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Luke-Warm Love Affair

Luke-Warm Love Affair

by Sarah Dawson / 26.11.2009

Somewhere between the release of Scary Movie 2 and The Watchmen, I made the decision to stop bothering with mainstream cinema. Perhaps my general avoidance of it subsequently has hindered the development of some crucial survival mechanisms in modern culture. Lacking in the ability to comfortably suppress the run-screaming-from-the-cinema-while-shaking-fists-at-the-deities-of-global-capitalism reflex, I was left vulnerable and defenceless under the flickering light of New Moon, the second instalment of the Twilight teen-vampire series. Nailed to my seat by obligation and etiquette, fighting for sanity, what started as nail-chewing nearly ended in me clawing my own face off. I was apoplectic by the credits.

My fault. I should have been better prepared for the ever-swelling vileness of popular culture. Sunk by my own elitist naivete.

Here are the reasons for my in-cinema stress:

How do you review a film that has no interest in actually being a film, merely an excuse for capital generation manifested as an extended telenovella? It’s a “paper-back” film. If it were on paper rather than celluloid, it would be in CNA’s bargain bin.

Admittedly, I haven’t read the actual book series on which the film is based, which certainly aren’t in the bargain bin, but right up at the front of the store as a global best-selling phenomenon. But I object to such narrative franchises on principle. The film is but one cog in a giant corporate enterprise, loosely based around a set of characters and a plot, and for which value is generated by summing the parts. If the film is meaningless without the viewer having read the book, then it seems to follow logically that its only purpose is to prolong the commercial potential of the larger franchise itself. If the film can’t stand on its own, then it’s a crap film. End of story. And, boy, is it hard to overstate its crappiness!

Boy Band Vampires, or are those Werewolves?

Boy Band Vampires, or are those Werewolves?

There is an argument that it satisfies fans, and seeks to do nothing more, and that if you’re not a devoted fan, you won’t understand what it’s doing, or even what its about. Too bad. (It certainly doesn’t fuss to rehash much back story.) And undeniably, it has achieved this goal, having clocked a record $72 million in its opening day in the US. Astounding. I’m truly speechless. Surely it’s no legitimate defence to state that a film plays only to its somewhat mushy-brained audience, and does nothing to check in with external reality? But then again, I become increasingly suspicious that the fate of the global economy, in actuality, lies in the hands of teenage girls. And may God help us.

So the story goes like this (suddenly I’m finding it hard to recall, as it all blurs into one long teenage mope): 18 year old Bella (Kristen Stewart) wakes from a dream (involving painfully simplified mirror metaphors) about age and fading beauty. Shame. Then her bloodsucker boyfriend (Robert Pattinson) ups and leaves because he figures that hanging around with vampires may not be so good for her health. Much hair-tearing ensues. Then some montages. Then some likely-used-by-the-OC-first songs on the soundtrack. Then she finds a new boyfriend (Taylor Lautner). More montages. She discovers new boyfriend is a werewolf. More hair-tearing. But she still loves vampire man. Then, in rapid succession: various near-death experiences, brazen product placement for Virgin Atlantic, premonitions, an awkwardly pubescent Dakota Fanning giving the best but briefest performance of the film, some Romeo and Juliet parallels, a proposition of marriage, and a cliff-hanger ending. Credits.

Wet Pants Romance

Wet Pants Romance

There. Now you don’t have to go see it. Sorry for no spoiler warning. Anything I can do to stem the tide, I will.

And here’s some more to put you off:

Much of the appeal of the film is attributed to the supposed eye-candy. Stewart, though attractive, seems only to be capable of one agonised, slightly bewildered expression. Fortunately neither plot nor characterisation requires anything more from her. Taylor Lautner looks like a TV entertainment wrestler whose face has been attacked by a swarm of bees. Pattinson looks like a paedophile. Altogether their performances are as awkward and removed as the cast of a high school production on the night their slightly older secret crush is in the audience. The fight scenes look like Power Rangers got a bigger budget. The editing was clumsy. It was too long. Important narrative turning points disappeared as quickly into the past as they had entered the present, while gimmicky montages of nothing in particular went on for minute after unnecessary minute. The whole film seemed to keep coming in endless waves of excruciating teenage gawkiness, like the product of some high school video course if it had been taught by the creators of Dirty Dancing and been taken by a class full of Goths and cheerleaders. It was just two very long hours of whinging and cringing.

Just don’t put yourself through it. Don’t.

If you’re into vampires and swooning girls, rather watch Alan Ball’s True Blood series. An offbeat tale of hillbillies, sex, fangs, murder, narcotics, more sex. And an awesome title sequence with much ass and boob. Not the best ever, but definitely worth a few weeknights in.

Disclaimer: If I have offended any fans by this review, I apologise for having seriously misjudged the readership of this magazine.

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RESPONSES (19)
  1. ubuntu bob says:

    Obviously you were so worried about offending people you couldn’t even put your name on this review? Stand up for yourself… they’re only teenage girls.

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  2. Andy says:

    Hey Bob, that was my fault.

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  3. Malcolm says:

    while the film may be kak, it has to be said that without it we would never have been exposed to true entertainment in the form of all the reviews one gets to read. this one certainly seems far more rewarding than the entire franchise…

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  4. Miss Sarah Dee says:

    Bob…
    You can tell those girlies to Bring. It. Ooon…
    I know all the tricks.

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  5. Doctor L. says:

    I’m more of a Truffaut man myself, but I wouldn’t exactly kick that Kristen Stewart out of my futon.

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  6. danni d says:

    Oh dear sweet fangs of despair!

    A scourge on teenage girls and overweight-middle-aged-divorcees-whose-eyes-mist-over-with-life’s-cruel-nostalgic-breath! A plague on both their houses!

    You know, I’ve always sworn I’d never be one of those grown ups (gasp! the G word!) who lamented the evils of the younger generation. But seriously. What the fuck?

    I remember a time when teenage schlock (you know. boy meets girl meets some sort of tragic/nefarious/doomed scenario) came far better dressed. Such as The Craft. Drugs, satanism, swearing, murder, curses and backstabbing. Ditto for Cruel Intentions (because every teen loves a story about being conned out of your virginity via blackmail and incest). Sorry to say, but when i was a a-cupped teen, I liked my boy-meets-girl with a bit more pizazz. Even buffy, in her watered downed, sarah michelle gellar-ed tv incarnation was somehow far more gritty than old wet blankie Bella.

    Please, teenagers. Don’t be fooled. This is nothing more than Days of out Lives. All fangs. No bite.

    *spit*

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  7. Miss Sarah Dee says:

    Ah Danni, your venom is to my day what honey is to my tea.

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  8. Genderation X says:

    Where are the feminists? Surely they loved how Bella just lay back and waited to die at every given opportunity. Then again, maybe she just knew it was pointless trying to fight off vampires…being a blank minded girl and all….

    I would suggest the misguided youth rather spend time listening to the song, New Moon Rising, off the new album, Cosmic Egg, by Wolmother.

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  9. Doctor L. says:

    On another note I was mad when I read about who was on the soundtrack. Thom Yorke, Death Cab, Lupe Fiasco, Grizzly Bear?

    I became angry. I thought “sell-out” repeatedly.

    But then I read an interview with the lovely Anne Clark (from St. Vincent) and it made sense.

    Q:You’re on this soundtrack album with people like Thom Yorke and Grizzly Bear. It’s pretty incredible how indie this soundtrack is. You have to like the idea of all these nine-year-old kids picking it up and having their universes expanded a little bit.

    A:Yeah, I think that that’s a nice way to look at it. It’s certainly the way that I was looking at it, which is, I mean, it’s awesome to be included on anything that has Thom Yorke on it and Grizzly Bear, and that’s good company for sure. And also, I remember, the thing is– we were basically all suburban tweenagers at a point. I know for damn sure I was. I think if I had this soundtrack, if my 13-year-old self could’ve been exposed to Grizzly Bear, I probably would’ve been a little further along and probably better off.

    Of course, I was never a “suburban tweenager”, but I can see where she’s coming from.

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  10. Joerg says:

    Awesome sentiment: “You have to like the idea of all these nine-year-old kids picking it up and having their universes expanded a little bit.”

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  11. Jaded says:

    Thanks Miss Dawson and the rest… I certainly won’t be watching it. Not that I would have anyway, but it’s always good to know I’m really not missing anything. Cannot understand all of these ridiculous Romantic/Sloppy films. Watched ‘the ugly truth’ by mistake last week, mistook it for something remotely interesting. Nearly died from having to pour bleach into my eyes. Why why why? I agree about the soundtrack though, it’s a little sellout for a better cause. At the end of the day I say bring back Natural Born Killers, True Romance (best!) and even South Park if necessary. I miss the bad ass teens.

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  12. Oke says:

    Thank you for the heads up.

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  13. ARP says:

    Agree completely with your True Blood comment – that’s at least entertaining, and I love that song from the title sequence…

    “I wanna do real bad things with you…”

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  14. JLZ says:

    It makes me happy to know that I’m not the only SANE person left. Its just everyone else thats gone emo-vamp bonkers! “Oh he’s so shiny and beautiful!” wtf, if syphillis were shiny would she still swoon?

    THANK YOU!

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  15. completely removed says:

    Whining about and mocking Twilight and the fandom behind it is as pathetic as being a ‘Twihard’ yourself. This fails; well done one your paint-by-numbers rant, which panders to your audience.

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  16. Miss Sarah Dee says:

    So you’re the fang-banger type, completely removed?
    We’re all friends here…

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  17. Troll says:

    Fucking hate this kak.
    Watched Gaylight (Twilight) and it was the gayest film on earth.
    The vampires didn’t have fangs and they sparkle in sunlight instead of bursting into flames. WTF.

    True Blood is the shit. Greatest show EVER made. YEs, I said EVER.

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  18. dylan says:

    @Troll

    No sorry, The Wire already took first place.

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  19. its your dad says:

    or maybe you’re just a snob, Sarah Dawson 🙂

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