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The problem with M. Night Shyamalan

By Skoffin in Culture
Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 12:43:53 AM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

Since his breakthrough film 'The Sixth Sense', director M. Night Shyamalan has made three more films culminating in the recently released 'The Village'. This is a look at what keeps the director from greatness via a discussion of the twists and plot devices he has become known for.

Be warned, in discussing them, I pretty much give away every twist he's ever done. **SPOILERS ABOUND**

It's hard to express simply but there is a fundamental flaw in M. Night Shyamalan's screenwriting which makes his films consistently miss the mark. He understands film making in it's classic form, he understands plot devices, signposts, symbols, motifs. Inspired by Hitchcock and Spielberg, he is in fact a very technical screenwriter, he follows rules and strives for certain things. I think the problem arises when the things he strives for seem forced which is almost all of the time. He comes across as desparate to insert moments which will strike a heavy emotional chord with the viewer, he sets them up early, builds them gradually and ultimately, they come across as ridiculous. They are so overly poignant and meaningful that they end up sterile and laughable. It's not that they are cliché in themselves, but the feeling he is trying to inspire is as cliché as it gets. There is always a fatal flaw, a lack of subtlety or naturalism and a tendency towards the contrived. This, at least, is consistent along all of his films, rarely do his emotional devices work.

I'm going to point out a few of these failed devices and, because so many of them are to do with the ending of a film or the climax of a storyline, they are all spoilers and, because they are all spoilers, they assume prior knowledge of the plots.

The ending twist of Unbreakable reveals that Samuel L Jackson's character has materminded a series of high fatality 'accidents' in his search for a genuine superhero. Said superhero Bruce Willis discovers Jackson's secret and it is revealed as the twist. So far, so not too bad. Unbreakable is a poor film but until what I am about to describe it is not quite laughable. On realising that Bruce knows his secret, Samuel utters the pathetic, childlike "They called me Mr Glass" by way of explanation. This is absurdity in it's most hilarious form, to completely change the tone of a sombre, ponderous film with a line like that is to undermine everything that came before and evoke the atmosphere of a stand up comedian dead on his feet.

Which leads me to another thought. Shyamalan is good at raising questions, slowly building tension and creating complexity. He is awful at resolving everything he has built up, he does it with a single moment and that moment is almost always terrible and comedic. It would be the equivalent of Holst choosing to end his furious composition Mars with the "That's All Folks!" Looney Tunes jingle. Satirically speaking, that would be fantastic. If Shyamalan were to come out and say that all of his films are parodies of the thrillers that Hollywood has made over the year and the cliché devices contained within, I would admire him more than any other filmmaker working today. Tragically, I don't think that's going to happen.

The next couple of examples come from Signs. I have only seen it once and never intend to see it again so my memory might be a little hazy but I'm basically correct. There is a scene where the family are locked away from the alien menace. In the dustyness of the cellar or attic or wherever, the younger boy starts to have an asthma attack, conceivably enough - it looked like a typically dusty place. In the absence of his inhalers the family gather around him and end his attack. How? By shaking and panicking him back to health. Now, I suppose this might not be such a hilariously ill conceived device if uou don't really have any experience with asthma however I can tell you now, with first hand experience, that the last thing you do to someone having an asthma attack is hug him tightly and shout at him to breathe. You'd do much better to make him as comfortable as possible and gently encourage him to steady his breathing until he's as okay as he's going to get without treatment. Bizarrely, Gibson's panic-method works and, rather than passing out or dying, the boy gets over the attack.

This is another example of Shyamalan's good intentions ruined by one sloppy flaw. It's not a bad idea in itself. The idea that an internal struggle within the family separate from the alien threat will show what's at stake and help you invest in the characters is perfectly sound. If he had picked another device to create the tension it would have been a commendable scene.

The second example from Signs is the resolution to the storyline of Gibson's wife's death by car crash. In another fine example of Shyamalan's tension building, we are shown fragments of his discovery of his dying wife, bit by bit until we get to her finale-triggering last words. As she lays dying, trapped between two cars (richly black humour in itself) she utters the mysterious last words "tell Merrill to swing away", Merrill being their oldest son, played by Joaquin Phoenix. Gibson wakes up from being knocked out by an alien, spies a baseball bat on the wall and tells Merrill to swing away. Utterly ludicrous. The story of his dead wife, the restoring of his faith in religion and the defeation of the alien all rest on the comical phrase "swing away". Just as in Unbreakable, the whole premise falls apart on this single clunker of a line.

Maybe Shyamalan lacks a developed sense of humour or perhaps he works backwards from a single moment which he perceives as clever and poignant at the time, maybe he realises halfway through writing the script how ridiculous is it and by then it is too late to stop. Maybe he picked the best of a weak bunch, agonising over an ending that would fit his usually good beginnings and middles, unwilling to have ambiguity or leave anything unexplained. Stuck on a form which insists on a satisfying conclusion but unable to find one. I have yet to see him be anything but entirely serious about what he does in interviews so I have to assume that is the case.

The Village has been widely hailed as an awful film and I'd have to agree with that. He makes some highly unfortunate mistakes and turns a very promising film into a joke. The Village started off as one of the first films to really creep me out in a long, long time. As someone who thrives on horror films but is no longer susceptible to them, that is an amazing thing to experience again. The sound, the pacing and the camera work are masterful in creating atmospheric tension and I found myself questioning why it was so hated. This was revealed in the first twist where the 'monsters' are defanged and the film is effectively neutered. For the sake of a twist, Shyamalan throws away a good premise. Amazingly enough, as the heroine heads off into the woods, even though we are told that the monsters don't exist, the film is still pretty scary. We are placed into the blind heroine's head and the woods reveal their natural foreboding, unenhanced by beasts and telling of the nature of human fear. As a supposed monster appears, I thought maybe we were literally inside the head of the heroine, creating monsters where there are just sounds of the woods. Another great premise ruined as the monster is revealed, literally, to be a man in a suit.

In his most ludicrous ending yet, Shyamalan takes his cues from the ending of Monty Python's 'The Holy Grail'. At the climax of 'The Holy Grail', the knights of King Arthur era England are arrested by policemen in present day uniforms and cars. In the ending of 'The Village', Ivy makes her way through the woods, climbs over a fence and then a Landrover pulls up along the road. 'The Holy Grail' is a comedy, 'The Village' is not, at least not until that point. This is intercut with the elders of the village opening their secret box which reveals that they were professor types in (I'm guessing) the 60s, so scared of the real world that they used substantial amounts of money to recreate a late 19th century village. Apparently they were so unlucky that each one of the dozen or so had some kind of experience with a junky killing their brother or something. This leads to the Landrover driver going to HQ and being conveniently told that the aviation authority has been paid off so that no planes are flown over the area. This sequence of events is played out in probably the most awkwardly contrived execution I've seen in any of Shyamalan's films post his breakthrough, 'The Sixth Sense'. 'The Village' amounts to a sitcom where everything is back to normal at the end. Nothing is changed, no character is developed and the logic behind it all is amazingly flawed.

The tragedy of 'The Village' is all of the potential it contained and it is a shame to watch it be torn away bit by bit. It is clear that the whole of the film stems from the final twist and it is ironic that this twist, responsible for some great cinema, is also responsible for the dire final result. It's unfortunate that no one making it saw the film as it could have been if he hadn't felt the need to justify a lame concept. Not everything needs to be based in the real world and not everything needs to be explained. What's wrong with monsters for monsters sake? Why not have a story about characters confronting fear and braving the odds? After building up this mythology, why not make use of it? It is the coming so close to greatness that makes The Village so tragically bad. Like a champion runner amputated in their prime. Apologies for the simile but it was the first one to pop in there.

You may have noticed that I haven't mentioned 'The Sixth Sense' yet. I like 'The Sixth Sense', I think it is well acted, well paced, well filmed and lacks the great mistakes that Shyamalan would make afterwards. When the twist is revealed, it is subtle and affecting rather than contrived and awkward. It's true that the effectiveness of it has been lessened by his later films highlighting in particular the convenient plot point of the little girl and the videotape of parental abuse. After all, what tugs at the heartstrings more than parental abuse?

There is surely another great film within M. Night Shyamalan, if he can only break free of his storywriting style. Perhaps an adaptation or a collaboration is in order. With someone to temper his penchant for easy emotional manipulation, someone to tell him when he's being silly and someone to reign him in a bit, his next film could be excellent. As it is, his potential hackdom knows no bounds.


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M. Night Shyamalan's least flawed film
o The Village (2004) 3%
o Signs (2002) 5%
o Unbreakable (2000) 26%
o The Sixth Sense (1999) 64%
o Wide Awake (1998) 0%
o Praying with Anger (1992) 0%

Votes: 53
Results | Other Polls

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o Also by Skoffin

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The problem with M. Night Shyamalan | 143 comments (124 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
The problem with The Village (3.00 / 2) (#1)
by bobpence on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 01:18:03 PM EST

is that Number Two is unmutual!

But hey, Unbreakable was cool.

"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender

I'm not a UID I am a FREE MAN! (3.00 / 2) (#4)
by GenerationY on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 01:32:34 PM EST

The Prisoner is much imitated but never bettered.
Thats one Hollywood remake possibility that has me worried.

Note for visitors to UKia: You can actually visit Portmeirion (aka "the village") and very nice it is too.

[ Parent ]

Well at least they can't... (3.00 / 4) (#5)
by bobpence on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 01:37:47 PM EST

... ruin the ending. I have the DVD "mega-set" with all episodes in the intended order, and no wonder people treated McGoohan like a post-resignation Nixon after the finale. I don't know exactly what the series was leading to, but that wan't it. Sure, he didn't have much notice, but he should have had it planned from the start regardless of whether it would take place after 17 episodes or 77. That aside, the work as a whole is, like the man, pure genius.
"Interesting. No wait, the other thing: tedious." - Bender
[ Parent ]
aww (none / 1) (#14)
by reklaw on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 04:37:25 PM EST

I like the last episode, just because it's so shamelessly nonsensical. And because, of course, he's still in the village at the end of it...
[ Parent ]
The main problem with M. Night Shyamalan (2.85 / 7) (#2)
by Black Belt Jones on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 01:21:52 PM EST

is that he's the Oprah Book Club of movie makers.  Middle-Class Turd.

You can live. (none / 1) (#16)
by assessino on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 04:50:57 PM EST

Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man.
[ Parent ]

omg (1.33 / 3) (#19)
by Black Belt Jones on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 05:08:26 PM EST

I don't get it

[ Parent ]
Cliché, n.: (3.00 / 2) (#6)
by aristus on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 01:52:19 PM EST

A leitmotif your film teacher already used once.

Next up, Homer loses points for overuse of "rosy-fingered dawn".

??? "A man of imagination among scholars feels like a sodomite at a convention of proctologists." -- Paul West

What about Stuart Little ? <nt> (2.50 / 2) (#8)
by CivisHumanus on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 03:18:09 PM EST

The real problem with Shyamalan (1.60 / 10) (#9)
by Jonathan Walther on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 03:30:19 PM EST

As you said, Shyamalan oozes with talent.  He has good pacing, he is sensitive to mood and tempo, great directing skill, good script-writing ability.

One problem.  He lacks our folkish heart-feeling.  His heart does not beat with ours.  As you mentioned, he works by formula.  Being of a different Volk, his sensibilities are different, and he cannot breath life into the formulas in a way that resonates within our hearts and souls.

If Shyamalan were to be true to himself and go back to Bollywood, not only would he be the Steven Spielberg of the Indian market, but his films would shine so brilliantly that they would cross over to the western market in popularity.

For example, here a few movies that were made in tune with the folkish heart feelings of their makers.  Well made, these movies told a story that also spoke to us, and had big cross-over success, despite being in a foreign language with subtitles:  Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.  Chunhyang. Princess Mononoke. Ran. Atanarjuat. Jean de Florette.

A good film appeals to the universal aspects of humanity.  Trying to be something you are not does NOT appeal to anyone.  That is why the above mentioned movies to succeed; they focused on the human aspect as they experienced it, not on what they felt a foreign folk expected or wanted.

We want reality, honesty, and sincerity.  Dishonesty, like Mr. Shyamalans, comes through and makes us uncomfortable.

To thine own self be true. Then others will be true to you.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

Except that Ran was King Lear (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by epepke on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 05:07:28 PM EST

But Shyamalan is no Kurosawa.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Where'd all the cool hacker info go? (2.50 / 2) (#37)
by sudog on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 01:39:27 PM EST

You used to have a tremendously awesome homepage with obscure information about all kinds of stuff. Where'd all that go? Dammit!

[ Parent ]
Had to reevaluate (3.00 / 2) (#49)
by Jonathan Walther on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:06:40 PM EST

Most of the material will be coming back, but I had to rethink how it was presented.  I'm still rethinking.  All things must be for the glory of Jesus.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
Does this mean... (none / 1) (#85)
by sudog on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 02:33:58 PM EST

...that I have to find a line of scripture to justify the re-posting of each item you used to have up there?

Damn. You used to be such a counter-cultural underdog in the same vein as +fravia. What happened?

[ Parent ]

42 (2.00 / 3) (#89)
by Jonathan Walther on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 04:58:14 PM EST

A lot of stuff happened.  I'd tell you, but then it would sound like a soap opera.  Most importantly, I learned who I was, where I come from, and the role that religion had in my very existance today.  That is a non-answer, but I hope it is not non-sense.  I'd be happy to fill you in at the next 2600 meet, if you are going to be there.  Or drop me an email, and I'll update you that way.  Let me know in advance if you are going to the 2600 meet, otherwise I probably won't be there.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
Argh how do I email you? (none / 1) (#120)
by sudog on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 08:40:56 PM EST

Krooger@ is dead!

[ Parent ]
It is? (3.00 / 2) (#125)
by Jonathan Walther on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 03:29:52 PM EST

I'm still receiving email at that address...  If it is still not working, try djw@reactor-core.org

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
Do you even know what you're talking about? (none / 0) (#60)
by kentrak on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 07:43:58 PM EST

The man grew up here. He was born in India, but grep up in Pennsylvania. His parent's sent him to Catholic school for the discipline, even though he was raised in a different religion.

Reading your comment, I take it you either a) don't know that information or b) just don't care and think because he's indian and born there, he should go to their film industry.

Personally, I think he is in more of a position to understand folk culture, by having a separate cuture to compare it to.

[ Parent ]

Do you know enough to know what I am talking about (none / 1) (#71)
by Jonathan Walther on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 06:04:36 PM EST

Folkish heart-feelings come about through genetics, not through cultural indoctrination.  That is why Mahler has never been considered anything other than light entertainment, despite his massive, lengthy combinations of baritones and trombones.  That is why Mendelssohn is sweet on first listen, but tiresome the second and third time, despite the fact his kinsmen praise him to the skies.

It is you Sir, who need to continue your education.  Nurture plays a role, but at root, genetics has the final say.  An alien is an alien, to matter how much fun you had as children at play.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
Well, back that up then (none / 1) (#73)
by kentrak on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 07:57:49 PM EST

Everything I have ever learned tends to espouse the exact opposite opinion, that cultural tendencies are not influenced by genetics. I may be wrong, but I'll not stand by and do nothing while you make what I see as a racist statement until proven wrong.

You say I need to continue my education. Well, since you seem to think this as factual, I assume you have reference material, or some other form of evidence to back you up. I don't view it as my job to provide this, as you made the initial argument, with what I believe flawed facts.

If you can come up with this material (and it presents it's point with enough proof to satisfy me), I'll have continued my education, and you'll have done a good deed by helping me do so.

Or maybe I just fell for a troll.

[ Parent ]

Your education is your responsibility (1.50 / 2) (#76)
by Jonathan Walther on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 09:21:29 PM EST

How much of what you "learned" is based on filtering your limited personal experience through the received dogma of the system?

If cultural tendencies had nothing to do with genetics, Rhodesia and South Africa wouldn't be sliding into the shitter right now.  Detroit wouldn't have gone from a shiny modern city to an African warground in a few short years.  We wouldn't have to keep going back in and cleaning up Haiti, which started off with all the advantages of Western Civilization from the beginning.

If you are sincere about continuing your education, I recommend starting with Imperium, by Francis Parker Yockey.  He discusses the connection between the human spirit and its destiny.  He talks about the relationships between cultures, their life cycles of birth, adolescence, senescence, and death.

Contact me when you are finished, and we can talk some more.

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
No. (none / 0) (#82)
by ILikeCheese on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 02:17:20 PM EST

South Africa, as I'm sure you're aware, existed under apartheid for quite some time. Now, apartheid is gone, but the massive disparity of wealth is still clearly drawn along racial lines there. You really expect that to not cause problems?

As I'm sure you're also aware, Haiti was at one point colonized by European powers, and most of the Africans living there today were imported to the island as slave labor. Haiti became the world's first black republic when they successfully overthrew the French government. They then spent their time helping other countries such as Venezuela and Peru abolish slavery. Because of this, the (still slave-holding) United States placed major economic sanctions on Haiti. In addition to this, France demanded reparations from Haiti to repay the former slave-holders who lost money when the Hatians revolted. Haiti was paying France until the 1950s, and the total payments Haiti made to France (allowing for inflation) was equivalent to around 21.7 billions dollars. This, as one might expect, sunk the nation into poverty, and I think this is probably the reason Haiti is in so much trouble today, not the fact that it is run by black people.

The consequences of slavery and the extreme racism that was needed for slavery to exist still affects black people in the United States as well. The vast majority of the black people living in the US today came from families living in abject poverty, which isn't easy to overcome (although I suspect you wouldn't know much about that). Not only that, but the racism that was borne of slavery (for example, you) is still something black people have to contend with, and it affects hiring practices, education, and the general perception of black people as a whole. When this all becomes internalized (which is easy to do in a still tacitly racist society), it becomes a very difficult trap to escape. So, really, the problems in Detroit you see as caused by race is really caused by poverty and racism.

I got all this from college classes mixed with a quick refresher from wikipedia, so it's not exactly hard information to come by. I would say that it is you who needs to educate yourself, instead of simply reading racist propaganda that is written simply to reinforce your ill-informed racist beliefs.

[ Parent ]

I just totally fell for a troll, didn't I? (none / 0) (#83)
by ILikeCheese on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 02:21:40 PM EST

Yep, I think I totally did.

[ Parent ]
So it is, but you misinterpret (none / 0) (#112)
by kentrak on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 07:13:22 PM EST

i said it was your responsibility to back up your own arguments, especially when you start the discussion. But enough, let's look at what you DID provide.

The link you provide to help me "continue my education" and provide support for your argument that cultural tendencies are genetically influenced (what I originally asked for), is a paper by Francis Parker Yockey, in 1948? A bit dated, but let's look and see what we have.

Watson and Crick didn't discover DNS until 1953, so I must assume any arguments he makes are based on scientific observations in uncontrolled or hard to control experiments (and how were these observations made? Asking for volunteers? Actively seeking minorities? Could not these observations been colored by the time period in which they were done?).

In the Section "Race, People, Nation, State" on page 275 by your linked copy, he goes into how different races, when transplanted to America, seem to have similar characteristics to other races transplanted there, and attributes this to cosmic unity, because it is, in his words, "beyond our ken." Maybe in 1948. We have some answers as to why this is now. local diet being a large part. Even with that, most of assertions as to similarity of transplanted races I think are superficial, such as height, rather than the more profound points such as skull and facial features.

He later goes into the soul defining properties of land, and how they are unknown, but what is known is that some races have souls of higher height than others, from which I can only infer he is saying some races are religiously inferior. Interesting point of view.

In all, I found what portions of this I read to not support any theory you put forth (although he could easily have supported you elsewhere in that book), but I find that inconsequential, because the document as a whole fails are critical tests I have for determining the worth of a work. He *DOES NOT CITE ANY FACTS WHATSOEVER*, at least in the parts I read. His more radical theories are put forth, and we are told that studies have shown, or there is evidence that this is so, but never are groups names, studies referenced. Add to this his papers on Jewish conspiracies in the 1950's (google search for "Francis Parker Yockey", first result), and I don't really find him a credible author. Sorry, if this is the START of where you propose I start continuing my education, I think you're pointing me in entirely the wrong direction...

There is a great quote in that text though: "The Age upon which we are entering, and of which this is a formulation, is an Age of Politics, and hence an age of facts." -Francis Parker Yockey
That cracks me up.

[ Parent ]

Genetics? wtf? (none / 0) (#74)
by MrLarch on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 08:42:02 PM EST

Saying it has anything to do with genetics goes quite a ridiculous bit further than you have to. If he was born elsewhere and moved, it's likely his parents were raised there and precipitated the move. Regardless of education, it's most reasonable to assume that the parents and the culture they brought with them would be a huge (if not the biggest) influence on him if they are present.

Peers play a role, but at the root, family (and all that comes with it: heritage, the "old country", etc.) is often who you're with and with whom you're encouraged to identify the most.

[ Parent ]

You're wrong (none / 1) (#75)
by Jonathan Walther on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 09:14:42 PM EST

During a persons youth, you may be correct.  But by early adulthood, genetics is in full force.  Destiny is inescapable.  Why try?

(Luke '22:36 '19:13) => ("Sell your coat and buy a gun." . "Occupy until I come.")

[ Parent ]
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (none / 1) (#81)
by Uluru on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 01:43:11 PM EST

This movie and Ang Lee's other "Asian" movies were made for the Cannes/Golden Globes audiences. He's a chop suey director. Americans think he's Asian but Asians think he's American. Also, there's nothing in Crouching Tiger that anyone familiar with Hongkong movies for the sixties has not seen before. It's nothing new. Those who watched it did so only because Cannes and Hollywood made such a fuss over it.
'Smoking is a marker for psychopathology', Dr Tony George, of Yale University states in the journal Nature Medicine, July 2004, Volume 10 No 7
[ Parent ]
Come On (none / 1) (#110)
by mrcsparker on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 02:45:59 PM EST

Crouching Tiger was a fantastic film. It was a Chinese epic film based on a very popular series of books. Sure, nothing new - but that does not take away from the fact that it was really well done. Don't tell me you sat in the theater the whole time with your arms crossed bitching about how it has all been done before.

[ Parent ]
I saw Signs (3.00 / 6) (#10)
by debacle on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 03:37:36 PM EST

And it totally blew ass. Mel Gibson and "aliens" were there just to sell tickets while this mystic whore-trash could pander his spiritual revival in some self-righteous floundering.

I'm fucking glad that the scientologists replaced his brain with three pounds of diced turnips.

It tastes sweet.

per Signs storyline falling apart (2.80 / 5) (#12)
by UnCivil Liberty on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 04:15:06 PM EST

The story of his dead wife, the restoring of his faith in religion and the defeation of the alien all rest on the comical phrase "swing away".
And their in-ability to turn door knobs even though they've created technology that can transport them thru space. Also, Earth's most abundant resource (water) will kill them upon contact. What a way to run a great movie in to the ground.

Donate: ACLU | EFF
At least in "Alien Nation" (3.00 / 3) (#23)
by cburke on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 08:04:56 PM EST

the aliens were vulnerable to salt water.  And they didn't come to a three-fourths-water earth on purpose.

Signs was a creepy yet emotional movie utterly demolished by the last ten minutes of stupidity.

[ Parent ]

Unbreakable (none / 1) (#13)
by epepke on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 04:26:16 PM EST

It wasn't so much a bad film as it was the first half hour of a potentially good film, only stretched to 2 hours.

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

shyamalan career graph (3.00 / 15) (#15)
by reklaw on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 04:42:15 PM EST

The Sixth Sense      \
                      Unbreakable     \
                                            Signs o
                                      The Village o


Where does it end? (3.00 / 2) (#48)
by khallow on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 05:05:05 PM EST

Perhaps we can come up with a name for the next movie? I recommend "The Crater" or "Flames".

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Beyond Hope? [nt] (none / 1) (#114)
by vyruss on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 10:28:44 PM EST

  • PRINT CHR$(147)

[ Parent ]
My graph (none / 0) (#129)
by niku on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 08:08:07 PM EST

         \              ____[3]_______  ?
          \            /
           \          /

1. Sixth Sense
2. Unbreakable
3. Signs

Unfortunately, I haven't seen the village - should have thought a second before I realized that there were spoilers - but I thought signs was a very good movie, especially for the genre. I personally dislike almost all horror movies, and while I do agree that it would have better w/o 'swing away', I still think that it was, on the whole, quite well done. The twist should have been left to the glasses of water, and he should have let the wife's dealth be an interesting subplot which made you empathise for the family.

I also liked Unbreakable, unlike most people. I think when viewed through the lense of "comic book movies" it was a true origin story, in the classic comic book sense. Even the 'They called me glass..." line fit with the comic style.... while it seemed odd that it would be marketed as a mass market movie, I think that it was definitely good for what it was, and overall a solid movie. Nothing great, but solid.
Nicholas Bernstein, Technologist, artist, etc.
[ Parent ]

Meh (none / 1) (#18)
by jmzero on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 05:07:34 PM EST

On realising that Bruce knows his secret, Samuel utters the pathetic, childlike "They called me Mr Glass" by way of explanation. This is absurdity in it's most hilarious form, to completely change the tone of a sombre, ponderous film with a line like that is to undermine everything that came before and evoke the atmosphere of a stand up comedian dead on his feet.

I saw this somewhat differently.  Shyamalan is revealing that Samuel IS still a child.  It's a ridiculous thing for an adult to say - that's the point of the thing.  

And "somber/ponderous" film?  What movie were you watching?  The movie was a grinner, and played for comedy most of the way through.  There was perhaps a few tense moments (well, Bruce in the pool is the only one I can think of) - but if you were pondering then you missed the point of the show.

I actually really liked Unbreakable - it got a pretty decent performance out of Bruce Willis, and had some good "wonder" moments.  Similarly, Signs had some of my all-time favorite shots in cinema history - particularly the Mexican birthday party video where we first see the alien.  How can you not be grinning at a shot like that?  What are you going to his movies for?

Are there elements in his films that are "too convenient"?  Of course.  You could say the same thing about most episodes of CSI, X-Files or The Twilight Zone.  Shyamalan makes light entertainment, and it should be compared to other light entertainment.  

The Village was his worst thriller to date.  Some of his actors failed him, and he messed up the pacing.  Also, if you didn't know all the twists in that movie within the first 5 minutes of the show, then I really have to wonder how many movies you've seen.  My only surprise in the show was that the object in the "forbidden barn" was the suits (who hides the suits in a place like that?) and not a vehicle for use in emergencies.  He also could have fiddled with the plot a little to make a few things a little less contrived (ie. Brody finding the suits in the quiet room was silly - the find should have been tied back to an interesting previous incident or something).

The ending was obviously, obviously supposed to be funny - and I thought it was entertaining enough.

If you've seen one Shyamalan film, you should know what you're getting into when you watch another.  Here's what you get: some good scenes, some light thrills, a few laughs, and usually a little mystery you can try to figure out.  Shyamalan delivers this, and I'm glad he's around.

It'll be interesting to see what he does with "Life of Pi".  
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

The answer (none / 0) (#20)
by epepke on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 05:26:28 PM EST

Unbreakable was obviously a prequel to Mystery Men

The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
True. (none / 0) (#31)
by bakuretsu on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 08:11:49 AM EST

I agree completely, but I believe the party was in Brazil.

-- Airborne
    aka Bakuretsu
    The Bailiwick -- DESIGNHUB 2004
[ Parent ]
I guess I saw it differently (none / 1) (#44)
by LO313 on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 03:41:53 PM EST

At its most basic level, I thought "Unbreakable" was a what if type of movie. What if comic book heros really exist but aren't as flashy or over the top as they are in comics. So its always in the background as a theme but then Shyamalan makes the final connection of Jackson's character being the true evil mastermind/nemisis of teh hero. Lex Luther to Superman, the Joker to Batman. I thought it was perfect not childish. I didn't think Jackson as a child but as Luther. But that was my interpretation. I think this guy (original poster) takes things just a bit to seriously and probaly can't make the leap to the comic book world. Unless a movie is overtly promo-ed as a comic book movie, he won't get it.

[ Parent ]
he's doing Life of PI? (none / 0) (#52)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:41:46 PM EST


It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Yes (none / 0) (#58)
by jmzero on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 07:12:36 PM EST

As of last year, that was his next project after Village.  I'm not certain it's going to go ahead, but I believe everyone's on board.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]
true (none / 0) (#93)
by shokk on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 06:20:22 PM EST

If you've seen one Shyamalan film, you should know what you're getting into when you watch another.

This is so true. By now when you go to one of Night's movies, you should expect that whatever you see in the previews will not be what the movie turns out to be, and will be flipped upside-down by the end of the movie. After seeing the previews I had pretty much guessed that the world that was presented was some sort of sequestered park, especially because of the sentry lines around the village. The trick was guessing what was really on the other side of the line. My guesses:

  • 19th cent people in a zoo exhibit for space aliens (to explain the creatures, but he had already done the aliens thing in Signs)
  • 19th cent people in a really long running Reality TV series (a la Truman Show, but that would be too derivative)
  • Luddites choosing to live a life in some other reality (bingo, it turned out to be an episode of Star Trek: *every series done*)
That said, I liked the Village because it was different, though the ending dragged once she met with the Landrover.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
[ Parent ]
Spoiler warning (2.50 / 2) (#21)
by b1t r0t on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 06:07:23 PM EST

Should be "SPOILER WARNING" in all caps in the header section.

I saw the last 1/3 or so of Unbreakable (along with a preview plug of The Village strategically inserted near the end) a couple of months ago on TV. Ho frickin' hum. Interesting premise for Unbreakable, and amusing twist at the end, but I'd rather go back and re-watch Die Hard With A Vengeance.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.

Thank you for registering your opinion. (none / 0) (#108)
by smegma hauler on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:14:31 PM EST

It has been duly noted that you like Die Hard more than Unbreakable.  Apparently a couple other guys think this is fascinating too.

[ Parent ]
Gigli (and Village spoiler) (3.00 / 3) (#22)
by NaCh0 on Thu Aug 26, 2004 at 06:29:31 PM EST

The remarkable thing about The Village are the ties that can be made to Gigli. From the declining plot to the retard. At least the retard is killed in The Village.

K5: Your daily dose of socialism.
sixth sense was in no way good (none / 0) (#26)
by dimaq on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 03:45:04 AM EST

I'd say it was rather bad, even if it had some cinematic value and was watcheable due to the cast. thus is it really a wonder that the guy's next film is a bigger joke?

The Village only works with Protestants (none / 0) (#32)
by Adam Rightmann on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 09:10:36 AM EST

I will refrain from posting any spoilers, despite what the author did. But, after watching the movie, you realize only heretical Protestants (or perhaps atheists) would make The Village possible. Think about it.

They'd need access to the Church heirarchy? (none / 1) (#41)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 02:49:30 PM EST

Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
it's the only movie of his (none / 0) (#51)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:32:50 PM EST

to deal with fear as a topic, instead of as a dramatic device.

Fear of the monsters, conquering fear, hiding from what you fear.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Too many errors.. (2.50 / 4) (#36)
by sudog on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 01:27:56 PM EST

.. either you didn't leave it long enough in the edit queue, or I shudder to think of what it looked like before the vote.

You use the word "contrived" too often. There is a thesaurus available online for free, so there's no reason to use the same word over and over again.

Some of your sentences are fragments: "Like a champion runner amputated in their prime."

You are basing your opinion on half-remembered plots and what you perceive as mistakes in the films. There is no insight here--only observation and summary. Anyone can summarise the plot of a movie, and we do so the day after with our coworkers all the time.

"... my memory might be a little hazy but I'm basically correct."

If you're going to try to write something this long, why not just see the movie and take a few notes? I know it's a hardship to actually sit down and watch a movie to freshen your memory, but if you don't do that all you're doing is simpering. Speak with some authority, and back it up with correct facts. Don't apologise for not knowing with accuracy and precision what happened in the movies--correct the situation and make yourself an authority!

Mr. Glass was appropiate (3.00 / 3) (#38)
by deadcow on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 02:19:01 PM EST

As you said, Shyamalan understands the use of motif; the motif of the comic villian and the superhero was nothing if not omnipresent in "Unbreakable." The ultimate creation of a superhero is followed immediately with the creation of his arch-nemesis..."Mr. Glass"--Comic book fans understand that this is a long-standing tradition in superhero comics, and as such, turns this movie into a bit of a commentary on ability of the human psyche to internalize what we consume--it's an interesting insight on Shyamalan's part, and is only 'pathetic' on the shallowest level of understanding (i.e. If we were to regard Jackson's character as a real person).

I would also argue that that last twist turned a mostly humorous (black humor) film into a serious and sombre reflection on the human psyche

exactly (none / 0) (#68)
by forgotten on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 06:02:59 AM EST

if you were a comic book fan, that line was right on the money. remember that the full line was something more like "you should have guessed when i told you they called me mr glass"


[ Parent ]

Mr Glass was fine (none / 1) (#69)
by epepke on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 10:59:02 AM EST

It's only incidental that it involves comic books, though, because it just happens to be that comic books are the major remaining form of literature that deals seriously with mythological concepts. The only reason that it seems jarring is that Shyamalan didn't do such a good job with the rest of the movie.

The basic ideas, most of the writing, and a lot of the scenes were superb. It could have been an excellent movie but just somehow wasn't, and that has to be attributed to faults in the filmmaking.</p.>

Last first, whenever a film has some text at the end to describe what happens, it means 1) that the film is deeply flawed, and 2) the filmmaker knows it, hence the attempt to patch it up with some text. Unbreakable would have been better if it had been left incompletely resolved, but it only would have been actually good if there were no reason to put up that text in the first place. That last fifteen seconds turns the movie from commentary on the quest for an expression of one's true will into about some story about a high-functioning loonie. It wasn't the notion that Mr. Glass had set all this up that was bad (that was appropriate and necessary); it was the amateurish way it was handled.

Shyamalan seemed to think that the purpose of the plot was to surprise us with the "twist." (Which, seriously, did anyone not see coming from two miles away? It's about as opaque as when a Jew in a town where Yiddish is widely spoken names a character "Vader.") The purpose, mythologically, is to show how it affects the character of Captain Securityman, beyond a brief sour look on Willis' face. Most of that might have been left to a sequel, but you have to establish some conflict. Especially as no footage was spared to make much of the rest of the movie like this:

INT. KITCHEN WIFE is slicing bread. SECURITYMAN is standing, obviously troubled by something, with a furrowed brow.

                    You want a sandwich?

SECURITYMAN is still standing, pondering a deep question. Minutes pass. The AUDIENCE becomes edgy.

                    What kind?


SECURITYMAN ponders some more. Light roams across his furrowed brow. Several members of the AUDIENCE die of old age. The THEATRE undergoes three major restorations.

                    Yeah. With...

SECURITYMAN ponders some more. He searches his soul for deep understanding. The THEATRE has been torn down and turned into a parking lot, which by this time only has electric and hydrogen vehicles, because all the oil has run out.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett

[ Parent ]
Mr Glass was appropiate (none / 0) (#72)
by godix on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 07:18:51 PM EST

only if you thought the superhero premise was well presented in the movie. I thought the problem with the film was that it did such a good job portraying the boring everyday life type of feeling that I couldn't accept a leap into a superhero type world where that line would work, not even for the brief moment required to view Mr Glass as tragic, mental, or anything else. Instead the line being a realization at how his illness and comic book facination has warped his mind it came off as a 'Oh god, give me a break' moment.

The fact that the 'twist' was broadcast so blatently in advance that it couldn't be more obvious if Willis turned to the camera and said 'Ya know, I bet he's the bad guy' halfway through didn't help.

"Kerry's brother, Cameron, remembers their father's putting down John's "sophomoric" ideas while discussing foreign affairs around the dinner table." - New
[ Parent ]

Little sensitive, eh? (2.66 / 3) (#39)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 02:36:00 PM EST

On realising that Bruce knows his secret, Samuel utters the pathetic, childlike "They called me Mr Glass" by way of explanation. This is absurdity in it's most hilarious form, to completely change the tone of a sombre, ponderous film with a line like that is to undermine everything that came before and evoke the atmosphere of a stand up comedian dead on his feet.

You remind me of this guy I work with.  The conversation went something like this:

Me: You gonna see that X movie?

Him: No, there was one line in the trailer that completely ruined that movie for me.  It's gonna suck.

Me: In the trailer?

Him: Yeah.

Me: oooookay.

If "Empire Strikes Back" came out today, (3.00 / 8) (#40)
by Happy Monkey on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 02:47:22 PM EST

"Luke, I am your father" would be the last line in the trailer.
Length 17, Width 3
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the non-sequiter. (none / 1) (#42)
by Mr.Surly on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 02:56:41 PM EST

[ Parent ]
a lost art (3.00 / 4) (#45)
by eudas on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 04:28:45 PM EST

it's not a non-sequitur; he's making a point. trailers today give away 99.9% of the plot during the commercial. You almost don't have to see movies today; you get the "Cliff's Notes" version on TV for free. Then, there's all of the "...making of" stuff that they throw up on MTV/SciFi/whatever to try to get you excited about the movie, that winds up ruining it for you before you have even made up your mind, as well.

Why see anything?

I think Collateral was one of the few trailers/commercials that I've seen lately that didn't give away the movie. i saw the commercial, was intrigued, but had absolutely 0 clue was it was about. movies need more commercials like that -- the art of making commercials that don't give away the movie is becoming a lost art.

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

You have to consider ... (3.00 / 3) (#70)
by Mr.Surly on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 01:01:30 PM EST

... and I probably didn't make this clear with my anecodote:  The line in question wasn't a spoiler.  He's already built up in his mind what the movie should and should not be. Since the trailer didn't match the grand vision in his head, it "ruined" the movie for him.

This is the same guy who has to sit in the center seat of the center row, so that the acoustics are right for the proper movie-going experience.  If he can't get that seat, he'll walk out.  No kidding.

That's why (in my mind) it was a non-sequiter.  It wasn't about the problem with the trailer, it was about some people being hyper-sensitive when it comes to their movies.

That being said, I agree with your assertion that most trailers are really condensed versions of the movies.  You really don't need to even see most movies if you've seen the trailer.

[ Parent ]

Lock the door! (2.60 / 5) (#43)
by Magnetic North on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 03:32:52 PM EST

This Shyamalan fellow got lucky with Sixth Sense, then he bored us with Unbreakable and terrorised us with Signs.

The crap that is Signs must be one of the worst movies in the history of ass sucking movies. You've got the sucky 'finding his faith' plot with the disgusting religious bastard that is Mel Gibson, you've got aliens invading earth only to discover that there's water here (and they don't like water), and you've got aliens which have travelled interstellar distances only to struggle with opening a cellar door (because it's locked).

The worst fucking movie I've seen the last five years. And I see a lot of movies.

Looks from the trailer of 'The Village' that locking the doors keeps the monsters out yet again.


Signs (none / 0) (#47)
by khallow on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 04:58:36 PM EST

Personally, I found Signs to be the kind of movie that most people wouldn't appreciate. The points the movie makes are too subtle and coy. Why should aliens travel interstellar distances to invade a world they already know they won't like? Why should an alien trouble with unfamiliar human-made doors when it could cut through them in a jiffy? When you think about what's really going on, then the movie isn't half bad and makes decent sense. Not a particularly good movie, but I wouldn't mind seeing it again.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Well... (none / 0) (#97)
by jethro on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 11:23:47 PM EST

Why should aliens travel interstellar distances to invade a world they already know they won't like? Why should an alien trouble with unfamiliar human-made doors when it could cut through them in a jiffy?

Well? Why would they do that?

(I didn't see "Signs", so I have no idea).

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
Because... (3.00 / 3) (#105)
by djp928 on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 12:53:38 PM EST

Because God needed to restore Mel Gibson's faith, of course.

-- Dave

[ Parent ]

communication *spoiler of sorts* (none / 1) (#119)
by khallow on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 02:40:35 PM EST

Hi, we're aliens. Why are you in the basement? Something appears to be wrong with your door. Aren't these things supposed to open? Lemme fiddle with it a bit.You're oddly quiet in there.

Oh wait, HQ is telling us that humans are freaking out when they see us on the street. Maybe you better stay down there. We'll cut some pretty holes in the wall to let you know we're friendly just like we did with those crop circles. Have a nice day.

Stating the obvious since 1969.
[ Parent ]

Oh (none / 0) (#141)
by jethro on Tue Sep 28, 2004 at 01:10:26 PM EST

Oh. So they were just trying to talk and not, like, eat people?

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is kinky.
[ Parent ]
I completely disagree... (3.00 / 3) (#50)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:28:57 PM EST

M. Night Shyamalan is great, I like all his movies.

Why? Because they're different! They're all a little bit removed from each other in order to stir differing emotions from the audience.

The problem is the audience (including you) are too stupid for that; they want to see the sixth sense over and over again. They want to be looking at the dead guy all along, and say aloud, "Ooh creepy!".

Shyamalan is beyond that. Each of his movies explore different ideas and aspects of the human condition - death, fate, faith, fear; (in that order) and how the characters interact with each. And better yet, how the audience feels whatching how such  interactions are completely plausible within sensational settings.

His work borders on pure genius. In saying that it's a tough sell to North American consumers, raised on 1/2 hour sitcoms where everything happens for a reaon.

I like Shyamalan because I walk out of the movie analyzing the entire thing, instead of the last ten minutes, before I even consider whether my reaction to it is positive or negative.

A bad asthma scene, a missed key plot reference and a monty python reference. This is all you have to counter four compelling and complicated movies?

Too bad, you're missing some great work.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown

still predictable (none / 0) (#54)
by eudas on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:46:52 PM EST

the problem is that now you can just say "who directed? oh, shamalayan (sp). must be about 'the human condition', whatever that means this time."

"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

yeah you could... (none / 0) (#55)
by Run4YourLives on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 06:52:14 PM EST

but you could say that about pretty much any author or screenwriter.

Better for him to stick to delivering the same theme, that the same story.

It's slightly Japanese, but without all of that fanatical devotion to the workplace. - CheeseburgerBrown
[ Parent ]

yeah, shrug (none / 0) (#56)
by eudas on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 07:01:43 PM EST

true enough, but still, he can only pull the same trick so many times before it's predictable. i guess he'll find his niche market (people who like movies about 'the human condition') and fill it, much like Arnold Schwarzenegger did (people who like action flicks that leave room for little story or character development). &etc.


"We're placing this wood in your ass for the good of the world" -- mrgoat
[ Parent ]

in response (none / 0) (#91)
by Skoffin on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 05:44:50 PM EST

Shyamalan does 'death, fate, faith, fear' so overtly that if you know how film works then you can't help but laugh at the obviousness of it all. He tries so hard to be poignant that it hurts to watch.

I think you've miscategorised me as an audience member. I am not part of the summer blockbuster crowd. The next film I have tickets for is Jim Jarmusch's 'Coffee and Cigarettes' which I have been looking forward to for years now. I'm not North American either, not that that really makes a difference to anything.

[ Parent ]

You are the biggest dork ever, I think. (none / 1) (#106)
by smegma hauler on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:09:13 PM EST

Well, outside North America at least.

[ Parent ]
Bah. (none / 0) (#131)
by jmzero on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 03:47:41 PM EST

He tries so hard to be poignant that it hurts to watch.

No, that would be Lars Von Trier.

I'm not North American either, not that that really makes a difference to anything.

It obviously does to you.  Is that little bit of self-analysis too hard?  Or are you just trying to Shibboleth yourself into someone's good graces?  If so, has it occurred to you that such a group wouldn't be worth impressing?

I remember when I, back in university, would proudly tell someone that I was making my way through Finnegan's Wake.  I didn't really enjoy the book - I don't think anyone ever has.  I intensely enjoyed the feeling of intellectual superiority it gave me to be reading such a high-falootin' book.  

Think of that while you watch C&C.

I'm capable of enjoying passable, cheesy films.  I'm capable of enjoying great films - but I don't derive any satisfaction out of being better than some hypothetical North American multiplex patron.  Enjoy movies for what they are - not for how they stroke your ego - and I think you'll find a lot of decent, enjoyable movies out there.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Well... (3.00 / 3) (#63)
by Matt Oneiros on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 10:39:57 PM EST

IMO The Village wasn't as bad as so many people bitched about it being, but I do think it could've been done a lot better.

I like Shyamalan's stories, but I don't like that he believes in complete exposition.

I didn't like seeing who dressed up in the suit and chased after her, and I didn't want to see what happened once she reached the wall (well, as a viewer I kind of did, but a lack of Complete Resolution can be a powerful tool).

The wardrobes needed to be different in one of two ways: either the dress needed to be 100% historically accurate or 110% innaccurate modern mimicry. This way, the clever members of the audience can pick up early on that they were from modern times, and conclude this when she reaches the wall (which would become unexplained and strange in my concept) -- or they would just be left in the dark and horrified.

The black boxes never should've been openned.

With all the changes above made, I'd then want the pace slowed down almost to the point where it's painful. Then the audience could actually get to know Ivy through her fear and strength, perhaps expose in slow progression the nature of the retarded fellow so that the audience can conclude on their own his role in the chase in the woods.

More needs to be done with Joaquin post-stabbing, maybe some sort of weird surreal dreamworld/alternate reality subplot in which -- by way of his comatose state -- he comes to understand the nature of The Village but in an abstract sort of a way. Perhaps the alternate reality may be in "the cities" which would be fully modernized and alien to him.

I'd also like the colors to be a little less vibrant -- about 38% of the saturation they are in the movie -- except for the safe color and red.

My version would run approximately 2:45:00 in theaters and later the full length directors cut would be released weigh in in at 4 hours or so.

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real

Respect (none / 1) (#66)
by SanSeveroPrince on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 04:18:27 AM EST

I bow to you, True Seed Of The Antichrist.


Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think

[ Parent ]
What can I say? (none / 0) (#77)
by Matt Oneiros on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 02:19:04 AM EST

I'm a Lynch fan.

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real
[ Parent ]
some technical things (none / 1) (#64)
by Matt Oneiros on Fri Aug 27, 2004 at 10:49:55 PM EST

  1. The strangely modern tie on one fellow.

  2. The Lamppost (I beleive when they sacrafice the pig -- one of the scenes on the village threahold where the character is shot in profile).

  3. The fucked up reflection on the front of the landrover ("Security"'s reflection reads "Landrover" on the front).

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real
more (none / 0) (#92)
by shokk on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 06:10:41 PM EST

The greenhouse gave it away.  The finished metal tubing just did not seem 19th cent.
"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
[ Parent ]
ooh (none / 0) (#96)
by Matt Oneiros on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 07:34:22 PM EST

didn't catch those.

Lobstery is not real
signed the cow
when stating that life is merely an illusion
and that what you love is all that's real
[ Parent ]
And perhaps (none / 0) (#128)
by A Bore on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:03:41 PM EST

The huge panes of glass in the greenhouse too?

[ Parent ]
panes (none / 0) (#134)
by shokk on Tue Sep 07, 2004 at 12:36:39 PM EST

I was very iffy on that, but everything did seem a little too uniform compared to something like Cold Mountain, which was probably supposed to be more or less the time period.  My son noticed th vinyl siding on the houses.

"Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart, he dreams himself your master."
[ Parent ]
Scaring an asthmatic (none / 0) (#65)
by rpresser on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 01:32:36 AM EST

Couldn't that have a beneficial effect, in that it would produce adrenaline? Which is used to treat asthma attacks, IIRC.
"In terms of both hyperbolic overreaching and eventual wrongness, the Permanent [Republican] Majority has set a new, and truly difficult to beat, standard." --rusty
-1 (none / 1) (#67)
by SanSeveroPrince on Sat Aug 28, 2004 at 04:23:06 AM EST

I really don't like Nighty's movies. They're plodding, boring, uninspired affairs, in my mind. (no Christian nutjobs need take my opinions for allegations here).

You'd think I'd agree more with your article, but I can't vote something like this up. Do some more research, and polish some more language... I didn't see this in edit at all, how long was it there?

Besides, 'They called me Mr. Glass' is possibly one of the coolest lines in recent movie history. It's the rest of the film that's a bloated piece of cow dung.


Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think

Mr Glass (none / 1) (#94)
by katie on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 06:20:33 PM EST

I liked the line.

Yeah, it was kind of childish. But was PERFECT in context. It's so, so comic-book. It's perfect. It explains his whole character, it contains his whole childhood wrapped up in a single line. It's the thing he'll never forgive or forget. It sums up how he's set apart from humanity.. and the drive that brought him to that point.

It's a great line. Leave it alone.

I actually liked the rest of the movie as well. It's the one that bears the most re-watching because it hinges least on a twist; if anything the twist is right at the start.

[ Parent ]

i agree, pretty much (none / 1) (#78)
by Ashur on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 04:19:40 AM EST

about the movies, but come on, defeation just isn't a real word, you festizzio.

the twist in signs (none / 0) (#79)
by frozencrow on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 07:39:54 AM EST

Just FYI, the twist in Signs wasn't the "swing away" line, it was the "see" line. As in SEE MIRACLES. WHOA! AND GET YOUR FAITH BACK.

You may recall that the pastor thought the stuff his wife had said was just random neurons firing, up until the twist part, where he suddenly "saw." SAW MIRACLES, THAT IS!!!!! It was at that point that he realized the significance of the "swing away" line, which we'd already heard twenty fucking times by then anyway.

Please note that I am not arguing that Signs was a good movie. I'm pretty much on the bad bandwagon. In fact, I almost reflexively clawed my eyes out. Once when I saw the lame aliens, and again when I saw how the boy's asthma was a MIRACLE!!!!!

RE: "swing away" (none / 0) (#101)
by naomi385 on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 09:23:09 AM EST

I haven't seen Signs, so I'm probably missing a lot of context here, but doesn't the phrase "swing away" (in baseball) mean to strike out?

Propaganda. Questionable Intelligence. The Visitations.

[ Parent ]
RE: "swing away" (none / 0) (#103)
by djp928 on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 12:42:45 PM EST

No.  "Swing away" generally means to swing in a situation where a batter might not normally swing.  A coach might tell a batter to "swing away" on a 3-0 count or in a situation that might usually be a bunt sitution for various reasons (usually because the batter is a great contact hitter and the coach has great confidence that he will put the ball in play.)

"Swing away" can also be used as a synonym for "swing for the fences", which of course means to take a huge swing and try to hit a home run, which is pretty much how Signs uses the term.

-- Dave

[ Parent ]

In signs (none / 0) (#127)
by A Bore on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 04:00:14 PM EST

The context, I felt, was more to do with the whole discussion of his home run record. I think he says something along the lines of "It felt wrong not to swing at it", "Swing away" fitting well as the reply to this line.

[ Parent ]
They call me Mr. Glass (none / 0) (#80)
by flaw on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 11:32:28 AM EST

I really loved that moment.

ピニス, ピニス, everyone loves ピニス!
Technical merits or Plot and Dialogue? (3.00 / 2) (#84)
by redwoodtree on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 02:31:12 PM EST

You have to make up your mind whether your going to review movies based on technical merits or plot twists.  You have the two things confused and they're often very distinct entitites. The technical merits make it possible for the plot to work, but a movie is made up of its technical ingredients and  Shyamalan is a master of his craft.

You start out your review by commenting on what a great technical filmmaker Shyamalan is, comparing him to hitchcock even.  I tend to agree with you, the mis-en-scene, the use of camera, the editing, the lighting, all the technical features of his movies are fantastic. This is a more detailed and difficult way to review movies, not for the general public.

However, you go on to tear him apart of plot points. You say you don't like the lines like "..mr glass".  What I find interesting is that it's all the technical features of the movie that have you suspending your disbelief and paying such close attention to the plot that you forget you're watching a movie.  This is a more supperficial and pop-culture view of movie reviews.

By dissecting the plot and words, acting or a particular scene like how the boy recovered from an asthma attack, you're already showing that you're mostly sold on the premise of the movie. You're in the world of the movie.  You're playing by Shyamalan's rules.

A truly bad movie is one where you it's so bad you're completely aware that it's a movie the whole time, you're so bored that you can't suspend your disbelief.  Usually the truly bad movies come as a result of poor technical achievement. In short, I guess it's not so important "..that the end sucked" but that he had you watching all the way to the ending, all the time engaging you in the world of the movie.

Actually (none / 1) (#90)
by Skoffin on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 05:27:10 PM EST

I really disliked all of the films except for The Sixth Sense. Signs and Unbreakable never really drew me in, Unbreakable was like a comedy.

The reason I didn't mention how little I think of those two films in particular was that I didn't want to introduce that bias. I can see that people may have liked them so I didn't want to just start off as declaring them utter crap.

They never had me suspending my disbelief so, while the twists were bad, IMO the films were just bad full stop (aside from the forementioned technical qualities).

But your point does stand, if I had enjoyed them the whole way through until the end then I would concede that he had made good films. It's just that Signs and Unbreakable never really engaged me and The Village only engaged me until about halfway through.

[ Parent ]

My Problem With Unbreakable (none / 0) (#104)
by virg on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 12:46:02 PM EST

> ...Unbreakable was like a comedy.

I think Unbreakable suffered from something I've seen in a lot of films, in that it was a particular kind of film, and watched as such was really a good example of that kind of film, but there was no way to know beforehand what kind of film it was without spoiling it, so you just had to be lucky enough to go in with the correct mindset. Starship Troopers was this kind of film (parody of real-world media and patriotism), as was the Blair Witch Project (classic boogeyman film). Unbreakable was a superhero creation story, a "book one" of a comic series. For reasons I can't fathom now, I realized this very early in the film. Perhaps it was Mr. Glass's being a comic art dealer that tripped the trigger subconsciously. But because I was able to settle into that mind set, Mr. Glass's revelation was in perfect keeping with the typical comic book story style of villain reveal. The "mentor turned evil" has been done well before, and it worked out in this case, but only if you saw it coming. If you didn't, for whatever reason, it would seem so convenient as to be "comic"al. But that was its intent, I think.

"Imagine (it won't be hard) that most people would prefer seeing Carrot Top beaten to death with a bag of walnuts." - Jmzero
[ Parent ]
Plot vs Technical Skills (3.00 / 2) (#100)
by hbiki on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:59:52 AM EST

You start out your review by commenting on what a great technical filmmaker Shyamalan is, comparing him to hitchcock even.  I tend to agree with you, the mis-en-scene, the use of camera, the editing, the lighting, all the technical features of his movies are fantastic. This is a more detailed and difficult way to review movies, not for the general public.

The difference between Shyamalan and Hitchcock is that Hitchcock remembered to make good movies. His technical prowess was in service of the story. With Shyamalan (as with many other Directors) he has technical skills in abundance, but is searching for a good story.... and why he is above the norm in that regard, its not something worth overly celebrating.

I mean, pretty much every Hollywood feature is very well made. So much so, that exceptions like American Wedding, which was atrociously directed, stand out. (Worth noting that it was still well lit, despite the terrible coverage). I've heard it remarked that saying an American film is well shot is like saying a book is well typeset. Some cinematographers find that insulting to their craft and in some ways it is... but what it says its that its taken for granted just how good contemporary cinematography is.

Thats why Joe/Jane Public don't bother reviewing films on their technical merits... because (a) pretty much everythign is well made these days and (b) its not why they go to see movies... they go to the movies to see a good story... and THATS what they'll discuss.

(Though, sadly, I think thats diminishing because of the Summer Blockbuster and the wholebattle of visual effects. ergh. )

I take all knowledge to be my province.
- Francis Bacon
[ Parent ]

There's a word (none / 1) (#115)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 12:46:33 AM EST

for technical skill without artistic merit - it's called kitsch. Just because the technical details are well done does not mean the movie is good.

[ Parent ]
So tell me... (none / 0) (#86)
by razzmataz on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 03:07:22 PM EST

What did you think of Stuart Little?
You do know he wrote it, don't you?

-- I love the smell of fdisk in the morning...

yea but in his version of the screenplay (none / 1) (#111)
by Altus on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 04:50:23 PM EST

it turns out that stuart is a CAT!


"In America, first you get the sugar, then you get the power, then you get the women..." -H. Simpson
[ Parent ]

Re: monsters (3.00 / 9) (#87)
by SocratesGhost on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 03:35:35 PM EST

Right now I'm working on an article analyzing monsters. So, when I read your line: "What's wrong with monsters for monsters sake?" I had to stop because that is about the dumbest thing anyone has asked. All monsters have a "sake" beyond their own being. This is why some monsters succeed and have sequels and some do not.

In almost all cases, a horror monster--which is quite different from benign monsters like we find in Beauty and the Beast--anyway, a horror monster expresses some fear we have of the world. Dragons represent our fears of appetite (collects gold that it doesn't use but will kill anyone who wants some of it), vampires tap into our fears of sexuality, werewolves play against our fears of leaving society, etc. Even Homer understood this as the majority of the Odyssey is about the duties of guests and hosts (hosts shouldn't eat their guests like cyclops did and guests shouldn't act like swine--nor should the host assume all guests are swine). Even modern monsters have these elements: Predator expresses our fears of prosecution; Freddy Krueger demonstrates the terror of dreams; Body Snatchers, zombies and The Borg all reflect our attachment to identity and also our fear of losing it. Alien is probably among the more complex and the best way I can express it is to say that it displays fear of the Other--other people or other societies that we cannot understand and that surely want to destroy us therefore we must destroy it. Hopefully, I don't have to explain the Exorcist.

In fact, in the course of my research, there are few monsters which do not play off of some sort of fear or that copies some existing monster type. I did find that some monsters simply did not work, however, and mostly because there was no psychological fear that it touches. The X-Files (whose ultimate storyline expressed fear of Big Brother) was rich with these kinds of monsters that I call Monster From A Hat because it seemed like they put a bunch of abilities in a hat and pulled out three or four and then concocted a monster out of it. In those cases, the episodes were generally forgettable because the monster didn't have a purpose other than to be a monster and frankly that's sort of boring when you compare it to the rich history of monsters.

So, monster for monster's sake? No, thank you. I'll take my vampires seductive and my Norman Bates in drag.

I drank what?

Some nice analogies... (2.75 / 4) (#99)
by hbiki on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:15:54 AM EST

Some nice analogies, but you exhibit the tendency of modern Lit. Crit. to prejudice your own readings and ignore those of the authors... e.g.: "Alien is probably among the more complex and the best way I can express it is to say that it displays fear of the Other--other people or other societies that we cannot understand and that surely want to destroy us therefore we must destroy it. " Um. Ridley Scott has gone on record, numerous times, to say the original Alien movie is a rape metaphor. (There are other elements to it - including biowarefare but thats the main one). James Cameron calls Aliens his vietnam war movie - a bunch of gung ho marines get their asses kicked by an apparent 'primitive' enemy. Alien 3 I've seen read as an 'AIDS' movie. Which makes sense - in a kinda way - but Fincher hasn't said anything about it. (He hates the movie). Alien Resurrection, which I think is underrated, lacks that kind of metaphoric evil... but ultimately, I think its a black comedy. ("The potential of this species goes way beyond urban pacification"). You also are skipping over like 7 seasons of Buffy there, which pretty much made every MOTW allegorical.

I take all knowledge to be my province.
- Francis Bacon
[ Parent ]
unaware of that (3.00 / 2) (#109)
by SocratesGhost on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:58:48 PM EST

In some ways, any time we talk about psychology, we're talking more about ourselves than we are of real factual categories. I can see it being a rape metaphor, but that's obviously not something that I fear so it doesn't really hit me there.

The other person who replied said it's also about fear of insects and I can see that. But I don't think that any monster represents one and only one fear. The more interesting monsters usually encapsulate several of them. Look at Frankenstein's monster where you deal with things such as identity, unnatural birth, science without soul, death, being misunderstood, otherness, etc. I think that's part of its success as a monster is that there is something for everyone.

Also, I think it's somewhat okay to ignore the intent of the author, I'm sort of with the ancient Greeks on this one: treat the poet as a madman who doesn't understand what he's talking about and take what you want/need from it. After all, this is why classic stories endure because future generations can read new ideas into an older work that make it applicable to their times.

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Alien (3.00 / 3) (#102)
by rob1 on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 10:18:19 AM EST

is about the fear of insects. Aliens implant eggs like wasps, face-suckers attach like mosquitos and the aliens themselves are very insectoid in a number of pretty obvious ways (hive-mind, "nests", eggs, etc.).

This may sound trivial and shallow, but having known many an insectophobe, I have no doubt that a fear of insects is a powerful instinct in many people, like a fear of snakes.

Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we. -- GWB
[ Parent ]

Ideology behind The Village (none / 0) (#88)
by wynken de word on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 04:52:08 PM EST

Hi, first post... I appreciated the author's perspective on the writing flaws of M. Night Shyamalan. In a similar vein, I've written a critique of The Village from a film theory perspective, looking at the construction and metaphor of hegemony and American political ideology within the modern horror genre.

The Village (none / 0) (#95)
by actmodern on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 06:47:43 PM EST

Your problem is you're focusing on the twists in his movies and not the movies themselves. The twist in "The Village" did not define the movie itself. The characters and their archetypes did.

For me the only twist was figuring out what the girl and the monster would do at the end. I didn't know if she'd make it or not. By then all the rules had been broken so anything would go. It was a nice way to setup 10 minutes of suspense.

I left the theatre, after watching "The Village," very enthused. It is a commentary on the human condition. An optimistic one.

LilDebbie challenge: produce the water sports scene from bable or stfu. It does not exist.

No more night for me (2.66 / 3) (#98)
by bigbigbison on Sun Aug 29, 2004 at 11:44:10 PM EST

I am a huge fan of Twilight Zone, EC comic, 50's era sci-fi and horror twist endings.  Because of that, I have figured out the twist of every one of Night's films before I saw it (6th Sense had been out a while when I saw it, so I knew there WAS a twist).  In Unbreakable, for example, I wasn't even aware that there was a twist, I assumed Mr. Glass was evil from the minute he appeared (true I didn't suspect him of causing the accidents, but I knew he was up to no good).  I guessed Signs simply because they made such a big point of the water.  The Villiage I guess two weeks before it came out because I knew that Night always makes a cameo in his films and knew that it would be hard for him to plausibly appear in a historical peice (I even imagined the reveal similar to how it happened, I imaginged the scene in the original Texas Chainsaw where the woman runs out into the road and almost gets run over by the truck).

Now, I'm not trying to brag, but just to point out that all his "twists" are cliches of old stories from 50 years ago.  They could easilly be twilight zone episodes.  However, I don't have to pay to see the twighlight zone.  So i'm not going to pay to see any more of Nights films as long as they have a twist.  I'll wait untill they are on cable and will enjoy them on that level.

Precisely (none / 0) (#123)
by Belgand on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 01:37:24 PM EST

That's my problem with his films as well. They are ultimately rather shallow. The entire film often hinges rather heavily on the knowledge of the twist. Once this twist is known, however, the film often becomes moot. Little more than a rote by-the-numbers piece of formula filmmaking in an attempt to bring the rest of the audience to the same point.

Unlike the vast majority of people I never liked the Sixth Sense. While it wouldn't have been entirely as bad if they hadn't given away a significant plot point in every single ad (the "I see dead people" bit... the secret the kid is keeping for over half the film) it was rather bland if you realized that he was dead the entire time. When I first saw it I believed that we were supposed to realize her was dead (c'mon, he was shot and everybody barely interacts with him in a forced and obvious manner) but he was supposed to be unaware until his revelation brought about some sort of change or something. In classic ghost manner his purpose, and the reason he was still a ghost, was because he needed to help this kid. Kinda nifty almost. I was completely amazed when I got out of the theater and realized that the rest of the audience fell for the entire act and that it was supposed to be some sort of shocking twist.

The Village is the same way. I never bothered to see it because before it opened, without reading any spoilers I was able to discern more or less precisely what is going on (i.e. the monsters are fake and used as a form of control, this is all taking place in the modern era hence the need for control) if not the motives.

Then again I had the same issue with "Identity" as I figured out what was going on while watching the opening credits and the killer pretty quickly after the killings started. I curse the video store clerk who referred to it as "weird" and believe they are due a few showings of "Eraserhead" and "Tetsuo" among others until they get their weirdness filter working properly again.

I don't like his films not because he isn't capable of making decent films (I would have liked a bit more resolution and direct answers out of Unbreakable, but aside from the ending card it was pretty good), but because he hinges everything on a twist that is now taken as a given and which is almost always something very, very obvious. If Hollywood is going to continue to insist on using twists they really need to start getting a lot better at it.

[ Parent ]

Maybe it's just me... (none / 0) (#107)
by dermotdermot on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 01:09:43 PM EST

...but I didn't find Signs as objectionable the second time round because I watched it with a different perspective. Basically I assumed the second time round that - even in the context of the movie world - none of the events portrayed happened and that the whole thing was an extended dream sequence which begins when the camera tracks in from the window at the start to reveal a restless Gibson. The dream sequence ends when the camera tracks from a newly-inspired Gibson back to the window at the end.

I suppose in a way that's a contrivance, but whatcha gonna do?

You know what's really sad (none / 0) (#113)
by sweeties68 on Mon Aug 30, 2004 at 07:37:46 PM EST

I predicted how the film would end 1/2 hour in to it.
If you have to hide it and password protect it then your doin something wrong.
Theories about the things being said in Signs (2.33 / 3) (#116)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 01:25:47 AM EST

could fill an article on their own. Consider:

Aliens who:

  • handle water with as much grace as wicked witches in children's stories*
  • move with the deadly quickness of a sloth on a slow day
  • apparently have never discovered all the cool things that can be done with modern technology
  • can't break down a door, and probably can't even turn a doorknob

What can we do to save humanity? Shall we dial 911? Send in the military? Ask the proverbial six year old child? No! Instead we shall find a way to suggest to one of the characters that he should perhaps use a weapon, say a baseball bat. Having played a lot of baseball, he of course will never think of something like this himself. And how shall we make this suggestion? Aha! We shall kill another character's wife several years beforehand, and cause her to utter as her last words a phrase that seems trite and meaningless at the time, but will be just as tri- I mean will provide the key to defeating the menacing and dangerous aliens. Genius!

Now we need to fit Mel Gibson's masochistic tendancies in here somewhere. Mmm, let's see. Have him be a priest that turned away from his faith when God appears to allow his wife to die for no good reason. At the end of the movie when he learns that yes, his wife died to provide the equivilent of a key TO A LOCKED DOOR MADE ENTIRELY OF NOT WARM, BUT HOT BUTTER, he will happily return to a God who has been shown to kill and torture people for His own twisted amusement.

Obviously someone is trying to say something about God, or people of faith (or maybe just Mel Gibson) here, and it doesn't look like a compliment.

*Keep in mind that water is in the air, covers approximately two thirds of the planet's surface, and constitutes a very large percentage by weight of nearly every plant and animal on the planet.

Indeed (none / 0) (#126)
by A Bore on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 03:44:48 PM EST

I thought "Signs" particularly sloppy work. You can imagine all sorts of improbable reasons to make up for the aliens ridiculous behaviour (see xjf7y4s's post above), but the fact is, his dying wifes advice should have been everyone, gob on the aliens.

[ Parent ]
Parody (none / 1) (#117)
by Boronx on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 01:04:20 PM EST

I've seen two others after "Sixth Sense", "Unbreakable" and "Signs".

They are parodies.

In every superhero movie, the hero saves a bunch of people in the nick of time, often testing and realizing his powers in the process. Night is mocking that convention in "Unbreakable". The hero doesn't even discover his powers until years after the innocents had been slaughtered by the arch-villain.

In "Signs", Night takes Hollywood's tendency to eek out a happy ending using some Deus Ex Machina to a ridiculous extreme. That's the point of the movie, to me. A key line in the movie was the voice on the radio explaining how the aliens had poisoned his friend's family to death. This was an important plot point, but it was also a subtle mocking of the plot. What if the movie had followed that family instead? No string of lucky coincidences saved them. Were they undeserving?

A Detailed Rebuttal (3.00 / 3) (#118)
by xjf7y4s on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 02:31:10 PM EST

I've posted a detailed rebuttal to this article on my movie review site.

Along with specifically addressing all of Skoffin's criticisms, I also include explanations for some of the questions posted in the comments, such as why the aliens in Signs would attack a planet full of water.

Huh? (none / 0) (#133)
by dermotdermot on Fri Sep 03, 2004 at 04:07:43 AM EST

I've just read your review of Attack of the Clones and the fact that you think that Natalie Portman's "scenes with Christensen are surprisingly good" makes me wonder if you were watching the same movie as everyone else.

Also, your point about Kings/Queens is a bit weak: this is, after all, set in a galaxy far far away.

[ Parent ]
Heh. (none / 0) (#138)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Fri Sep 10, 2004 at 08:38:46 PM EST

"Just because they're humanoid in shape doesn't mean they adhere to some arbitrary human ideas about rationality and philosophy."

Yeah, like "When traveling across interstellar distances in search of prey, have a plan in case the prey is clever enough to blockade their doors with handy household items. Note: Sending in a subservient class bred pretty much for it's wimpyness may not cut it." Let me just write write that one down in the book of Rationality Specific To Homo Sapiens.

"So while these aliens could conceivably have created some protective suits, perhaps they have religious beliefs that forbid it."

Perhaps some religious group with rules against space suits and technology in general will have success with colonizing Venus too. Or perhaps you're a fucking idiot.

"Perhaps they're like the creature from Predator that takes great satisfaction in the challenge of the hunt, [...]"

Perhaps your grandmother takes great satisfaction in the challenge of being an offensive lineman in the NFL. Or perhaps she takes offense at being related to someone so utterly full of shit.

"Decisions based on economics often appear to fly in the face of ordinary reason."

Translation: "It makes no sense, so therefore it must be economics. 'Cause I've ruled stupidity right out, seeing as how I couldn't recognize it if it came up and sodomized me until the blood came out my eyes."

"Graham is the recipient of incontrovertible proof that God exists and has guided every single aspect of the Hess family to get them through this pivotal day in human history. That is no small thing."

Well, it is to God, in much the same way that pulling the appendages off insects is a small (yet fun) pastime for little children. Or snorting coke was to your mom, for the nine months before she shat out your dumb ass.

[ Parent ]

Shalala sucks (none / 0) (#121)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Tue Aug 31, 2004 at 09:51:20 PM EST

I figured out the "twist" in the Sixth Sense pretty early.  After all he was shot in the chest.  I didn't see exactly where Unbreakable was going but I knew it was going to be something about Jackson being a villian.  

But the village tops them all.  I figured out the twist looking at imdb.com before the movie was released.  (Notice that Shalala is casted as Guard at Desk.)

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

Where is your chest located? (none / 0) (#140)
by FireGuy on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 02:30:17 PM EST

Actually, he was shot through the abdomen, perhaps through his liver or a kidney. Don't you recall the entry wound was beside his navel and the exit wound just above belt level in the back? I think that was a significant point to leading us to believe is survived at the start of the movie, and why we could see him from midsection-up throughout the movie without seeing the blood stain.
Alex Firestone www.firegirls.com
[ Parent ]
Parody of Parody? (none / 0) (#124)
by projectpaperclip on Wed Sep 01, 2004 at 02:35:47 PM EST

I've seen a lot of people criticize Shyamalan much more convincingly, with better examples, several times before. It's popular to dislike him because he's raking in the dough, and I'm not arguing his films are as great as his fans will claim, but everybody takes this way too seriously. He's making blockbuster films, not art films, get over it...

But this critique has to be one of the worst I've ever read. The examples chosen are poor. This is really grasping at trying to find something new to get angry about. Given the questioning of Shyamalan as parody writer, I have to wonder if this critique is so bad on purpose, parodying the people who blast Shyamalan just for the sake of it.


I'm the Shyamalanogist (none / 1) (#130)
by BrotherDeen on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 02:11:31 AM EST

As one who fancies himself a "Shyamalanogist", I was amused by your rantings about Shyamalan. I've seen "The Village" three times and each viewing has afforded me the occasion to love another facet of his filmmaking. It's really quite a remarkable thing how so many people can so completely miss the point. I'll just mop up your biggest mistake by saying, these "twists" everyone seems fixated on since "The Sixth Sense" are self-constructed illusions. In fact, I would almost hesitate to say that "The Sixth Sense" contains a "twist." What people don't seem to understand is the way in which a story functions with certain pieces of information withheld. I believe if you think more clearly and deeply about it, even you have the intellectual capacity to arrive at the same conclusion most of Night's fans have reached long ago. Holding information back, especially in "the Sixth Sense", is of absolute necessity. The reason the "twist", as you and so many others have mislabeled it, was subtle is because there was no fucking twist. In fact, if you'll allow yourself think even harder, twists don't come with clues. If Shyamalan's entire purpose for "The Sixth Sense" and other films were to trick his audience, he wouldn't have left clues to the ending. But it was important that we shouldn't know outright that Dr. Malcolm Crowe was dead for at least two reasons: 1) such knowledge would have been deeply distracting while trying to work through Cole's problem and 2) in order to show how closely the way we communicate with those we love resembles the communication of a dead person to a live one; it was a metaphor. The movie was about communicating with those we love, not about dead people and not about a fucking twist for people who are fond of watching movies like detectives. I know you liked "The Sixth Sense", but I said that to facilitate a better understanding of "The Village." There were no twists, just another movie where information was carefully disseminated throughout in order for Night to show you what he needed to. "The Village" was another metaphor, but one grossly misconstrued-- again, by the people who are so fixated on "twists" that THEY wasted time (not Shyamalan) because of their foolish preconceptions. I'll let you crack the mystery of "the Village"'s metaphor on your own. Good luck.

Jersey Red devils (none / 1) (#132)
by Bobsyerunkle on Thu Sep 02, 2004 at 04:11:26 PM EST

I'm so surprised that no one else seems to know the old folktale that he must have used as an inspiration for the Village. I knew the moment I saw the creatures in red what was going on. In New Jersey there is a folktale about The New Jersey Red Devils (hence the sports team name). There were creatures similar to Yeti's that lived in the woods. They were red from head to foot and supposedly would eat adults, babies, and livestock. It was discovered after approximately 20 years that the Red Devils were actually local farmers who dressed up in order to steal each others livestock. They would then blame the loss upon the devils that resided in the woods. William Hurt as a history teacher would know about the Red devils.

Oh yeah, Skoffin as others have said, there are no twists in Shyamalan's movies. There are merely informed viewers and uninformed. If you ever read a book instead of watching only movies, you would see that every movie ever made has been a recycling of a book.
help I'm being repressed. Its the flaw inherent in the system - MP

re: Signs (none / 0) (#135)
by WreckingCru on Wed Sep 08, 2004 at 01:25:22 PM EST

your argument about how the aliens can travel thru space but can't open doors is stupid and typical of how americans think.... we humans can go to space, build nuclear missiles, supercomputers and aeroplanes yet we can't even cure the common cold? maybe the aliens have their alien kuro5hin and running this thread right now..! the point is, you cannot look at things from a microscopic (i.e. earthly) point of view. opening doors and interstellar travel are unrelated skills which need not be correlated.

You sir, are a fucking idiot. (none / 0) (#137)
by Dont Fear The Reaper on Fri Sep 10, 2004 at 07:59:06 PM EST

Anyone who takes the time to respond to you places no value on their time. But what am I saying, this is kuro5hin after all... Your argument about how curing the common cold is in any way comparable to opening doors is stupid, and typical of how stupid people think. Cancer only has five letters. Therefore it must be a simple problem, right? So how come we haven't cured that either? No earthly viewpoints either motherfucker, answers will be ignored unless broadcast from the surface of the moon.

[ Parent ]
You lost me at "or wherever" (none / 1) (#136)
by dgswensen on Wed Sep 08, 2004 at 03:47:19 PM EST

The next couple of examples come from Signs. I have only seen it once and never intend to see it again so my memory might be a little hazy but I'm basically correct. There is a scene where the family are locked away from the alien menace. In the dustyness of the cellar or attic or wherever

"Or wherever?" You can't even get your facts straight, and I'm supposed to take any of this seriously? This is where this article lost all credibility as any kind of detailed critique and degenerated into low-rent rantdom. "Look, I'm a thoughtful film critic! I only saw Citizen Kane once, so I don't remember a lot about it, but that scene where Big Billy Kane was in front of that chalkboard or billboard or whatever, that was pretty lame, and in summation, Brazil is a land of many constrasts."

If you're going to chide a filmmaker for not doing his homework, at least have the good sense to do your own, so you don't end up sounding like Jackie Harvey's Outside Scoop.

Overanalysis (none / 0) (#139)
by FireGuy on Mon Sep 13, 2004 at 02:23:59 PM EST

M. Night Shyamalan's PRIMARY focus in all of his movies is the people. All four of his movies have this ONE underlying premise: the effect a supernatural event (real or perceived) has on a family. You, my friend, haven't quieted yourself enough to really see what he's trying to display, or to hear what questions he's asking. No, MNS isn't making five-star movies, but that's not his aim, anyway. He's just telling the stories he wants to tell. When I got to the part in your rant about Merrill being Mel Gibson's oldest son in "Signs," I had to just skim. As I skimmed, I realized you missed major points in each film. But here are a few edits for you. Merrill in "Signs" was MG's little brother. The elders in "The Village" were surviving relatives of murder victims who met each other in grief counseling. But Shyamalan isn't actually making suspense movies. They're [fictional] human drama movies, clothed in suspense. The things he's trying to make us discuss are: denial, introspection, service (6th Sense); destiny, duty, denial(Unbreakable); faith (Signs); innocense, denial (Village). Don't forget, Shyamalan is a Hindu, telling stories to a bunch of hard-headed Christians, who might not understand his angle. Pretty much any story that comes from MNS is going to be about introspection, self-knowledge, and Pennsylvania.
Alex Firestone www.firegirls.com
Shyamalan (none / 0) (#142)
by mpyoude on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 08:50:54 AM EST

While we're all so keen discussing Shyamalan, did anyone hear that he was gona do the Life of Pi? I know he isnt now but what if he had? any thoughts or expectations?

Night's "Secret" (none / 0) (#143)
by ThinkingSkull on Wed May 10, 2006 at 12:03:59 PM EST

M. Night Shyamalan has often said in interviews that there is a secrets to the way he tells a story and shoots a film, and whatever it is seems to connect with a certain kind of audience. Some see the 'twist' as the "end all and be all," but the secret is simple and never more obvious than with his upcoming feature, 'Lady in the Water.' Simply put, he tells his tales and shoots his films from a child's point of view. In fact, I submit that those who have the biggest problem with M. Night's films also have problem connecting to their inner child; the "adult" in them isn't willing to suspend disbelief enough to let the wonder of the story in. And while some simply seek the twist, I submit there is always a moment of suspension, a point in the film where you either believe it or you don't. Sometimes it's easy (he's already dead in 'The Sixth Sense') to the more subtle (in 'Unbreakable,' the moment in the train station where he stretches his arms and somehow locates "the bad guy"). In 'The Village,' he actually uses that knowledge against you; after you see the flashback to the critter-suit, you think you know that there's nothing to fear, but when you see the creature again with no explanation (yet), the trained response to all the spookiness from not knowing at the beginning kicks in (wait... but we KNOW those aren't real! Right...?!) I think much of the backlash against 'The Village' was expectation, and that may have been the fault of the advertising and trailers. But the film itself is just another Grimm... er, Night fairie tale for the camp fire. And I for one have enjoyed them all.

The problem with M. Night Shyamalan | 143 comments (124 topical, 19 editorial, 0 hidden)
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