New Moon: playing the parody card
Thanks for your getting the conversation started. I finally saw New Moon – at one of 15 showings at a theater near Lincoln Square, each of which was sold out. Interestingly, I went to a matinee too (4:30 p.m.), but my theater was full of neither middle-aged women nor teenage girls (though there were representatives of both groups in attendance), but mostly couples our age. I thought this was really intriguing, since despite the whole romance angle, I would never bill this movie as a date movie. But there they were, all these people on dates.
That isn’t to suggest there weren’t plenty of die hard book fans. The uproarious cheers, moans, and sighs of desire as Jacob and Edward appeared alternately only proved the effectiveness (or prophetic tap into the zeitgeist) of the “team Jacob/team Edward” ad campaign currently running, um, just about everywhere you look.
The presence of so many date couples (presumably a bit more distant from the saga hysteria) added another pretty fantastic element to the viewing experience. A good portion of the theater burst into laughter multiple times, almost always when Edward appeared on screen, barely speaking but looking oh so forlorn and pale and suffering. Or when Edward and Bella were caught in moments of romantic bliss that, at least to my audience (and I have to agree with them) seemed so clichéd and over-the-top they felt like parody. For instance, memory-Edward and Bella lying in the meadow staring dreamily into each other’s eyes; apparition-Edward and Bella floating upside down next to each other as Bella almost drowned; newly-minted-vampire-Bella and Edward running blissfully through the forest in J.Crew clothes in Alice’s vision of the future (when Bella becomes a vampire, do they immediately give up their indie dark clothes for the light tones of a Cape Cod weekend?). The inability to take these scenes seriously raises an interesting question: how much does the movie know it is a cliché of teenage romance conventions and how much is it just giving itself over to them so wholeheartedly (in faithfulness to the books, nonetheless) that the line between serious and parody is collapsed?
Interestingly, there were far fewer laughs at Jacob’s outlandish moments, though his shirtlessness got not only tremulous sighs and a few naughty shrieks, but plenty of laughs as well (I mean, if those abs don’t cross the line of teenage fantasy into parody, what else does?!). And each time he came so close to kissing Bella only to be interrupted got a few down right chortles – how unlucky can one guy get? But the audience reaction to the film mirrored a similar revelation I was having all along: the actual attractiveness of Jacob the character.
I remember when I was reading the books that I found Jacob really frustrating. Then again, I think my real dislike for his whiny, possessive, teenage angst didn’t begin until Eclipse, so I think I’ll have to reserve judgment until June. But I was not expecting to like him so much in this movie. Like you, I’m not so much on either Team Jacob or Team Edward as much as I’d like to see Bella grow a backbone and try to define herself a bit outside her possessive male relationships. Still, I have to admit that when Edward stepped, paler than ever, from the shadows of the Italian clock tower, it was hard to see what was so appealing about him, compared to the warm, dynamic humor of Jacob (not to mention, Edward looked like an emaciated Christ figure). It really boils down the power relations again. Even though Bella is older than Jacob, thanks to his “general know how” and “mad skills” and even a little to his cocky bad-boy attitude, he seems like her equal. But not her superior, wolf powers included. Whereas Edwards is her superior in so many ways there are times when he seems more like a parental figure to her than Charlie does. Everyone raves about Kristen and Robert’s genuine chemistry, but I didn’t see it. Not nearly as much as I actually imagined some sort of spark when Jacob leaned in for his thwarted kitchen kiss.
I agree and loved your analysis of Bella’s hyperventilating sensitivity. It was far more interesting to think of her as actually confronting a brave new world than just dying from the absence of her one true love or swooning selfishly and pathetically into the arms of another waiting friend. Maybe part of what frustrated me about Jacob in the books is that he is possessive and whiny precisely because Bella lets him be, because she herself only knows how to be wanted, not how to stake a claim for what she wants. I will be intrigued to see what they do in movie three with the thickening love triangle.
As for aesthetics, I agree. This movie did a lot more for coherent plot and dialogue than the first one, but it gave up the lush, ambient, almost dreamlike aesthetic of Twilight and it was greatly missed. Though I was still pretty smitten with any wood scenes – the northwest is just so luscious, with or without a saturated color palette. I wish they all could have spent some more time wandering around the forest.
Other thought: I never thought of Jessica as a comic relief before, but I have to say, I thoroughly enjoyed her movie-going scene and her general meta-reflections. Same for the whole high school gang, really. Which only makes you wonder why Bella can’t give them the time of day, beyond using them to distract her from her broken heart. I suppose loving a 109 year old pretty much does spoil you for high school romance.
OK, I’ve rambled on for far too long. I am sure there is so much more to talk about, so keep your reflections coming if you have them. With the Vampire Diaries on hiatus, I’ve got no other way to get my blood-sucking fix.