Tuesday, June 10, 2008

txt message. 4realz

Received today @ 12:51 PM from a friend who wishes to remain anonymous
The Happening is, without a doubt, the worst movie M. Night Shyamalan has made so far.
What's most frightening about this message is that this friend has seen Lady in the Water. Uh-oh.


Anonymous said...

That's what people said about "The Village", which I thought was great, so I'll wait and see.

("The Lady In The Water" was awful, though)

Anonymous said...

They seem to be getting somewhat progressively worse... I really didn't think he could go lower than The Village, but I was proven wrong. I'm not surprised at all.

RJ said...

I liked the Village. There it is. I saw the ending coming 15 minutes in, but it looked great and Bryce Dallas Howard was magnificent.

Anonymous said...

The trailer made me want to cry, because I like Marky Mark, and it makes him look like a terrible actor. How is that possible? I think I'm actually going to skip this one. Shyamalan has nothing to say in his scripts, and he reached the limits of his technique before The Village.

Anonymous said...

Worse than Lady in Water?

Is that possible?

Rob said...

"The Village" is a mess, with some awful performances, pacing issues, misguided twists, and a disappointing narrative, but it also has an excellent leading performance from Bryce Dallas Howard, and some interesting ideas that could have been something were something made of them. I don't quite understand its defenders, but there certainly are some positives there.

"Lady in the Water" is obviously extremely silly, but I think if it were taken at face value for what it was -- a garish fairy tale -- audiences would've been more perceptive; personally, I think the movie kinda sorta works, if boasting some major issues. And, in my opinion, if it wasn't in the middle of such a silly/stupid/wacky movie, Giamatti's performance was of the sort that usually merits award consideration.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

I'm with the jack. I actually liked "The Village." Granted, it wasn't what people thought it was going to be, and I too predicted the ending...wait, where was I going with this? Anyhow, I'll reserve judgment for when I see "The Happening."
And yes, "Lady in the Water" was abysmal. It's like Shyamalan read that old adage about writing backwards and decided to "tell, don't show."

Anonymous said...

The trailer for "The Happening" was awful, and I'm not buying Mark Wahlberg as a unassuming science professor (you can almost see those biceps ripping through his sweater vest) but I'm hoping that it's the kind of film that doesn't translate well into a trailer or synopsis without giving away plot spoilers, so they had no choice.

Back onto "The Village": Bryce Dallas Howard is luminous in it, it was extremely atmospheric, the music is great, William Hurt is on top form, and the twist - obvious as it may have been - actually had something important to say, and reinforced themes that the film had been exploring, which is actually rare with plot twists.

I think 'the know nothing at all' is right, people just didn't get what they were expecting with it. They wanted a horror movie (which the trailer promised) and that's not what they got. Look past that, and it's probably one of the most surprising mediations on the post-9/11 world since "The 25th Hour".


i agree that false expectations are at the root of some negative reviews (too many for sure) but The Village still has a lot of problems.

I think it comes down to this: Shyamalan for all his skills behind the camera with shot choreography, atmosphere, and suspense is a middling --at best-- writer (everyone agrees he's a bad actor). The Sixth Sense was probably a fluke.

I'd like to see him direct something he didn't write but I can't see that ever happening.

Anonymous said...

Were you a "Sixth Sense" fan, Nat? I really want to know your opinions on more Best Picture nominees.

Cinesnatch said...

Stick a for in M. Night. He's done.

Cinesnatch said...

a fork

Glenn said...

I think his worst movie is Unbreakable so my opinion on Shyamalan is a bit skewiff, but I didn't think Lady or Village were the kind of shoot-me-in-the-face awful that some do. Oh well.

Different strokes...

Anonymous said...

I hated Unbreakable. I hated Signs. I hated the Village. I hated Lady in the Water.

I have to admit the the decline of Shyamalan is one of the my favourite things about Hollywood this decade.


for me it goes like this

THE SIXTH SENSE -loved. my second favorite of the nominees that year after The Insider.

SIGNS -enjoyed up until the last 15 minutes or so. then it was stupid.
THE VILLAGE -tolerated
UNBREAKABLE -completely annoying

yeah, i'm not a fan.

Anonymous said...

What's even more frightening is the fact, that the joke's on you guys.
... Lady in the Water is quite frankly the best Fantasy Fiction (in a wider sense) since E.T.

And Shyamalan as a director is able to "Think in pictures" more than any other living auteur in the US or elsewhere (with the posible exceptions of De Palma and Joon-ho Bong).

Watch any other movies without sound and do the same with Lady, Village, Signs, Unbreakable and you'll see what a profound artist this director is.

Films, movies should not be about the stories. Stories are bullshit. The more trivial the stories the better. Movies should not be about reproducing reality in their pictures one to one (is there something more dull imaginable?!).

Keep on hitting on Shy and his films. It's so easy, kicking the one who realy needs it; it's so extremely sophisticated, mirroring everything that made America so exceptional the last few years ...

Glenn said...

It's not really that great of a recommendation when you can say "turn off the sound and you can still follow the movie!" And I'm a Shyamalan supporter saying that.


Michael --if you read this site regularly you'd know that I share your views that movies should not be all about "story" and that reproduction of reality is not the primary purpose of the movies (i love excessive stylization) I also don't mirror what everyone else says all the time.

That doesn't change the fact that movies do have sound and Shyamalan is a TERRIBLE example of its use --at least insofar as his problem with narrative emerging from the dialogue goes. Lady in the Water was, inexcusably, a radio show... jabber jabber jabber jabber. tell tell tell.

maybe i just find his worldview a turn off what with the god complex (lady in the water) and the 'everything happens for a reason' simplicity / condescension of signs. I don't cotton to the notion that thousands of people who should have to die all because some priest lost his faith when his wife died and "bingo" -god orders up an alien invasion to wreak havoc on the world --and priesty has got it back again. all for him

I really don't like his films.

As for thinking in pictures. There are a lot of working directors who do just that, thank the gods of cinema. Baz Luhrmann, Pedro Almodovar, Terence Malick, etcetera... many world greats are pretty amazing if you turn off the sound.

The Pretentious Know it All said...

Here's a few more living directors for the list...Sofia Coppola (you can't watch Marie Antoinette and tell me she doesn't think in pictures), Todd Haynes, Wes Anderson, Spike Lee, just to name a few.

And Michael..."Lady in the Water" the best fantasy fiction film since "ET?" What about Pan's Labyrinth? As overrated as it is, can you honestly say that Pan's Labyrinth is a worst film than Lady in the Water? Maybe I misunderstood you.

I would almost suggest Shyamalan should step outside of the suspense/thriller genre, but I don't think that's the problem. Whatever genre he writes/directs in, he just needs to stop front-loading (back-loading?) his films with these ponderous endings. And he should stop acting in his movies because he is a TERRIBLE ACTOR. Did anyone else hear about how Shyamalan actually credits himself in this new movie as Deschanel's unseen lover who sends her text messages? Yikes...

Anonymous said...

Okay, I like Night's work. I do agree that he has been in a three-movie slump, but that's in comparison to his first two movies that were, frankly, Oscar-worthy (yes, including "Unbreakable".) There are things to like in "Signs", "The Village", and "Lady in the Water" and they, in my humblest of personal opinions, outweigh the correctly cited criticisms offered by earlier thoughful posters to this thread.

Don't bother accusing me of having poor taste...I already knew that.

Nate Tyson said...

Michael: So, in order to understand film better, we must ignore all aspects of a directors films that are not well-done?

I am a student of film, Michael. I understand "thinking in pictures", and I agree that M. Night has a great eye.

I wish I could take your recommendation and just turn my brain off to watch the pretty pictures he paints. But he insists on writing his own films, and recreating his own personal fantasies / reveries within them. Ignoring the sound / story / dialogue of his films leaves you with...what? Moving images? I believe that was mastered in the silent era, Michael. M. Night is talented, but that talent has gone to complete waste.

Gilidor said...

It's not as bad as WIDE AWAKE, come on...

But it is not as great as SIXTH SENSE, UNBREAKABLE, SIGNS, THE VILLAGE and yes, LADY IN THE WATER, the most underrated movie of all time.

I'm still gonna go see it again, though, minor Shyamalan is still pretty good!

Anonymous said...

"Ignoring the sound / story / dialogue of his films leaves you with...what? Moving images? I believe that was mastered in the silent era." Yes it was ...but Shy stays in this silent movie tradition (and in the tradition of Lang, Hitchcock, Bresson and Rivette - only to name a few) , he's enchanting his audience - going for the atmosphere, the "cadrage", the composition. Searching, looking for and sometimes finding the right pictures for his story/Story. Sometimes failing to do so and trying again with his next film.

But pouring and spreading hate and disgust on such an obviously talented filmmaker (on this blog, which I like a lot and which I'm visiting at least two or three times a week) is so cheap.

I admit, in Europe it may be easier to admire alternative kinds of storytelling because we are used to them. We are also used to a different aproach into film theory and philosophy and to discussions as well.

I only want to remind some of you, that Village was voted second and Lady fourth best picture of their year by a) the critics of french film magazine "Cahiers du Cinéma", these heirs of Truffaut, Godard, Rivette, Chabrol and Rohmer and b) many other french critics.


Michael I'm glad you like the blog and i like actual debate (though strangely a lot of anonymous commenters think i hate it when people disagree with me. I don't. keeps it lively)

My theory as to why his films are more respected in Europe = subtitles and language barriers.

I'm 100% positive that I miss the finer points of brilliant dialogue or stupid dialogue and everythign in between when I watch foreign films. I recently loved REPRISE and because I speak Norwegian I actually noticed a lot of details in the text that I'm sure other viewers miss because subtitles, though not bad, miss nuances or the lack thereof in language all the time.

The fact --or commonly held opinion i guess... ;) -- is that Shyamalan's dialogue and stories are often atrocious / preachy / hamfisted / exposition heavy. I agree that his images can be magical but his films make me just want to scream FOCUS ON YOUR STRENGTHS.

I would be THRILLED if he made silent movie. It would probably be good.

I'm all for preferring images to 'MESSAGE' or 'STORY' but the truth as I see it is that Shyamalan does not prefer images to them... why else would his films be so intent on preaching and repeating what was just preached (they aren't subtle) if he's not into message and story?

i think that's a fair question.


and I should probably add: i don't have an opinion on THIS film yet ( i just realized this reads like i do) that was a word for word text message from a friend as stated.

i have not seen the film.

Anonymous said...

It's a fair question in so far as his films tend to be, on the grand scale, allegorical. And that is in some way old fashioned. These are fairy-tales with obvious metaphors easy to decipher (on the surface), slowing his films, the plot!, down to a great degree. And Shy's films are very introspective. But despite his insistence on "lenghtyness" he has a real sense and eyes for scenes and for presenting subtexts.

For example every single scene as written and played in Lady, starting with the prolougue, was about variations of possibilities to tell a story, dealt with different types and tropes of storytelling (ancient myths, legends, drawings, signs, dialogue/monologue, speech, silence, fairytales, books, news reports, media, goodnight stories, metaphors, allegories, clichés, icons, inspirations, ec.) whereas the pictures had their aim on the characters' and the audience's perception (pictures, his story and history, themselves within the world, ec), were reflecting the seeing and obstacles to this special sense.

And therefor Shy is treated not only as a talented filmmaker but
as a profound auteur within his art - in Europe. Maybe it's easier to find a subtext if you don't listen too closely to or overhear the atrocities ;-)

PS: I really love Buffy/Whedon and Clint Eastwood - do I get a slap and a kiss now?

Anonymous said...

Dear Nathaniel, ... Congratulations to a great blog.
It's often amusing and very entertaining! I hope to join some other discussion soon. Cheers, Michel

Anonymous said...

I am not entirely sure that the cognoscenti of French cinema are where I would go looking in defense of someone's artistic chops. To paraphrase a lawyer acquaintance of mine, these are the folks that think Spielberg is a hack, but that Jerry Lewis is a genius.

Anonymous said...

If any studio gives M. Night the ability to write, direct and produce a feature in the future they will deserve to lose the money that surely will go down the drain.

We saw The Happening last night. The movie is completely irredeemable. I will avoid any spoilers but let me say that not only does he set up an absurd premise that becomes apparent fairly early on, late in the film he violates his own logic. Character development is nil. Logical, rational behavior is nonexistent.

Some talented actors - Betty Buckley, Alan Ruck, Victoria Clark are abused or wasted. On the other hand, every second Zoey Deschanel is onscreen trys the audience's patience. She has one expression at most.

The photography is lovely but that just undercores the inferiority of every other part of the movie.

The only joyful enthusiasm M. Night displays is in the depiction of gruesome ways people destroy themselves. The obvious references to 9/11 near the beginning are in very bad taste.

Two annoying adolescents meet a fitting end but aside from that it was a waste of 90 some minutes that felt HOURS longer.

You cannot say you have seen M. Night's worst effort until you see The Happening.


Anonymous said...

Shyamalan's "films" are for people who don't have the intellect to appreciate all the directors whose "style" he ripped off - especially the Russian director Tarkovsky who created the long slow pans and tracking shots that everyone credits Night with inventing.... Night's movies are low-brow junk masquerading as art-house movies.

Unlike the rest of you, I've had had lunch with the guy (in 1994 before he was known). He pointedly told me that he writes sentimental crap that manipulates the audience. Yes, even back then!

Makes me furious that he's conned so many people. The George Bush of movies.