Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kristen Stewart: an actress with (so far) limits

OK, here we go again, another character from ancient Greece: Athena, goddess of Wisdom. She personifies the rational, the thinker in us all.

When I have said that Kristen Stewart's emotions are 'suburban', I am really thinking of Athena. Stewart was incredibly good as a traumatized young teen in "Speak"; and as a well-to-do teenager in "The Land of Women." But she never 'lost control'. She was always 'civilized', even in her despair in "Speak".

But in Twilight, she fell short of what I at least expected from Bella. Meyer's Bella is among other things, sardonic, acerbic, and witty. Maybe she was taking direction from Hardwicke, here, but really, Stewart never went much beyond glum. Which is why I went to the trouble of buying her other movies to see if she can, indeed, 'act.'

Then, there was a rumor that Joan Jett made Kristen cry, during the filming of "The Runaways." Here, I'm going to drag you over to ANOTHER Greek god: Dionysius (Bacchus in Rome.)

This god exemplifies the ecstatic, uncivilized, chaotic side of human nature.

And this is what rock and roll and Joan Jett is all about. And it is here that
I believe Stewart has had difficulty keying into. So far, she seems to see Jett's story as one of women's liberation. It is much more than that, though. "Cherry Bomb" is an amazing experience, a female rock group being all that intensely passionate women can be. If Stewart does indeed come to understand this, and portray The Runaways, in all its wildness, she will be a much better actress, one with a future without limit.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Rachelle's statement

(I thought she would curl up and suffer in silence. Good for her!)
Exclusive statement from Rachelle Lefevre via Access Hollywood:

“I was stunned by Summit’s decision to recast the role of Victoria for Eclipse. I was fully committed to the Twilight saga, and to the portrayal of Victoria. I turned down several other film opportunities and, in accordance with my contractual rights, accepted only roles that would involve very short shooting schedules.

“My commitment to Barney’s Version is only ten days. Summit picked up my option for Eclipse. Although the production schedule for Eclipse is over three months long, Summit said they had a conflict during those ten days and would not accommodate me. Given the length of filming for Eclipse, never did I fathom I would lose the role over a 10-day overlap. I was happy with my contract with Summit and was fully prepared to continue to honor it. Summit chose simply to recast the part.

“I am greatly saddened that I will not get to complete my portrayal of Victoria for the Twilight audience. This is a story, a theatrical journey and a character that I truly love and about which I am very passionate. I will be forever grateful to the fan support and loyalty I’ve received since being cast for this role, and I am hurt deeply by Summit’s surprising decision to move on without me. I wish the cast and crew of Eclipse only the very best.” (hat tip: Confessions of a TwiCrack Addict

ooops. it's SUMMIT not PINNACLE.

my bad.

and I still don't have any respect for them.

Shoving Rachelle under the bus.. for what?

OK, the title of this post tells you where I sit today. In comments at Twilight Anonymous two names have come up in the comments: David Slade, director of Eclipse, and Ron Howard, incredibly famous and powerful Hollywood denizen .

My first reaction was that Ron wanted his little girl to get a great big chance in movies by moving that pesky nobody Rachelle out of the way, and placing Bryce in the role of Victoria. I even bet that it wouldn't take money to shove Pinnacle into going along with this: a simple invitation to a soiree at the Howard mansion would do the trick. (I don't have a lot of respect for the Pinnacle crowd, who have stumbled upon a goldmine in the Twilight franchise and don't know what to do with it, including keeping Rob Pattinson safe from NY harpydom).

The case of David Slade is also interesting. As I have mentioned below, by replacing Hardwicke, the Twilight Saga may lose the essence that is so appealing to its core audience: women. It is not quite 'respectable' to appeal to women, my friends. It is so much more cool to pull in the Transformers and Star Trek crowd, ok? David Slade is an action GUY, he will concentrate on the Vampire Wars, and denigrate the tension between Edward and Jacob and Bella (all of which is based on Wuthering Heights, which I am sure is of no interest at all to Pinnacle or Slade, being a 'romantic novel' and all.)

Rachelle has a vivid and energetic presence in Twilight. I don't think Slade or Pinnacle realize that... they think one red head actress is much like another red head actress, I guess.

The good thing is, the books are still here. Thank you, Stephenie Meyer!

Rob Pattinson, Orpheus, and the maenads of NY

Apart from my outrage at Pinnacle Productions for allowing such lax security around their prime asset, Rob Pattinson, I was reminded of another figure, from ancient Greece, who also was attacked by maenads, or wild women. In the latter case, of course, Orpheus (for that was the man's name) was in fact torn apart by those ecstatic women. Like Orpheus, Rob Pattinson is an artist, not a musician, but an actor, who has captured the imagination of literally millions of women. It is quite rational of him to be terrified of this craziness. During the recent Comic-Con, his friend, Kristen Stewart, was asked if she would like to go in costume and mingle with the Twilight fans. She was emphatic with her "No", and even said she was afraid of physical attacks (did she mention knives??? I think she did.)

Those old time Greeks understood humans and our capacity for ecstatic evil.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

and More on Smoking Cigarettes!

This is a true statement: the worst thing about smoking cigarettes is that very probably sometime you will have to quit, and that process is gawdawful. On the other hand, failing and failing again, is a excellent lesson in humility which is a Good Thing, no?

The trouble with the anti smoking jihad is that it is no longer "medical." To be a smoker is to be bad, immoral and/or evil. Those are religious words. And all that stuff about second hand smoke is very very questionable.

I think it is very interesting that so many people for so long have loved tobacco. Pipe smoking was well established throughout Europe by the early 1600s. Big corporations and advertising did not exist back in the 1500s, when huge numbers of Europeans took up smoking tobacco. My theory is that ALL of our ancestors spent many hours around smoky hearths, and those hearths connoted home and food and warmth... and of course, in all those aeons, our bodies have loved that feeling of smoke being sucked into our lungs.

I am not crazy enough to say that smoking tobacco is healthy. However. My own ideal would be this: spend your youth smoking and drinking and hanging out in dark places, discussing the Great Ideas of your times. Between ages 30 and 35 quit smoking (it will take that long, but will be necessary because you will begin to feel the effects of all that tobacco.) Then, lead your life, building a family, a reputation, whatever life offers. And THEN, when you hit 65 or 70 years old, TAKE UP SMOKING AGAIN!!!

Another hint, from a wise old guy of my acquaintance: avoid tailor made cigarettes and learn how to roll your own. To up the 'cool' factor, learn how to roll that cigarette with one hand!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Rob Pattinson: can he act?

OK, Pattinson can smolder like no other actor alive. But is there more to the guy than an ability to play a romantic lead??

Take a look at this link on youtube, a bit from "Little Ashes." A good actor moves so that he embodies his character. He isn't doing the 'pretend gay' thing either, which would be the easy out. Rather, Pattinson's Dali jitters toward the camera, making his cute little charleston number a sneering rejection of his ex-lover. You don't have to see the entire movie to know that Dali has found a much nicer place to be than he ever had with Lorca.

In "The Bad Mother's Handbook", Pattinson becomes Daniel, tall, nerdy and awkward, hair combed over his face at all times, and every now and then quite intelligent. It is a 'bit part', but Pattinson manages to dominate every scene in which he appears. With those skinny pants and huge boots, "Daniel" looks like he is going to fall over at any moment.

Finally, there is "How to Be." Here, Pattinson portrays Art, a pathetic dork, whose ultimate achievement is to stand up straight, guitar in hand. (Mostly, he walks around in a crouch.) He is definitely not Edward Cullen, gorgeous vampire and dazzler of Bella. In fact, he is kind of (gah!) ugly. At one point, poor Art, who has had to move back into his parents' home, tiptoes up the stairs to his room, the image of someone who does not belong, and who doesn't want to be noticed. And then there is the wonderful bar scene, when our Robert loses a fight and behaves like a noisy twit. I have to say, this is a really great movie!
At this point, Pattinson seems to have signed on to a whole series of projects. Unfortunately, this may keep him in the limelight, the focus of screaming crowds, making it almost impossible for him to concentrate on the work he does so well: being an actor. One can only hope that after New Moon, this frenzy will attach itself to Taylor Lautner (poor Taylor!); and with Eclipse, Jason Rathbone (poor Jason.)

I think we're going to miss Catherine Hardwicke...

"Twilight" was a huge and very pleasant surprise to Pinnacle: for every dollar invested, it has returned some 10 dollars to the happy investors. And this is despite the fact that it looks like a low cost indie film: the make up, the CGI, the lighting all reveal a lack of first class resources. On the other hand, the directors for "New Moon" and "Eclipse" have a lot more money to spend, and therefore, the movies will look a lot better.

But I don't think the next 2 movies will have the "soul" that has made "Twilight" a worldwide phenomenon. By that, I mean, Hardwicke made Forks high school come alive, with characters that fizz with adolescent energy. And, under her direction, Rob Pattinson plays Edward with all the shyness of a 17 year old boy, buried inside a century year old vampire. Remember when Edward is showing Bella his bedroom? Now that is ACTING with a director who has a feel for young lovers.

I could be wrong here. But, I suspect that Weitz's New Moon will look pretty. and the CGI will be formidable; and Slade's Eclipse will have incredible vampire violence. But Hardwicke brought a tender sensibility to the screen that we will miss in the next two movies.

Friday, July 10, 2009

first, about all those smokers!

I am on the side of the smokers. Now, I have had to quit that habit because of fear (yep, only fear, what a thing to admit.) Smoking is fun. It feels good, your breathing finds a purpose other than keeping you alive. Smoking gives you something to do with your hands aside from - say - knitting.

It has been so depressing: from where I sit, the anti smoking movement had seemed to have won, enough so that our new rulers are Medical Doctors, who can hardly wait to pack us all into hospital wards after we spend a lifetime jogging and eating tofu.

And now! The coolest of the cool, stars of Twilight, wander around SMOKING. And not just marijuana, but TOBACCO! In PUBLIC!!!

Let Freedom ring!