Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Claudia

They are flesh and blood, but not human. Probably haven’t been human for hundreds of years. Some might call it being born into darkness. For a little girl who has lost her parents to the plague in New Orleans, it certainly feels that way.

Kirsten Dunst as Claudia
Kirsten Dunst as Claudia

As Women Who Wow Wednesday continues its month-long tribute to women who rock Horror, which began last week with Maleficent, let’s examine the short life of Claudia (Kirsten Dunst) the vampire from the movie Interview with the Vampire, based on the book written by Anne Rice.

In 1791, Louis du Pointe du Lac (Brad Pitt) is only twenty-four when Lestat de Lioncourt (Tom Cruise) turns him into a vampire. Before then, as the master of a large plantation, just south of New Orleans, Louis’ riches meant nothing to him. He’d lost his wife and child months earlier, and he longed for death. Young, vibrant, full of life, Lestat cuts Louis’ life short in an act of pure selfishness. Some may say, though, Lestat imparted Louis the essence of eternal life. However, how eternal is a life if it rests in the throes of damnation?

Claudia’s parents die by the plague. With the desire of wanting to revive her mother, the five-year-old asks Louis for help. Instead of bringing her mother back from the dead, a power Louis does not possess, he feeds off Claudia short of taking her life. Leaving her for dead, and with Louis’ conscience tearing at him for having drained Claudia of her life, Lestat bestows upon her eternal life, thus making her a vampire just like them.

Unlike Louis, whose manner of killing involves butchering animals but not people, Claudia’s hunger for blood has no bounds. From the moment Lestat made her into a predator, Claudia shows no regard for human life. Housekeepers fall to her scheming, leading Lestat to scold her, “Now, who will we get to finish your dress? There’s a practicality here! Remember, never in our home!”

Interview with the Vampire's Claudia
Interview with the Vampire’s Claudia

In the early days, Claudia’s victims died quickly. As time passes, she learns how to play with them, delaying the moment until she takes what she wants. No one is safe. She uses her diminutive appearance to draw victims into her arms. Shopkeepers easily surrender their goods to the vicious killer. Even her piano teacher dies at her hands, prompting Lestat once again to ask, “Claudia, what have we told you?” Of course she remembers, “Never in the house.”

One day, Claudia sees a woman bathing, then realizes she will never grow older than the eternal child she is. She discovers the truth, provoking her to loathe both Louis for taking her life and Lestat for giving her another. However, she also realizes she and Louis are in the same predicament, locked together in hatred.

But she admits, she can’t hate Louis.

As the story goes, Claudia takes vengeance upon Lestat, breaking one of the everlasting laws among vampires—vampire shall not kill vampire. As opposed to physical strength, she uses stealth and cunning to do it. Those attributes make Claudia one of the most feared fictional characters in Horror. It’s also the reason she takes one of the top spots in Women Who Wow Wednesday. She proves someone doesn’t have to bulge with muscle in order to get things done.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ALIEN INVASION, on sale October 21.

If you’ve seen Interview with a Vampire, what did you think of Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of Claudia?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Clementine

Few women in life are memorable. Fewer women in film are so. Joel (Jim Carrey) doesn’t remember ripping the pages from his journal. Apparently, it’s been two years since his last entry. Taking a day off work in February, walking the beach in Montauk seems to ease his preoccupation with the guy who had hit his car overnight. He’s a mess. Maybe he should get back with Naomi. She loved Joel.

Kate Winslet as Clementine
Kate Winslet as Clementine

Clementine (Kate Winslet) captures Joel’s attention in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. It may be because he saw her slip a shot of alcohol into her mug at a restaurant or because of her blue hair. Then there’s the fact they take the same train together and he can’t lift his eyes off her, but she’s someone worthy to have eyes on. After all, Women Who Wow Wednesday wouldn’t be what it is without a female lead to think of as worthy.

She says, “Hi,” and he answers, “I’m sorry?” He can’t believe she’s talking to him.

She asks him if he ever shops at Barnes & Noble. He says sure. She then says that’s where she’s positive they met. She’s been a book slave for five years, but he probably doesn’t recognize her because of the hair color. It changes a lot. Today her hair is called Blue Ruin. Tomorrow it may be Red Menace, Yellow Fever or maybe even Green Revolution.

She introduces herself as Clementine and asks for no jokes about her name, please. Not because they offend her, but because she’s heard them all before: Huckleberry Hound comes to mind, “Oh, my darlin’, oh, my darlin’, oh, my darlin’ Clementine. You were lost and gone forever, dreadful sorry Clementine.”

Joel loves the name, calling it pretty, then says, “It means merciful. Right? Clemency?”

Clementine
Clementine

She says, “It hardly fits. I’m vindictive, truth be told.”

Clementine has to be one of the most interesting characters on film. She describes herself as an “out of sorts”, “sorta nutso” gal, but gets anxious when she’s thinking she’s not living her life to the fullest, taking advantage of every possibility, making sure she’s not wasting one second of the little time she has—at least, that’s what she says.

Joel’s never met anyone like her. He’s taken a shine to her.

On Valentine’s Day, the day they meet the first time, he spends the evening with her, talking with her at her apartment. When he gets home, he couldn’t wait to call her. The first thing out of her mouth is, “Miss me?” He says yes, and she laughs. She actually tells him she will marry him. That’s the first day.

Clementine does what we can only imagine. She treads on thin ice and wonders why we can’t do the same. She’s a bucketful of energy, a firecracker and she has a way about her that someone can only describe as odd. But in all this, in her weird and eccentric ways, Clementine enjoys life and doesn’t mind showing it to everyone around her.

What does Joel see in Clementine? He can’t place his finger on it. He knows there’s something about her—

She’s unique. Different. And it’s that uniqueness that makes her someone to get to know outside the funny look she has to her hair. She makes him imagine of a world beyond himself. A world open to new ideas and thoughts.

Clementine may be strange, but she’s whom we want to become. Children discovering new things each and every day of our lives.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you seen the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? What did you think of Clementine?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Amber Atkins

Once a year, hundreds of young girls compete in The Sarah Rose Cosmetics American Teen Princess Pageant all across America. This year, Amber Atkins is one of those girls. A documentary film crew sent to Minnesota will commemorate this occasion.

Kirsten Dunst in Drop Dead Gorgeous
Kirsten Dunst in Drop Dead Gorgeous

Sarah Rose Cosmetics’ motto goes like this: “Making American teens beautiful for over 50 years!” In Mount Rose, Minnesota, Pop: 5,076, a handful of girls sit in the gymnasium waiting to wow the organizers with their talent and intelligence. Actually, only nine girls sit there. The rest of the town’s teen population couldn’t care less.

Before I get to Amber Atkins, let’s talk about the cast of Drop Dead Gorgeous. The movie features a whack of actresses who are now staple names in Hollywood. Girls such as Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Amy Adams and the late Brittany Murphy have made their mark on the entertainment industry since this movie came out in July 1999. Adding to the roster are Kirstie Alley and Ellen Barkin who play the matrons of the film.

With such a recognizable cast, you’d think they’d get in each other’s way, but this dark comedy has a few surprises for viewers who have never seen it. Don’t worry I won’t spoil it. I’ll only touch on Kirsten Dunst’s character Amber Atkins for this week’s Women Who Wow Wednesday series.

Kirsten Dunst is Amber Atkins
Kirsten Dunst is Amber Atkins

The first thing the audience has the pleasure watching consists of a scene featuring a big sign on the outskirts of town that says, “Welcome to Mount Rose, Minnesota, Home of Freda Hegstrom—Minnesota’s Oldest Living Lutheran.

She was Minnesota’s oldest living Lutheran, but now she’s as dead as a doornail. This sets the tone of the comedy.

Getting back to Amber, her two favorite people in the world are her mom and Diane Sawyer. She wishes however, she’d grow up like Diane Sawyer. After school, she has a job like any other teen. Of course, unlike other teens, she works in the town’s morgue. She practices her tap dance routine every chance she gets, including doing hair and makeup on dead corpses.

Many of her competitors take ballet to learn grace, something Amber already possesses. Between a regiment of “tendu, close, tendu, close, tendu close, plié,” the choreographer believes Amber has a chance of winning. It’s a dream of Amber to win, but her main goal is to get out of Mount Rose and become a big-time reporter like Diane Sawyer.

Dreaming big makes Amber one of a kind. In the midst of competition, she keeps her cool and delivers. The best part about Amber is her easygoing nature, taking things in stride and not letting others sour her mood, even if others can be sour on her.

Told you I wouldn’t spoil it for you.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

Have you ever seen Drop Dead Gorgeous? What did you think of it? What did you think of the cast involved in the production of this film?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Mary Jane Watson

Did Spider-Man really come out in 2002? I can’t believe how fast time has passed since I saw this in the theater. I remember one of my kids toddling their way to the 32-inch Sony Wega and plopping their hands on the screen in hopes of catching the man in red. But to no avail, the webslinger got away.

Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson
Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson

Women Who Wow Wednesday is about women of valor, women of strength, women filled with hope. That’s why today I want to talk a bit about Mary Jane WatsonPeter Parker’s girl.

Mary Jane’s the redhead who sets Peter’s heart aflutter. She’s known him forever. As next-door neighbors, they’ve share stories while finishing their chores. She comes from a broken home with little hope of ever making it in the real world if she had to rely on her parents to survive. Luckily, she has Peter’s friendship to pull her through the rough patches.

Every hero has an Achilles’ heel. In Spider-Man’s case, it’s Mary Jane Watson or MJ for short. One of the first things we learn about Peter Parker, besides his growing powers as a mutant human spider, is his love for MJ. He’ll do anything for her. He’ll even get in a cage match with an oversized beast of a man in order to earn enough money to buy a car so he can take MJ out on a date. Have I said MJ makes Peter do all sorts of weird and wonderful things with his powers? She does. She drives him crazy.

Kirsten Dunst
Kirsten Dunst

What does this redhead got that other girls don’t have? In the movie version with Kirsten Dunst, after a near-fall in the school cafeteria and Peter (Tobey Maguire) quickly jumping to save her, she notices his eyes for the first time. He’d taken his glasses off that day since the spider bite gave him perfect vision. She notices. Her stare lingers a bit too long causing him to smile with one of the biggest, goofiest smiles he could muster.

But the thing with MJ is her heart belongs to Spider-Man and not Peter Parker.

How does it all play out? Let’s eavesdrop on MJ and Peter’s conversation after she asks if he’s ever talked to Spider-Man about her:

Mary Jane: Has he mentioned me?
Peter Parker: Yeah.
Mary Jane: What’d he say?
Peter Parker: Uh… I said… he asked me what I thought about you.
Mary Jane: And what did you say?
Peter Parker: I said… uh… Spider-Man, I said uh… The great thing about MJ is… when you look in her eyes and she’s looking back in yours… everything… feels… not quite normal. Because you feel stronger and weaker at the same time. You feel excited and at the same time, terrified. The truth is… you don’t know what you feel except you know what kind of man you want to be. It’s as if you’ve reached the unreachable and you weren’t ready for it.”
Mary Jane: You said that?
Peter Parker: Well, something like that.

Oh, boy. Poor Peter. If only MJ knew who he really was. If only MJ would give him a chance to explain. He’d tell her why he had to keep his identity a secret. If only MJ would love him back.

Yet MJ is complicated. She loves Spider-Man. She also loves Peter, but she doesn’t know it.

Peter doesn’t know either. How could he? He has yet to hear how she feels about him.

I won’t give away the ending, nor will I talk about Green Goblin’s fascination with Mary Jane. No. Suffice it to know Mary Jane Watson has a little something extra that makes Peter’s day complete. Dare I use the clichéd words that she is the sunshine of his life? I dare say so.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, now on sale.

What do you think of Mary Jane’s relationship with Peter Parker? Had MJ known of Peter’s identity would she have fallen for him anyway?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Claire Colburn

“There’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is merely the absence of success. Any fool can achieve failure. But a fiasco. A fiasco is a disaster of epic proportions. A fiasco is a folk tale told to others to make other people feel more alive because it didn’t happen to them.”

Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn
Kirsten Dunst is Claire Colburn

I wish I could take credit for that quote for Women Who Wow Wednesday, but it belongs to the main protagonist in the movie Elizabethtown, Drew Baylor played by Orlando Bloom, who recently bungled a design for a major shoe manufacturer. His fiasco obliterated the corporation’s bottom line to the tune of $970 Million. We might as well round it up to $1 Billion. Them there’s a lot of shoes. Even the company’s CEO couldn’t keep a straight face when he uttered the $1 Billion figure.

We next find Drew in his apartment on a stabbing contraption he built out of a stationary bicycle and a knife. Just as he was about to press the button to end his miserable life, the duct tape holding the weapon loses its stick. Drew is a failure even attempting to kill himself. That’s when his sister calls. His father died. He’s needed home in Kentucky.

On the plane, he meets flight attendant, the ever-serendipitous Claire Colburn played by Kirsten Dunst. Whatever depression Drew may have felt prior to meeting Claire disappears. Well, not so much because of her infectious positive outlook. On the contrary, his dark mood fades only replaced by his annoyance at her cheery disposition. Not one to fuss, she learns of Drew’s father’s name, “Ah, so you’re a son of a Mitch. Never met a Mitch I didn’t like. Fun, full of life. Like, everyone wants to be a part of Mitch’s club.”

After they leave the plane, she reminds Drew not to miss the 60B turnoff. Of course, he misses it. But once in Kentucky, he settles into his new digs at a hotel featuring a wedding party for the weekend. Alone in his room, he calls his sister and a handful of other people, including Claire. No one returns his calls. His anxiety returns, and some time later his cell phone rings. It’s Claire.

Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn
Kirsten Dunst as Claire Colburn

They make small talk for a while. As night approaches, Drew realizes there’s more to Claire than what he had first thought of her on the plane. Seems she says all the things he’s had on his mind his entire life. Their cell phone chat continues throughout the night into the next morning when they meet by the side of the road. She immediately has an idea, and leads him to sit on a stone wall overlooking a beautiful countryside to watch the sunrise.

What is it about Claire that Drew sees? Huh, it’s not that hard to figure out. Claire doesn’t allow life to beat her. Hope is in her soul and in her mind. A joy surrounds her few people possess. Whatever life throws her way, she keeps moving forward. This is what she says to Drew when he lingers on thoughts of his failure:

“So you failed. All right, you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.

Her brand of optimism spills into every fiber of her being.

This is what she says about problems:

“I’ve spent so much time thinking about all the answers to the problem that I forget what the problem actually was.”

This is her take on sadness:

“Sadness is easier because it’s surrender. I say make time to dance alone with one hand waving free.”

Finally, about her mindset:

“And so we all became helpers, which I so can’t help. I can’t help helping.”

Beautiful Claire. Pure of heart. Filled with life. She doesn’t sport a gun. She doesn’t kill zombies. But who wouldn’t want a friend like Claire? Always anticipating. Always wishing. Her heart’s in the right place, and that’s all that matters.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Elizabethtown? What did you think of Claire?

Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Torrance Shipman

When I hear people say, “Oh, she’s only a cheerleader.” I say, “Yeah, can you perform a front handspring, step out, round off back handspring, step out, round off back handspring, full twisting layout?” That’s when the glazed look falls on their face. Torrance can. I wouldn’t have her performing full twisting layouts on Women Who Wow Wednesday otherwise.

Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman
Kirsten Dunst as Torrance Shipman

Torrance Shipman (Kirsten Dunst) is up for captain of the Rancho Carne High School cheerleading squad in San Diego, California. We’re talking about the premier five-time national champions. Big Red, the current leader, is retiring. After a quick vote, Torrance clinches control and her first order of business is to assert her ascent to the throne. The dreaded words Wolf Wall fly from her mouth and everyone groans. Up they go, building one of the most fearsome pyramids in cheerleading. A few failed attempts doesn’t deter Torrance. She wants it. One last time and they make it, but in the air, the squad swivels, tilts, and shakes until Carver, their lead cheerleader, slips to her demise.

Les: You know, everyone’s saying that your ambition broke Carver’s leg.
Torrance Shipman: When really it was the angle in which she slammed into the ground.

Nothing will hold Torrance back from achieving a sixth national win.

Bring It On's Torrance Shipman
Bring It On’s Torrance Shipman

Bring It On is one of those movies that doesn’t have much of a plot, but it sure has a lot of heart. Spawning four sequels, whenever I need a good jolt of can-do attitude, I pop this into my player, sit back and let the positive vibes fill my soul.

Without giving too much away, Torrance’s challenge is keeping the team together after Big Red’s departure. This means quashing the rebellious takeover plans of two of the Rancho Carne Toros’ wannabe bosses and keeping everyone happy after a major revelation nearly disintegrates their chances at the Nationals.

Did you know that cheerleading accounts for almost two-thirds of all catastrophic sports injuries among high school girls? Imagine the enormous pressure on Torrance’s shoulders after Carver’s accident. Any ordinary person would have said buh-bye. Not Torrance.

Among the best attributes in Torrance’s character is her unwillingness to quit. No matter what gets in her way, she seems to thrive on overcoming obstacles. Her determination of wanting to remain the best causes her team to rise to new challenges, explore new ideas, and work harder than ever in order to attain perfection. She’s not one to take it in the chin and lie down. She a fighter. And fighters tend to go the distance, even if they are cheerleaders.

RANGER MARTIN AND THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, on sale October 22.

Have you seen Bring It On? What did you think of Torrance? Did you like how she led the team in spite of the failures?