Thursday, 18 December 2008

I Only Date Vampires

So, it’s been a while and a lot has happened. For starters, our computer got malware and required a service, hence my blogging absence. Secondly, it was Sharanya’s 19th last week (Wednesday), so if you haven’t already, go over and wish her a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And finally, I went down to Melbourne over the weekend and saw – as well as AustraliaTwilight!!

Twilight was a madhouse of maniac teenage girls, a description which may or may not have included myself and my friend. However, it made for a fantastic and charged atmosphere; really, it was like one big slumber party, with everyone “shh!”ing as the lights went down, laughing at Jasper’s face (he is kind of funny looking, he has this permanently surprised look), murmuring when Edward appeared and cheering and wolf-whistling when Edward and Bella kissed.

The book might not have been subtle, but the film makes you appreciate such qualities, generally hitting you over the head with things like Bella’s scent and Edward being a blood-scuking, immortal “cold one,” just in case you live under a rock and hadn’t realised Edward is a dirty great vamp. However, like the book, the chemistry, head-over-heels part where they (supposedly) fall in love is lacking and therefore kind of unbelievable. I mean, Edward goes from being “we shouldn’t be friends” to “I can’t stay away from you, I must watch you sleep and follow you to Port Angeles,” and Bella’s all “I trust you, even though I don’t know you AT ALL and you’re a vamp who not only lusts after my body but – more importantly – my BLOOD.” While it’s faithful to the essential outlines – and favourite quotes – of the plot, it takes liberties by mixing in parts from New Moon.

Twilight Movie Still 1 Pictures, Images and Photos

Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) is broody and aloof almost to a point of overkill (but he still looks good when he’s brooding, so all is forgiven), and fairly well captures Edward’s internal struggle between his clashing desires; Bella, and the need to resist her. However, even CGI can’t mimic the sparkle of Edward Cullen’s diamond-looking skin in the sunlight; the result is pitiful and somewhat laughable.

It is well worth the wait to see Edward smile; on the other hand, it looks as though Bella (Kristen Stewart) is in constant pain, even though she’s with the sexiest vamp EVER. As Jake Wilson observes in The Age, “she has only two real acting weapons: her lashes, which she flutters to indicate confusion, and her prominent front teeth, which are put on show when she lets her mouth fall open in a wary, appraising look.”


The secondary characters, on the other hand – Charlie, Jacob and the Cullens – play their parts well, although Jacob and the Cullens were all too minor, if you ask me. I hope we see more of them – especially the latter, who were particularly good – in the film/s to come.

Jim Schembri wrote a hilarious response to the film about “25 things you will learn about your average modern-day angst-ridden teenage vampire from watching the new hit movie Twilight,” including, first and foremost, that “broadly speaking, the world is divided into two groups: normal people, or “mortals,” and vampire people, or “immortals.” The chief advantage of being an “immortal” is the ability to sit through an entire screening of Australia without regretting the three hours of life you’ll never get back.”

Which leads me to the “obese epic” that is Australia.

Perhaps the best and most arresting thing about Australia is the cinematography, which completely captures the sprawling landscape in all its expansive, beautiful, overwhelming and breathtaking glory. In terms of its leading stars, Nicole Kidman has the irgnoant, hoighty-toighty English aristocrat (Sarah Ashley) down, whilst Hugh Jackman (the Drover) says crikey more than Steve Irwin, and is a little too much of a pretty boy for a drover, but he’s rugged – and chiselled – enough for the part. But the star of the show is the young Aboriginal half-caste boy, Nullah (Brandon Walters), from whose point of view the story of Mrs Boss (Sarah Ashley), the Drover, the fight for Faraway Downs and the bombing of Darwin.

David Wenham does a mean (pun intended) bad guy (Neil Fletcher), the evil and ambitious underling to the King of the Beef Industry and landowner Carney (Bryan Brown), who wants Faraway Downs. Much underhandedness ensues, there is the inevitable confrontation, a declaration of war and so begins the battle for Faraway Downs, which is restored to its former glory with a joint effort by the Drover and Mrs Boss, who – obviously – fall madly and passionately in love. But wait – it’s not a true Luhrmann film without tragedy, which is scattered throughout the film but is compounded in the last hour (by which time you are practically begging for the film to end.)

Sure, it’s clichéd, corny, predictable, much too long, melodramatic and cringe-worthy (at least for Australians), but it’s romantic, spectacular, evocative, impressive and feel-good. Evan Williams sums it up best when he says: “there are moments in Baz Luhrmann’s over-sized, over-long Outback weepie Australia, when one wonders if there are any tablecloth clichés about Australia that have been missed. We have the horses, the cattle, the dust, the rugged Aussie loner, the Aborigine standing on one leg in a loincloth, the beer, the roos. About the only thing missing is a bloke named Bruce.”

Germaine Greer – ever controversial – had a field day in yesterday’s Age, with a scathing article about how the film is “strictly fanciful,” “a film that twists history into a fairytale confections…and glosses over the shocking exploitation of Aborigines,” essentially expressing indignation and outrage over Luhrmann’s lack of historical accuracy. But that’s exactly what Australia intends to be – strictly fanciful; it’s symbolic to the point of hyperbole. It makes clear the cruelty of the White Australia policy that created the Stolen Generation, and it doesn’t shy away from the ostracizing of Aboriginals by society. I’m inclined to agree with Marcia Langton, professor of Australian indigenous studies at Melbourne University, that Lurhmann has created “a myth of national origin that is disturbing, thrilling, heartbreaking, hilarious and touching.”

That’s Hollywood, Germaine. Don’t take it quite so seriously.

Twilight: 2.5 stars

Australia: 3 stars



Sharanya said...

Oh JAG. Thanks so much. You sure know how to make someone's day!!

Kayleigh said...

I want to see Australia so badly! Baz Luhrmann is one of my favourite film-makers. He's so passionate and romantic, his films are always insanely beautiful. I think it's sweet that he wanted to make a love letter to his home country and a highly stylised romance. Moulin Rouge isn't accurate but it's still amazing. Romeo and Juliet is highly over the top but it nails the feverish love the pair had and acts as an excellent warning about how silly feuds can come and bite you in the butt. From what I've seen of the trailers, it's not supposed to be a realistic tale, it's typical Baz!

anahita said...

yeah, I think twilight should really be seen in the context of the book, which was so so so soppy. I think the film can't help be anything but. plus from what I've seen, the special effects are laughable. I think the chemistry betwen the two actors is what could make this film stand out in any way at all...and I've heard such mixed reviews about THAT too. So Ill probs be putting twilight on hold for a bit. nice reviews :D xxx

Julia said...

The first time I saw Twilight (at midnight the night it opened in the US, haha my friends and I felt like such silly fangirls,) I was a little skeptical. I liked some things about it, but was generally unsure.

Now, after seeing it three more times, I pretty much love the movie. It's not perfect, but once I stopped wishing it was just like the book, I really enjoyed it.

so, go see it again if you can! At least that's my opinion.

Celise said...

i just liked looking at Hugh. He didn't have his shirt off often enough. LOL. There were a couple of funny moments, too. I really liked the one when she first arrived. THAT was hysterical. The whole theater was laffing during that scene.

Gemini said...

JAG, I can't believe you are in such an amazing place right now! That's so exciting, I can't wait to hear about all your adventures! I also absolutely love your reviews, I completely agree with you about Australia, my Mum kept swearing at its length loudly and J and I got distracted by an old man in the cinema who kept standing up and getting lost. I miss you once, twice, millions xo

twocrazygirls said...

Yeah I laughed pretty hard when Edward started to sparkle too. :) I mean... the sound effects they put with it were hilarious.