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July 30 2004

Joss Whedon praises M. Night Shyamalan. Calls the director of Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Signs "the master" and says that his films "prove you don't need splatter to be effective".

You have to wonder what a Shyamalan directed episode of Buffy would have been like.

It almost wasn't that way for The Village. The film initially received a prohibitive R-rating until Shyamalan took out a single sound effect.

What sound could possibly warrant an R-rating?

Shyamalan won't say. Better, he insists, if you try to imagine it.


Great. When I go see it now, I'm going to make myself crazy trying to figure out what sound went missing, and where.

You have to wonder what a Shyamalan directed episode of Buffy would have been like.

Funny. I've actually wondered what The Sixth Sense and Signs would have been like if Joss had directed them.
Funny. I've actually wondered what The Sixth Sense and Signs would have been like if Joss had directed them.

better. ;)

i really liked unbreakable, but the rest of m. night's stuff leaves me very cold. he's so formulaic. i'm actually a little dismayed to see joss calling him a "master."
Formulaic is a strange way to describe him. I've never understood why people accuse him of being a one-trick pony with obligatory twists at the end. Sixth Sense had a twist, and a good one. Unbreakable didn't really have a twist so much as a revelation, and I don't see how anyone can describe the ending of 'Signs' as a twist.

Plus the endings of his movies are not what attracts me. I wasn't crazy about the ending of Signs, but throuhgout the movie I was thoroughly entertained because as a visual storyteller Shyamalan is quite a craftsman. And very good at the slow build of suspense without cheap gore or the eternal "oh it was only the cat" moments accompanied by a jump the entire orchestra,(Loud noises make you jump. See? It's a scary movie!) in the style of most movies these days. Many moments and techniques of using the camera that we take for granted are very skillful.

And really even the most skilled moviemakers in history made their share of stinkers as they started. Shyamalan's first 3 movies are already better than many make years later. I do hope that the script review I read a while back was indeed a fake script for the Village, because if that is the whole plot, it might feel a bit of a let down purely story-wise.

But formulaic? Michael Bay, Stephen Sommers, Robert Zemeckis, those guys are formulaic. I can understand Joss appreciating Shyamalan's skill as a director.
just my opinion, ed. i do find them formulaic, even unbreakable, which i did enjoy. the "twist" endings play a large role in my reaction, and after a while they seem to be pretty gimmicky. i also should admit that i have a heavy prejudice against twist endings, in general. i think they are narrative cheats.

i do think shyamalan's direction is pretty cool though. and the guy knows how to build suspense. and you're right, the visual storytelling is great. but the plot/structure peeves really taint my opinion of his movies.
I never saw Signs, enjoyed the Sixth Sense; but I loved Unbreakable. I loved the story, direction and acting.

This was a interesting link to read. I found it odd that they only talked to two directors and they were Joss and Kevin. I can understand why they would ask Joss for an opinion but why ask Kevin? Did he do or is he working on any horror/suspense movies?

[ edited by Passion on 2004-07-30 14:22 ]
I just read Roger Ebert's rather unenthusiastic review of "The Village":

He is a director of considerable skill who evokes stories out of moods, but this time, alas, he took the day off.

ETA: I just read. Omitting the I made an imperative do read where no urge was intended. But it's a fun piece so why don't you...

[ edited by TactGuy on 2004-07-30 16:03 ]
I've got another take on this. You know, how Joss works is highly influenced by Far East Philosophy. Not only Firefly, where it's more literal, but on Buffyverse series too.

Shyamalan, being Indian himself, infused all his previous works with a lot of eastern philosophy, beliefs and way oh thinking. Sixth Sense wasn't only about a "Ghost Story", it was a lot about spirituality. As far as I remember, a lot of people felt the Aliens from Signs felt cheap, expected something more from the lines of Hollywood blockbusters, even though that was one main plots of the movie, the event that mostly lead to what the movie was really about, Signs wasn't ABOUT the Alien invasion or the Prop Circles. There were other layers than the plot itself, it required you to think more about the other aspects of the script.

Formulaic? The "I See dead people thing", or "You are the hero' thing, this is formulaic, but those movies were a lot more than that. If you only see this side, it's just like saying that BtVS was only a series about a chick who could kill Vampires. ANd then BtVS would become Power Rangers.
I have disliked each of his films. Sixth Sense was set up around the twist, but had little else of merit (and couldn't even hide the twist well, "some don't even know they're dead"....really...), Unbreakable was over directed in the extreme (the conversation between train seats near the start? The kid watching TV upside down? You're not Kubrick, leave it out), not particularly revelatory, and didn't make much sense (particularly regarding Willis' 'powers').

Signs was pure nonsense. A race of creatures for whom water is lethal invade a planet that is 75% covered in the stuff, and whose inhabitants are 75% made up of the stuff? And then the first people to work out the whole water kills them thing live in the desert? It was like a bad episode of The Outer Limits, only twice as long. the fact that the main character was a fallen priest was a cheap way of trying to infuse a greater meaning. There was no real exploration of faith beyond the vulgar "they're here!" metaphor.

His films don't have anything approaching the subtext of Whedon's best work. To claim that The Sixth Sense is in some way spiritually sophisticated is absurd. Ingmar Bergman. Andrei Tarkovsky. Terrence Malick. These people make spiritual cinema. Shyamalan makes popcorn movies, and not particularly interesting ones at that. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind is sophisticated mainstream cinema. The Sixth Sense is a Disney film.
Numfar PTB pretty much hit it on the head. Superheroes, aliens and dead people are the devices that allow you into the world so you are able to explore and _feel_ what's happening beneath the surface.

Slayer, vampires, demons, same thing, just a different approach.
I always felt 'Signs' was 'The Zeppo' of alien invasion films.
I liked The Sixth Sense the first time I saw it. I thought Unbreakable was a boring piece of crap. I had no interest in seeing Signs and now have no interest in seeing The Village and in retrospect The Sixth Sense wasn't that good either. The Sci-Fi channel hoax was pretty much the last nail in the coffin for this overrated hack in my opinion. Bring on The Next Big Thing.
It sounds like most people here have a problem with M. Night Shyamalan the writer. It's not 100% clear in Joss' quote but I believe he was praising M. Night Shyamalan for his directing which I whole heartedly agree with. No matter what you thought of the stories both The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were very nice to look at (while Unbreakable did drag a bit in the middle... and beginning... and end). Signs was more of a suspense test in my opinion. One that I thought was very affective. So say what you will about the stories but I think M. Night as a director is the master, as Joss said.
I've been disappointed in everything Shyamalan did since "Sixth Sense". In every one it seemed to me that the build-up was more important than the story, and then there was no resolution worthy of the build-up. Gotta say I did love "Sixth Sense".
Everyone keeps talking about the 3 movies Shyamalan has directed, but can we really discuss his greatness without mentioning that he wrote the script for 'Stuart Little'? *g*
The Sci-Fi channel hoax was pretty much the last nail in the coffin for this overrated hack in my opinion.

What was this Sci-Fi channel hoax?
MNS is as talented a director to come down the pike in quite some time. That said, he isn't the greatest screenwriter. Of his films, The Sixth Sense is pretty effective the first time out but loses power with repeated viewings. Unbreakable is his best film across the board and Signs....well, the less said the better. The Village has had negative buzz around it for months now and none of the reviews I've seen today give me much hope for it. It is a wait-for-the-DVD choice for me.
I'd gladly pay for a Whedon written, Shyamalan directed film in a second.
Oh and if anyone here was into The Sixth Sense or The Others and you have not seen Del Toro's The Devil's Backbone, you are really missing out on a creepy little ghost story that is everything those first two movies wanted to be.
There's further Joss admiration for Shyamalan in the latest issue of Wizard. In the article where he talks about his favourite Batman movies, Joss puts 'Unbreakable' at number four.

"[Director] M. Night Shyamalan frames every shot with a comic book's power and precision. Ironically, only the talk specifically about comics - and the art used - feels fake."
I'd gladly pay for a Whedon written, Shyamalan directed film in a second.
Now that I could agree to. I find Shyamalan an excellent director, and would love to see what he'd bring to Joss' writing. In their exploration of what lies below the surface, the use of horror as metaphor, and interest in the range of emotions, they might be well paired.
As for Shyamalan the writer, though? Well, i agree with many of the previous comments. The Sixth Sense was decent for a single viewing, though feels a bit gimmicky the second time through. Unbreakable had its moments. And I cringed all the way through Signs. It wasn't just the hokey aliens - it was the pretentiousness throughout the entire film, the fact that Shyamalan seemed to be so entranced with his meaning and depth most of which was hit-the-audience-over-the-head obvious and totally lacked any depth or layers whatsover. It was the kind of pseudophilosophical babble that i abhor, and which i've been so glad that Joss stays free of.
Joss not only has a much defter hand with dialogue than Shyamalan, infusing humor and making his characters actually sound like real people, but he also tends to be much subtler and more nuanced with his use of metaphor and meaning, and I rarely feel like a point is being hammered home. I, for one, am skipping the Village. But I do admire Shyamalan's skill as a director. If only he could recognize his limitations as a writer.
Great suggestion, NOLA. I just bought The Devil's Backbone last week and rewatched it a couple of nights ago. It's such an amazing movie, just beautiful really. Though I'd say more of a drama than a horror film. Everyone who appreciates a good coming of age tale or ghost story should see it immediately.

As for M. Night, I've enjoyed all of his movies but don't own any of them, so they don't really enrapture me that much. After reading the reviews of The Village I think I'll be skipping it until it hits DVD. I'd love to see Unbreakable again since many people consider that his best work, but I only saw it once in the theaters.

Electricspacegirl -- There was recently a Sci-Fi channel special entitled 'The Buried Secrets Of M. Night Shym$%&@!' that caused quite a bit of hype and controversy because apparently it revealed things M. Night didn't want the world to know. Then, just before it aired, it was revealed that the controversy was a big hoax and that it was all a ploy to drum up publicity for the special. I saw it coming a mile away, but I thought it was a pretty lame stunt myself.
Wow, am I the only one who liked Unbreakable the least of all the Shyamalan movies? Just felt very blah to me. Sixth Sense was the best, and Signs was kinda creepy, but Unbreakable....meh....*shrugs*
MindPieces, what were the things that the show "revealed"?
Saw The Village at an advance screening in Burbank last night (I won't be mentioning any spoilers). I was trying too hard to figure out what the twist was (which I figured out less than five minutes into it) to enjoy it fully, so my advice is just sit back and enjoy the film.

That being said, it's still better than a lot of the dreck this past summer (Catwoman?), and M. Night is a modern-day personification of Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock.

BTW, the lead actress did a phenomenal job.
Wow. When I saw this listed, I tweaked for joy... Joss praising someone I hold in equal high regard! And, Kevin Smith, to boot!

But you guys... wow, did you kill my buzz. I'm really glad I read all your comments first, so I could get angry and scandalized, and then read the article, which replaced that with squishy happiness.

I dont care what y'all say... M. Night Shyamalan is incredible. Directing and writing alike. What drives me nuts is that so many people critisize him a lot more, I think, because people give him so much praise. He has a lot more to live up to than any run of the mill writer/director.

And the fact of the matter is, that his "gimicks" are what fans like about him. He's said that this is going to be his last film like this in a while, because he does feel trapped in it. I have no doubt that after this, he is going to struggle for a while. He's going to break from his "formula," and people are going to tweak.

I agree with whoever up there said that there wasnt a twist at the end of each movie. The Sixth Sense had a twist, everything else had an ending. He has a way of totally wrapping up a movie that I think is incredible, and a lot of writers are seriously lacking.

I love the Joss quote someone posted about Unbreakable having the directing precision of a comic book. I love that Night takes the time to seriously analyze every single tiny detail about his movies... something most moviemakers overlook in trying to just dish out the story.

That being said, I'd totally love to see a Joss written, Shyamalan directed movie.

And in conclusion... I'm seriously baffled by everyone that thinks the aliens in Signs were cheesy. Seriously. I thought they (or actually, it) was incredibly real, and even when you were facing it head on, it still had shadows and vagueness on it's side. The size and shape, the movements, and noises... I think it's the best, and most convincing, alien I've ever seen in a movie.

I only have one critisism of a Night movie, and that's the end of Unbreakable. While that is undoubtably one of the best endings of a movie, EVER, I feel that the momentum is greatly lost, by those little words popping up at the screen, telling us exactly what happened. It kills the possibility of an imagined ongoing battle between the two, and just wraps everything up into too neatly of a package.

It "stops short."

[ edited by numbereleven on 2004-07-30 18:33 ]
"I agree with whoever up there said that there wasnt a twist at the end of each movie. The Sixth Sense had a twist, everything else had an ending."

That'd be me. And I still agree, I can't call the endings of Unbreakable or Signs genuine twists. And I think if they'd come out without anyone ever seeing the Sixth Sense, that anyone would even call them 'twists'. Also to call twists cheats by default does some injustice to some very well made stories.

It's interesting how MNS brings out very different reactions, as do his films. I can't think of another moviemaker that divides opinions like this in the current climate (And I'm not talking about political opinion film-making of course, let's not go there on this thread;-)

I'm defending MNS as often as I'm pointing out he's not perfect. People either loathe him and call him names (Now even on this board.....oy) or think he's some devine genius that not one word of criticism should be leveled at. I also sensed a bit of the inevitable backlash setting in around the time of Signs. You know, at first you don't hear a bad word about some new success (person or movie) and then after a while everyone (often the same people) scream at the top of their lungs how they never liked any of it.

Me I'm in the middle. I still think Sixth Sense is his best movie. I thought Unbreakable was a teensy bit slow, and I loathed the "and this is what happened to them" texts at the end which I felt were wholly unnecessary for this type of story. (Keep it for 'based on real life' movies)


OKay I just saw that numbereleven pointed that out too.

"I feel that the momentum is greatly lost, by those little words popping up at the screen, telling us exactly what happened. It kills the possibility of an imagined ongoing battle between the two, and just wraps everything up into too neatly of a package."

Well I agree.

I also agree with Joss that the actual comic stuff in the movie looked fake and stupid, and kind of seemed to confirm the rather dumb image that non-comic book readers have of comics. Which I found ironic considering this was a bit of an 'ode'. Other than that, I thought it was a very original, powerful look at the concept of a 'supernatural hero'.

Signs, I thought was excellently made, with a near perfect build up and suspense. But the ending was kinda non-sensical and a bit over the top. So god killed his wife and gave his kid asthma so that one day they could kill an alien? And that actually *restores* his faith?? Then again, some critics pointed out that it's relative and that all this could be seen as a rorschach blot; you see patterns that may not be there and it differs per person what we see. And maybe that was MNS' point. Which, if the case, salvages things a bit for me.

Now the Village...I haven't seen it either but the reviews don't fill me with hope. Moriarty's (AICN) piece on it (http://www.aint-it-cool-news.com/display.cgi?id=18071) is the best and most thoughtful so far. Haven't read it all since he goes into spoilers, but he gives fair warning.

He makes an interesting point; than MNS gets better and better as a director, but less crafty as a script writer. Or maybe less interested in it. Which makes the idea some said on this thread of a Joss-penned, MNS-directed movie an interesting idea.

Problem with the 'twist' notion is that by now everyone's expecting something, so instead of viewing the movie as it is we already start 'looking'. Hard to avoid and it's a pity.

Now I'll stop because I know when I'm off on a tangent.....don't think I don't.....so I'm gonna stop now....
Problem with the 'twist' notion is that by now everyone's expecting something, so instead of viewing the movie as it is we already start 'looking'. Hard to avoid and it's a pity.

Which is exactly what I unfortunately started doing for The Village, and when I figured it out, I was hoping that it wasn't the case, but it was (big-time spoilers):



I still think The Village is worth watching though. :)

[ edited by Oddjob on 2004-07-30 19:53 ]
Hey wait -- what is this Wizard issue where Joss talks about his favorite "Batman movies"? (Do you mean superhero movies?) If anyone could put that list up, it'd be much appreciated.

PS Gotta jump on the "good director, uneven screenwriter" bandwagon.

[ edited by bobothebrave on 2004-07-30 20:20 ]
People either loathe him and call him names (Now even on this board.....oy)

Sorry to disappoint you, Ed. I'll stick to using adjectives to express my opinions from now on.
I think someone should have went around, adimately exclaiming that there is NO TWIST ENDING for The Village. People arent supposed to suspect endings like that, and I think in that fashion, it cheats Night as a writer.

Let's not even get into the biggest cheat... when The Sixth Sense came out, you werent supposed to know that the kid saw dead people for HALF the movie. Yet, what was ALL over the commercials as the hook to get you there? "I see dead people!" It cheats the first half, and you just sit there waiting for him to whisper that line.

But then again, The Sixth Sense is considered his best, because it came out of nowhere, was original, and had nothing to live up to.
I haven't seen Unbreakable, but have heard good things about it. However, I have seen Signs and The Sixth Sense, and wow! I've never seen such garbage disguised as horror movies, or even movies for that matter. MNS takes some of the most boring characters and puts them in "supernatural" situations, which they in turn make very boring. Funny how Joss, who I find to be better than MNS, would praise this guy for his horrible films. I'm not looking forward to The Village, which I'm sure will be very boring, unscary, and predictable. I would have loved to see what Joss would have done to Signs or The Sixth Sense, if he had written/directed them.
bobothebrave Joss Whedon's favourite Batman movies are:

5) The Thomas Crown Affair (the remake)
4) Unbreakable
3) Last of the Mohicans (the director's cut)
2) Spider-Man
1) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

You might think at first glance that some of these choices are perhaps tenuous and obscure but he gives good reasons for his choices.
small clarification: when i accused shyamalan of being a formulaic writer, i didn't mean to imply that his subject matter is the problem. i love horror/scifi/fantasy (as evidenced, hopefully, by my even posting on a whedon board ;)). it's shyamalan's narrative structure i have a big problem with. he resorts to the same tricks, every time. "surprise" endings just feel incredibly cheap and easy.

a writing instructor once complained about another kind of cheat ending -- the "and then i woke up" or "and then joe stepped from the curb and was hit by a bus." etc. the reader/viewer has invested a lot of time and energy in the story and characters and to totally subvert the reality you've painstakingly given them at the very end (m. night's favorite trick) or demean your story with a huge permanent anti-climax like the "hit by the bus" ending, -- it results in a brief thrill of surprise, but is ultimately really unsatisfying.
Simon -- thanks. Mask of the Phantasm is indeed a wonderful film.
"Sorry to disappoint you, Ed. I'll stick to using adjectives to express my opinions from now on."

Eh, I shouldn't be casting stones. I think I recall I called Stephen Sommers a hack once on this board somewhere.

"Let's not even get into the biggest cheat... when The Sixth Sense came out, you werent supposed to know that the kid saw dead people for HALF the movie. Yet, what was ALL over the commercials as the hook to get you there? "I see dead people!" It cheats the first half, and you just sit there waiting for him to whisper that line."

Yeah many trailers mess up things. Makes me think the makers of a movie don't have much say it in maybe?

"5) The Thomas Crown Affair (the remake)
4) Unbreakable
3) Last of the Mohicans (the director's cut)
2) Spider-Man
1) Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

You might think at first glance that some of these choices are perhaps tenuous and obscure but he gives good reasons for his choices. "


And I'll buy the interview to read them. Never saw Thomas Crown Affair with Brosnan, like the rest, but the Last of the Mohicans is a movie that I found amazingly dull and poorly made. Have to add I never saw the director's cut though.

Btw I still protest the notion that every twist ending is a cheat by default. Yes the 'it was all a dream' ending is a cheat. So is 'hit by a bus'. Bobby in the shower was a cheat. Jacob's Ladder's ending felt like a cheat to me. But it depends on what it is and how it's done.

If you take that notion too far, no writer should ever surprise any reader with anything, because anything that surprises can be described as a twist and a twist is always a cheat. Sorry but that would make for some boring stories in the world.

And again, I can see neither Unbreakable nor Signs as having actual twists.
Slightly OT, but this line of comments got me thinking:

Since we're talking about hack writing devices, the "dream episode" is one that I loathe. The Sopranos in particular does it way too much and that one Buffy episode (forgot the name, but it had all the cheese references) had the same problem. Using dreams as a story device is just a cheap way of getting characters to say and do things they would never do in real life. Maybe it works for some people, but not me; it's usually the sign of a lazy writer.
the buffy episode "normal again" disturbs the crap out of me for just that reason. it's like the writers acknowledge the hideousness of the "it's just a dream" thing, and didn't entirely burn it away by the end of the episode. it seemed buffy merely "chose" her dreamworld. it was so ambiguous, and it made the foundation for the entire series unsteady.

i loved "restless" though. :D

ed -- have you seen "the others"? it has a twist ending, i won't spoil it if you haven't seen it. but in my opinion, that one was earned. i feel the emotional sincerity of the characters hasn't changed despite the rug being pulled from underneath me. maybe that's what's missing for me in the shyamalan "twists" -- the emotional sincerity. his movies sometimes feel like they've only been plotted to set up a big surprise at the end with little regard for other story elements such as character depth and development.
u2prince: "Using dreams as a story device is just a cheap way of getting characters to say and do things they would never do in real life". Wow, I'm sorta dumbstruck by that comment.

I suppose that may *sometimes* be the be-all and end-all reason for including a dream sequence, but the real question is why? Why is the writer using a dream to tell the story? Why is he or she "getting" the characters to say and do those things? And does the background mood or texture have anything to say about the episode? What is the underlying plot mechanism or character motivation or general tone that the writer hopes to introduce by employing dreams?

If a writer genuinely just wants to mess with people by having his or her characters act weird, then yep, that's pretty lazy. Is that really all that "Restless" amounted to? I'd submit that that episode, to suggest but a few things: put into motion the entire plotline for Season 5 and beyond; told us once again that every action (forming the uber-Buffy) has consequences; gave us richer insights into the characters of Xander, Willow, Giles, and Buffy; dropped little teases about what was coming up; gave the view just an incredible visual treat that would be hard to justify in a waking episode.

To "dream" has many meanings: it's what you see in your sleep - how you understand and process the waking world. A dream is also something that is desired. Dreams can be prophetic - obviously, that's a major element in Buffy.

From the "Sandman Companion" (p. 47): "As demonstrated by scholars such as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, there are certain primal images and myths that crop up in every culture because they're built into our collective unconsciousness and are as fundamental to us as air and water. People rely on these archetypes to have dreams and to create stories".

Dreaming *is* storytelling, and vice-versa.

Sorry, ranting (this is one of my fav subjects). Stopping now.
u2prince"Since we're talking about hack writing devices, the "dream episode" is one that I loathe. (..)that one Buffy episode had the same problem. Using dreams as a story device is just a cheap way of getting characters to say and do things they would never do in real life."

In a general sense I know what you mean but I have to say I loathe the "oh it was only a dream and we didn't know it" far more. Plus in the case of "Restless" the characters didn't really do things they usually didn't do. The whole concept as it was used there was to explore the characters and how they saw themselves and their fears on a subconscious level. I thought it was an interesting and fairly daring experiment.

SoddingNancyTribe"From the "Sandman Companion" (p. 47): "As demonstrated by scholars such as Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell, there are certain primal images and myths that crop up in every culture because they're built into our collective unconsciousness and are as fundamental to us as air and water. People rely on these archetypes to have dreams and to create stories"."

Ahh a man of wealth and taste! Nothing like that Gaiman love, eh?;-) Needles to say I have the Sandman Companion too. Excellent book.

orphea"the buffy episode "normal again" disturbs the crap out of me for just that reason(...)it seemed buffy merely "chose" her dreamworld. it was so ambiguous, and it made the foundation for the entire series unsteady."

Yeah I hated that too. If it all had been one single movie, or even a single Twilight Zone episode, I could have seen it as a nice twist that makes you think. In the sense of Fight Club or Identity. But this was BUFFY dammit! We had almost six years of emotional investment in that whole world by then! And it's one thing to make us wonder during the ep, but to END on "And maybe that's the truth"?? NNoooooo I don't think so.

The writers later said fans shouldn't see it that way, that within the story of Buffy, her world and life are completely real, and that it was just an interesting idea for an ep. But the last shot of that ep seems to basically confirm that the hospital was in fact the reality. They should've made it clear in the ep that that wasn't the case and that the hospital was the illusion.

If they didn't want to piss us all off that is....

orphea"ed -- have you seen "the others"? it has a twist ending, i won't spoil it if you haven't seen it. but in my opinion, that one was earned. "

Interesting you should say that. I did see The Others and I enjoyed it very much. And I find it surprising you did too, since you can't like the Sixth Sense. I actually felt The Others stole M Night's twist a bit and just took it a few steps further. Sucessfully so, but still.

And to me, Bruce Willis and Haley Osment's characters were just as engaging on an emotional level as Nicole Kidman and 'her' kids. I also don't see how the Others as a whole leaned any more or less on the revelation at the end than Sixth Sense did. And even Unbreakable and Signs I mostly enjoyed as nice atmospheric introvert character pieces.

But we're all different, and things will hit us in different ways. I've been reading Rotten Tomatoes on the Village and it's very split. Some say it's his worst ever, some say his best yet, some say it's dreadfully slow, others call it fast-paced. One said his best yet but added he loathed the Sixth Sense. And you'll notice in any M Night discussion every one of his movies has its defenders as his 'best' and its detractors as his 'worst'. As I said, I don't really know any other filmmaker that manages to get such widly varying reactions to his work.

Well tomorrow I'll go see The Village and see what I think.
Did anyone else notice the article writer's take on Serenity? He called it an upcoming "creepy sci-fi thriller"
News to me!
I wasn't an M. Night fan, since I saw through the "reveal" of The Sixth Sense within the first five minutes -- and had to suffer through a clueless date. I was itching to stand up and yell, "Can't you people tell? He's dead... that's why he always wears the exact same thing!"

Unbreakable bored the heck out of me.

But I decided I'd give him another shot, and just watched Signs. I don't know what the reviewers said, but Signs was actually pretty darned good. Perhaps people didn't get that it was a black comedy, wrapped up in an spiritual inquest. Shyamalan rather cleverly lets on to the ending early: "It's just like War of the Worlds!" says Joachim Phoenix's character. Remember how the Martians were defeated there?

And that was exactly the point -- what if War of the Worlds happened on a small, intimate level? Not as in the commercial silliness of Independence Day or intentional silliness of Mars Attacks, but revolving around a single family coping with strange things from beyond. Just like J. J. Abrams said about said regarding Lost: he likes a "dumb premise" done as though it were a serious work. "My favorite movies," Abrams told TV writers, "are movies in which, if you describe the premise, they're not very good, but they're executed in a way that you really care about the characters."

The real hooks of Shyamalan's stories aren't the twist endings. It's the way the characters react to the odd situations they're in. He's still honing that craft, but I'd be interested to see what The Village is all about.
I bet no one will read this since it's archived, but while I dislike the Buffy episode "Restless", my comments about having the characters do and say extraordinary things was really directed at The Sopranos. Just to show I'm a big hypocrite, I enjoyed "Normal Again" because it wasn't technically a dream, but an alternate reality. Maybe that doesn't make any sense, but I liked wondering whether Buffy's world was real. It probably also helps that I didn't see St. Elsewhere, which I hear mined that territory already.

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