Tag Archives: Margaret Reyes Dempsey

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

As those of you who have been returning to Celluloid Zombie over the last few months might have noticed, my site has become something of a barren wasteland, starved of shiny new content and increasingly reliant on dusty old posts and hapless passers-by. Truth is I’ve been gut-wrenchingly busy lately and just haven’t been able to find enough of your Earth minutes to sit down and write new stuff. I need minions but unfortunately they’re too expensive. So, failing that, my good friend, fellow writer and proprietor of the entertaining Conjuring My Muse, Margaret Reyes Dempsey, has kindly offered to donate a blog post to the cause.

Enjoy!

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For many of us who read novels or watch movies in genres that are outside the realm of “this could happen in real life,” there is a willing suspension of disbelief before we enter the theater or open the cover of a book (or press whichever Kindle button). We’re excited. We’re ready to be entertained. And we participate in the experience by opening ourselves to what realists would call the impossible.

In an instant, vampires and zombies walk our streets. Strategic great whites have a place in our oceans. A writer and his guests encounter aliens at his cabin in the woods and we not only accept it, we’re chilled to the bone.

It seems so easy and natural to let go of reality and believe the incredible. Then, all of a sudden, some trivial detail rears its ugly head and we are blasted out of the zone. At least, that’s been my experience, but this is where the kind host of Celluloid Zombie and I disagree and begin yet another heated debate.

Case in point: I watched the first two episodes of The Walking Dead – Season 2 on Sunday night and was enjoying it. Their RV is stranded on the highway, death and devastation visible for miles in either direction. Still, the guy on the roof of the RV is using binoculars and that’s okay with me. You can’t be too cautious with hungry zombies roaming the earth. But then, he raises the binoculars to his eyes again and gasps. The camera angle shifts and there are 300 zombies in view…a mere 10 feet in front of him. Did 300 slowly shuffling and loudly grunting zombies materialize out of thin air? Did no one see them coming? Smell them? Hear them? Come on! I laughed out loud and threw a piece of popcorn across the room at the TV, which my cat gobbled and then coughed up with a hair ball. (Okay, that last part is just a bit of gory fiction.)

The fact is, the inattention to detail grabbed me right out of the moment, and the suspense that I had been enjoying up until that point lost some momentum. Some 3500 miles away as the crow flies, Rich is screaming over a static-filled Skype connection. “You have no problem believing in 300 zombies but the manner in which they show up is a deal breaker???”

I wouldn’t say it’s a deal breaker because I did enjoy both episodes. However, I’m unable to gloss over stupid stuff like that. Especially when it happens twice in the same episode.

Another example of things that can make me willingly unsuspend disbelief can be found in the movie Hereafter, a two hour and ten minute film that follows the lives of three people dealing with mortality. Despite wonderful performances by Matt Damon, Bryce Dallas Howard (wasted in a go-nowhere role), and the McLaren twins, this movie could not be redeemed. Afflicted by bloated, plotless scenes and poor pacing, it is slow and sleepy. And pausable. Yes, I admit two-thirds of the way through, with nothing much going on yet, I paused to get a snack. But the moment that turned what was supposed to be a serious movie into a comedy was the opening scene. Oh no!

On vacation with her lover, journalist Marie Lelay steps out to buy souvenirs and gets swept away by the Indian Ocean tsunami. Just before it hits, she purchases a bracelet for a dollar from a woman and her young daughter. (We won’t question why the merchant requests dollars instead of, say, rupiah or why a French woman on vacation there would happen to have dollars in her possession.) Suddenly, there’s a deafening roar and palm trees snap in the distance. (For a moment, I thought I was watching an episode of Lost.) The impressive special effects result in genuine horror as the huge wave comes into view. The journalist grabs the little girl’s hand and they run, but the wave takes them down. She claws at the water and air with both hands, trying to recover the child but it’s no use. Seconds later, she gets caught on something underwater and rips herself free only to be knocked unconscious by debris.

All is working for me until Director Clint Eastwood decides to go for the nice shot and has her slowly open her hand as she sinks in the water, allowing the bracelet to float free. The bracelet? She was still hanging on to that bracelet? That meant when she was stuck underwater, minutes from drowning, she kept one hand tightly closed around the bracelet and tried to free herself with just the fingers of her other hand? Right. For this, Clint, you are unforgiven. As the bracelet floats to the surface, it’s as perfect looking as the moment she bought it. That’s one well-made bracelet and what a bargain at only a dollar.

Once again, Rich responded to my emailed rants with e-laughter and an e-shake of the head.

So, I ask, do any of you out there ever have challenges suspending disbelief and staying in the zone?


Top Ten: Movie Characters With Fur

So, here’s the story. While we were chatting about possible blog ideas, my friend and fellow blogger Margaret Reyes Dempsey over at Conjuring My Musechallenged me to compile a list of Top Ten: Movie Characters With Fur. After we’d finished laughing our asses off I gave it another thought and decided to accept the challenge. Why not? After all, who doesn’t appreciate a bit of fur now and then? As the English weather becomes more and more frosty, I’m starting to wish I had some fur myself. Does that make me weird?

So, without any further preamble, here are my ten favourite furry film fellows. Enjoy, add your own favourites, and if anyone has any more outlandish suggestions for future Top Ten lists, then by all means send them to me through the Contact page. I’ll consider all challenges!

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10. Dr. Cornelius

Planet of the Apes

Archaeologist, historian and mild-mannered ape. Dr. Cornelious is one of the good apes on the familiar looking planet; filled with talking apes that regard humans as a lower species to be kept in zoos and treated as slaves. Dr. Cornelious, on the other hand, regards humans as a lower species to be studied, prodded and patronised in order to prove his zany theories. The fact that he delivers his zany theories with a well-spoken, English accent can only be a good thing. Everyone knows English accents make you sound smart.

Dr. Cornelious is conservative and likes to wear his fur in a standard swept-back style, seemingly popular among the ape population. Clearly, hairdressing is not one of the trends that the apes picked up from their human counterparts, unlike clothes, guns, and gasping in awe at Charlton Heston’s sweaty manliness.

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9. Cujo

Cujo

Man’s best friend no more, Cujo is feeling a little under the weather and it’s really pissing him off. There is nothing like an inconvenient case of rabies to really screw with your doggie day, and this sickly pooch is going to take it out on anyone who happens to cross his line of sight. I mean, we all get a bit grumpy when we’re ill, right? However, we don’t all maul people to death, attack locked cars, and murder the local sheriff just because we have a bit of a sniffle. But you get out of the car and tell Cujo that. Let’s see Cesar Millan put his mojo on this canine and keep his throat attached.

Cujo is (barely) living proof that having lots of thick, lush fur doesn’t necessarily make you cute. Nor does it necessarily make people want to touch you, especially if your thick, lush fur is matted up with blood, sweat and rabid drool. Ewwww. Bad doggie!

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8. Baloo

The Jungle Book

Baloo is like a furry version of The Dude from The Big Lebowski. In the Wild Kingdom, this bear is the King of Taking it Easy. Let’s face it, he didn’t cultivate that impressive waistline by playing sports and hitting the gym every day. Baloo likes good eating, good living, and shaking his furry booty to some jungle rhythms. If this wasn’t a Disney movie, you would suspect that habitual use of recreational drugs played a big part in this guy’s life. Would you want your kid hanging out with him?

Baloo apparently has no interest in personal grooming. He gets up and goes out without a glance in the mirror. His fur is scruffy, there are a couple of loose hairs atop his head, but the guy’s got class and knows how to carry it off. The ladies love the rough look, but Baloo doesn’t seem to be interested in a relationship. His fur is ruffled enough. He’s gone, man. Solid gone.

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7. American Werewolf

An American Werewolf in London

Tourists, eh? Coming over here, turning into monsters, rampaging through our Capital city. Yep, ‘The Special Relationship’ suffers something of a setback when American backpacker David is bitten by a werewolf on the English moors. It’s not long before the poor guy realises that surviving the attack wasn’t such a blessing after all. Come the full moon and David transforms into something that looks cuddlier and cuter than any self-respecting monster should. Like Baloo with attitude. And motivation. And a serious case of the munchies. On the plus side, he gets to have sex with Jenny Agutter, thereby repairing Anglo-American relations.

As werewolves go, this one ranks among the most fluffy and endearing. I mean, look at him. If you can ignore the slavering jaws of death and evil eyes, he’s actually just a big, furry bundle of cuddles. Or is that just me?

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6. King Kong

King Kong

Who’s the Daddy? Kong! 50-ft of simian testosterone, King Kong is the man’s man. Well, the gorilla’s gorilla. Striding through the jungles of Skull Island like he owns the place, beating up anything that gets in his way, Kong is the guy you always say ‘yes’ to. Best call him Mr. Kong, just to be on the safe side. Like most men, however, he loses half his brain at the sight of a good-looking woman, falls into a trap, ends up relocating and then takes a fall. You definitely won’t see this guy wearing an ‘I ♥ NY’ T-shirt. Still, look at his face. He’s all loved-up and happy. Bless.

When it comes to square footage of fur, there’s no beating Kong. Sure, he could probably use a bath and a blow-dry, but shower gel costs are a bitch when you’re 50-ft-tall. If you can stand the smell, then nuzzling into Kong’s hairy palms can be pretty cozy.

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5. Sully

Monsters Inc.

The undisputed champion of kid scares at Monsters Inc., James ‘Sulley’ Sullivan is an idol to monsters everywhere. The screams that Sully elicits from human children provide vast amounts of energy for the city of Monstropolis. But the kids are getting harder to scare, and Sully is getting a bit tired of being scary. Underneath all that growling and snarling is a sensitive, caring ball of azure goodness. He doesn’t even care that his best friend is a green sphere with one eye. Now, that’s a 21st century kinda guy.

Let’s be clear about one thing here, Sully’s fur is gorgeous! Light, silky and impressively well-groomed, it just begs to be touched. Sully is a metrosexual monster, who clearly believes that your job shouldn’t define you and personal hygiene matters. Monsters just aren’t meant to be this inviting.

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4. Chewbacca

Star Wars

Chewbacca, ‘Chewie’ to his friends and ‘rebel scum’ to his enemies, is the ultimate best buddy. Trust me, with this Wookie looking out for you, you’re a made man. He’s loyal, fearless and, as long as you can understand Wookie, you’ll be able to share all kinds of private jokes in public. Standing over 7-ft tall, you’ll never lose him in crowds. You’re going to want this guy on your basketball team. Sometimes he’s a bit of a bad loser, but that’s a minor gripe. After all, he didn’t complain when Han Solo and Luke Skywalker got medals at the end of Star Wars, but someone apparently forgot his. I would have.

Fur, fur, everywhere. To some, Chewbacca is a ‘walking carpet’, but once you’ve had an enthusiastic embrace from this shaggy old giant, you’ll wonder how you ever did without. Once you’ve got your breath back, that is. Just remember, he’s not a bear. He’s a Wookie.

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3. Puss in Boots

Shrek 2

Dashing, elegant, charming and seething with Latin passion, Puss in Boots is everything a cat should be. And if his mix of charisma and panache doesn’t win you over, then Puss will turn on the big, dopey cat eyes and you will be powerless to resist. He’s a legendary assassin for hire and if this cat is after you then you’re in trouble. Unless, of course, you give him a belly rub. Then he’s putty. Puss is a master swordsman, horseman, singer, dancer and can lick himself in places humans can only dream about. Or is that just me again?

He’s a cat, and it’s a basic law of nature that there’s no fur like cat fur. Rich, soft, soothing and a classic ginger. Puss keeps his fur in impeccable condition with regular grooming sessions. And if you don’t like seeing him with his head shoved between his legs, don’t look. This feline scoundrel will always put cleanliness before godliness.

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2. Remy

Ratatouille

A truly inspirational figure for anyone who has dreams of rising above their given station in life. Remy is a rat with big talents and even bigger aspirations. He wants to be a chef. Sure, he could spend his life rummaging for scraps of food on the streets of Paris like the other rats, but what kind of a life is that? To Remy, food isn’t about survival. It’s about expressing your creativity, and Remy has plenty of that to go around. All he needs is a human assistant with a hat big enough to hide under. Anyone who finds rats unpleasant, or scary, needs to spend some time with Remy. Think of it as therapy. He. Is. Adorable. End of story.

For a lowly street rat, Remy’s fur is surprisingly appealing. It’s a nice shade of blue, unusual for any rodent, and has that shaggy look popular with boy bands and Brad Pitt.

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1. Gizmo

Gremlins

This little Mogwai makes the ideal Christmas present, provided you follow the rules; don’t get him wet, keep him away from bright lights and never feed him after midnight. My advice is ignore the rules, otherwise you will be making a pretty dull movie. Gizmo is smart, funny and by far the cutest thing ever to walk the Earth on cute, stumpy little legs, with cute, big ears, a cute, squeaky voice and huge, CUTE, dewy eyes. Look up ‘cute’ in the dictionary and there will probably be a picture of Gizmo. Look up ‘comma’ and there will probably be a picture of me.

Gizmo models some attractive, two-tone fur. Get him wet and you’ll see that the newly born Mogwai that pop out of his back are nothing but a ball of the stuff. Aww, he’s so cute. He’s so damn cute you can fall into a diabetic coma just looking at him.

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Signs (via Conjuring My Muse)

Entertaining piece from my friend Margaret concerning her terrifying experience with M. Night Shyamalan’s movie Signs, Whitley Strieber and a mylar balloon. Trust me, it all makes sense when you read it.

It is Friday night and the movie Signs is on TV. I settle in to watch it with my ten-year-old son at my side, snuggled under a throw. I’ve seen the movie before, years ago, but all I remember of the story line is that it involves extraterrestrials. This will be my son’s first, official scary movie. A bit over-protective, you say? Perhaps, but Jaws ripped a bloody hunk of wide-eyed innocence out of my childhood, so deal with it.Maybe I’m a wuss by … Read More

via Conjuring My Muse