Idol Chatter

stardust_idol.jpgI was in a bad mood on Friday afternoon, and it didn’t get any better when I learned that “Stardust,” the novel by Neil Gaiman, as a new film was over two hours long. The water-logged week in New York City was finally getting to me. Between the steamy humidity, the subway floods, and the unforgiving rains, I had become weepy, and the last thing I wanted was to sit in a dark theater the rest of the day. I even called the friend I was meeting afterward to tell her I might not stay the whole movie–so perhaps we could meet earlier?
But when the movie was over, and I stepped back out into the dark and stormy doom and gloom of the New York night, the world suddenly seemed enchanted! Oh me, of little faith! I should have known I was in for something truly magical!
After all, Neil Gaiman is the author of wildly disturbing and creative adult bestsellers like “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys,” and the writer of children’s horror-stricken tales like “Coraline” and the darkly humorous picture books “Wolves in the Walls” and “The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.” He’s also a great graphic novelist, comic book extraordinaire of “The Sandman” series and other adventures, and the screenwriter for the upcoming “Beowolf,” among other things.
And Neil Gaiman–as he dabbles in all things mythical, religious, and magical–never disappoints. “Stardust” might be the greatest tribute to his fantastic imagination yet.

“Stardust” is the best kind of fairytale. There is the young, idealistic hero, Tristan Thorn (a truly dashing Charlie Cox), who is lovestruck by the shallow-but-pretty Victoria (Sienna Miller). He goes on a quest, leaving the tiny town he has always known as home, to bring back a fallen star and win Victoria’s heart. Of course, to find the star Tristan must cross “The Wall” into a place rumored to be another world–one that belongs to him in surprising ways that he will have to discover for himself eventually.
Without giving away the best surprises of the story, along his journey he meets the falling-star-turned-girl, who is the radiant and beautiful Yvaine (wonderfully played by Claire Danes), the wickedest of witches, Lamia (Michelle Pfeiffer), and a hilarious flying pirate named Captain Shakespeare (Rober De Niro, at his absolute best–he’s positively gleeful). All this together, plus an amazing cast of cameo appearances by the likes of Rupert Everett and Ian McKellen (as the narrator), makes for a delightfully funny, swashbuckling tale of magic and adventure.
For those of you who need a touchstone: Think “The Princess Bride,” but even better. “Stardust” is romance that never gets sappy because of the abundant wit that always cuts in at just the perfect moment, and it is the quest that you wished that “Pirates of the Carribean” was, but simply didn’t quite achieve.
I wrote last week that “Becoming Jane” was the kind of movie that made me want to write a love letter to its writer or producer. Well, I owe three letters now. The first would be to Keri Russell for her role in “Waitress” earlier this summer, the second to someone–maybe Ann Hathaway–for “Becoming Jane,” and now the third to Neil Gaiman for dreaming up “Stardust”–a story not to be missed whether you read it or watch it on the big screen.

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