the twilight zone
(originally posted to planet claire)

against my better judgment, i went to see twilight, nee the magic hour, over the weekend with my dad and his gf. i passed the time trying to see what claire could have done in the role she turned down. the answer? not much. the movie itself was much as i expected, what i like to call 'fogey film noir'. this is not to say that the old(er) actors in this film are too old to be out there, it's just what i think is an accurate statement of what the movie is, what with its age-old plot and its built-in fogey audience. i mean this in the best way possible and no offense is intended. unless you're a die-hard newman/hackman/garner/sarandon (the latter of whom i truly hope is not being shunted into the category of life that the former three are), skip it, and be glad that claire danes turned it down.

reese witherspoon does fine with her underdeveloped and small part (she's basically just plot fodder; luckily she has better stuff coming down the pipeline later this year, most notably mtv's election where she plays a witchy little high schooler running for student council president) and fits it perfectly, unlike, say, sarandon, who is totally out of her element. claire would not have worked in this role, i think. i have a hard time imagining her playing a spoiled, nasty little rich girl of movie star parents - she just doesn't look the part. witherspoon does. she would spout out a line, i'd echo it in my head in claire's voice/inflections, and it just wouldn't work. not to mention the copious amounts of flesh that she is required to display in the film's prologue.. more copious than our claire possesses or would probably want to display.

as i said, sarandon is totally out of her element. her lines sound forced and there is zero chemistry between her and newman, who is arguably the romantic figure in the film. i practically burst out laughing at her little tour de force scene at the end of the film where she tells off newman, because it all sounded so rehearsed and false and i couldn't believe that sarandon had subjected herself to this.

james garner is in three or four scenes, and while he plays a pivotal (whatever that means in a film whose every line is one that has been heard in some other film at some other point in time) role is really only pathetic window dressing to draw the oldsters into the theatre by showing him prominently in the commercials (as opposed to the pathetic window dressing to draw the youngsters, witherspoon and the ubiquitous liev schreiber). the picture is also plagued by stupid subplots and even more stupid secondary characters who are clearly only there to pad out what is already a very short, very overcooked movie. i can only wonder if the short running time is to give the potentially weak-bladdered audience incentive to sit through to the end without running to relieve themselves. my psychic link to my grandma down in florida told me that this is definitely the case.

paul newman is great considering how boring the script is, somehow finding something worthwhile in portraying a character who has been seen countless times before, and gene hackman is good as well. garner's character is basically a variation on his rockford files detective. schreiber turns up as yet another cookie-cutter character in a movie chock full of them. just about the only redeeming thing in twilight is the easy rapport in scenes between newman and hackman, garner, and the delightful stockard channing. but most of all, twilight is kind of a sad swan song for a bunch of actors who are possibly past their prime who have played better roles in the recent past. i hope that they can find better mush than this to lavish their considerable acting chops on in the future, and while it would have been nice for claire to pick up some pointers from the veteran cast, there really isn't anything here that she couldn't learn from a trip to the video store.

Thu Mar 12 00:59:22 EST 1998

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