Sunday, June 8, 2008

I Know What's NOT Happening...

...M. Night Shyamalan's career!

Anybody notice that Shyamalan is getting more obnoxious, egomaniacal, and desperate by the film? Oh, also, there's the small matter that his films keep getting worse and worse.

This hurts me to say, because I loved him and his work once upon a time. I think The Sixth Sense is really, really good, but I admit that I don't think it's the masterpiece that everyone else seems to think it is. I absolutely loved Unbreakable. I'd have to watch it again to confirm this, but I think it's his strongest film overall. Signs was so close to being flawless. It really could have been a perfect film. But he screwed up in a big way. It's a brilliant film, if you stop it about a half hour before the ending. Everything that leads up to it is the strongest filmmaking he's ever done, but then he botches it so irreparably. I mean, while I was watching it, I was seriously convinced that he was a modern-day Hitchcock. I officially retract that statement. And even Hitchcock didn't have the ego to cast himself in anything other than cameos. Shyamalan is practically making himself a main character now.

Then, there was The Village. I was still supporting him with everything I had. I even saw a midnight showing. But after it was over, I felt tricked. I was horribly offended by that atrocity of a movie. The twist was the stupidest thing ever. This is one of my favorite pieces of Roger Ebert's writing ever, from his review of The Village:

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

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

Here, here, Mr. Ebert.

I was so disillusioned after The Village that I refused to see Lady in the Water, although the assertions that it's even worse than The Village (how can that even be possible?!) makes me oh-so-curious to check it out. Poor Paul Giamatti. I hear he acts his ass off for nothing.

Now, M. Night Shyamalan is giving us The Happening. What a groan-inducing title. Ooh, it's so mysterious. How about the tagline: "We've Sensed It. We've Seen The Signs. Now... It's Happening." Hmm, I notice some conspicuous absences there. Mr. Shyamalan has been promoting this movie to hell and back. He said something about the first few minutes being some of the most horrifying cinema ever. He's also unreasonably proud of his first R-rating. Did I mention it's being released on Friday, June 13th? Gimmicks, gimmicks, gimmicks. YAWN.

I'm so tired of Shyamalan's shtick. I WAS interested in The Happening for awhile. I hate to admit that I still sort of am. Maybe I should give him another chance, I thought. But honestly, how many chances does one guy deserve? He's had more than his fair share. How often can you give someone the benefit of the doubt? It's like getting proposed to, preparing a lavish wedding, and then being stood up at the altar. That's the experience of an M. Night Shyamalan film lately. For men, insert another analogy there.

I also don't understand how he still gets top-notch actors to be in his movies. The Happening stars Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo, plus a lot of respected character actors. How? WHY?

The trailer was integral to my decision of whether or not to see The Happening. Take a look:

My dealbreaker is at the :32 mark. "Sir, we've lost contact," says the train guy. "With whom?" asks Mark Wahlberg?

With whom. With...whom... With WHOM?! Who says that?! Even if it's proper grammatically, that's just terrible dialogue. Nobody says that! It sounds so ridiculously awkward and unnatural.

At that point, I was like, "Okay, I'm done."

Some other considerations:
  • Why is Mark Wahlberg on the floor of the train at all?
  • Could Zooey Deschanel be any wispier?
  • What is with Mark Wahlberg's perpetually bewildered, and simultaneously blank, face? It looks like he got bad Botox and his face is stuck.
  • The dialogue is pathetic.
  • "With whom?"

And yet, why am I still curious? Damn me. Damn it, M. Night. It's not like I want him to fail. I just don't have any more energy to invest in him only to end up disappointed again.

With whom, Lisa, with whom. Okay. It's back in perspective.

But still...


Bill Treadway said...
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Lisa Draski said...

Very true. But although Hitchcock adapted his films, he had an insanely close hand in the writing process. I mean, he was there every day with the screenwriter(s) in the trenches, writing without giving himself credit for it.

In short, Shyamalan is NOT Hitchcock.

Bill Treadway said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lisa Draski said...

And he would have done it with dignity.