Sunday, November 22, 2009

And just to clarify...

I've spent too much time today, as I did after seeing Twilight, reading movie reviews. The reviewers, almost to a wo/man, hate New Moon* - and who can blame them? It's not a movie for movie fans. It's a movie adaptation of - not even a book for book fans, but a book for fans of a specific mythos.

I am not a fool (she insists uneasily). At no time have I ever had even the sneakiest secret thought that Stephenie Meyers is a good writer**. I've had a free sample of her post-Twilight-series novel The Host on my Kindle since I finished the T-series, but haven't even been able to slog my way through its few pages; Meyers simply writes like a halfway decent fanfic "author." (I've read too much fanfiction; most writers in the genre really suck wind.) And of course I've dealt with Bella as Mary Sue, last year after reading Twilight.

In other words, it's not the writing.

As for plot, well, I wouldn't be the first to point out that there isn't much that makes sense, has any kind of inevitability, or appears to be moving forward in any of the four Twilight books. It isn't the plot.

Characterization: in short, all characters in Meyers' books appear to have come out of either a Harlequin romance or an iconography - a bad one. I remember a quote from the VERY funny Jean Kerr in Penny Candy, in which she describes her lengthy convalescence after a bad cold; she talks about how she wants to use this enforced bedrest to read a "good" book, and keeps trying to pick up some giant worthy tome - but reverts again and again to a trashy novel, even though she knows it's trashy. I don't have Penny Candy, to my sorrow, but she says something like this: "What is it with the way these characters are portrayed? If he has 'crisp black hair,' then she simply can't have 'moist red lips'; things like that just don't happen in real life. She should have 'dry pale lips,' or he should have 'limp gray hair.'" And so, no, it's not the characterization.

As I've said too many times now, it's seventeen, that's what it is: for someone like me, much older than seventeen, it's a grasping for what once seemed like a possibility, now revealed to be a fever dream - not just impossible but not even really desirable once the fever cools. For the kids of the right approximate age, I have to speak from memory, but it seems to me to be an affirmation that that bruised and battered sense of possibility, so alive in the ultra-romantic anti-cynics who think they're world-weary, could indeed be real... somewhere.

* I do find it interesting that they hate it for such varying reasons: the split between those who think Stewart is brilliant but hampered by the screenplay and those who think she's a one-trick pony and in this movie the screenplay asks her to do another trick that she's just not up to is particularly clear. Lautner gets kudos for being the "only" member of the young cast who can act, or emote, or smile naturally, or make you care what happens to him; he also gets slammed for posing, reading lines, being utterly unbelievable, etc., etc. Pattinson is a minor character, really, but because he was so important in the first movie, HE gets roundly slammed for being all emo and stuff. Dakota Fanning gets oddly enthused reviews considering how little she had to do - and honestly, put me in red contact lenses and I could smile enigmatically as well as she does. Across the board, they all seem to love Michael Sheen, whom I've never even heard of but who is evidently a "serious" actor - apparently you can be totally embarrassingly over-the-top and all the reviewers around will say you're being "deliciously campy" if you were a "serious" actor before. Some loved the soundtrack; some hated it. (I hated it.) Many, but not all, liked the cinematography. Weitz's direction was generally noted as a step up from Hardwicke's - but not in every case; some reviewers thought Hardwicke, as opposed to Weitz, really understood her subject matter, whereas Weitz is just out to make a buck. Whatever.

** But at least the Twilight books do explicitly encourage the reading of good stuff. Bella's a big booster of classical romance.


At 5:30 PM , Blogger Gahrie said...

Have you read the Sookie Stackhouse books that the HBO series Trueblood is based on? I read a couple to see if they were appropriate for my 11 year old niece who is obssessed with Twilight.

At 11:53 PM , Blogger Kirbside said...

Daisy Turns 11 tomorrow, please do not add the year...

and she is a "Edward Lover" She has read all the books and so far the two movies...

At 10:10 PM , Blogger Jamie said...

Oh man... I'll be where you are in three years with my girl. She's just dismissive of her mommy's Twilight fetish at the moment, but the day will dawn soon enough when she'll want to read the books herself - and I'll have to read over her shoulder and explain why she shouldn't make ANY of the choices Bella makes!


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