The Armchair Critic

(Pretending to know everything)


Twilight - The Movie

Posted by Lee i.

Bella Swan (Kirsten Stewart) leaves sunny Phoenix, Arizona for Forks, Washington, one of the rainiest towns in the US. She expects to be miserable in a new town, a new high school, and a father she has only spent a few weeks each summer with. Until she meets the Cullens, that is. Glamorous, mysterious and quite aloof from the other students, the Cullens, particularly, the unattached Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) intrigue Bella.

It turns out the feeling is mutual. And though Edward, the self-proclaimed "most dangerous predator on the planet" tries to pull away, he is inexplicably attracted to Bella, no matter how clumsy she is or how flat she sounds in the movie). Despite that he is a vampire, who sparkles in the sunlight, his being a "vegetarian" (the Cullens feed only on animal blood) makes you feel that there is hope for the two yet. After all, he only has to resist making a meal out of Bella when they kiss and embrace passionately, so all should be well. That is, until other vampires who crave human blood come along, to emphasize the huge difference between the two. Bella's frailty and Edward's immortality.

This is the part when we should be drawn into the Romeo and Juliet-like love story. But I guess, I am too much a fan of the books to be drawn in completely.

Stephenie Meyers, the author of Twilight captured teenage angst and longing perfectly. The tension, sexual or otherwise, was quite palpable in the book. That was quite difficult to capture in a movie. I was quite surprised when Edward mentions that he has been watching Bella sleep for the past two months. That long? Nothing much has happened...

But then I tried to be forgiving, and to watch the movie though the eyes of someone who hasn't read the books. It delivers. Sure, many of the more fascinating details (like the individual personalities and histories) are missing, but all in all, one is able to appreciate the movie: human teenage girl meets immortal teenage vampire, they fall in love, must...overcome...obstacles, attend prom. And then a foreshadowing of a movie sequel. Good, good...can't get enough of Robert Pattinson (swoon).

Yup, I swooned, like any other Miriam colegiala in SM Marikina who cut classes, everytime there's a close-up of Robert. Although I did expect "and so the lion falls in love with the lamb" to have been delivered more dramatically.

Surprisingly, the character who made a huge impact on me is Jasper (and it's not only because I named our new puppy after him), but because, even without much speaking lines, you could plainly see his discomfort and apprehension at being with humans, whose blood he craves so much. At one scene, he swallows deeply, you can see his Adam's apple bob, when he smells Bella. Now that is acting. Hahaha.

There were lots of funny moments in the movie, too. A passionate kissing scene that was cut! No, not by Edward, but by the censors? (The movie trailers were more revealing - Kristen Stewart in granny panties - hehe.) An awesome baseball game and a final confrontation between the Cullens and nomad vampires.

When you do watch the movie, be smug that you actually read all four books, including the unfinished Midnight Sun. But don't expect the movie to follow the book entirely. There had to be some creative license on part of the screenwriter and the director to bring a 6-hour read into a two hour plus movie. You will enjoy it more.

And yes, watch it when all the teenagers are in school or safely home with their parents. It would be much quieter that way. Unless you are actually the one who does all the gasping and the shrieking.


Twilight Series

Posted by Lee i.

It's been awhile since I've read a book that practically compels me to write a review about it. Or in this case, them. Not that there's been a dearth of books worth reviewing. Quite the contrary. It's just that there's never been so much buzz generated by a series of books since Harry Potter. If there were, I must be more out of touch than I initially thought.

Case in point. I have never heard of Twilight until Candy started raving about it about two weeks ago. The first book in the series, Twilight, first appeared in 2005. I must have been hiding under a rock, or (wishful thinking) in a forest in rainy, gloomy, Forks, Washington.

The Twilight series tell the story of sixteen year old human Bella Swan and eternally seventeen Edward Cullen, a vampire. I had a surfeit vampires with Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles, so I was a bit hesitant to read the books. Not another vampire story... Another thing that made me hesitate is the fact that the books are targeted towards young adults. Goodness, I have a son who is almost in that age range. How could I possibly relate to a human-vampire teenage love affair?

Well, I was a teenager once. And Twilight is not really about vampires.

Twilight is about relationships. Bella's connection with her estranged father, her relationship with her childlike mother, and yes, her involvement with Edward. About 3/4 of the book explores those. There is no vampire action until towards the end of the book. But the lack of action does not mean boring. It is sweet, exciting, revealing, full of angst. Suddenly, I was a teenager again - wondering if the boy I liked liked me back. Wondering what he was thinking.
It just felt so wonderful to be high school again when the most complicated thing was you being afraid your boyfriend and his family might bite you. The author, Stephenie Meyers may have been trapped in a body of a high school junior as she perfectly tells the story of young forbidden love through Bella's voice. While some people think the some parts of the book are cheesy, look at it from a teenager's point of view. You'd be waxing lyrical, too. Then you'd understand the book's appeal.

Twilight creates its own vampire myths slightly different from Anne Rice's. The vampires here are still dangerous but more alive and human than not. In this book at least, Edward's being a vampire is just incidental. Sometimes you forget that he is a vampire. Take away his immortality, super powers and the fact that he is "dazzling", and he is just your regular guy next door. You are wrapped up too much in the story that everything and anything is possible. Even a lover like Edward Cullen. Sigh. Don't get me started there. :-)

I won't recommend Twilight to my 10 year old DS just yet. Although he's expressed interest to read it, I am not sure he's mature enough to handle the love story. Not when his last read was The Spiderwick Chronicles. While the book is "clean" - no swearing, no passionate kissing scenes - I'm sure the beauty of the relationships would be lost on him and all he will be able to say is "Eeeek..."

With all the hype and the buzz, Twilight does not disappoint. Just let yourself go. I did. And not only did I enjoy the books, I love discussing it with friends. It's been a long time since I've had the pleasure of trading book notes with anyone else. If only for that chance at active interaction, I'd read the series again...and again.



Posted by Lee i.

Last week, DH and I found ourselves chaperoning his parents to an affair at the Dusit Thani Hotel. Since we weren't officially in the guest list, we decided to grab some eats in nearby Glorietta.

Glorietta used to be the place I hang around during lunch break. Since I worked just across at the 6750 (that building along Ayala with the high-end shops and the Starbucks in the corner), it was very accessible. I know it was more cost-effective to just bring lunch to eat at the office pantry but by lunchtime, I usually had to be out of the office or go berserk. :-) Sometimes I ate alone, but more often, I ate with two other staff, who for their own personal reasons needed to be out of the office, too. We must have dined at all the eating places in Glorietta, from the ubiquitous Jollibee to Tony Roma's. Because there were so many choices, deciding what to eat wasn't much of a chore. But deciding where to eat was.

Anyway, I prevailed upon DH to have a quick meal at Sakura which is located at the second floor of Glorietta 4. Sakura (Japanese for cherry blossoms) is actually a Japanese Grocery and Restaurant. They set up tables and chairs outside their shop. Each as close as you can get dining al fresco inside an air-conditioned mall. It's not as crowded or chaotic as you might think, but chances are high someone you know or who knows you might pass by. So better take dainty bites with those chopsticks.

While Japanese restaurants in the Philippines usually have a reputation of being expensive, the food in Sakura is affordable. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that their prices didn't change much since I had my lunch breaks there.

We had my favorite dish, seafood teppandon. DH ordered the same. See those large chunks of tuna, shrimps, and squid? Yummy. Sakura does not scrimp on the ingredients though I could do with more rice.

DH decided to try something new so he ordered the Tuna Sashimi Salad. A tower of crispy noodles and vegetables with sashimi strips on the side. I don't often like my vegetables but I had to eat these under DH's watchful eye. It was no hardship, I assure you, because it was really good.

Sakura also has a branch in Mall of Asia.