Thursday, January 24, 2008

Well that doesn't seem likely...

As you are all no doubt aware, I am someone who thoroughly enjoys TV and the movies. Not to the extent that Chris does, but enough. If you check my credit card bill, you'll find a lot of movie tickets on there. Now, some people don't enjoy certain genres because its just not their thing. They are too unbelievable. And thats a big deal. The thing that lets us enjoy movies is the suspension of disbelief. You have to actually think that whats happening on screen could possibly happen. We all know this. And we all accept this. But sometimes, I feel like producers, writers, and directors take our suspension of disbelief for granted. They put in these improbable moments that none of us really buy.

A great example of this was the show Murder She Wrote. My mother watched this all the time. Through the years, my brothers and I would sometimes have nothing better to do but watch it with her. The show was the most improbable ever. This woman is a mystery writer and somehow every cop on Earth has a personal relationship with her (whore...) and they all think that only she can solve their crimes. Not only that, but whenever she solved the crime, she would confront the ne'er-do-well by herself. And he would always confess and give up! I kept hoping that the bad guy would pick up the nearest blunt object and bludgeon her to death, but alas, I was always disappointed. The most impossible came when she solved a case by noticing that a chair had been moved and so a part of the carpet was no longer sun-faded. My brother still rants about this despite seeing this episode a good 5+ years ago. But really, what should we expect? Its Murder She Wrote.

Sometimes, a director will actually build up our ability to disbelieve. We give them the benefit of the doubt. The director has earned our trust. And then they turn around and kick us in our collective nut sack and then start crotch stomping us. Fucking ewoks. You're trying to tell me, that a bunch of care bears with rocks and spears, are capable of defeating the most fearsome army out there AND its walking tanks of doom and destruction? I want to know who came up with this idea, drag them out into the street, and put a bullet in their brain as a warning to others. I'm looking at you George Lucas. Sure, you've got jedi knights, the force, space travel, and all that jazz. But fucking ewoks. That singlehandedly killed the third movie for me. I hate ewoks and if I could I would burn the fucking planet they were on.

Then of course, there's those moments where because of events happening outside the movie, you can't suspend your disbelief. Its too difficult to seperate the real world from the world of fiction you are seeing. Or the real world keeps intruding on the movie. This can sometimes be caused by the general craziness or douchebaggery of the main character. Like that romantic movie last year that had Russell Crowe in it. Does anybody really believe that a complete asshole like Russell Crowe could ever do something heartwarming? Of course not. Its fucking Russell Crowe. He hates people. Or, and you knew this had to be coming, Tom Cruise. I can't even watch old Tom Cruise movies any more because I don't see his character, I see Tom Cruise. And I see pure, unadulterated Crazy. Especially because, whenever he's out promoting a movie, he's invariably going to come back to Scientology. Chris hates this argument, that people would not see a movie because of their distaste for one fo the stars in it, but I find it perfectly legitimate. Actors who have completely gone off the deep-end and make themselves the center of attention on certain things (like Scientology or throwing telephones at people) diminish the suspension of disbelief. You can't see the actor, you have to see the character.

Of course, some writers take the idea of suspension of disbelief so far that they don't even try to come up with a coherent plotline. More movies of this sort come out that any other. They are filled with plot holes, terrible dialogue, and a completely confusing series of events that no one could ever follow. One of the worst examples I ever paid money to see was that movie where Antonio Banderas is an assassin. No, not the one with Sylvester Stallone. The one with Lucy Liu. I'll give you a chance to IMDB it. Yeah, now you remember. They actually ret-conned the story in the middle of the movie. It was the most bald-faced and shameless thing I've ever seen a movie do. Then of course, there's every movie that Uwe Boll has ever made. The man loves to buy up the rights to video game franchises and then make schlock movies out of them. They are so terrible that they are actually an assault on reason and intelligence.

Finally though, there are those moments that really test our suspension of disbelief where, even though you think it probably wouldn't happen, it doesn't diminish your enjoyment of what you're watching. In talking about Cloverfield, Chris has already mentioned my complete disbelief at the scene where they don't try to keep up with the fleeing rats and instead decide to play with their camera. Its true, I was quite disbelieving of that. My feeling is, if you know that bad shit is going on and you get even an inkling that something around you is wrong, you are booking it the fuck out of there. Rats are fleeing and someone says they might be running away from something? Shit! Run! At the same time though, the scene that it produced was exciting and the following scenes were creepy. The writers may not have thought they were taking a gamble on this, but if they were, I think it worked. Sure, I didn't really believe the scene, but it did serve a purpose that I was perfectly okay with. There are different reasons why we may not believe what we are watching, but it doesn't always have to impair our enjoyment of what we are watching.

Still. Fucking ewoks...


1 comment:

Edmund Dantes said...

Oh I do know I'm in the minority on not caring about actors' personal lives. Hollywood has been aware of this problem for sometime. Its the reason why closeted gay actors would "marry" actresses and such. People do care about personal lives. If I did, I wouldn't go see Woody Allen movies because I do think he's a douche bag but one of my favorite movies in the past 5 years is Match Point. With actors, its called acting and in acting, you aren't yourself. There are certain actors who do play themselves like Jack Nicholson but even he outdoes himself. People accuse George Clooney of the same? Go see Michael Clayton. That cab ride at the end was something. Lots of Hollywood is as you say about suspending disbelief. Most of Hollywood is filled with douchebags but when they're in a movie, they're supposed to be someone else. How is that any different?

PS...I too hate the Ewoks. It wouldn't be genocide, it'd be justice.