“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
“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
The main character is Bella (Kristen Stewart), a high school senior
who lives with her (single) Dad in the
. 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”
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