Thursday, July 24, 2008

Yeeeees, I've been broken hearted, bluuuueeee since the day we parted

You'll have to forgive me. I saw Mamma Mia! last night, and the hamster in charge of the soundtrack in my head has had ABBA on constant loop ever since. Of course, now more than likely YOU have that line on repeat as well. Don't you love it when I share the wealth?

Since often any mention of a movie is followed by some sort of review of it, I should say that despite what Rotten Tomatoes thinks, I liked Mamma Mia! quite well. No, it is not any sort of serious cinematic achievement rife with subtle character development or artful dialogue, but I am OK with that. It is a musical, people. A musical based on ABBA songs. You are to go with your girlfriends and have fun with it. And that is exactly what I did.

I thought the film adaptation was reasonably true to the original stage version, with the exception, of course, of Pierce Brosnan and Colin Firth stepping in for lesser known but more vocally talented actors. I'm sorry. Pierce Brosnan may have that smoldering distinguished older gentleman thing going on, but that did not stop at least a fourth of the theater from creeping into a giggle loop when he belted out his first few solo lines. I think perhaps my favorite part of last night's movie-going experience was glancing at my friend Lisa during Brosnan's first song and seeing tears welling up in her eyes from laughter, crying, "That's James Bond!" But there's something to be said for range, you know? Kudos to 007 for taking on something outside his usual realm just for fun.

So. Two thumbs up for Mamma Mia!, with the appropriate caveats in place. It is hokey and contrived and ridiculous, yes. And neither James Bond nor Mark Darcy will ever get a record deal. But it is also lots of fun. You will smile. You will want to sing along out loud in the theater. Go with it. That is all.

As I'm suddenly in uncharacteristic reviewing mode, we should talk about Twilight, right? Despite the fact that it's still sitting over in that "What I'm reading" spot in my sidebar, I did actually finish that book days ago. Did I like it? Yes. Will it make any sort of personal "best of" list? Probably not. That's not always the point, right? In a way, Twilight is a bit like Mamma Mia!--enjoyable in its own way outright, even if it doesn't stand up to any sort of scholarly criticism in the more serious corners of its field. All things have their purpose. (Well, almost all things. Spats atop modern shoes is something I'll likely never understand.)

So. Twilight. Obviously I am not in Stephenie Meyer's target demographic, seeing as I am a 34-year-old single, childless woman and not a crush-struck 14-year-old girl. But Meyer is a 34-year-old woman, too. A 34-year-old woman with a similarly wacked-up spelling of the same name as mine. I am not a Mormon with three kids and a successful series of teenage vampire love novels under my belt, but there must be at least some similarities in her past, as her description of the mundane day-to-day details of high school life could have come straight out of the over-dramatic journals of my youth. So I reveled in distant memories of all of that nonsense for the same reasons I've enjoyed Dawson's Creek and Felicity in my post-high school and post-college years. Plus, Twilight has the added bonus of the stock standard (if wholly unrealistic) "they fell in love in a DAY" nonsense that even Shakespeare made a career out of. Except in this case, it's love at first sight with a vampire. Drama! Danger! Intrigue! Outpouring of teen angst! Seriously, what more could you want??

In all honesty, I don't even know why I got so sucked in to this book. Artful prose? Not so much. It's a young adult novel, after all. But the story clipped along nicely, with smooth transitions from each page to the next. I'd sit down, thinking, "I'll just read to the next good stopping point and then go to bed," and suddenly it was 45 minutes later and well past my bed time, still no satisfying stopping point on the page in front of me. I've been a slow reader lately, what with the Internet and Netflix and various other things to distract me, and I got through a 500-page book in well under three weeks. That may not be speedy for some, but it's a pretty good pace for me. There must have been something that grabbed me in there.

I never jumped on the Harry Potter bandwagon, but I'm pretty sure I'll go ahead and read all the Twilight books. Unfortunately, a lot of other people (likely mostly 14-year-olds) are on this bandwagon as well, which means my name is on a hold list at the library for New Moon. I don't like to be between books, and meanwhile, I have a rather large stack of books sitting here waiting for me, but unfortunately no inclination whatsoever as to which one I should read next. Internets, you are full of good advice and recommendations. What should I read to tide me over until I get my next fix of vampire love? Bear in mind that the hold list could take anywhere from six days to six weeks and my reading is, as I said, less than voracious these days. What say you? Which is my best bet?


Anonymous said...

My friends and I cringed when Pierce Brosnan sang...but he is so sexy it was ok. I thought it was fun and entertaining and really isn't that what it was supposed to be

nancypearlwannabe said...

Is that a giant biography of Colette?! I wrote my undergrad thesis on a comparison between her and Charlotte Bronte.

Anywho, I can't stand Zadie Smith's writing, but I did love Memoirs of a Geisha and The Secret Life of Bees. A Thousand Splendid Suns was also a great book but pretty much the opposite of lighthearted, if that's what you're looking for.

lizgwiz said...

The only one of that stack I've read is "The Secret Life of Bees." It was good, but not life-changing.

You want life-changing? Seriously, just acquire all of Christopher Moore's novels and get started. (You'll want to read them all eventually.) You will LOVE him. I would bet money on it. I started with "Lamb," which I think is his masterpiece--the most hilarious telling of the life and times of Jesus EVER--but you could start anywhere and not go wrong. And once you read a few of his books, you realize that he never lets any character go, really...a minor character in one book pops up as a major character in another. Way fun.

flurrious said...

I'd heard about Pierce Brosnan, but Colin Firth too? I don't think I can see that movie if it's going to kill two crushes at the same time. Also, ABBA frightens me. I don't know why.

Melliferous Pants said...

I enjoyed the Twilight series. Nothing deep but I got very sucked (ha ha) in.

I just picked up The Secret Life of Bees at a thrift store! I read it when it first came out. Not life changing but a fun read. So now it's in my re-read pile-o-books.

-R- said...

I think I have enough angst in my life right now that I don't want to read anything that will force me to relive my teenage angst too.

Noelle said...

Even though I gave you at least one of those books, I haven't read any of them. I'd just go with the one that's the shortest.

Also, you are not alone in the club of 30-somethings reading Stephenie Meyer.

Stefanie said...

Libragirl--My sentiments exactly.

NPW--No, it's a compilation of the Claudine novels. I actually know very, very little about Colette. I picked that up just for the heck of it at an amazing used book sale a couple months ago. (It was a giant warehouse room of books, and nothing was more than $2. That's where I got "Memoirs of a Geisha," too. I think that one was 50 cents.) You had to do a thesis for undergrad?? Also, so would you recommend Colette? So many questions... clearly I should have just sent you an email. :-)

Liz--I think that is at least the fifth time you have recommended Christopher Moore to me. I should really just listen already, shouldn't I? The library closes before I can get there today, but I have a Borders gift card in my wallet, so maybe I should stop there after work and finally use that!

Flurrious--It might not kill your crushes... Colin Firth has just a very brief singing part. Neither of them were terrible; they just looked entirely uncomfortable with themselves when they sang, which was not in keeping with the rest of the movie, in which it looked like the entire cast was having a blast nearly every minute.
As for your fear of ABBA... well, I guess I can't help you with that.

Pants--You could say you were bitten by the Twilight bug, er, vampire. OK, I'm really bad at this pun thing.

R--There's our little hidden ball of rage! :-)

Noelle--I think you actually gave me TWO of them! Thanks!

Allie said...

I had issues when I tried to read Zadie Smith too, I'm glad to hear it wasn't just me and NPW isn't a big fan either. I had similar problems with Man of My Dreams, but that could be b/c Curtis Sittenfeld irks me after calling Nell Freudenberger "book pretty" and totally bashing Melissa Bank.

I've been curious about Twilight. I may just have to give it a try.

amanda said...

I vote you should read The Pact - light enough I think to read quickly.

Jen said...

The only one of those I have read is 'The Pact'. I liked it, but it was generally the same as all of the Jodi Piccoult books. Still good though. That's my vote. But I have wanted to pick up the Bee one. hmmmm.

Courtney said...

Thanks for the Twilight review! I've been curious about it, and now I may have to pick it up.

I've only read one of the books in your stack, but I do recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns. It's absolutely heart-wrenching but also very good.

L Sass said...

Hooray, someone else who embraced the over-the-top delightfulness of Mamma Mia! It may be lowbrow, but I loved it.

I liked Twilight, too, but I was far more interested in the mythology about the vampires than the slightly creepy teen love story.

Lara said...

Yay for you jumping on the Twilight train!

As for your next book, I think you should skip all those and go straight to another YA book: Gone, by Michael Grant. I am pimping it out like nobody's business.