…and the quest to see everything

Posts tagged “Kristen Stewart

Dystopia Countodwn: Vampires and Girls


I wrote about “The Twilight Saga” on Entertainment Maven because I fucking watched all the movies in one sitting a few weeks ago. And it’s probably the Kraken vodka speaking but I didn’t hate the experience, despite my drunken howlings of ‘what the fuck’ to the screen.

And here’s a crazy theory that is aided by my rudimentary math skills. The first Twilight book came out in 2005, when its fans are at the sad age of fourteen or something. It is now 2012, when all those girls are now 21. Half of those girls graduated from Twilight into “Fifty Shades of Grey” or “Girls,” while the other half are still fans of Twilight but see it as the silly thing they still like. They have healthy laughs about the production, the campiness and the shitty supernatural laws that don’t make sense. And I don’t know if it’s my quasi-masculine perspective but to me, the saga doesn’t just give a poorly constructed love story. The saga is also schizophrenic in a way that one movie would have a ‘romantic’ story and another would have a bloodbath with lost of decapitated heads. It’s introducing girls to violence and the necessarily the kind that they would use inwardly.

Since there are impressionable girls around, they need a role model and they have found an unlikely one in Kristen Stewart. Stephanie Meyer’s first choice to play Bella was Emily Browning, and I imagine that actress to have brought the same awkwardness of a contemporary art painting, palatable in her awkwardness, the kind of person who falls down gracefully. Stewart, however, is defiantly awkward with her blunt edges, only capable of beauty when she’s being photographed in a fashion spread. Whether the unformed person we’re seeing is Bella or Kristen is up for debate, really.

She also reminds me of a less rewarded Rooney Mara, or the kind of actress whose honesty in engendering a desexualized female would have flourished on cable television a decade later. And that’s not necessarily an insult because I love TV. And again she works capably with other actors even if she can’t carry a movie herself. I’m probably writing these words after being misled by all my ‘research’ on the series, which include People and EW’s puff pieces about the saga, but they don’t necessarily make my words less true. Basically, I just wasted four hundred or so words in saying that the girls who read Twilight and the girls acting out Twilight will be fine. I’m not so sure about Meyer, who apparently is going through a writer’s block now.

As I said before, the soundtracks are better than the movies. Who would have thought that indie-tronica would be the unlikely accompaniment of the vampire-action saga? This juxtaposition has good intentions, like a sage trying to sway their younger sister from Justin Bieber to Feist. The soundtrack then implies that the people behind the movies are cooler than the one who wrote the books. But this still remind me of the syndrome that late 90’s alternative music that become devalued once they ally themselves to movies/TV shows about teen romances/angst. Alas. But once again, IT’S OVER!


Why Can’t Kristen Stewart Speak?


Again, I write this from some imaginary parental perspective. “Speak,” writer/director Jessica Sharzer’s adaptation of the Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel of the same name, shows that if your child is being obtusely silent, it’s not because they hate you. Yes, they might hate you but they might also have experienced something, and they won’t tell you what it is because they’ve gotten in trouble for telling or trying to tell people what happened to them. It’s this thing that adolescents do that I probably talked about here before that seems like an honour code but is more of a shaming strategy.

The shamed young person, Melinda Sordino, is played by Kristen Stewart, who isn’t as silent as the book’s protagonist. It’s the voice-over. I was at first malicious about the voice-over, much-needed to express Melinda’s contemptuous snark, yet the device shows the cracks within what should have been a deafening wall between her and everybody else. She also comes with clichéd hair and costume combinations. During the present she wears cool colours and has occasionally frizzy hair, which means that she’s angsty, while during the flashbacks she’s one of the girls, has a perm and wears orange which, as we know, is a chiller version of pink. Her orange self goes to a party, knows how to kiss a guy, calls the police, and gets called a squealer by a student body who thinks she was just snitching on her fellow underaged drinkers.

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The voice-over and the soundtrack are reminiscent of a Lifetime movie, but it’s understandably a more sombre affair because a louder, more fashion conscious and zeitgeist conscious movie, like many teen movies, would have blasted over Melinda’s universal trauma.

The name Kristen Stewart might sound all-too familiar to you but this is a different Kristen Stewart, before she was handed to jaded directors-for-hire. She’s now known for her mouth twitch acting but in 2004, there’s an intensity in her eyes. There’s also that primal scream that has the mature timbre that we also hear in “New Moon.” What more could we want from a young actor trying to extend her physical capabilities and still looks like she’s surviving? She’s also surrounded by actors like Michael Angarano, Elizabeth Perkins and Steve Zahn whose supporting presences don’t diminish their characters’ own problems.

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And I can actually relate to this. I don’t tell my parents things and I’ve gotten trouble for having told and not told. The solution in breaking her silence comes in slivers. It could easily have been artistic expression, fostered by her teacher (Zahn). Just because she doesn’t speak or looks like she’s listening doesn’t mean that she’s not learning. Or that eventually the silence, the ostracizing stigmatization or any inward violence just builds anger. For better or for worse, there isn’t a clicking moment that makes her decide to tell her ex-best friend about why she called the police – it’s the natural; order of things for her to start speaking. It is the right thing to do and no one else can make this happen other than the person enduring an unspeakable horror. I just pray that there are more people who break their silences than those who don’t.

 


The Runaways


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You may or may not have read every review of Floria Sigismondi’s “The Runaways,” but to summarize: shit script, gritty tone. NOW’s Susan G. Cole, however, said that Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett is better in the movie than Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie. Twilight zombie bitch out-acts the future Hollywood grand dame? That, my friends, sounds like a dare. And she’s kind of right by an inch. Again, I can’t believe I’m talking about Kristen Stewart like she’s a de Haviland sister, but the spark in her eyes, the boom in her voice when she tells Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) to shut the fuck up, how I have a suspicion that she knows Kim Fowley’s (Michael Shannon) lines as well as she knows hers. She’s a girl you hate to love.

And again, Michael Shannon gets paid to verbally abuse women. It’s pretty much the same character in Revolutionary Road, but this time a guy wearing lipstick, make-up and Ascot is telling teenage girls to think with their cocks. As other bloggers have noted, I’m not doubting that any of this movie ever happened, but why are five teen girls hanging out in a trailer with some guy in his 30’s. Despite of its writing, the movie also has a great supporting cast. I wanna be stubborn and say that Sandy West (Stella Maeve) is secretly the star of the show, but Riley Keough and Tatum O’Neal disappeared in their roles. I just wished Alia Shawkat had a line or two, as Sigismondi used her as decoration in the movie.

1970’s America was a country that made the Soviets feel good about themselves, and “The Runaways” makes no exception in proving that. I agree with every other reviewer who points out the grit in this movie. Most of the 70’s movies I’ve seen are about New York, while this one takes place in Los Angeles, where everything is more spread out. I’m not sure if the sparseness of LA watered down the movie, but if you want real grit, go see other movies actually made in the 70’s.

This biopic leads us to an expected end, Jett achieves ubiquity and role model status as singer of “I Love Rock ‘N’ Roll,” SPOILER, Currie looks virginal while working for some pink wedding bake shop, I don’t know. Jett goes on a radio show to promote her hit song and tells the listening public that “If it wasn’t for Rock and Roll, I’d be in jail or dead.” The DJ invites callers, which gives Currie the opportunity to say that she’s neither rocking nor jailed nor dead. The film presents it as a reconciliation but I see it more as a challenge to a woman who pursues her passion from another who has gone through a phase. Yes, Jett as the founder of the first female rock group is more of a renowned name, as any woman who became the first head of state or to push suffrage or climb a mountain. Curie in the movie ends up having a man telling her to chop-chop (If anyone ever tells me that, I will do the closest legal thing to killing them), but she’s alive and has a future and that counts for something.

In an interview, Kristen Stewart said she wants to play Kate in a new adaptation of East of Eden. Get an audition, a guy who’s old enough to play old but not old enough that it’s creepy, and best of all, bring it.