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“Twilight” descends on Smith Opera House

Smart and heartfelt, “Twilight,” a pheromone-drenched high school romance that turns vampirism into a metaphor for teen lust — based on the first book from Stephanie Meyer’s wildly best-selling series — is a work of surprising precision and restraint from talented filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke (“Thirteen,” “Lords Of Dogtown”). The film stars up-and-comer Kristen Stewart (“Into The Wild’) as protagonist and narrator Bella, a teenager who moves to the Pacific Northwest and falls in love with a century-old vampire named Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson, “Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix”). It will be screened at 7 p.m., Jan. 9, 10, 12, and 13, and at 2:00 on Sunday, Jan. 11 at the Smith Opera House, 82 Seneca St.”You’re not in Phoenix anymore,” Charlie Swann tells teenage Bella, welcoming her to a rain-drenched, vampire-pocked town of Forks, Wash. Echoing the famous line from “The Wizard of Oz,” Bella Swann, like Dorothy Gale, is in for the ride of her life.When Bella, who has come to live with her police-chief dad, sits next to Edward in biology class, he acts like he’s suffering a seizure. But it’s only because he can barely control himself around her. It’s no surprise that Bella tunes out the other kids, even as they try to befriend her. They don’t make her tingle with the fear of her own desire. Edward, like any good vampire, has a predatory glamour. As Bella gets to know him, what’s irresistible to her is that he promises not a blood consummation but its very opposite: a refusal to give in to the hunger that tempts him most.Edward and his family, a clan of pale-skinned stunners who live in a dazzling glass house in the mist-shrouded woods, aren’t your typical bloodsuckers. They stick to animals, and leave the humans alone. Edward’s father, Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli), is, in fact, the town doctor.”Twilight” manages the neat feat of radiating sexual heat at the same time that its pair of young lovers (well, she’s young – he’s been 17 for decades) must remain ridiculously chaste. Even an innocent kiss could be lethal, or lead to a painful immortality.Hardwicke, who showed a keen affinity for the female adolescent mind-set in “Thirteen,” captures perfectly the breathless thrill, fear and fascination of first love.Kristen Stewart does a sensitive job of portraying heroine Bella Swan as the daughter of a broken marriage, shunted from her mother in Arizona to her father in Washington state. She’s ready for love, and Edward Cullen is the bad boy who’s going to give it her.Robert Pattinson is fortunate in that the camera loves him, and he has perfected the kind of long stare that denotes deep soulfulness. Unlike real boys, he is ready at all times to talk about feelings.With a plot defined more by young (chaste) love and high school politics than high octane bloodsucking, “Twilight” is something of a departure from sexy vampire mini-epics like Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula,” Neil Jordan’s “Interview With A Vampire,” or HBO’s recent “True Blood,” but is also more self-serious and less ironic in its execution than the Joss Whedon-penned “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” film/TV series.”Twilight” is a tantalizing movie about being swept away by fervent desire, ecstatic love, and an aching of the heart in the presence of a beloved. It is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 122 minutes. Tickets are $5 general admission, $3 for students and senior citizens. Call 315-781-LIVE (5483) or toll-free 1-866-355-LIVE (5483) for details or to order tickets. Tickets may also be purchased online at www.TheSmith.org.The Smith Opera House is owned and operated by the Finger Lakes Regional Arts Council, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization supported, in part, with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, the City of Geneva, the Town of Geneva and by contributions from individual supporters.

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