Friday, July 30, 2004

Oh, M. Night Shyamalan...

I really, really liked The Sixth Sense. It's a good human drama about a father-figure and a son-figure and the relationship they forge. The dramatically contrasting failed father-figure/son-figure around which the story hinges is, if anything, even more compelling. The only place it stumbles is in thinking that its "horror" sequences are scary, which, when all was said and done and the movie finished, seemed a minor squabble.

Since then, though, he's shown utter ineptness at the genre elements of his, well, genre movies. I think it would be impossible to find a director with so sharp a divide between the respect he shows his characters and the disdain he shows his audience.

Unbreakable had another wonderful literal father/son relationship that was utterly wasted in a meandering, boring and ultimately pointless story about "superheroes", complete with a meaningless and, sadly, obvious climax that was clearly played out so sloppily in order to capitalize on it as another brilliant twist.

Signs, again with the good family dynamic, was ruined by a heavy-handed, confusing and ultimately just silly ending. I left the theater frustrated and angry. So angry, in fact, that I swore off ever watching a new genre movie by him.

Apparently he was a big fan of You Can Count On Me, as am I, and he really needs to make a movie in that ilk. A straight drama. For him, say, a father/son movie where no weird phenomena bewilder the storyline or twists - or obvious revelations masquerading as twists - mar the beauty of the way they relate.

It seems my decision was wise.

I've been reading Tomato-Meter call on his new disaster, The Village. It won't encourage you that he's gotten a better handle on his strengths and weaknesses, but it'll give you a chuckle or two.

My favorite: "Every village needs an idiot -- and M. Night Shyamalan is hoping it's you." - Staci Layne Wilson, HORROR.COM

Not credible enough for you? How about "The ubiquitous advertisements for The Village, which opens today nationwide, promise that 'nothing can prepare you.' Nothing, that is, except M. Night Shyamalan's last three movies and a passing acquaintance with 'The Twilight Zone.'" - A.O. Scott, New York Times

And how about this conclusion? "Eventually the secret... is revealed. To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

"And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets." - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Well, I'll stop laughing at this movie that I've never seen and never ever will see...

Ok, I won't stop... but I'll stop sharing the laughs.

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