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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

my week at the movies: ‘The Twilight Saga: New Moon,’ ‘Serious Moonlight,’ ‘Planet 51,’ ‘Brothers,’ ‘The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond’

Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god! The Twilight Saga: New Moon (opens in the U.S. and the U.K. on November 20). Oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god oh my god! *sigh*

I had thought I was going to see Serious Moonlight (now available on demand in the U.S.; opens theatrically in the U.S. on December 4; no U.K. release date has been announced) last week, but a mismatch of the day and date on the invite I received meant I had the screening time wrong. And I wasn’t free to attend the screening on the day it actually was. But I’ll catch up with it this week.

Heh heh. We’re the aliens on Planet 51 (opens in the U.S. on November 20, and in the U.K. on December 4). I hope it’s as amusing at the trailer thinks it is…

Brothers (opens in the U.S. on December 4, and in the U.K. on January 22, 2010) is Jim Sheridan’s new film, and it’s yet another drama about the U.S.’s current misadventures in the Middle East: Tobey Maguire is a soldier, Natalie Portman is his wife, Jake Gyllenhaal is his brother. Apparently it’s something of a triangle. Oo, An Education’s Carey Mulligan is in this, too — cool!

Based on a recently rediscovered original screenplay by Tennessee Williams, The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (opens in the U.S. on December 30; no U.K. release date has been announced) is the tale of an heiress, played by Bryce Dallas Howard, who pisses off her family via the tried-and-true route of messing around with a poor but noble fellow, played by Chris Evans. Just a guess, but I bet it doesn’t end well: Williams was not exactly the cheeriest of storytellers.



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  • Pollas

    Well at least soon most of the commercials for New Moon will go away. Won’t have to look at those pathetic CGI werewolves anymore.

  • CB

    I just can’t wait to be dragged against my will to see New Moon! =D

    Oh and forgive me, but when you described Brothers all I could think was “If there isn’t a ‘Natalie Portman is my wife’ escape clause from military commitments, there damn well should be.”

  • CB

    And wait, wasn’t there just an animated movie where humans were the ‘aliens’?

  • bree

    That’s quite a provocative ‘happy trail’ Edward Cullen has on that one-sheet. Imagine the teen girl hours spent imagining where it leads, just beyond the bothersome hurdle of that belt buckle. The mental energy expended could probably power a small city for a month.

  • Kevin

    You won’t be seeing the Nicholas Cage or Sandra Bullock movies this week? I’m debating between both of them.

  • MaryAnn

    The other movie where the humans were the aliens is *Battle for Terra*.

    I was not invited to a screening of *Bad Lieutenant,* and *Blind Side* is screening at the same time as *New Moon,* and there’s no way I’m missing that one. :->

  • Isobel

    Usually I envy you your job – seeing films for a living, hurrah! But not this week, I would possibly rather poke needles in my eyes than watch New Moon. I hated the books with the fire of a thousand suns – it (Twilight)is in fact the only book I have ever sat down and torn up because it offended me so much! Didn’t go near the first film in case I had the urge to attack the screen – I saw a clip of it on YouTube and it was all the audience squealing . . . ick.

  • Paul

    I have this image of myself in 20 years opening a door to meet my daughter’s date and seeing that guy.

    “Hey, button up your shirt, kid.”

    “It’s a little too small, sir.”

    “What, you couldn’t bother putting on a proper shirt for my daughter?”

    “Well, after dating for 200 years you take it a little casually.”

    “Get thee to a shrink kid.”

    “No, sir, really, I’m a vampire. See the teeth?”

    “And you think that’s a plus?” Slams door.

  • Bluejay

    I don’t get it. CB, you said:

    Oh, and about vampires that don’t suck, sucking. My girlfriend certainly agrees (even though she’s intent on seeing the second film anyway).

    Maureen, you said:

    I can’t stand the Twilight saga … And just as a note: I have read the books.

    Isobel, you said:

    I hated the books with the fire of a thousand suns – it (Twilight)is in fact the only book I have ever sat down and torn up because it offended me so much!

    CB, your girlfriend thought the first film sucked but is going to see the second. What’s the appeal?

    Maureen and Isobel, you hate the series with a passion, but (I’m assuming from your comments) invested time and energy to read all four books. (Even after tearing up the first one!) Why? What kept you reading?

    I understand trying something and hating it. (No more Michael Bay movies for me, thank you.) But hating something and coming back for more? Do you guys have a masochism thing going on?

  • Isobel

    I bought all four in one go on the recommendation of a friend is why (we’ve yet to have a civil dicussion about them!), plus I had two weeks bed rest after having a ligament replaced in my knee and completely and absolutely bugger all else to do. The fourth book was the worst by a very long shot. Ah well, at least having read them helps when contributing to all the snarky web sigtes (Cleolinda’s Livejournal pisstakes, for example).

  • CB

    CB, your girlfriend thought the first film sucked but is going to see the second. What’s the appeal?

    Well the appeal of the first one was hot boys as sexy vampires. Since that premise didn’t pan out that well (they boys were hot, but ‘i glitter in the sun and won’t ever bite you’ isn’t vampire-sexy), she probably wouldn’t want to see the second one if that was all it offered. But then she saw that the hot native boy turns into a doggie, and, well, that was it.

    “Sucked” is probably a strong word for her opinion (I was just recycling the pun), she just didn’t think it was very good. But animals, especially anthropomorphic ones, are her weakness and we both know it. As soon as I saw the wolf in the trailer I knew I was doomed to see this POS. =D

  • Bluejay

    Thanks for the context, guys.

    Isobel: I hope your knee is better. And I hope your friendship survived. :-)

    I read the Twilight books and, while I rolled my eyes half the time, I did find the plot interesting enough to stick around and see how it ended. I don’t know if I could have gotten through more than a hundred pages of a book I absolutely hated, so my hat’s off to you for your fortitude.

  • bats :[

    mr. bats :[ and I slogged through all the Twilight books. No, I don’t know why. We just did. Neither of us will give Stephanie Meyer another jot of our time, though.
    We think that “New Moon” is the best of the lot, and if the movie doesn’t wimp out on the tourist scene, it might be worth seeing. Of course, we will be watching it at our local dollar dive a few months from now.

  • Alli

    Bluejay, what plot?

    I read the first one, and by the time I got to the epilogue, I threw it across the floor. I have refused to pick up the second book. I have never seen the film. I think the reason so many people who hated the first book move on and read the next is based purely on curiosity. It’s trying to understand why so many people love something that is crap stylistically and portrays an unhealthy relationship as romantic. Also, it’s kind of like watching a poorly made “B” movie for the “LuLz” even if its message is really messed up. Besides, if you want to argue against the merits of the series it’s best to read all of it.

  • maureen

    @Bluejay

    I was in a bit of an akward situation with the Twilight saga because a good friend of mine lent them to me and I didn’t want to insult her by not at least reading past the first one.

    I actually didn’t mind twilight as a bit of a light read but I thought in my head, I hope it picks up in the action department for New Moon (it didn’t)and the I ended up reading Eclipse and Breaking Dawn because I’m one of those people that hates not finishing a book/series no matter how bad it is because I like to know what happens. The only series I’ve put down half way through was The illmade mute.

    Also, in the case of Twilight, being a 19 year old girl, all of my friends were raving about how I couldn;t hate it without knowing how it ended blah blah so I finsihed it just to prove to myself how bad it would be.

    As to why I don’t like it… there are many reasons including the writing was poor, Bella is a Mary Sue, Edward is an abusive boyfriend, Jake pretty much becomes a peadophile in the last book, there is next to no plot or action or any real anything etc

    I hope that clears my comment up :) I wrote it in a hurry

  • Bluejay

    Neither of us will give Stephanie Meyer another jot of our time … Of course, we will be watching it at our local dollar dive a few months from now.

    Why see it at all, if you refuse to give Meyer another jot of your time?

    Besides, if you want to argue against the merits of the series it’s best to read all of it.

    Fair enough, Alli. But does that mean you’re disqualifying yourself from arguing against it? :-)

    I guess I’m impressed that some people would commit to reading a 2560-page saga that they did not, in the slightest, enjoy–and maybe even violently disliked. (Unless you’re confined to bed and have nothing else to read, of course.) Your reaction–hated the first part, so won’t check out the rest–seems more reasonable to me.

    I’m one of those people that hates not finishing a book/series no matter how bad it is because I like to know what happens.

    I used to feel the same, Maureen. But these days I’m just a little less patient with books and am more willing to drop the ones that I don’t at least somewhat enjoy. Life’s short (unless you’re a vampire), and your time is valuable. I say spend it on what you love, when you can help it.

  • Alli

    No, I’m not disqualifying myself, I’m simply admitting to being a hypocrite. I can argue against the first book of course, which is where most of my criticism comes from. I have, however, read multiple summaries of the stories. The reason I care is because I find the message in the first book revolting, and from what I gather, that message (it’s totally cool to give up your life for a hot boy even if he’s a abusive) continues through the entire series. That’s why I care so much.

  • LaSargenta

    All these posts are making me very glad that I haven’t read the books. It also makes me wonder what is going on in the heads of the people reading the stuff. I wonder how many are deconstructing it or if they’re mostly all about the cute boys.

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