Sunday, December 28, 2008

Vamp revamp: Stephenie Meyer's Twilight

Vampires are fascinating, at least in literature and film (Bram Stoker's Dracula, Nosferatu, Interview with a Vampire). It is a pity that Stephenie Meyer had to write about them and that it has to be adapted to film. Here's why:

1. The Twilight series do not offer something new. Okay, so Edward and his family play baseball whenever a thunderstorm is in town, but I'm afraid my little sister could come up with something like that. Vegetarian vampires (an oxymoron) aren't also exactly what you'd call new. Consider The Southern Vampire Mysteries by Charlaine Harris (2001) which was made by HBO in 2007 into the hit series, True Blood. Twilight's only claim to originality perhaps would be its attempt to wed RL Stine and Sweet Valley High, which explains most of the hype.

2. The vampires' special powers (Edward's acute sense of hearing people's thoughts, Alice's clairvoyance) calls Heroes into mind. Never mind that Meyer's first book, Twilight, was first published in 2005 while Heroes premiered in 2006. It could only mean that Meyer traveled into the future to borrow ideas from the critically acclaimed TV series.

3. You could skip a few pages (or scenes, in the movie) and you wouldn't miss a lot. But then again we're dealing with something that panders to American preteens. It could be a great story. I only wish Meyer had been talented enough to tell it. I remember a review snippet on Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy which says fans of Middle Earth do not adore Tolkien but his many gifts in showing Middle Earth to those who haven't been there.

4. The book is written in Bella's point of view. Which is fine, only I feel sorry for Bella's character, because there's too little said about her. I have only read the first book, and I know that if I want to find out more about Bella, I need to read the other books in the series. But I just am not curious enough to read more because Bella can be summed up in two words: "Edward's girlfriend."

5. Finally, if one is fond of witticisms in dialogues, one would be better off with Mean Girls ("One time, Regina George punched me in the face. It was awesome!"). There is a one-liner in Twilight that I haven't yet come around into liking: "I am unconditionally and irrevocably in love with Edward Cullen." Ho-hum. Perhaps one of my friends was correct in saying I do not own a heart.

I'm sure I missed more reasons why vampires might feel slighted by Twilight, but I leave that to Meyer's other, more passionate critics. I have a book to finish.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

BBC's Tess of the d'Urbervilles

Directed by: David Blair (The Street, Giselle-Adam)
Written by: David Nicholls (Much Ado About Nothing, And When Did You Last See Your Father?)

James Bond girl Gemma Arterton (Quantum Of Solace, St Trinian's; above) is Tess in this 4-million-euro BBC serial which started last September, heralding (in the words of Sally William of the Telegraph) "a new generation of Thomas Hardy adaptations."

I wasn't really a fan of period films, despite the encouraging efforts of my senior highschool English teacher, who was obsessed with 19th century England and the World Wars. Until recently. It began with BBC's The Other Boleyn Girl, which I saw at first because of the costumes and Natalie Portman, and because Eric Bana has always ranked high in my list of beautiful men. And then Becoming Jane, because it stars James McAvoy. And then The Girl With the Pearl Earring, because I loved Colin Firth in Love Actually.

But I guess I look forward to see Tess not because of the finery (though the costumes were splendidly accurate) or the male actors (though Eddie Redmayne as Angel Clare sure looks dashing; above). I'll be waiting for the serial film to hit the Philippines because I want to see that brilliant flashback scene at the end, where Tess and Angel are at the Stonehenge, and they could see from afar the police advancing towards them. It is sunset.

"What is it Angel?" Tess says. "Have they come for me?" Then after that part when Tess solemnly whispers to Clare that she is ready, the scene fades to black and fades back into that scene with Tess dancing on a cliff with the Marlott girls.

But this time when Angel Clare passes by and gets asked by the girls to dance, his eyes fall upon Tess, who smiles at him. 'May I?' Angel asks. Then Tess laughs with delight. The Stonehenge scene is my favorite part of the book, but this ingenious flashback scene is disarmingly heartbreaking. I mean, Angel Clare could have saved Tess (and himself) a lot of trouble, if he had not been such a dork and asked Tess to dance that fateful day. I'm someone who worries endlessly about what-ifs.

sources and photo credits:

This Blog's FINAL VERSION is still under renovation

Friday, December 26, 2008

Contemplathings XI

1. the sweet feeling of finally having patched things up with mom
2. whether I closed my windows when I left my apartment yesterday or not
3. a super-post on Natalie Portman flicks
4. why I can't add Shelfari as a widget
5. mermaidman and barnacleboy, and why things will never be the same again

Friday, December 19, 2008

O, tatayo yata 'to!

Palindromes are so silly you cant get enough of them ("No, sir, away! A papaya war is on!" and "Yo, banana, boy!"). But I didn't know tagalog palindromes are delightfully sillier. I chanced upon these on the net while I was looking for some catchy phrase I could use as a blog URL. Check them out:

"Ano ka ba? Ako na!"
"Okra ba? Barko?"
"Paspas, sapsap."
"Aba, lata sa talaba."
"Ani Tatay: nasa bayabasan yata, Tina."
"Sila, aalis."
"Para sa mansanas na masarap."
"Okay ako."
"O, tatayo yata 'to!"

It gets even sillier when these are translated to English:

"Hey, my turn!"
"Is it an okra? A ship?"
"Faster, slipmouth fish!"
"Oh, a can in the oyster."
"Father said: it might be in the guava fields, Tina."
"They will leave."
"For a delicious apple."
"Will trumpet!"
"I'm fine."
"Hey, this might stand up!"

Anyone know any more funny palindromes?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Random Desires

Nothing beats Christmastime when it comes to exciting hopes and desires. And it certainly doesn't hurt to desire worldy things especially when you've just received your 13th month pay; heck, for the first time of the year, I have dough that's not meant for the bills. Unless I spend everything on a getaway vacation to Seychelles, I think I am more or less inclined to splurge on any of the following:

1. A Nikon D40 DSLR

Back when I was still writing news for the Philipine Collegian, I had always secretly envied our photographers. Not only because deadlines mean little to them (they tinker with their photos with Adobe photoshop for most of the press time, then write the caption at the last minute).

But also because they are all awfully good at what they're doing; they have to be, unless they screw up at that precise instant a moment has to be captured in print.

So I'm getting a camera. If only for the opportunity to have a bulkily impressive SLR slung around my neck and pose as someone who's awfully good at what he's doing.The Nikon D40 looks fine for me, cheap (P21,000+) and good enough (6 mp) for a beginner.

2. A new electronic keyboard

I can only play three complete pieces on the piano, but I intend to learn more. I know, right. I have this inexpensive keyboard at my mom's house but I don't want to relocate it to my apartment, just in case my siblings have a fit and decide they want to learn playing.

So I'm looking into getting a new keyboard I can have at my own place. There's this cool Casio at Metro Market! Market! and it fits perfectly into my budget (P9999).

I already know where to put it, just beside the window.

3. A violin set

One of the reasons why I want to be more than a mediocre pianist is because music is supposed to be therapeutic--and I need therapy, for more than one reason.

As for time for practicing, I have heaps. There is one little hiccup, though--I am always somewhere else. And I can hardly bring my keyboard wherever I go. So I think a violin might be a good thing, since I can handle music sheets already anyway, and I've been hearing you don't need a life-changing character shift if you used to play piano.

There's something I found on Ebay that's worth around P4000, and the seller accepts PayPal, but I'm a little bit uncertain as to whether the instrument is made of wood or plastic.

Right now, I'm inclined towards the camera, since I've never owned one before. Though I'm sure once the novelty wears off, I'll be soon pining for something else. But I can worry about that later.

To end on a self-gratifying note, I quote from this lovely cafe scene in Before Sunset, one of the most beautiful films I know.

Ethan Hawke: You know, to be in the moment, and I just feel like I'm... designed to be slightly dissatisfied with everything... You know, I satisfy one desire, and it just... agitates another, you know? I mean, do you think it's true that if... if we never wanted anything, we'd never be unhappy?

Julia Delpy: I don't know... Not wanting anything, isn't that... a symptom of depression? Yeah, that is, right? I mean, it's healthy to desire, right?

Oui, Julia. You smoke like an incinerator and you used to have huge arms, but I will marry you any day. Please give me a ring.