Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Beautiful Night

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Lyric of the Day:

Many times I've wondered
How much there is to know

- Led Zeppelin
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I saw M. Night Shyamalan's latest movie "Lady in the Water" last Friday and have been thinking about it ever since. Based on a strange children's bedtime story of a mysterious stranded woman and stalking beasts, I can't even begin to tell you any more about the plot without getting into a big long bramble and ultimately saying too much. It's very involved and very intriguing - as his movies always are.

I absolutely loved it.

It's not really doing well at the box office, nor are the reviews stellar. Unfortunately, this seems to be expected for M. Night Shyamalan’s movies in general. The Sixth Sense was a runaway hit, true. But generally speaking, Shyamalan appeals to a very specific demographic, and at the risk of sounding condescending, I believe that demographic to be a bit above the average moviegoer. I say this because while a great deal of film patrons simply look for an escape in which they can turn their brains off and be expected to do little more than look at pretty explosions or laugh at sophomoric humor, an M. Night Shyamalan presentation will always challenge you and bend your intellect.

Part of the initial mistake I would say is that M. Night Shyamalan’s films are often categorized in the horror genre, while they would be better described as suspense thrillers. Shyamalan has been called the new Hitchcock, and the parallels are understandable. Not only has he taken on the delightful Alfred trademark of placing a cameo appearance for himself in each film – but he has the gift of capturing understated heebygeebiness. He subtly and masterfully forces the viewer out of their comfort zone and into strange and often rattling new areas of thought. He makes you consider the possibility of things not obvious - peculiar possibilities more inside our personal space than we may prefer. He relies not on the shock value of gore, but of classic vignetted glimpses, holding not quite long enough to see things clearly but long enough to make your imagination explode and race into panic mode. He grips you not on blatant blood and guts but on reviving latent fears and causing you to rethink everything you know as reality. You begin to wonder what you are not noticing right in front of you.

Most crucially, Shyamalan places so much thought – so many intricate details and twists, that the viewer is not disappointed by an obvious ending. He relies heavily on symbolism and angles often not even apparent until reviewed in hindsight. I have watched many of his movies several times over, and I see something new every time.

Beautiful, intricate layers. Cinematic baklava.

Growing up, I was a horror film freak. I loved to be grossed out and scared out of my tree by on-screen monsters and lunatics. But anymore, a good case of the creepy-crawlies beats meeting up with a slasher by a longshot. I guess I’ve come to a place where Alfred Hitchcock beats out Tobe Hooper and Wes Craven.


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The M. Night Shyamalan
Filmography:

Wide Awake
The Sixth Sense
Unbreakable
Signs
The Village
Lady in the Water

11 comments:

chesneygirl said...

I've never seen any of his movies.

...but I LOVE his last name, I like to say it outloud...it's such a cool, unique name.

I know, I'm a dork.

Nelly said...

Sounds like something I would love! Thanks for the review!

Itchy said...

I am sooo looking forward to seeing this movie. I love his movies.

With Signs and The Village, it wasn't an instant love. After the first viewing I felt, disapppointed, not the exact feeling but close enough. But then as I thought about it, the events, the way he unfolds them, I realize that I just watched a really good movie. Then I'm "ready" the second time and I see it the way my deeper brain already had.

I need to revisit Unbreakable because I've not fallen in love with it as I have the others. (Which reminds me, The Others is a great movie too if you haven't seen it.)

clew said...

Chesney - LOL - I love saying it too. :) It rolls!

Nelly - anytime! :D

Itchy, I agree on Unbreakable. While I do love it, it's probably my least favorite. But with Night, it's all good, and they just get better :). I loved the Village right away and love it more every time I watch it. I just love looking at it - beautiful camerawork.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Oh GOOD. I am SO glad you took the time to review this movie, you have no idea! I've been wanting to see it, read the D- review and wanted to see it even more, and now I DEFINATELY want to see it!

The Editor said...

Well, I'm just thankful that I don't see dead people! I've only seen The Sixth Sense. I'll never forget it...I was alone with the lights out. That lasted for about 10 mins. The lights came back on! :)

I want to see Signs.

McSwain said...

I just got back from seeing this movie, and I LOVED it. Especially that last scene with the critic--HAH! I saw an interview with M. Night where he was saying this came from a bedtime story he made up for his own children. Anyway, suspense aside--this movie was hysterical! The characters were all so wonderfully quirky. Good review, Clew.

Kristi said...

See, now I thought it looked like a strange movie, but now after reading this post, I'm actually interested. However, the only movies I go to theaters to see are the G or PG, so I'll probably wait 'til it comes to the Redbox. Thanks for the review though!

Bougie Black Boy said...

okay, now-- i officially must watch that movie this weekend. how've you been babe?

martie said...

Thanks for the review.....it looked kind of strange but after your review I think I might just like it! HUGS....XOXOXO

Delaleuverses said...

I also say the movie and was quite impressed with the plot and characters, he is extremely talented and captivates his audience in a mysterious and magical way. I can't wait for his next project, I wonder what it will be like. Thanks for sharing.