The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1
Rated PG-13 for violence, sexuality, disturbing images, mature themes and partial nudity.
Latest Vampire Episode More Campy Than Scary
Taking a page out of the Harry Potter playbook, the soon-to-expire Twilight Saga is extending itself by splitting the last of Stephenie Meyer’s supernatural romance novels into two screen adaptations. However, the first, Breaking Dawn – Part 1, represents a striking departure from the earlier episodes, cinematically, being more of a campy soap opera than a spine-tingling horror flick.
So, instead of generating its typical tension via the fog-enshrouded specter of bloodthirsty vampires locked in combat with rabid werewolves, this cheesy spoof of the genre trades in puns and inside jokes ostensibly aimed at the legions of loyal fans of the review-proof franchise. This installment picks up where the previous one left off, namely, with the engagement of 18-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), a century-old vampire who can pass for her contemporary.
While her clueless parents (Billy Burke and Sarah Clarke) and the terminally-creepy Cullen clan have no problem with the impending wedding, the same can’t be said about teen werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) who is conspicuously-absent after losing the competition for the bride-to-be’s affection. But the rest of the couple’s high school classmates do attend, including jealous Jessica Stanley (Anna Kendrick) who does her best to ruin the reception, between spreading a vicious rumor about Bella’s already being pregnant and inappropriately suggesting during a toast that Edward should have fallen for her instead of Bella, ha-ha.
Once each of their guests has had a chance to make a wisecrack or a tongue-in-cheek remark, the newlyweds depart for a remote island near Rio de Janeiro for what’s supposed to be a magical honeymoon. Unfortunately, vampires and humans apparently weren’t meant to mate and Bella’s deflowering brings out the beast in Edward who delivers his demon seed with an unbridled passion which leaves the hotel room in shambles.
Bella soon misses her period and finds herself facing a moment of truth when she realizes that she’s carrying a rapidly-developing fetus destined to destroy her unless aborted. What to do? What to do? A cross-species cliffhanger to be answered in Episode 5, although you’ll get a big hint by sticking around for a closing credits postscript.
Suggested solely for Twilight diehards, this underwhelming, unfunny melodrama amounts to little more than an uneventful setup for next year’s grand finale.
Fair (1 star).
In English and Portuguese with subtitles.
Running time: 117 minutes.
The Story Of Lovers Rock
Nostalgic Documentary Celebrates Influential Black Brit Music Genre
Have you ever even heard of a smooth type of British music called Lovers Rock? Me neither. But don’t let that stop you from checking out this alternately entertaining and educational documentary detailing the history of what was actually a very influential, if underappreciated, genre.
Directed by Barbados-born Brit Menelik Shabazz, The Story Of Lovers Rock chronicles how the unique sound became the rage around London back in the ‘70s. A blend of apolitical reggae and American-style R&B, it was created by the young offspring of Caribbean immigrants living in Brixton and other ghettos in England.
Signed by fledgling record companies, many of the performers soon found fame but without reaping any financial rewards, because they were routinely ripped-off by unscrupulous businessmen. (“Once you are a producer, you are a thief.”) I suppose this development was no surprise, given the long legacy of exploited black entertainers and the fact that these stars were so young, such as Louisa Mark, who had her first hit at the tender age of 14.
The victims’ tales of woe recounted here range from an admission that “I never saw a royalty statement” to overwhelming regret about being paid only a flat 6 and a half pounds for tunes that climbed the charts. Yet, to this day, they all still have loyal followings not only in Great Britain but Japan, Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela, Australia and New Zealand.
Perhaps the movie’s most enlightening and telling history lesson lies in its delineating the enormous impact of Lovers Rock on the next generation of white British musicians. For groups from The Police to Boy George’s Culture Club to UB40 would go on to enjoy phenomenal success by incorporating a suspiciously-similar combination of reggae and soul into their ostensibly-derivative arrangements.
You can add The Story Of Lovers Rock to the short list of must-see, politically-tinged documentaries which shed light on the cultural roots of a lesser-known sound, in much the same way that instant screen classics like Calypso Dreams and Buena Vista Social Club have done for Trinidad and Cuba, respectively. Three cheers to the talented Menelik Shabazz for making such a delightful, informative and thought-provoking cinematic contribution for the ages!
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 96 Minutes.
FYI: Screenings will be hosted by the Quad Cinema in NYC from Nov. 30 to Dec. 6 @ 9:40 p.m. Note: There will be a Q&A with director Menelik Shabazz after the Nov. 30, Dec. 1, Dec. 2 and Dec. 3 screenings.
For tickets or more info, contact Diarah N’Daw-Spech at (212) 864-1760
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening Thanksgiving, 2011
Arthur Christmas (PG for rude humor). Animated, 3D adventure revolving around the effort of Santa Claus’ (Hugh Laurie) kind-hearted, clumsy son (James McAvoy) to deliver a bicycle to a little girl (Ramona Marquez) his father accidentally forgot to leave any presents. Voice cast includes Bill Nighy, Joan Cusack, Jim Broadbent and Imelda Staunton.
Hugo (PG for mature themes, action, peril and smoking). Martin Scorsese directed this 3D fantasy set in the ‘30s about a 12-year-old orphan (Asa Butterfield) befriended by a toymaker (Ben Kingsley) and a fellow street urchin (Chloe Grace Moretz) while living in the walls of a Paris train station. With Sacha Baron Cohen, Jude Law, Jude Law, Christopher Lee and Richard Griffiths.
The Muppets (PG for mild crude humor). Miss Piggy (Eric Jacobson) and her puppet pals reunite to stage a telethon with the help of three fans (Jason Segel, Amy Adams and Peter Linz) in order to save their old theater from a greedy oil tycoon’s (Chris Cooper) wrecking ball. Cast includes Dr. Ken Jeong, Rashida Jones, Zach Galifianakis and Alan Arkin.
The Artist (PG-13 for a crude gesture and a disturbing image). Black & white film set in Hollywood in 1927 chronicling the contrasting fortunes of a fading, silent movie star (Jean Dujardin) and an emerging ingénue (Berenice Bejo) positioned to leverage her big break in the talkies. With John Goodman, James Cromwell, Malcolm McDowell and Penelope Ann Miller.
A Dangerous Method (R for sexuality and brief profanity). Historical drama highlighting how psychiatrist Carl Jung’s (Michael Fassbender) iconoclastic protégé Sigmund Freud’s (Viggo Mortensen) unorthodox approach to treatment of a troubled young woman (Keira Knightley) led to both a complicated love triangle and the birth of psychoanalysis. With Vincent Cassel, Sarah Gadon and Andre Hennicke.
House Of Tolerance (Unrated). Atmospheric adventure set in a bordello and revolving around a passive prostitute (Alice Barnole) who lets herself be disfigured by a regular client (Laurent Lacotte). With Hafsia Herzi, Celine Sallette and Jasmine Trinca. (In French with subtitles)
My Week With Marilyn (R for profanity). Strange bedfellows adventure about the unlikely set romance which blossomed between newlywed Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and a star-struck crew member (Eddie Redmayne) during the filming of The Prince and The Showgirl in September of 1956. With Kenneth Branagh as Sir Laurence Olivier, Julia Ormond as Vivien Leigh and Dougray Scott as Arthur Miller.
Romantics Anonymous (Unrated). Twelve-step comedy about a painfully shy chocolatier (Benoit Poelvoorde) who falls in love with a new assistant (Isabelle Carre) suffering from the same affliction. Support cast includes Swann Arlaud, Pierre Niney and Lise Lametrie.