Bella lying on the bed of moss, not touching, eyes just locked in a mesmerizing gaze as the camera swirled slowly above them. This is the essence of the deeply archetypal meadow scene: Lovers, lying side by side, in what could otherwise be the Garden of Eden. It was transcendent.

Same goes for the kiss on Bella's bed, and the dance in the gazebo at prom. In slow dialogues oozing with negotiations between unleashing desire and moral control, I sat transfixed between those negotiations as the viewer. Stephenie unraveled this dilemma in great detail in the books, and that was what we enjoyed so much as readers. To see it acted so well on the screen is a feat to be commended.

Rob Pattinson was, simply put, Edward. Having seen so many interviews of him, it's easy to see why he fit the role so well: He saw through the illusion that was supposed to be Edward, The Ideal Man, and played him as a somewhat broken, and at times hauntingly human, vampire.

Kristen Stewart gave Bella intelligence, depth, and a quiet strength. Only seventeen when they shot Twilight, she possessed a maturity beyond her years, a quality central to Bella's character. Like Rob, she played her character's vulnerability and strength in equal measure, most notably in the ballet studio and hospital scenes.

Often accompanying my passage through the saga were the playlists on Stephenie's website. Music was such an important component in beaming myself to Forks, that I had regarded Twilight somewhat as a rock opera. It was to my delight that each song on the soundtrack matched the scenes perfectly in the movie. Perry Farrell's "Going All the Way," which I hated before seeing it in context, was perfect for disco dancing at the prom. "Supermassive Black Hole," one of Muse's loudest headbanging songs, knocked the ball game out of the park. Iron and Wine's "Flightless Bird, American Mouth," brought me to tears. Carter Burwell's "Bella's Lullaby" was the sweet, gentle and haunting caress it was supposed to be. And the guitar riffs of Collective Soul's "Trembling for My Love" that followed the car crash sent my adrenaline running. That's when you knew that, like the movie's tagline states, "nothing will ever be the same."

There's an addictive quality to Twilight that all fans of the series can attest to: If you've ever smoked crack, this is the literary equivalent. Stephenie's magical world has found presence beyond the page now. With the movie, indelible images of Edward, Bella, Jacob, the Cullens, and Forks are forever embedded into our minds. I've gone back for my fix twice now. I predict I'll be going back to theatres at least twice more before the year is over.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight Movie: My Review

First off, I just want to say this:

We all know that a film adaptation of a novel will never quite be the same as the novel itself. The mere fact that two different mediums are being used to tell a story means that it is impossible to tell the story in the same exact way. The book and the movie are pieces of art, two expressions of one story. They are their own entities, and should be treated as such. My point is that a book is a book and a movie is a movie, they are not the same thing, so you cannot expect a movie to be the book. It’s an obvious point, I know, but I think it’s a concept that people tend to forget when they compare a novel to its film version. This isn’t to say that it is forgivable to butcher the essence of a story when you are adapting it for the screen. But I believe that a film, when being faithful to its origins, can be just as wonderful as the novel without having to be exactly like the novel. They can both be appreciated in their own way.

So, onto what I thought of Twilight:

Yes, some scenes and special effects may have been a bit cheesy, but think about the budget they were working with. None of them expected the fandom to explode the way it has, so they didn’t set out to make a huge blockbuster with over-the-top computer generated effects. And yes, the score could have been improved upon in some scenes (the soundtrack, however, was phenomenal.) And yes, the movie was not exactly like the book. But you already know what I think about that. So anyway, how did I like the movie, you ask?


Granted, it took me the first viewing, a night to digest everything, and a second viewing to get to that point, but I truly do love it. I think any Twilight fan that is a little unsure of how they felt about the movie should watch it just ONE MORE time. I think it deserves one more chance from fans, before they make a formal opinion, because the first viewing is a very skewed and overwhelming experience. For me, there are two reasons why I needed to watch it a second time:

#1: Like I said, the first viewing is very overwhelming. I was trying to take everything in all at once--trying to compare, analyze, and process every little detail. Because of this, I lost a bit of the big picture and didn’t allow the movie to express itself.

#2: The main thing that I needed to get use to was the change in pace of the storytelling. Stephenie Meyer develops her characters at a quaint snail’s pace, and I became quite attached to how slowly her novels unfolded. Of course, you can’t do this in a movie, because it would just become very long and boring. They had to pick things up a notch, and it was difficult for me to adjust to the new pace.

I took the time between the two movie viewings to gather my thoughts and let go of my attachments to the book. The second time around, I walked in with a fresh and open mind. I no longer needed to take in every little detail, and was able to sit back and let the movie tell me its story, its own version of Twilight. And the story was beautiful.

Cast & characters:

Although Kristen Stewart’s Bella was not exactly how I imagined the character in my head, I still loved her version. She brought a different edge to Bella, and I thought she balanced her characteristics well—introverted, awkward at times, independent and strong-willed. I think she did her best acting in the scene when she had to hurt Charlie in order to leave, it was just heart wrenching.

Rob Pattinson was wonderful as Edward. There were a few moments that seemed like he was trying a little too hard with the tortured-and-conflicted look, but everything else was great. That smirk he gives when Jessica is gossiping about him in the cafeteria scene? It was Edward PERFECTION.

The Cullens were awesome. We didn’t get enough of them and I definitely wanted more of the Cullens. Ashley Greene was Alice. You couldn’t get any cuter and daintier than that. Her voice and demeanor were exactly how I imagined the character, and that dancer kick she does while pitching is so Alice, I loved it and I loved her. We didn’t get to see much of Jackson Rathbone’s Jasper, but what we did get was good—that quiet and hovering presence. Nikki Reed played Rosalie well—you could feel her irritation and disapproval pulsing towards Bella, and Kellan Lutz’ portrayal of the funny big brother Emmett was great. Elizabeth Reaser was adorable as Esme and did a wonderful job at embodying the loving mother-figure of the clan, while Peter Facinelli also did a wonderful job at embodying the compassionate father-figure of the family.

The Humans were awesome. Stephenie was right when she said that the human friends don’t get enough love, because they totally deserve it. Most notable were Jessica, Mike, and Eric--they added a great deal of humor and an authenticity to the teenage world.

The villains were great. You could totally see the menace in Victoria. And Cam Gigandet as James? Can we say creeeeeepy?

Billy Burke as Charlie was one of the best roles in the movie--his version of the character gave shape to the quiet love that Charlie has for his daughter.

Although I could have done without the hair, Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black was enjoyable. He definitely has the cute Jacob smile, and it will be interesting to see how he does as the werewolf-Jacob in the rest of the series (now that there will definitely be a New Moon movie!)

My favorite scenes:

The Cullens cooking for Bella. This was BRILLIANT and hilarious and complete awesomeness. It is a total tangent from the book, yet is one of my favorite parts of the movie. Just one example of how a movie can tell a story in a different way. In this short scene, you see the spirit of each of the Cullens—Rosalie’s distaste towards Bella, Emmett’s sense of humor, Esme’s motherly love, Carlisle’s kindness. All this, wrapped up in a cute and funny little scene. I LOVED it.

The baseball game. This is one scene that I think many were looking forward to seeing. The whole vibe was awesome—from the music (perfect song!) to the stunts to the bits of dialogue. The one flaw I found? It was too short! It was so cool that I just wanted more and more of it. I was pretty disappointed when the villains abruptly halted my enjoyment of the game.

Seeing the Cullens for the first time. Chapter 1 of Twilight is entitled “First Sight”, referring to the first time Bella sees the Cullens at school. This scene captured the awe that Bella felt in the book perfectly. As a viewer, you can’t help but feel that same awe when the Cullens first walk by the cafeteria window.

THE KISS. Enough said.

Dancing in the gazebo at prom. For me, this is THE scene that was able to completely capture the essence of the Twilight novel and of Bella and Edward’s love. Everything in the movie led to this one moment when I sighed and felt that yes, this is Twilight.

Other things I really liked:

-Charlie and Bella’s relationship. I’m glad they took the time to develop this a little, I think it added a nice dimension to the story. In the books, we know that Bella and Charlie love each other, but it was more of a silent and awkward love. It was nice to see the relationship play out on screen and was very endearing. The mace storyline? Loved it!

-The scenery. It’s gorgeous in the Pacific Northwest and it was great seeing how much they incorporated the beautiful scenery into the movie. The panoramic view over the treetops of the Columbia River Gorge is breathtaking!

-The film had a gritty edgy feel to it. We didn’t have something that was shiny and polished and stale. I think the close up shots helped with this. I loved those shots, ones that were almost a little too close and a little uncomfortable. It made you feel like you were there. I don’t know, it just gave the movie its own flair, and I really liked it.

-The humor. This wasn’t all seriousness and life-or-death love. The movie was actually funny a lot of the time!

-From the trailers, I thought the ballet studio fight scene would turn out a little cheesy looking. I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t and actually really enjoyed it. The choreographed stunts and fighting looked pretty cool, and I was left wanting more.

-All the little details that were included in the movie. It really felt like a nod to to the fans and to Stephenie's work--they cared enough to pay attention to those details and made the effort to put them in the film.

A short list of things I wish was different about the movie:
-Slow down the pace of Bella & Edward’s budding love.
-More of the Cullens.
-More of the baseball game.
-A meadow scene that was more like the book, including an improvement in the sparkling effect.

So yes, in an ideal world, there are things that I wish could have been done differently. But that list was short compared to all the things that I thought were wonderful about the movie. And now, I am very much looking forward to seeing New Moon.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Twilight Movie Group Photo

Kevin & Bean have been making fun of Twilight fans by calling them Twi-tards (a spin on the fan nickname "Twi-hards") and I think it's hilarious. Here's our group after seeing the movie last night--we may put the "tard" in "Twi-tard", but at least we have fun doing it!

(My review of the movie will come shortly--I need a little time to digest and gather my thoughts.)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Are We There Yet?

Is it Friday yet? I'm ready to visit Forks on the big screen! 3 days, folks--oh we are soooo close!

I kind of regret not joining in on the madness that was the premiere last night. I should have, being the huge fan that I am. I'm a huge fan, but not a screaming fangirl. So, on the other hand, I'm sure my head and ears thank me for not going.

Speaking of, I love this quote regarding Stephenie at the premiere:

"Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series of books, is drawing screams as she signs autographs and takes pictures as she walks into the theater. Yup, Twilight must be big if teens are screaming at the top of their lungs for a writer." -Marc Malkin, E! Online

Haha, it's true, writers usually don't get love like this. But she is awesome and the books are awesome, and we are witnessing a huge phenomena going on.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Smoke & Ash

It's scary and sad that all these fires are raging around LA. For those of us that don't live near any of the fires, we are definitely still feeling the effects of them because the wind has been blowing the smoke and ash around. The sky and air quality was worse yesterday--the smoke cloud hovered above us and the smell was almost unbearable at times. It's not as bad today, but still not that great either.

Here's a shot of the smoke cloud overtaking the blue sky today:
SoCal Fires-Smoke Cloud

And the layer of ash that has been settling on everything:
SoCal Fires-Ash

Monday, November 10, 2008

Movie Countdown

Twilight Movie Countdown

11 days left!!! Here's a picture (taken a while back, it is a lot shorter now!) of the chain countdown that my coworkers and I made for our office. We are all going to see the movie on opening night at the ArcLight in Hollywood. There's a group of 31 gals going (I know, I can't believe I've gotten that many Twilight fans together!), and it will be so much fun. We are so close, and I am so unbelievably excited. Yay!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Forks High Schools

Forks High School-Forks, WA
Forks High School

Filming location for Forks High was at Kalama High School in Kalama, WA. It was a beautiful location.
Kalama High School