“At The Movies”
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” and here’s my commentary on a film opening today, November 20th, at The Majestic Theater in Greenville :
“New Moon” is the 2nd installment of Stephanie Meyer’s “The Twilight Saga” to be converted to the big screen.  It’s not really a sequel, it’s more a continuation of the story, but it doesn’t exactly stand on its own, either.  It assumes that the viewer has some knowledge of what happened before, and it ends rather abruptly, intending to pick up the story again in the next installment. 
            The main character is Bella (Kristen Stewart), a high school senior who lives with her (single) Dad in the Pacific Northwest .  She hangs out with a tough crowd.  They’re a bunch of loners, and have a kind of haunted, hunted look that makes them appear more world-weary, and considerably older, than their fellow students.  That’s because they’re vampires, and actually, they’re hundreds of years old, but one of them, Edward (Robert Pattinson), is on love with Bella.  This complicates things for everybody.  Bella keeps begging him to “change” her, meaning, take a bite out of her neck and so make her like the rest of them---immortal, in a sense, but also trapped in powerful bodies with an overwhelming lust for fresh blood.  That can be an inconvenience in polite company.
            Edward reluctantly comes to the realization that this bi-cultural romance just isn’t going to work. And he isn’t willing to condemn her to the hellish existence that they all endure, with its lack of rootedness, its limited social interaction, its sudden violence, its subjection to the dark spirits of the air, and the constant vigilance required to maintain their horrifying secret.  And so, with great agony, he tells her that it’s over, he doesn’t care about her, and she should just forget him and try to live a “normal” human life.
            Bella is absolutely devastated.  In fact, from a story-line point of view, the primary thing wrong with this movie is that the main character spends so much of the time depressed.  Various people try to cheer her up---her Dad, her school chums, even random townsfolk---but she will have none of it.  She keeps seeing Edward in random places, especially when she is about to do something reckless (he’d wanted her to promise him that she wouldn’t do that).  But she also finds that the only way she can feel anything right now is to rev up the adrenalin.  And so she needlessly puts herself in danger, which causes his company of vagabonds to return from their self-imposed exile, and now we have a kind of reunion, but it isn’t blissful yet, either.  It seems that Bella has made friends with a local boy, and he seems to have a few supernatural powers of his own, which in itself doesn’t scare her, but now we have this monstrous love triangle…..
            In a way, this plot is like Sartre’s “No Exit”:  everybody wants something from someone else, but nobody is willing to give what anybody else wants.  So there we are, filled with all kinds of angst and tension and  the kind of morose inevitability of being star-crossed lovers, like Romeo and Juliet (also referenced in the screenplay).  It’s not exactly “High School Musical.”  There’s no singing or dancing, there’s no lightheartedness, there’s only gloom and malevolence, with some frustrated longing thrown in for seasoning.  Not exactly the genteel, mature viewer’s cup of tea.  But there might be some teenage girls in the back, screeching when the young guys take their shirts off.  Is there such a thing as a campy cheesy vampire love story?
This is Ron Salfen, “At The Movies,” for 93.5 KICK-FM