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books, blabberings, and a life semi-common
Perhaps “bad romance” is not the phrase that should be used in this case despite the fact that the song by Lady Gaga blasts out of the speakers when watching The Hillywood Show’s latest endeavor, “Eclipse Parody.”
photo taken from TheHillywoodShow.com
In the opening scene of the parody, audiences are transported into the bedroom of Edward Cullen. This particular set bears a striking resemblance to that which is used in David Slade’s The Twilight Saga: Eclipse film. The scene is one where Bella tries to renegotiate the terms of both an impending marriage and her future as a vampire; in just a few lines, it’s easy to see slight changes from the last two parodies. Jacob Jost, who portrays the immensely emo-vampire Edward Cullen, seems more comfortable in the role and the body language and nuances he exudes is reminiscent of the acting of Robert Pattinson in the film. Yet, while I believed that Kristen Stewart finally felt more comfortable with her lines and acting in Eclipse, her Hillywood counterpart Hilly Hindi, seems to have gone the opposite route. There was a slight awkwardness to her movements and the forced breath-infused words seem forced and unnatural.
This is where Lady Gaga comes into play – literally. Don’t get me wrong; I love many of the Ga’s songs and one of them is “Bad Romance” but it just seems so out of place in a parody of Eclipse. In a book told from Bella’s point of view, the idea of her calling her relationship a bad romance doesn’t seem ironic; it seems confused and incorrect. Perhaps if the story was told from either Edward or Jacob’s perspective, it might make a little more sense.
In “New Moon Parody,” fans got a taste of a “bad Bella Swan” in an alternate reality where she had a relationship with Jacob rather than wait around for Edward to come back. Was that personality brought over to “Eclipse Parody” despite its lack of realism from the work from which the parody was derived? Perhaps if that was the case, the montage of scenes that follow wouldn’t be so disjointed from the work. Instead, I am forced to wonder if I’m watching a parody of Eclipse or a fan’s tribute to Lady Gaga and her public persona.
As the parody takes the audience into the meadow, one has to question, “Where do they find these sets?” If I wasn’t so sure the cast didn’t travel outside the country for filming, I would ask if they somehow managed to use the actual meadow sound stage from Vancouver. I would also like to note at this time that the costumes replicated from the movie are incredible and spot-on. Despite the added sexiness to Bella that seems wrong, somehow, the costumes are brilliant and it’s in the parking lot that a camaraderie between Jacob and Edward is laughable – in the good way. They act like two regular guys as they stare after the girl they’re both lusting after – talk about being true to life there.
One thing that I’ve always appreciated with The Hillywood Show is their remix of songs. “Twilight Parody” did a great job with Katy Perry’s “Hot ‘n’ Cold” song and both “Dark Knight Parody” and “New Moon Parody” had amazing new backtracks of lovable songs. So was I the only person who thought the sudden change from Gaga to Jordin Sparks was abrupt? In any case, I was pleased with the use of “Battlefield” if only because I thought it truly captured ECLIPSE after I read it and heard the song for the first time – whichever one came first. It’s fitting that Sparks croons, “Don’t try to explain your mind; I know what’s happening here. One minute it’s love and, suddenly, it’s like a battlefield,” as The Hillywood Show reenacts the training scenes. Even without a scene of his own, Drew Lorentz seems to have a better grasp of Jasper Hale than Jackson Rathbone – and his hair is better, too, to be honest. The training sequence is done really well though I found all the cuts to Bella singing to be superfluous; let me see the training!. On its own, the camera work and the actors portraying the Cullen family members do the scene justice and suddenly cutting to a singing Bella almost ruined the effect for me.
The return to “Bad Romance” is a let-down at this point. While the song is immensely popular and is a dance song for the next hundred generations, it is one of the most overused and overplayed songs this year. It is during this switch that viewers start to see a new side of The Hillywood Show, one that I don’t know is helpful or harmful. Part of the intrigue of the show and its work has always been their ability to do more with less and never be lured into doing what is expected of a time and age where sex is at the forefront of most teenagers’ minds. Why, then, the sudden influx of sensual motions – some embarrassingly amusing and others downright obvious and uncomfortable? Part of it, perhaps, is over-exaggerated lip-syncing and movements but one truly needs to ask, “Why so sexual?” It just seems a bit unnecessary in the grand scheme of parodies. Is it an attempt to appear older and more mature? This may be the case but if it is, then it should have been done on a lesser scale. The shots meant to heighten the senses, and dare I say teenage boys, are sudden and new and should have been done on a bit of a sliding scale over a number of parodies if the Show wanted to break out of its shell.
However, what seems to be entirely unnecessary is the inclusion of the Harper’s Bazaar photo shoot that was done by Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson and was featured in the magazine’s December 2009 issue. The photo shoot is that of the actors and, besides the accompanying article, had nothing to do with Eclipse. During a time when the paparazzi and some fans are so obsessed with the idea of the dating costars, one has to wonder if this parody included scenes for those “Robsten” supporters out there. With the scenes that follow, it seems plausible, which is a shame because, truly, what was the point of this inclusion? While a marriage proposal and slight sexual tension was prevalent in the books, I am left feeling like a Peeping Tom (a Peeping Tricia?) because when I see these scenes in the parody, I don’t think of Bella and Edward; I think of Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart.
The lighting and smoke for the fight between the newborns and the Cullens is great. As is the filming (although that compliment works for the entire parody which, no doubt, is in thanks to the new camera as well as the brilliant focus of Hannah Hindi). The next few scenes jumble together in thought – the tent scene was amusing, Edward and Jacob singing part of “Romance” may be the only good thing about the song’s use for the parody, wolves helping Jacob serenade Bella is hilarious and breaks up the in-your-face attitude that is scattered through the short film. It’s a montage of well-placed scenes that is slightly broken up badly by Bella hitting Jacob. While Kyle Dayton has a subtle acting skill that needs to be brought into the spotlight more, Hilly overacts the punch a bit too much and it’s distracting and takes the focus away from Kyle’s ease in front of a camera.
Her shining moment, however, seems to come in the fight scene between Jacob and Edward, both of whom are believable through mere facial expressions by the actors who portray them. To show such emotion with the set of a jaw and the glare of a gaze is not one that can easily come across without words but, somehow, these two do it and they do it well. More importantly, for the first time, I believe that Hilly doesn’t want to be in the situation she’s been put in as Bella. There is a moment (around 7:35 if you’d like to look) where she sings, “You know I never meant to hurt you,” and she doesn’t look at the camera. She doesn’t even look at the two guys for a second and right there is how I wish Hilly acted throughout the entire film. It’s a moment of clarity that acting isn’t just about saying lines or lip-syncing but about being part of a group of people all working to create something. And then her face gets squished and I can’t help but laugh because she looks adorable, even smushed between two chests.
The parody could have ended around 8:15 with Bree screaming and everyone standing there though I’m still not sure why the Cullens suddenly became a gospel choir while singing Jordin Sparks. Instead, the parody switches – yet again – to “Bad Romance” and it is confusing once more as the question remains – is this a parody of Eclipse or a parody of the media storm regarding Kristen and Rob’s relationship? The idea of fiction vs reality is further exemplified by the sudden and seemingly random appearance of Kristen Stewart’s Eclipse premiere dress in a way that does not match. While Stewart’s MTV Movie Awards dress made its way into “New Moon Parody,” it fit the idea and look that was occurring in the form of a rock concert in the Cullen household. The white dress in a forest while the others are in their costumes is odd and lends a tribute to the actors of the film rather than the film itself.
Also odd is the lack of featured original choreography. Though the Show has used choreography from the artists’ videos in past parodies (“Twilight Parody,” “Dark Knight Parody”), the use of original moves was one I always looked forward to. There was, perhaps, two counts of eight during “Eclipse Parody” that was not taken from the great minds of Molly Munson and Jacob Ballard. I have to say that it was truly a let-down to not see more of the fun and intricate choreography that both Hannah and Hilly are capable of creating.
As said earlier, the sexuality seen in the parodies is jarring and unexpected, not because of the films and books themselves, but because The Hillywood Show has never delved into this new look. The inclusion of Isle Esme, feathers, and lingerie lends itself to a few things: the idea that there will not be a “Breaking Dawn Parody” and that the girls are going for some sort of shock value, perhaps in an attempt to garner more views.
Though the filming is gorgeous, as well as many of the sets and locations, and while Hannah continues to have a keen eye for what makes a hit regarding camera angles and views, “Eclipse Parody” is a piece that needed more work and less inclusions of potential controversy in the face of wanting more recognition. With beautiful sets, costumes, and make-up, as well as gorgeous renditions of certain scenes, the parody as a whole lacks the irony and cohesiveness that made “Twilight Parody” truly shine for the gem it is. The parody’s length is also one of questionable doubt – as it was with “New Moon Parody” and “Runaways Parody” as well. When is too much truly too much? Does everything need to be seen and filled in or are scenes becoming filler for what could have been an amazing yet shorter parody?
The spotlight here should be on Jacob Jost for the improvement of his acting over all three “Twilight” parodies and Kyle Dayton for his subtle nuances that make him a better Jake than Taylor Lautner. Both actors have the look and the talent to push them through in their future endeavors if those endeavors happen to include trying to make it big. The naturalism of each actor on screen is calm and sometimes seems even more professional than those actors who have been on screen their entire lives.
In closing, if The Hillywood Show would like to be more well-known, they should focus on these actors and put forth the positive spins of their creations. I truly hope the abrupt change of style to a more “mature” look is not one that will stick around and, if so, that they are able to reign it in a bit more. As it stands, the need for wagging eyebrows seems to be the goal rather than the gorgeous work they’ve done in the past.