Friday, June 26, 2009

The King Is Dead

Michael Jackson died today. He was 50 years old.

I almost couldn't believe my ears when I heard the news on the way to work this morning. I had found out that Farah Fawcett, the actress passed away, (which wasn't surprising because she was dying from cancer) right before this piece of news came about. I was like, no way. The King Of Pop is gone? Wow.

Michael had sustained a cardiac arrest and fell into a coma, from which he didn't recover from. At the age of 50, it surely is too early to say goodbye to a musical icon like him.

Yeah, the last decade of his life were probably not the best years to remember him by. The child molestation charges, the divorces, the endless series of lawsuits (most of which were probably filed by greedy people trying to cash in on his dwindling fortune) and lots of other controversial headlines turned his life upside down. But there were still people who loved him, and remembered him for his music, which is still legendary and one of a kind till today. I consider myself to be one of those people.

The tributes have come pouring out, from fellow celebrities to fans, and even people I befriended on Facebook who aren't huge fans of his. Everyone knew who he was, because of what he has done. They all remember how special his music was, and they will miss him in some way, or at the very least, feel sorry for his demise. Radio stations have been playing his songs all day, even MTV played a series of his videos earlier tonight, as a tribute.

I wouldn't call myself his biggest fan, but I do love his music. My favourite song is Beat It. It's the one MJ song I can listen to over and over and not get tired. And there's Thriller, Billie Jean, Dirty Diana, Black Or White, Stranger In Moscow...the list goes on. I'm gonna have a different feeling every time I hear these songs now.

RIP Michael.

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Twilight Debate

A few days ago, I read some comments by a couple of my friends about Twilight, the movie that has taken the world by storm, particularly teenage girls who are either in love with Robert Pattinson's good looks or die hard fans of the book. These two friends of mine didn't like the movie very much, for various reasons.

As a movie reviewer, and one who actually was able to appreciate this film fairly, I feel like I should stand up for it a bit. Not to say that I'm a fan of Twilight, I'm no Twilighter mind you. I'd just like to give my opinion on some of the stuff they said about it.

Here we go:

- The romantic relationship between the main characters is very superficial and not based on anything except good looks and mystery.
My friend argues that Edward is merely handsome and mysterious, and there's no reason for Bella to fall for him other than being intrigued. He comes off as rude and complicated, and she still wants him. The thing is, Edward was nothing more than a distraction for Bella, until the day he saves her life, not by simply pushing her out of the way of a speeding car, but darting across the parking lot at lightning speed and stopping the car with his bare hands! Now, if that doesn't interest anyone who is saved that way, I don't know what will. Naturally, Bella wants to know who he is, and more importantly, how he did that. And isn't that how most love stories begin? By curiosity about the other person? Even if in this case, it's not just about what they like or who their family is, but what they essentially are as a person. And he did save her life, so she has a somewhat good reason to like him.

In "Twilight", Edward faces the remorseless choice of either turning his love into a vampire, letting her die, or CURING HER COMPLETELY.
So where's the drama in this, my friend asks. He was probably thinking, there's no sacrifice in this, so what's the big deal? Well, I think Edward had those choices to make and he had to do it instantly, and the second choice was obviously out. The first one is possible, but in Edward's eyes, it would not have been good. If you saw it to the end, you'll know that Bella wouldn't have minded at all being a vampire if it meant she could stay with him forever. But for Edward, turning her into a vampire may be risky. What if she couldn't be a vegetarian like him? What if she became wild because she was unable to control her thirst the way the Cullens have for years? And by being a bloodsucker, she'd have to leave her family behind. How would she explain to her father of what she has become? Bella wouldn't weigh so much on this perhaps, but Edward might have thought of it, being a vampire after all these years. It's probably not as pleasant as one might assume.
Which leaves the third choice, which Edward was wary of making, because it was a risk as well. If he goes too far in sucking her blood to save her, he might lose control and turn into the same kind of vampire he was fighting earlier. It wouldn't do him any good, nor his family or his love. It's that fear that highlights the tragicness of this scene, although I agree that some more mature viewers would say it's still superficial.

- Neither of them dies in the movie, so there is no particular kind of hurt either. The only kind of hurt seems to come from the fact that the girl eventually faces mortality.
There's only one reason they don't die. And that reason is sequels. Stephenie Meyer probably wouldn't be much of a writer if she killed them off so easily. Sure, she could have killed one of them and introduce new characters to fall in love with, but it may or may not have worked. But on to the hurt. The question about Bella's choice of wanting to be like Edward, and not getting it yet might put their relationship in jeopardy in the future. But stories like these tend to focus on the here and now, and not the eventual future. There was a potential hurting moment when Bella lies to her father and leaves him in order to save him, but they somehow resolved it at the end without touching on it, so that's a beef I sort of have with Catherine Hardwicke on that.

- Vampires here have no fangs, sparkle in the sunlight and actually walk outdoors in the day
Yeah, okay. It's kinda lame to have vampires who not only NOT burst into flames when they are exposed to sunlight, but they actually sparkle too. However, this story is targeted at a certain demographic. Like Harry Potter is aimed at kids with big imaginations, Twilight is targeted at young girls who love to look at the weird good looking guy at school. And if he's a vampire, even cooler. And in order to keep within the PG rating for stories like this, you'd have to make these vampires a bit more appealing on the outside and not so dark on the inside. What can I say? It sells, doesn't it? It's not going to attract people who've been fed on Bram Stoker, Anne Rice, Blade, Buffy and Thriller videos, but it'll give a whole new perspective to the younger generation who want some light fantasy thrown in.

I know how this movie will not appeal to those of us who want our stories a little darker, a little meatier and a little more complicated. But for me, as I've said in my review for this film on the other blog, it was entertaining. The story was given enough time to develop, and it wasn't dull at all. It obviously couldn't avoid being cheesy at some point, and it borrowed a few elements I've seen in other films, but all that wasn't enough to spoil the fun. It had a good soundtrack to support it, and the scenery was very nice too. It's by no means a perfect film, but it doesn't have to be.

I do agree that too much attention has been showered on the books, the film, the upcoming sequel and Robert Pattinson too. I know how all the girls just love him. As a guy, I don't see the big deal about him. I know how you feel, my friends. I do think that he's not superbly good looking. When I first saw him in Harry Potter & The Goblet Of Fire, I thought "Man, he looks so gay" LOL. And in Twilight, he looks even whiter than he already is. That, added to the supposedly cool looking messy hairdo, makes him look more strange than handsome. Ah, but then again, he's eye candy for the ladies, not me.

To summarize, I'll say that Twilight is a good way to spend time at the movies. It isn't worth so much of the hype it's getting (I'm still wondering how it won so many MTV Movie Awards, and yet lost Best Song to Miley Cyrus???), but it's memorable. I'll still look forward to New Moon in November, and from what I've seen in the trailer, it should be darker this time around.

P.S.: If you want a really dark vampire story set in the modern world, watch HBO's True Blood. It's awesome.