Join 3,377 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Spoiler Alert.
June 17, 2008 8:03 PM   Subscribe

"This film is so bad that I feel compelled to make a spoiler-laden list of its most laughably terrible parts rather than review it." - Christopher Orr reviews spoils M. Night Shyamalan's "The Happening" to save people from having to watch it. The film is getting the worst reviews of Shyamalan's career. Which is saying something.
posted by crossoverman (260 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dude had some cool movies towards the beginning, but I stopped taking him seriously when I talked to someone who met him and found out that he is called "M. Night" because he decided it would be cool to have the name "Night." How precious.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:10 PM on June 17, 2008


Really, though. I read the review, didn't see the movie, and I still get the point that it's one of the worst plots I've ever heard of. It's as bad as any science fiction movie gets. MNS is taking his lumps from this and it's totally deserved.

Maybe he should try comedy.
posted by brianvan at 8:11 PM on June 17, 2008


This review makes me want to see the film.

High.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:12 PM on June 17, 2008 [17 favorites]


...he is called "M. Night" because he decided it would be cool to have the name "Night."

Well, to be fair, that is the best reason.
posted by danb at 8:16 PM on June 17, 2008 [20 favorites]


I got this text message from a friend earlier tonight:

Please forward this to anyone you care about. The Happening is the most aggressively fucktarded movie I've ever seen. I feel dirty and violated.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:16 PM on June 17, 2008 [44 favorites]


Uhhhh yeahhhh. Saw the movie Saturday because my daughter wanted to. It hurt. Maybe someone could have made the ridiculous plot plausible, but it sure didn't work for me. Interesting article, but it only scratched the surface.

I'm not one who thinks every movie should have a twist, but this movie may have been better if ...

SPOILER ALERT (which I hope is not necessary in a thread about spoilers, but you never know)





... it was discovered that the toxin was not plant-borne at all, but actually was a coordinated, conspiratorial "terrorist" attack, perpetrated by radical environmentalists. Don't ask me about the mechanics; just saying that would have been more interesting in my opinion. Of course such a politically incorrect take would never see the light of day.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:22 PM on June 17, 2008


Thank you for posting that review. M. Night Shyamalan movies always suck me in somehow, and I always end up hating myself a little more after every one. Hopefully having the stupidity pointed out to me beforehand will save me from that fate.
posted by Caduceus at 8:24 PM on June 17, 2008


Age-old bonding ritual.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:26 PM on June 17, 2008


It's almost as if his movies are inspired by Goosebumps.
posted by Christ, what an asshole at 8:27 PM on June 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Astro Zombie: safe to say you'd be seeing it as the director intended.
posted by boo_radley at 8:27 PM on June 17, 2008


One-trick pony's one trick totally lame by sixth performance.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:28 PM on June 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I interviewed Betty Buckley about her role in the movie, and she and I were in similar positions of being morbidly curious to see how it turned out.

Today I wrote to her to tell her my reaction to the film-- that it wasn't what I'd expected but that I thought her performance was incredible. (It was! I've been muttering "I see you eyein' my lemon-drink!" at people all week!)

She wrote back and said she'd gone to see it twice, and had been as thrilled by the laughter in the audience as the screams. She really seemed happy to participate in a really crazy B-movie, and hopes to hook more interesting, loonball roles like that if she can.

I have to say, this conversation really colored my memory of the movie. Yeah, it was a wreck, yeah, he's burned me before, but maybe we take this kind of thing too seriously.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:32 PM on June 17, 2008 [14 favorites]


The shame is, like so many others, I loved Sixth Sense. Signs was fun to watch with my tween daughter and her friends, since it have them plenty of jumpy scenes. Some parts of it were very well done, but just as many (like the first alien caught on video at the kids birthday party) were so incredibly lame as to be laughable. In fact, I thought the birthday party scene was going to end up shown to be a hoax with a guy in a costume. When I realized they were playing it for real, I thought noooo wayyyyy!

I find it hard to believe that the incredible flatness of most of his films is not obvious during shooting, editing, looping, scoring, and printing. Are there no preview audiences?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:34 PM on June 17, 2008


This thread made me go hunt down a Bloom County cartoon, one of my favorites, where Opus is reviewing a movie:

George Phblat's new film, "Benji Saves the Universe," has brought the word 'BAD' to new levels of badness. Bad acting. Bad effects. Bad everything. This film just oozed rottenness from every bad scene . . . simply bad beyond all infinite dimensions of possible badness . . .

. . . Well maybe not that bad, but Lord, it wasn't good."

posted by Bixby23 at 8:34 PM on June 17, 2008 [18 favorites]


Shyamalan is just Uwe Boll with a better cinematographer.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:35 PM on June 17, 2008 [16 favorites]


I once read an interview with him, I think it was around the time of Unbreakable where he stated that he had figured out some formula for making movies. I assumed he was talking about something other than twist endings, cause that would be just too obvious and lame. Since then I always get suckered into watching his movies in hopes of figuring out what his formula is.

After The Village, I realized that much like his name, that whole formula thing probably just sounded cool at the time.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:37 PM on June 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


...a coordinated, conspiratorial "terrorist" attack, perpetrated by radical environmentalists. Don't ask me about the mechanics; just saying that would have been more interesting in my opinion. Of course such a politically incorrect take would never see the light of day.

Umm, that's pretty much the plot of Michael Crichton's State of Fear, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies and I imagine will like every other one of his novels be made into a movie at some point.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:37 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I never entirely got M. Night Shyamalan. He's just a Rod Serling tribute band, you know? What made him a big deal was always pretty elusive to me. The Sixth Sense was pretty good, Signs could have been great if not for a ridiculous last act, and other than that...? Meh. I haven't seen The Happening, but honestly it just seems like he's doing the same stuff he's been doing all along, only now all of a sudden everybody's over it.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:38 PM on June 17, 2008


Across the Northeastern United States, people are succumbing to a toxic airborne agent that makes them commit suicide, often gruesomely. At first it hits major population centers, followed by smaller towns, and on down to groups of even just a handful of people. Initially, it's assumed to be some kind of terrorist attack. But as we learn pretty early in the film, it's not. It's trees. Yes, the trees (and perhaps some bushes and grass, too, the movie's never too clear on this point) have tired of humankind's ecological despoilment and are emitting a complicated aerial neurotoxin that makes us kill ourselves en masse. I bet you wish you were the one who came up with this blockbuster idea.

This swipe at whatever movie exec OK'ed this idea makes one thing instantly come to mind

OK, how about this...Adam Sandler is, like, in love with some girl...but then it turns out that the...girl is actually a...Golden Retriever...or something?
OH! PERFECT! WE'LL CALL IT PUPPY LOVE!
posted by jckll at 8:38 PM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't find it hideously, outrageous bad, just hideously, outrageously dull. I kept on waiting for something to happen.
posted by Pseudoephedrine at 8:39 PM on June 17, 2008


Oh crap! Now I'm thinking like Crichton?!

Where's that toxin when I need it?
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:39 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I didn't even like The Sixth Sense. Thought that it was painfully slow. Maybe it could have been a good movie if they had lopped about an hour from its running time.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:40 PM on June 17, 2008


Has anyone missed that it's supposed to be a re-take of a B movie? Mark Wahlberg's acting was bad to a point that it's intentional.

People expect the wrong thing from his movies. Go in with a suspension of disbelief, without analyzing (and needing an explanation) for everything, take it for what they are. Short stories in movie form.
posted by Upal at 8:41 PM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


it was discovered that the toxin was not plant-borne at all, but actually was a coordinated, conspiratorial "terrorist" attack, perpetrated by radical environmentalists. Don't ask me about the mechanics; just saying that would have been more interesting in my opinion. Of course such a politically incorrect take would never see the light of day.

Oh, so it is twelve monkeys, but directed by a moron?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:43 PM on June 17, 2008 [21 favorites]


This movie was quite good. The reviewer, I would guess, really liked M. Night's earlier movies and compares every other of his to those. His problem is that his expectations were so high that nothing would please him. crossoverman, I love rottentomatoes too, but your link to the review doesn't acknowledge the other utterly horrible movies (by most standards) that rank almost twice as high (see Candyman 2). I was fully entertained by this movie. The only real annoyance to me was the preachy environmental tone at the end.
posted by markulus at 8:43 PM on June 17, 2008


Oh, I get it Upal. His movies are supposed to be terrible, so thus, we have to like them, because they are so successful. At sucking.

I gotta agree with Afroblanco. His "best" movie was The Sixth Sense, and that was dull and cheap. Unbreakable was so predictable that I literally knew what the plot twist was going to be before Bruce Willis actually appeared on screen; plus, it had the exact same narrative structure as 6th. After that, I've had no desire to see this guy's movies, and reviews have confirmed my opinion of him as a hack with one lame plotline in him.
posted by Saxon Kane at 8:45 PM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I'm so going to see this movie. Can it possibly be so outrageous that it'll top Crystal Skull? What an age to live in, when mega-movies battle each other for the title of 'most implausible ill-conceived trash'.
posted by twirlypen at 8:47 PM on June 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


The website won't load. I think something. . . happened.
posted by flotson at 8:47 PM on June 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


Hah, that's a hilarious conceit. The trailers looked promising, but it's no wonder they didn't reveal anything about the plot. I was hoping M. Night would summon back whatever powers led him to film Signs (which was good, shut up). Guess not.

Could this really be worse than Lady in the Water? I don't think I've ever been so bored in a movie theater.
posted by painquale at 8:47 PM on June 17, 2008


Oh, so it is twelve monkeys, but directed by a moron?

Or Eleven Monkeys, directed by the twelfth?

Nah, I won't go the personal attack route. And, yeah, I get the whole "B movie" thing. But it didn't work for me. Ebert like it, though, and I usually agree with him. But he liked Congo as well.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 8:49 PM on June 17, 2008


I thought the trailers were boring.
posted by delmoi at 8:50 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I guess as a screenwriter who spends every day dreaming this kind of shite up it shouldn't be too surprising, but I 'got' sixth sense with a few mnutes and spent the rest of the movie choking on my popcorn trying not to point out the (to me) GLARINGLY FUCKING OBVIOUS 'twist' that was going to be revealed at the end.

MNS really fucked up the movies for a lot of us screenwriters. Ever since SIXTH SENSE it's not enough for a movie to have a twist. It's got to have a TWISTIER TWIST than SIXTH SENSE. The bar has been raised. It's got to be more meta than meta. Everybody knows the movie's gonna have a meta-twist. No, now you gotta have a meta-twist at the end of the FIRST FUCKING ACT. And another at the end of the second. And another... well, you get it.

Now execs are sick of meta-twists. They never want to see another one. STAY bombed despite being one of the most expensive spec script buys ever (and a good script too). BUT they still have a junkie's jones for them. They can't resist. And we can't resist thinking them up.

The point about MNS from an exec's point of view (which may change after HAPPENINGS) is that, as an exec, you can't be blamed for the film bombing. You can't be fired. Yes, it was dumb. Yes, it failed the most basic tests of dramatic credibility. But it was M NIGHT SHYAMALAN!! You can't be fired for that. You CANNOT have your ass canned for hiring an A-lister, even if his last film was a bomb. Of course, if his last two or three films were bombs... he's no longer an A lister... and you bet your fucking ass you can get fired for that.

This was MNS's last throw of the A-list dice, I'm afraid. The next film he makes will have to be cheap, and good. And it may well be just that.
posted by unSane at 8:50 PM on June 17, 2008 [23 favorites]


Go in with a suspension of disbelief, without analyzing (and needing an explanation) for everything, take it for what they are. Short stories in movie form.

As though saying that they are short stories suddenly makes inconsistency and mediocrity A-OK.

Too many people misunderstand the whole suspension of disbelief thing. That's the attitude that you start with--you give the movie (or novel or short story) an initial posture of generosity and allow it the opportunity to establish its own logic and sense of place. (No fair yelling "But there's no such thing as Adamantium!" In the X-men universe there is, so you grant it.) But you don't have to give it a free pass ever after. If I have to ignore (or actively fail to notice) gaping plot holes, unrealistic motivations, or internal inconsistencies for a movie to "work" then it failed to do the basic things that stories have to do. There's no reason to apologize for story-tellers that don't know how to tell stories. "But it's supposed to be dumb" isn't a justification, especially for someone who wants to present himself as a serious and gifted film-maker, like M. Night ShammedUsAgain.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:56 PM on June 17, 2008 [49 favorites]


People expect the wrong thing from his movies. Go in with a suspension of disbelief, without analyzing (and needing an explanation) for everything, take it for what they are. Short stories in movie form.

I object on behalf of short stories everywhere! The problem with most Shyamalan movies is that they aren't short stories, but half stories - missing a first act, a second act or a resolution.

I think the reason people keep coming back is that the man shoots a beautiful film, but is a one-trick pony story-wise. Even though the twist of this film apparently comes early (I read the review, won't see the film), his biggest problem is that he writes in High Concept all the time.

His second problem is that he won't collaborate. He leaves studios when they make suggestions. He isn't learning from past mistakes.

The other major problem with Shyamalan is his comparing himself to Hitchcock and Spielberg - forgetting they are remembered for their stories, not their desperate need to be liked.
posted by crossoverman at 8:58 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ebert gave it three stars.

The title reminds me of poor Joseph Heller's second book, Something Happened.
posted by JHarris at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2008


It had Zooey Deschanel in it. I liked Zooey Deschanel. So I saw it.

I hate you, Zooey Deschanel.
posted by Justinian at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2008 [23 favorites]


Oh man, I KNEW trees were scary! Things that are scary about them: hundreds of hard brown arms; knotholes; sometimes they are mossy; leaves in the summer and none in the winter; some of them are hollow and some of them are not; is that a nest or is it a human head; photosynthesis demons inside them; squirrel pantries inside them; horrible hidden chairs inside them. Plus the wind is fucking them regular right before our eyes. I'm going to run to my nearest theater and chain myself to the first row of seats and watch every single showing of this until the police come.
posted by Powerful Religious Baby at 8:59 PM on June 17, 2008 [25 favorites]


Shyamalan is just so self-indulgent, so full of himself that he can't even tell when he's making a stinker. Another stinker, I mean! Gaahhd this is a bad movie. Gimme an Outer Limits or Twilight Zone over this crapola. I think he's done cashing in his "Sixth Sense" pile of chips.
posted by Eccentric Genius Billionaire at 9:00 PM on June 17, 2008


>>> The next film he makes will have to be cheap, and good.

Considering that he is still angling to do a live action version of a Nicktoons anime property, I think not.
posted by grabbingsand at 9:01 PM on June 17, 2008


I just noticed that rottentomatoes' summary information template doesn't include the screenwriter. That's just sad.
posted by George_Spiggott at 9:02 PM on June 17, 2008


I feel bad for M. Night because he just can't seem to catch a break. I don't think there's really anything wrong with his movies per se, if anything it's bad marketing on his part that leaves people expecting The Sixth Sense every time from a director who is actually very hit or miss. I've enjoyed about half of his movies now, which is good enough that I'd like him to keep making them. I'd guess what he really needs is either a screenplay he didn't write, or a chance to direct under a pseudonym where he can just work on making a decent movie again and not worry about being M. Night Shyamalan for a change. Who knows, if this is a big flop, maybe he'll have to do that anyway.
posted by CheshireCat at 9:05 PM on June 17, 2008


I think it's worth noting that no one said anything about how this movie was intentionally bad until the reviews came out. Once poor Nighty got slammed with another wave of critical brutalizations, he turned tail and reminded everyone how it was supposed to be that way. Really? You never said so before the movie was released. Your marketing campaign seems pretty serious and straightforward. The movie's self-important message about the consequences of ecological damage seems like it wouldn't mesh well with a tone of parody or knowing humor. Sounds like backpedaling to me.
posted by Help, I can't stop talking! at 9:08 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Yeah, just to be clear, suspension of disbelief basically means, okay, I will accept a crazy premise SO LONG AS everything that proceeds from the premise is believable GIVEN THE PREMISE.

In a movie, the audience will swallow one big fish. This is known as 'the buy'. You are allowed exactly one and it happens in the first act (the first 25-30 minutes). Everything else must proceed logically from that buy, and obey any and all rules which are established by the buy.

The buy is essentially the same as the premise. The 'Once upon a time...'. A man has a remote control that stops time. If you watch this video, you're cursed. A man is dead but doesn't realize it. Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away.... We suspend our disbelief for the premise and nothing else. Everything else must be believable given the premise... but the premise can be as ludicrous as you wish.

This is filmmaking/screenwriting/execing 101.
posted by unSane at 9:08 PM on June 17, 2008 [78 favorites]


"But it's supposed to be dumb" ...

... the ironclad motto of both G. Lucas and M. Night.

God help us all.
posted by Avenger at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2008


The title reminds me of poor Joseph Heller's second book, Something Happened.


One of the best American novels I've ever read.
posted by unSane at 9:09 PM on June 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


The only thing I like about M. Night Shyamalan is that whenever his name is mentioned I get to say, "M. Night Shamalamadingong" - which provides me (and anyone within earshot) with more entertainment value than Shyamalan's last handful of films put together.
posted by ericbop at 9:11 PM on June 17, 2008 [16 favorites]


I just noticed that rottentomatoes' summary information template doesn't include the screenwriter. That's just sad.

Yes, it does.
Director: M. Night Shyamalan
Screenwriter: M. Night Shyamalan
Producer: M. Night Shyamalan, Sam Mercer, Barry Mendel
See, he can be blamed THREE TIMES.

I don't think there's really anything wrong with his movies per se, if anything it's bad marketing on his part that leaves people expecting The Sixth Sense every time from a director who is actually very hit or miss.

Poor, MNS, being expected to live up to some promise he had. What a burden that must place on him - having his films marketed really well!
posted by crossoverman at 9:12 PM on June 17, 2008


In other news, Mike Myers has returned to create ... well, it looks pretty bad. I got a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw the first previews for that one.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:12 PM on June 17, 2008


I went into Lady in the Water expecting absolute shite based on the reviews...I was mildly surprised by it being better than I had anticipated (low expectations often pay off when dealing with movies, I find).

However, this one looks like it should just be buried in a landfill somewhere. I don't think anyone's expectations could be lowered enough for this.
posted by never used baby shoes at 9:14 PM on June 17, 2008


I've seen this movie, with a similarly-minded cohort on a mission to see what it looked like, and it is indeed awful, despite the best (and welcome) efforts of Betty Buckley. The worst part is that it doesn't even have the dignity to be balls-out crazy and weirdly revealing of its director's egomania, as Lady In The Water had been. It's just a lame B-movie with no joy, craft, or sense.

However, I would also like to say that I may be one of the few people who thinks that the premise is actually pretty...good. Not the script - hahaha, NO - but the premise itself. In the hands of someone like Cronenberg or Buñuel or Carpenter or some-one with a sense of mystery, menace, style, and humor, it could have been a real trip. People committing suicide en masse, against their better judgment, could actually be pretty interesting, and there are any number of directions you could take that plot. Seriously. The fact that plants were the villains ranks pretty low on the list of reasons why The Happening is retarded.

Another note: one of my favorite weird bits was during the scene where everyone's watching the iPhone footage of the guy feeding his arms to lions. Already silly, but there was a coup de grace. Someone blurts out, "what kind of terrorists ARE these?" Which is funny, because those "terrorists" are lions, you dingbat.

Finally, it's a funny thing, how difficult it is to have effective scenes of massive panic. The movie I'd seen before The Happening was the nearly-as-bad Mother Of Tears, by Dario Argento. (There's another unfortunate decline for you, but Dario will always be more awesome.) There's an extended bit about how Rome is going nuts, but the cheap and ineffective way this is shot makes it look more like Rome is more or less OK, except for those three random muggings and a bunch of extras who scream at things. I'd just as soon keep the mayhem off-screen, rather than watch lame attempts to show the world going nuts. It just looks silly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:17 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I loved the Sixth Sense. I cried like a baby during the scene in the car at the end. I thought Unbreakable was meh. Signs is what put me off of MNS permanently though. There's a combination of pretentiousness and jaw-dropping stupidity that really drives me nuts when watching movies. I put Signs in the same category as Dancer in the Dark -- movies that don't just leave me bored, but actually angry at the director for putting me through experience of watching it.
posted by empath at 9:18 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


One blogger's opinion: "The Happening" Is the Biggest Intelligent Design Movie of the Year
posted by General Zubon at 9:22 PM on June 17, 2008


People committing suicide en masse, against their better judgment, could actually be pretty interesting, and there are any number of directions you could take that plot.

There's a japanese move called Cure that's like that. It's about a guy that just wanders around Japan talking to people. He hypnotizes them, and then when he walks away, they kill themselves. It's really creepy and well done.

Also, the Suicide Club.
posted by empath at 9:22 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


He's one of those guys, like Cimino, where you wonder if he just got lucky (Also, The Deer Hunter is a far better movie than The 6th Sense, but you see what I'm saying). I hear so many people say "well hey, The 6th Sense was good." Sure, it was ok. Pretty creepy, good acting. But ever since, he's revealed himself as a complete hack. If you haven't seen Lady in the Water, just read the synopsis - it will blow your mind.

Also, anyone else feel like "The Happening" is the result of a contest to see who can make up the most perfectly awful, incredibly pretentious M. Night title?
posted by ORthey at 9:23 PM on June 17, 2008


There's a japanese move called Cure that's like that. It's about a guy that just wanders around Japan talking to people. He hypnotizes them, and then when he walks away, they kill themselves. It's really creepy and well done.

Also, the Suicide Club.


You're right! Both of those movies are awesome! I'd forgotten about Cure - now I want to see it again.

Suicide Club has a way better initial scene of madness. I hear the sequel's worth watching, too...
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:26 PM on June 17, 2008


CheshireCat writes "I don't think there's really anything wrong with his movies per se, if anything it's bad marketing on his part that leaves people expecting The Sixth Sense every time from a director who is actually very hit or miss."

See, I tend to think of a director like Robert Rodriguez as hit-or-miss. A film like El Mariachi, well, hard to top that one. He also directed The Faculty, which wasn't exactly notable, though people did give him credit for taking bad material and making it tolerable. But he also made Sin City and Planet Terror from Grindhouse, both of which I loved and didn't quite expect from him, but they're totally his. MNS tends to piss me off a bit more with each film. Sixths Sense? Not bad at all. The rest are not that good and getting worse.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:27 PM on June 17, 2008


Also, anyone else feel like "The Happening" is the result of a contest to see who can make up the most perfectly awful, incredibly pretentious M. Night title?

Studio interference. Shyamalan's script was called "The Green Effect" which I think is worse.
posted by crossoverman at 9:28 PM on June 17, 2008


Damn it! I wanted this film to be good.

Hell, this and the Indy film were on my list and now I've pretty much been dissuaded by devastating (not just meh, or bad - but OHMYGODDONTSEETHIS!)
posted by wfrgms at 9:29 PM on June 17, 2008


MNS really fucked up the movies for a lot of us screenwriters. Ever since SIXTH SENSE it's not enough for a movie to have a twist. It's got to have a TWISTIER TWIST than SIXTH SENSE.

The biggest twist would be if he made a movie that didn't blow donkeys.

Also, anyone else feel like "The Happening" is the result of a contest to see who can make up the most perfectly awful, incredibly pretentious M. Night title?

Or the lamest title since Highlander 2: The Quickening.
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:32 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Saw it today - the audience was freaked out - there was some nervous laughter to cover the 'frights' - overall the film did exactly what it wanted to do - succeeded on it's own terms.

And folks seem to be missing the filmmakers' lovely craftsmanship (he's one of the few guys out there who doesn't waste shots / moves the camera for a reason, etc. ((practically a lost art)). (of course this doesn't matter so much when a film is as bad as 'The Village'...)

+ re: this comment = Heaven's Gate is a masterpiece - one of the most amazing films ever made.
posted by jettloe at 9:38 PM on June 17, 2008


Help, I can't stop talking! writes "Once poor Nighty got slammed with another wave of critical brutalizations, he turned tail and reminded everyone how it was supposed to be that way."

That's pretty funny. You think Roger Corman ever complained that people didn't "get" his work? Go for it, M. Night! Shake your fist at the sky! Irony is wasted on the lot of them! Philistines!

Maybe it's not really ironic if nobody gets it. Unless you're Andy Kaufman.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:38 PM on June 17, 2008


Yeah, it seems Signs was the moment that MNS lost the audience he had built from Unbreakable and The Sixth Sense. And that's clearly because of the immense plot hole that Signs has. The aliens can be killed by water? Yeah, I can just imagine that well thought out invasion plan.

SCENE: On board the bridge of the Aliens ship. The viewscreen is displaying Earth. Two aliens are looking at it.

Alien Captain: See that men? That's the place we're gonna invade.

Alien First Officer: Cool, cool. Any water there? I mean, y'know... we're kind of violently allergic to it, y'know.

Alien Captain: Uh... erm... nope. Nope. No water. None at all.

Alien First Officer: Really? So um... what's all that blue stuff covering about 70% of it?

Alien Captain: GET OFF MY BRIDGE! WE'RE INVADING THIS PLACE, MMMKAY?

Pathetic. Everytime I think of Signs I think of that issue of Knights of the Dinner Table where B.A strongly argues that Hydrogen is an incredibly rare element in the universe, to the laughs of all at his table. It sounds as if The Happening isn't any better. But it's still not the worst movie of all time. That dubious honor belongs to Double Team, and I challenge anyone to a duel who says that that film is anything other than unmitigated crap.
posted by Effigy2000 at 9:39 PM on June 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


STAY bombed despite being one of the most expensive spec script buys ever (and a good script too).

Stay, the movie with Ryan Gosling? Jesus, I couldn't get passed 35 or so minutes. It was horrible--so overwrought and poorly directed. Also, it sold for 1.5M, no? It's a lot, sure, but I don't think it's one of the most expensive ever. Perhaps by a first timer, yeah (word is he sold it before any others even though it was shot later). Benioff's a helluva writer--both his books are great--but the wrong director got his paws on it. Lets hope he doesn't fuck up the Bond film.
posted by dobbs at 9:41 PM on June 17, 2008


Pile on!
posted by mazola at 9:57 PM on June 17, 2008


Following a stinker like Lady in the Water with another stinker like this one... sheesh.

I liked The Village better than any of his other movies, which I thought were all great except for Lady in the Water. But The Village was superb because I saw it as the the only one that didn't precisely fit with what I saw as a major theme running through his films.

(spoilers, perhaps)

Sixth Sense: Characters who previously thought ghosts weren't real find out they are real.
Unbreakable: Characters who previously thought comic book mythology/archetypes/etc. weren't real find out they are real.
Signs: Characters who previously thought aliens weren't real find out they are real.
Lady In The Water (this is kind of a weak link, but still) Characters who previously thought fairy tales weren't real find out they are real.

The Village flips that theme around: A character (just one this time) who previously thought that the home she knew was real finds out that it's not real.
posted by emelenjr at 10:00 PM on June 17, 2008


I feel dirty and violated

I saw "Signs" six years ago and I still feel dirty and violated. No more M. Night for me since then. I learned my lesson.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 10:01 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


See, Signs was good up until OH BTW ALIENS ARE KILLED BY WATER AND THIS IS BECAUSE JESUS SET IT UP THIS WAY. That's when he began to fail. It's somehow the same deus ex machina as the diseases in War of the Worlds (in general, not the film) but somehow much weaker.

With benefit of the doubt I watched The Village. I think (SPOILER COMING) I caught on the one real hint that they were living in the present. The date was specified (I think on a tombstone) as 18xx, yet they were confident in the existence of infection-curing drugs in the outside world, antibiotics, when antibiotics were unknown at the purported time. Unfortunately, during my viewing I just took it as a failure of historical research or consistency rather than as a clue.

I was watching a pirated copy, and then a car appeared, and for a second I thought "WTF PIRATES YOU JUST FUCKED UP AND SOMEHOW SWITCHED YOUR ENCODER TO ANOTHER MOVIE WHERE IS YOUR PRIDE?"
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:01 PM on June 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


In a movie, the audience will swallow one big fish. This is known as 'the buy'. You are allowed exactly one and it happens in the first act (the first 25-30 minutes). Everything else must proceed logically from that buy, and obey any and all rules which are established by the buy.

The buy is essentially the same as the premise. The 'Once upon a time...'. A man has a remote control that stops time. If you watch this video, you're cursed.


Of course, if you're Japanese you can throw in "oh, by the way, half the characters are psychic" half way into your cursed videotape movie and no-one blinks an eyelid.
posted by Artw at 10:06 PM on June 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Village flips that theme around: A character (just one this time) who previously thought that the home she knew was real finds out that it's not real.

Actually (MOAR SPOILERS) I thought one of the slightly redeeming parts of the ending was that because she was blind she really didn't figure out they lived in the present day. She was told the monsters were sort-of fake, but she didn't necessarily realize that the guy attacking her wasn't some real monster, and she definitely didn't see anything that would give away the secret that it was really "the future."
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:09 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


God damn but I hate when an overrated creator responds to bad reviews by saying he intended to receive them, that his project was awful in this really clever way that all you plebes just don't get - seriously, fuck that - there are thousands of artists and writers and directors who would love to have the kind of access and latitude Shyamalan has had over the years, thousands of creators who are longing for the chance to do good work for wide release. He gets the opportunity that thousands never, ever will, and he does this with it?

When you've grown so pretentious that you think entertaining your audience is somehow beneath you, when your contempt for the folks paying to see your work has grown so virulent that you tell interviewers you're pissing people off on purpose, it might be time to step out from behind the camera awhile. Maybe take up gardening, grow some watery, runny vegetables and tell your family you meant to serve them a squashy salad. Shame them for not being hip enough to absorb your fucking statement.

Whenever a creator starts talking this way, like his work is above the public's critical eye, like everyone's too dumb to understand it, I think of this Penny Arcade strip.

Then I stop cussing for awhile. Usually.
posted by EatTheWeak at 10:11 PM on June 17, 2008 [12 favorites]


And that's clearly because of the immense plot hole that Signs has. The aliens can be killed by water? Yeah, I can just imagine that well thought out invasion plan.

In fairness, Futurama cleverly justified this type of plot with in a B-Movie about a human invading a robot planet, where at the end a robot says "Funny, isn't it? The human was impervious to our most powerful magnetic fields, yet in the end he succumbed to a harmless sharpened stick!" I always thought that was a really clever way of parodying the endings of films like "War of the Worlds", "Day of the Triffids" and "Signs".
posted by bobo123 at 10:12 PM on June 17, 2008 [12 favorites]


FADE IN

[EXT. — FOREST — NIGHTTIME]

Ficus plant begins to glow with an eerie blue aura. It begins to speak....

MARKY MARK: Right, you little blighters, we've had quite enough of your evil mischief.

FICUS: But you're the one who's been bad. You've been sneaking puddings.

MARKY MARK: But, but ... how did you know?

FERN PLANT: We know all your secrets.

FICUS: [to minister] And you pilfered the poor box.

ELM TREE: And doctor, we know that you and the bootblack have been rogering the fishwife in the crumpetshop.

[the crumpet shopkeep spits out a bite of crumpet]

FISHWIFE: Lies!

MARKY MARK: Get them! Quickly!

FICUS: We can't have that.

[the plants begin glowing again, and the townspeople, strangely, begin to attack themselves with their own weapons]
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:12 PM on June 17, 2008


Hmm. Given his professed love of comics in the promotional material for Unbreakable I'm wondering if this story was cribbed from Swamp thing #22-#24, only much less fun.
posted by Artw at 10:13 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Village flips that theme around: A character (just one this time) who previously thought that the home she knew was real finds out that it's not real.

Except she doesn't discover this, does she? They sent the blind girl out so she doesn't discover the truth of the Village. Because the moral of the film seems to be it's okay to lie if you really truly believe it does people good - which kind of makes me throw up in my mouth... a lot!
posted by crossoverman at 10:16 PM on June 17, 2008


I'm sorry, but what kind of idiots think that creating a late 1800s society and telling everyone that they are surrounded by monsters who will kill and mutilate you if you leave the village is LESS traumatizing to people than the modern world?
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:17 PM on June 17, 2008


Members of polygamist mormon cults?
posted by Artw at 10:19 PM on June 17, 2008 [18 favorites]


Touche.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:21 PM on June 17, 2008


Also, as much as its nice to see this self-important twat receive a certain comeuppance thru critical drubbing, I still hope one day to see Unbreakable continued.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:23 PM on June 17, 2008


Powerful Religious Baby: "Oh man, I KNEW trees were scary! Things that are scary about them: hundreds of hard brown arms; knotholes; sometimes they are mossy; leaves in the summer and none in the winter; some of them are hollow and some of them are not; is that a nest or is it a human head; photosynthesis demons inside them; squirrel pantries inside them; horrible hidden chairs inside them."

Durkon Thundershield was right!
posted by PontifexPrimus at 10:25 PM on June 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


And that's clearly because of the immense plot hole that Signs has. The aliens can be killed by water?

Those weren't aliens from space. They were demons from hell.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:31 PM on June 17, 2008


Yeah, The Village was the movie of his where I got what was going on pretty much right away. I was then depressed to realize that my imagined ending was almost certainly better than M. Night's and I was going to have to sit through the whole movie anyway.

(spoilers sorta) Ok, so the village is fake and they all live at a sustainable 1800's tech level. Fair enough. What would have been interesting is if instead of it being the present, it was the near future and the monsters were real in the form of genetically engineered beasts that were created by the village elders/former scientists with the sole purpose of protecting the village from the Mad Max style outside world that is slowly tearing itself apart. Still kind of dumb I'll admit, but at least it would be more fun cinematically, and if you're going to do a fake village, might as well go all out. Plus, as Saxon Kane points out, the threat level in the film just wasn't high enough to justify the insanity of setting all that up.
posted by CheshireCat at 10:33 PM on June 17, 2008


This was better.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 10:37 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


I used to be really annoyed by people demanding a certain plot from the stories they saw. I mean, who are you to tell a writer or a director what story they're telling.

I'm still waiting for the third Matrix movie to come out.

(For the record, I think the Happening's premise is pretty cool -- even the plant concept is great. Difficult, perhaps, but there's lots of life on earth and even pretty decent signs some of it alters human behavior. Give the movie a villain better than the wind, and we'll talk.)
posted by effugas at 11:01 PM on June 17, 2008


Apparently empath is one of the five fresh fish†. At the risk of repeating myself:
I loved the Sixth Sense. I cried like a baby during the scene in the car at the end. I thought Unbreakable was meh. Signs is what put me off of MNS permanently though. There's a combination of pretentiousness and jaw-dropping stupidity that really drives me nuts when watching movies. I put Signs in the same category as Dancer in the Dark -- movies that don't just leave me bored, but actually angry at the director for putting me through experience of watching it.
Dammit, fourth fish/empath, it's taken me years to fully repress the memory of Dancer in the Dark. Thanks for nothing. Worst movie ever.
†I had no idea.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:02 PM on June 17, 2008


when your contempt for the folks paying to see your work has grown so virulent that you tell interviewers you're pissing people off on purpose and similar comments in this thread:

Small hint: if you quit going to his movies, he won't be able to make any more of them. All y'all should have learned your lesson about three movies ago. Why in the hell would you think this movie was going to be any better than his last three hackneyed, crappy, bloviating pieces of egoist shit?

Think, people, instead of pissing away your hard-earned dollars!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 PM on June 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


CNN sez: "Shyamalan calls 'The Happening' the best B movie ever"

Which makes me wonder: how many B movies have a production budget of $57 million? Even inflation adjusted?
posted by Class Goat at 11:11 PM on June 17, 2008


If you've read down this far and still need spoiler warnings? I hate you.

Night wanted to do with pollen what Hitchcock did with birds. He failed.

Night needs to ditch his Yes Men and surround himself with Your-Shit-Does-Stink-Sir Men; people who will protect him from his own kool-aid. His shit does stink and someone needs to stick a corncob up his butt then present it to his face, so he knows.

Pollen is not scary. I don't care how many trees you subject to extravagant wind machines. Pollen is never scary. I suffer from allergies and all this movie did was make me wanna sneeze.

The dialogue was written by a deaf chimpanzee.

Zooey Deschanel should have her SAG card revoked.

"My firearm is my friend" is the dumbest thing to make a character say, who's about to shoot himself in the head. Unforgivable.

It usually helps in a movie to have interesting things happen inside it. It is not enough to just have characters get on a train or in a car and drive somewhere, then go inside a restaurant and talk some more and then get into another car or maybe walk for awhile. It helps if things happen. So we don't fall asleep.

What did that plant guy stop by his house for again? Hot dogs? Was that it? Was it really something else? Weed maybe? Don't create a set up if you're not gonna use it.

Okay so at first it's terrorism. Then it's gov't toying with powers it doesn't understand. Then the plants are just mad at us. Then they're not really mad they were just kidding. Sheesh! Pick an enemy! Y'know with JAWS? It was a shark. Started the movie it was a shark, by the end of the movie it was still a shark. Real easy.

Okay. Follow me on this one. That guy that we know is gonna die the second we see him - the best friend who was Jess' Dad, he's trying to keep his new friends calm in the jeep. He uses a lame math puzzle, doesn't give the right answer, and this whole time he's looking at a small tear in the jeep's roof. This is establishing for us that even if you close the vents and try to keep the pollen out, the slightest little tear will let "IT" get in and you're doomed. By the time we get to Betty Buckley's house, it's re-established that you can get away from the pollen in the air if you can close all the old windows and doors that are far from air-tight, and if you can get into a basement that just happens to have that hole there allowing the two leads to talk to each other though they're far apart. Pollen can't possibly get to anybody in an old musty basement! ...I so wanted to punch Night at the end.

And THEN! The lead actor's like "i don't wanna die without you I'm gonna brave the pollen and the wind so I can be with you when we decide to kill ourselves." So they all three of them go outside for no reason but to be together, and the wind's all dramaticy and crap - and suddenly the evil pollen just decides to stop being evil and it moves to France. WTF???

Maybe it would help if Night realized that storytelling is not about trick endings. The journey is more important than the destination. Get your audience there in style, and you won't need a novelty ending to make your point.

I enjoyed Sixth Sense immensely. I found Lady In The Water to be silly fun but it has its ups and downs. Village and Signs were preposterously insulting to my grey matter.

Happening makes me never want to see another Night film again.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:12 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Oh. Unbreakable was okay, but the ending was sour.
posted by ZachsMind at 11:14 PM on June 17, 2008


Night needs to ditch his Yes Men and surround himself with Your-Shit-Does-Stink-Sir Men

This is his failing - he can't do this or refuses to. He thinks every tale he spins is brilliant and won't be told otherwise. He's impervious to criticism. Someone keeps shelling out money for this hack to keep making films, so he thinks that's proof enough that they are films worth making.
posted by crossoverman at 11:18 PM on June 17, 2008


The odd thing is that just as some people are calling it, in essence, one of the worst stinkers of all time, those that do give it a positive rating (check here, at the top), seem to have watched a different film from the true haters. Ebert gave it a positive review (though he tends to give a few too many positives, IMHO). Everyone was in agreement that, say, Epic Movie or Catwoman or Battlefield Earth was utterly without merit. But while most use the same invective for The Happening, it is getting some positive reviews.

I think a good director can fool some of the the people some of the time. In Shaymalan's case, he can fool people into thinking his overwrought, pretentious, dreary scripts with ridiculous plot points and D-grade dialogue are...good. Shaymalayn has talent as a director, using the camera, with suspense scenes, etc. He has visual flair. Problem is he confuses that with being an auteur. He's no auteur, and needs to go shopping for others' scripts. If he wants to work again, he might have to.
posted by zardoz at 11:34 PM on June 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


"This is my happening, and it freaks me out!"
posted by Snyder at 11:38 PM on June 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


I want to warn you all and everybody out there that is going to steal this idea that a lawyer is already retained. Said lawyer is already drafting a letter to Mr.Shymalan.

See. I wrote this movie. My version was way better. And I am disturbed to see how the director has destroyed my central premise.

Originally there were more symptoms exhibited by the victims. First was the constant use of the catch phrase "Hey! Hey! Hey!" and then each victim suddenly appeared to have gained a terrific amount of weight and suddenly had on suspenders and a red beret. Before they committed suicide they would break dance.

The twist was that the entire plague was caused by this one guy, Raj's, bratty little sister named Dee. She would play this bone chilling music and it would drive people to suicide.

Mostly I'm upset with the name change. Which originally was called "The What's Happening!!"

Anyway. YOU SHALL HERE FROM LAWYERS!
posted by tkchrist at 11:58 PM on June 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


HEAR from them too.
posted by tkchrist at 11:59 PM on June 17, 2008


five fresh fish - just to clarify, I haven't actually spent any money on ol' M.Night since Unbreakable, when he wanted to do a movie about comics but was too embarrassed to use the term "superhero." I posted what I posted based on the FPP links and the "B Movie" interview link posted in the thread. That "my movies are terrible because I'm a genius" attitude just really gets under my skin, you know?

I sat through Signs, but it was my buddy that rented it, so my hands are clean there.

On further reflection though, this latest turd of an M.Night movie did lead to that very entertaining spoiler-review. So I guess there's some redemptive qualities to his work after all.
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:17 AM on June 18, 2008


The Happening is a mean practical joke. Think about it... the camera lingers on that sign (near the housing development) that reads "You deserve this!" Then there's the non-sequitur shot of the old lady screaming "Leave now!" That's a message for the audience.
posted by hjo3 at 12:17 AM on June 18, 2008


Is it just my install of firefox 3 that can't display that first link properly?
posted by chuckdarwin at 1:05 AM on June 18, 2008


Nope, chuckdarwin, that link doesn't work for me either, even in IE. Anyone have a mirrored link or willing to do a copy/paste? Please? :)
posted by newfers at 1:16 AM on June 18, 2008


Can it be as bad as Battlefield Earth?

terrible movies + torrenting

everyone wins
posted by mattoxic at 1:21 AM on June 18, 2008


For those of us having trouble viewing the first link, do a google search for "New Republic Happening Review", and then click on "cached" within the first result.

I enjoyed the article...enough to know to not watch this stinker of a film!
posted by newfers at 1:26 AM on June 18, 2008


Link to the Roger Ebert review.
Now consider how Shyamalan shows the exodus from Philadelphia. He avoids all the conventional scenes of riots in the train station, people killing Philadelphia, not New York, and shows the population as quiet and apprehensive. If you don't know what you're fleeing, how would you behave? Like this, I suspect.
...
I suspect I'll be in the minority in praising this film. It will be described as empty, uneventful, meandering. But for some, it will weave a spell. It is a parable, yes, but it is also simply the story of these people and how their lives and existence have suddenly become problematic. We depend on such a superstructure to maintain us that one or two alterations could leave us stranded and wandering through a field, if we are that lucky.
I thought it was pretty decent movie myself. Pretty much what you'd expect from Shyamalan: tense build-up, domestic drama meets implausible plot device.

I'm confused by all the hatred too. I'd say it's much like his other films: bit better than The Village and Unbreakable, bit worse than Signs and the Sixth Sense... really can't see why this one has been singled out as "Worst. Movie. Ever."

I suppose that since it's deliberately low-key, if you can't suspend your disbelief there's not much to keep your attention. I.e. no explosions, shouting, hot bodies, actors throwing the scenery around or whatever floats your boat.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 1:51 AM on June 18, 2008


You're all missing the significance of the title. This is a "happening," a piece of experimental performance art. The movie is a virus from outer space, a malicious form of Improv Everywhere. The evil winds are deliciously meta in that they represent the film you're watching at that very moment.

Wikipedia: "A happening is a performance, event or situation meant to be considered as art. Happenings take place anywhere, are often multi-disciplinary, often lack a narrative and frequently seek to involve the audience in some way."

You all don't fucking understand Night's genius. THIS is the movie. You're playing into his hands right now. He sits in a dark room, reading the internet, cackling ominously.
posted by naju at 2:05 AM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I saw it. It went from being enjoyable to being a movie that pissed me off when Old Gothic Lady announced that there was an old slave house out back with a sound tube. Gee, do you think the characters are going to get separated and have to use the sound tube to declare their devotion for one another?
posted by autodidact at 2:16 AM on June 18, 2008


Oh and for the record I think this is his only really bad movie. All the others give some satisfaction. My favourite is actually Signs, which I always found pretty scary because it seems obvious the aliens we saw in the flesh were just advance scouts. Pretty sure the real aliens would have shown up in water-proof space suits within a short time of the movie ending. Also because the total and sheer coincidence it seems like "God" has set up is really just Mel Gibson's character's rationalization and contextualization of his own life events... "Signs are everywhere" type of thing.

Lady In The Water looked predictable enough to me that I waited for the rental. It was incredibly silly and a bit of a letdown, but I actually felt quite a payoff at the end of it.
posted by autodidact at 2:20 AM on June 18, 2008


As much as I'm addicted to novelty, gimicky plot-twisting only gets you so far (about two films, in this case). Maybe people like M. Night (and JJ Abrams) should stick with collaborative projects (Abrams' 'Fringe' is about the worst pilot I've ever watched - definitely on par with Lady in the Water).
posted by unmake at 2:44 AM on June 18, 2008


Shyamalan is just Uwe Boll with a better cinematographer.

Bears repeating.

Also, I picked the ending of The Village after seeing the god damned trailer for the first time. Generic "period" setting + Shyamalan twist = OMFG IT'S MODERN DAY!
posted by brundlefly at 2:57 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm clearly in the minority on this one, but I thought this movie was quite good. The first ten minutes are ridiculously tense - no preamble, it just STARTS. And I was mystified by the I09 piece, which skewers it as an intelligent design movie. If anything, this movie puts forth a world with neither a place nor a need for a creator.

That said, his films exist in a world of their own. My wife and I have made a point of seeing each of his movies on opening night, and we've enjoyed them all, with the exception of "Lady in the Water." The Twilight Zone comparison is a good one - they have their own internal logic that looks ridiculous if you get literal, but is quite effective if you allow yourself to get submerged in it.
posted by jbickers at 3:12 AM on June 18, 2008


(Spoilers)

Yes, I don't see the IO9 "veiled creationist propaganda" thing either. It's not evolution he describes as "just a theory", it's whatever the explanation for the disappearance of the bees is.

And yet another thing I don't get is the complaints about the science. Yes it's impossible that a group of complicated traits could evolve overnight... but that happens in movies all the time. I didn't see anyone angrily storming out of X-Men because of it. And if you look at the zombie caterpillars for instance, it's perfectly possible for one species to take control of another's behaviour. Pheromones are airborne molecules with neurological effects, so it's not hard to believe such a thing could be airborne.

I think some people are looking a bit too hard for things to complain about.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 3:36 AM on June 18, 2008


No links yet to "Movies in 15 Minutes: The Happening? Well, there you go.
posted by pxe2000 at 3:43 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


That is interesting about the title of The Happening being a sub-genre of dramatic performance. Does make me look at it in a slightly different way.

[Spoilers for The Village]

I thought "The Village" was really good, even though I picked the twist from the trailer, like a lot of people. I don't think the whole point of the movie was the reveal that it's modern day, the way the whole point of Sixth Sense was to reveal that Bruce Willis was a ghost. At one point in the movie I thought the "red monsters" could potentially be real, even though they had already been revealed to be costumes worn by the villagers. So I was genuinely freaked by the scene towards the ends when the blind girl runs into one of the monsters. I think MNS was offering up a potential double-twist to dick with those who were trying to think ahead of him.
posted by autodidact at 3:45 AM on June 18, 2008


I've been an M Night Shyamalan before; I'll happily defend Lady In the Water anytime. But yeah, this movie was the sort of bad that makes you leave the theater thinking "how is that there weren't people at every step of this movie's development saying 'uhoh, we've got some problems here'"?

The script was like a first draft, how it managed to get filmed as-is is the biggest mystery of all. He really ought not to be allowed to work without a collaborator, or the phalanx of yes-men he has apparently surrounded himself with.

(and I think my idea for how the movie should have ended works better: if the main characters had to keep splitting up into smaller and smaller groups to avoid being targeted by the toxins, until even 2 people being together is too dangerous, and everyone left in the world is forced to stay 100 yards or so away from everyone else...forever. Now that's a haunting, enjoyably depressing ending....as opposed to, "oh look, it's happening again but this time in FRANCE!!!")
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:03 AM on June 18, 2008


erm, an N Night Shyamalan APOLOGIST before...
posted by the bricabrac man at 4:16 AM on June 18, 2008


To be fair, this movie does sound pretty scary. Here's a choice quote from the linked review:

System.Runtime.InteropServices.ExternalException: Cannot execute a program. The command being executed was "C:\WINDOWS\Microsoft.NET\Framework\v2.0.50727\csc.exe" /noconfig /fullpaths @"C:\WINDOWS\TEMP\eisp6n3p.cmdline". at System.CodeDom.Compiler.Executor.ExecWaitWithCaptureUnimpersonated(SafeUserTokenHandle userToken, String cmd, String currentDir, TempFileCollection tempFiles, String& outputName, String& errorName, String trueCmdLine) at System.CodeDom.Compiler.Executor.ExecWaitWithCapture(SafeUserTokenHandle userToken, String cmd, String currentDir, TempFileCollection tempFiles, String& outputName, String& errorName, String trueCmdLine) at Microsoft.CSharp.CSharpCodeGenerator.Compile(CompilerParameters options, String compilerDirectory, String compilerExe, String arguments, String& outputFile, Int32& nativeReturnValue, String trueArgs) at Microsoft.CSharp.CSharpCodeGenerator.FromFileBatch(CompilerParameters options, String[] fileNames) at Microsoft.CSharp.CSharpCodeGenerator.FromDomBatch(CompilerParameters options, CodeCompileUnit[] ea) at Microsoft.CSharp.CSharpCodeGenerator.System.CodeDom.Compiler.ICodeCompiler.CompileAssemblyFromDomBatch(CompilerParameters options, CodeCompileUnit[] ea) at

AAAAHHHH!
posted by DU at 4:29 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I met Shyamalan a few years ago at a screening of Signs. Maybe because I was in a packed theater, but I thought it was great. Yes, the "reveal" at the end was a bit lame, but it was actually fun to deal with because it sort of shoved away the "expected" twist that most of the audience had- that the aliens weren't actually real- and because, as a few others have noted in the thread, you can sell a stupid idea if you're a good director. And Shyamalan actually is one.

Spielberg is a fantastic director. If you're not, you can't sell "we'll kill a fake rubber shark by shooting a scuba tank." Welles was a fantastic director. If you're not, you can't sell "it was his sled." I would never, never say Shyamalan is near their level, but he's good, and he's good enough to sell "he was dead the whole time." And "he's really evil." And even "that's why she leaves water glasses everywhere."

But he is a terrible screenwriter. And there is a limit to how far you can try and sell something when you don't, well, have a sales pitch. And where he really starts failing as a director is when he starts directing like a writer: case in point, the opening scene of The Village. Remember it? It's a headstone saying the date is 1875. Now, why wouldn't there just be a title card saying "Somewhere in New England, 1875." Or nothing as all, and letting the period costume explain it? Because it's shitty, shitty screenwriting. We fucking know who M. Night Shyamalan is, movie. You basically just told us, in the first thirty seconds of the movie, that it is without a doubt not 1875. The rest of the movie is shit because we're just waiting to hear the obvious. We're no longer being "sold" anything. Rather, we're trapped in one of those 90-minute real estate seminars.

What good directors do is find way to hide shitty screenwriting. Because Shyamalan is the same person, he doesn't recognize this. And with each film, he got sloppier and sloppier.

Anyway, the reason I liked Signs was the same reason I liked Unbreakable- because the real "twist" for me was realizing at the end what a larger meaning of the film was about. Signs was, essentially, about faith. That's a recurring theme in a lot of his work: the theme of taking a bunch of people who think they have nothing going for them and realizing what they really mean to the universe. Shyamalan used a minister to blunt-force pound that symbolism into our heads, but as someone who is completely non-religious, I love the idea of a generic concept of having something to believe in.

What I loved- loved about Unbreakable was this reveal in the end was so twisted. And I told this to Shyamalan. "I loved Unbreakable," I said, "because the whole thing is you realize at the end that the film isn't about Bruce Willis. It's about Samuel L. Jackson. It's not about someone discovering that they're a hero. It's about someone realizing, happily, that they are evil. It's like, we don't really know if Bruce Willis totally believe in himself, but we absolutely know that Jackson believes in who he is now."

Shyamalan's eyes literally widened when I told this to him and he just started beaming- picture a child unwrapping an XBox on Christmas morning- as he said, "Yes. Thank you. That is exactly what I was going for. Oh, thank you so much." I think later as the audience all left he waved to me and my sister.

A while back I complained that people called Uwe Boll our generation's Ed Wood, because it's unfair. Uwe Boll has no legitimate directing skill. And I don't think he believes in his own work either. Shyamalan truly is the Ed Wood of our generation. Because he has a legitimate, competent film production skill, and because he bizarrely, perhaps insanely, thinks everything he does is wonderful. That was the divine madness of Ed Wood- he films all those awful scenes- the shit dialog he wrote, the arms bumping over prop trees and headstones, the flying saucers on fishing wire- and he wonders later why he isn't nominated for an Oscar.

My point is, I guess I'm saying I don't think Shyamalan is an awful person like Uwe Boll. I think, like Ed Wood, he has insane delusions of grandeur (Shyamalan idolized Spielberg the way Wood worshipped Orson Welles, and the cameo shit is clearly a Hitchcock thing) and his greatest detriment to his talent is himself- he has convinced himself he's brilliant and therefore doesn't allow anyone to judge his own work, or offer contrary ideas. I am really hopeful that he can direct a good version of this Avatar movie, and that it is hugely successful, so that he can maybe see some meaning in the idea that his most successful movie in a decade is the one that he didn't write himself.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 4:32 AM on June 18, 2008 [28 favorites]


I am dying to see this. Lady in the Water has provided my lady and I countless hours of mockingly mocking fun - it can't be worse than that, can it??? Man, LITW was so horribly conceived and executed, so pretentious, SO horribly acted, and just so motherfuckingly lame-ass stupid (M. Night, I understand what you were trying to do, you just did it badly and it was a stupid idea anyway), that it actually became, for us, a thing of beauty.
If only I didn't have to pay for it, I'd love to be one of the few to witness this trainwreck on the big screen.
posted by ghastlyfop at 4:36 AM on June 18, 2008


Well, now I don't want to see this much more than I already didn't want to.
posted by louche mustachio at 4:37 AM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I recall watching Lady in the Water with friends while on holiday in Canada, and at the every end of the film, bursting into laughter which continued for a good ten minutes. It was so dreadfully bad.

I then decided it should have been called Shit in the Water, and should have featured Giamatti walking out of his little house, over to the pool, taking out a small net and removing a floating turd from the water. Then going back inside and locking his door. Roll credits.
Would have been infinitely better, though wouldn't have induced hours of laughter!

I plan not to see The Happening, which Kermode complained was sycophantic and, well, you'll see.
posted by opsin at 4:49 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have no intention of seeing this apparent stinker, and my decision has nothing to do with bad reviews or the above spoileration.

No, my big, red "this movie is a festering bag of suckage" flag was raised high the first time I witnessed a tv spot for this thing. To wit...any movie that relies on the point that said movie is the director's first R-rated feature is a bloated corpse being kicked out the studio's back gate in vain hope that some of the cost might be, somehow, recouped. Avoid like the ebola-soaked remnant it is.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:49 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Shyamalan does some things very well: he's great at setting a tone, he can be very good at suspense, he's good at putting you in a scene, and he's very good at moments. He's not good at other things (the comparison upthread to Lucas is apt): he needs to collaborate with someone who'll tell him when something sucks. That said, I love Signs, it's my favourite of his by far, and the only one of his I rewatch pretty regularly, but I initially dismissed it when I first saw it and thought it was about aliens, The Sixth Sense has incredible atmosphere and many really beautiful scenes, even The Village has some really lovely and amazing moments - many of his movies are much better the second time you see them. And while the same may be true of The Happening, I found it kind of...empty. And the claims of "but it's a b-movie" after it's been panned, while they may be true and all (and they certainly do make sense), sound more than a bit desperate at this hour, even though you might not want to say such things before a movie is released.
posted by biscotti at 4:50 AM on June 18, 2008


Hmm, that decided to not be a link - Kermode review.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCVvV22OE1A (in case it does that again.)
posted by opsin at 4:51 AM on June 18, 2008


Oh I'll also comment on Shayamalamalan's talent. All through Lady in the Water, not only did I complain about the awful writing, but while there were about four shots that I thought were really quite nice, the rest just made him look like a bit of a hack. I mean, some of it was ignorable, but a whole bunch of shots were those of someone trying just too hard, and not actually achieving anything interesting.
If I could be bothered, I would rewatch Sixth Sense to see whether he overdoes the direction in that, or whether it was all quiet enough that it wasn't noticable. Maybe he just ran out of inspiration or skill.
posted by opsin at 4:53 AM on June 18, 2008


"No," Shyamalan says through gritted teeth. "That's cottage cheese on a wad of wilted shit with three slices of canned motherfucking peaches."
posted by crossoverman at 5:06 AM on June 18, 2008


What everyone else already said. And "Hack! Fucking Hack!". But then I'm tempered by Ebert and Tom (er, XQUZ above). Sure, I can buy that he's a creative that's just misunderstood by the masses, etc. Realizing that some creatives shield their inner creative by growing an ego, I respect that the way he felt he could insulate himself by critics was to proclaim "I'm fucking awesome" -- and having every studio exec kiss his butt probably encouraged this. But yeah, at the end of the day, the story's the thing, and he's gotten(?) rather bad at it. Not that the Sixth Sense was Citizen Kane, but really, it was an attempt that implied a talent was coming. With every crap story released we're finding more that the talent passed him by.

He knows how to establish tension on screen.

He just doesn't know what to do with it (in a satisfying manner) once he's got it.

Is he Ed Wood? Uwe Boll? I guess if you change the goal posts so what he's shooting for isn't a universally agreed upon concept of "Good Movie", yeah, sure, he's a good storyteller.

I think Ebert and I saw the same thing, that is, the initial premise was really interesting. And there are a lot of long shots that really tell of a terrific mood and reinforce the premise. Ebert chooses then to forgive the sins of the script and the dialogue and the plot for the benefit of the premise as a whole, and I as of yet am not that kind.

Fucking hack.
posted by cavalier at 5:09 AM on June 18, 2008


Just curious, where is he getting the money from at this point?
posted by mattholomew at 5:10 AM on June 18, 2008


My version of the movie would take place on a cruise ship in the open ocean. Green algae produces most of our oxygen anyways, so if Mama Nature wanted to introduce a person-killing poison, that'd be as good a place as any to start.

Imagine a cruise ship drifting into harbor. It's little more than a charnel hulk now, blackened from fire and stained with the blood of dozens of suicides. Some of the bodies are still there, dangling from the bow where they hung themselves. Sharks circle in the ship's wake and carrion birds are even now arriving to pick away at the abandoned meat.

Inside the ship are the half-mad survivors, those that sealed themselves up in their cabins, who survived the journey by living in their own filth and fighting other passengers for meager supplies. Not every corpse on board is dead by its own hand.

The story of what Happened is told by the survivors. They've been quarantined in a building near the harbor and each must tell their story to an interviewer as the doctors check them out. Flashbacks ensue, each a mini-story of how people behave under pressure from an unknown enemy. Most of the stories are true, others are lies told to cover up what people did to survive. The lone interviewer starts to pick up on references as to how the water looked when things started to Happen, to the way the ocean shimmered green in the morning light.

The government, of course, wants to cover this up. It's hard to say if that's because they were at fault for the incident or if the cruise line is owned by a company with juice at the highest level. They want to spin a story about a terrorist attack, maybe even arrest some of the browner survivors as terrorists, who knows.

The interviewer knows this is crap and tries to fight them on it, but of course, loses. After a long night of horrible stories and worse treatment of the survivors at the hands of the government, the interviewer is kicked from the room and sent up to the roof to "cool off" and "re-evaluate your priorities" and other vague-sounding government threats.

And as the interviewer contemplates man's inhumanity to man, the sun rises over the harbor which shimmers green in the morning light.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:25 AM on June 18, 2008 [72 favorites]


Just curious, where is he getting the money from at this point?

Interesting question, seeing as how the studio he was with pre Lady in the Water refused to fund that, so he had to go elsewhere. I don't see how anyone was willing to pay him to make another movie after that, although I guess it made money... Sigh.
posted by opsin at 5:28 AM on June 18, 2008


The only thing worse than Signs were the myriad fans defending it. Forget invading the water planet. Generally you only hits character cliches so squarely when you're trying for parody.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:31 AM on June 18, 2008


I haven't seen this film, but my anticipation for it began waning when the advertisements for it began playing up the fact that it was Shyamalan's first R rated movie. Not just the "...this film has been rated R..." disclaimer at the end, but actually working the fact in to the main copy.

How lame is that? If the best they can do is the prospect that it will be titillating to kids in high school, I'll stick with "Kung Fu Panda".
posted by hwestiii at 5:32 AM on June 18, 2008


Spielberg is a fantastic director. If you're not, you can't sell "we'll kill a fake rubber shark by shooting a scuba tank."

If you can't see the difference between Jaws and anything done by M. Shite, there's really not much I can say to you.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 5:33 AM on June 18, 2008


I had a deep-seated faith in the artistic standards and prowess of both Marky Mark and his Funky Bunch.

Shame on you, Bunch. Shame.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 5:33 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Hmm, reading about of The Cure/Suicide Club/Happening all in one thread makes me want to write a story. The story focuses on a series of people who meet and have conversations (maybe Richard Linklater can direct). The conversation follows various people, switching PoV to follow a different person each time. There are a variety of interactions, each spaced out by a number of hours, days, weeks, in situations ranging from the dull (retail transaction) to the horrific (a rapist who commits suicide afterwards). The catch is that every person, during or soon after their second conversation/scene, kills themselves or dies violently. So Person A talks to Person B, then A kills herself. Later, when B is talking to C, B kills himself. The twist comes when we figure out (through gradual clues in the dialogue and mannerisms) that it's really one person meeting and interacting with people in all different echelons of society, and then trading bodies with them. The old body has to die (taking the mind/soul of the other person with it) to keep this guy's secret. He found out he had this power during a violent assault that left his former body dead and his mind inside the body of his killer. His immortality has shackled him with boredom verging on madness, which he alleviates by putting himself in the shoes* of different people, to see what it's like being them.

Or is that too much like Fallen?

*Oooh, let's call it "Shoes" or "In Your Shoes".
posted by Eideteker at 5:42 AM on June 18, 2008


His films are much better if you give them more accurate names:

Invasion of the Water Planet
The Man Who Couldn't Be Hurt
The Ghost Seer
It Came from the Pool
Creepytown USA

And lets not forget, he is the writer of Stuart Little.
posted by blue_beetle at 5:46 AM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Your marketing campaign seems pretty serious and straightforward. The movie's self-important message about the consequences of ecological damage seems like it wouldn't mesh well with a tone of parody or knowing humor. Sounds like backpedaling to me.

There is certainly evidence of backpedaling, Help, I can't stop talking!

My film student son gets a publication geared for student cinematographers (the title escapes me!) which currently carries a very respectful extended q & a with Night.

I read it precisely because there were great wodges of direct quotation from Night - unfiltered by the usual commentary from, say, a mainstream interviewer.

There was nothing in Night's self-impressed explanation about the genesis of The Happening ("a vision" that came to him in a flash) or his technique or his intention or his casting that could be construed as even hinting at subversive ambition.

(Though I gave him grudging points for being sweet to the giddy, young interviewer!)
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2008


Night wanted to do with pollen what Hitchcock did with birds. He failed.

To be fair, it failed pretty badly when Hitchcock did it too. The movie only succeeds, insofar that it does, because all of the character are total total smegheads. To reiterate a comment from a zillion years ago, my version goes like this:

[DUDE PERSON]: The birds have gone crazy! They're attacking!
[LADY PERSON]: (worried) OMG WTF! Like, eagles and ostriches are killing people?!
[DUDE PERSON]: No! It's normal regular birds!
[LADY PERSON]: What? You mean people are being attacked by sparrows? (relieved) Oh.
[DUDE PERSON]: It's the revenge of nature or some shit like that! All our technology is useless against them!
[LADY PERSON]: Huh? No, it's gonna be fine. Here, put on these sunglasses. And this hoodie. Now scrunch the hood down so that hardly any face is showing.

LADY and DUDE put on their SUNGLASSES and HOODIES and maybe also GARDENING GLOVES.

[LADY PERSON]: Okay. Let's go get some shotguns.

LADY and DUDE walk out into the street. The birds attack them, but they are little dinky birds that can't get through their amazing high-tech CHEAP HOODIES and SUNGLASSES. They are however covered in bird poop.

[DUDE PERSON]: OW!
[LADY PERSON]: What?
[DUDE PERSON]: They got me! I am slightly scratched on my face!
[LADY PERSON]: Did it break the skin?
[DUDE PERSON]: SRSLY? Are you high?

LADY and DUDE continue slightly molested to the GUN SHOP. They steal some shotguns and start killing birds in great numbers. They live happily ever after, though they get tired of roast sparrow.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:08 AM on June 18, 2008 [27 favorites]


I think you're all jealous.
posted by mazola at 6:21 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


My version of the movie would take place on a cruise ship in the open ocean.

robocop, please make this movie.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:21 AM on June 18, 2008


Mark Wahlberg's acting was bad to a point that it's intentional.

Does this apply to his other work, too?
posted by rokusan at 6:22 AM on June 18, 2008


Did anyone else notice that they went out of their way in the previews to make sure you had no idea John Leguizamo was in the movie?
posted by potch at 6:22 AM on June 18, 2008


Did anyone else notice that they went out of their way in the previews to make sure you had no idea John Leguizamo was in the movie?

Not really - they showed his suicide scene in the R-rated version of the trailer.
posted by jbickers at 6:30 AM on June 18, 2008


I thought "The Village" was really good, even though I picked the twist from the trailer, like a lot of people.

The Village showed great filmmaking skill in parts, and some scenes are vivdly memorable. The best example is the way the stabbing scene was filmed. When I rented the DVD, I watched that scene several times in a row just to admire the unconventional way it was filmed and edited. I didn't even mind the "twist" although I do laugh sometimes at the thought that "a hundred years ago" = "peaceful coexistence and a total lack of violence."

I keep finding myself rooting for MNS, somehow, despite the horribleness (yes, that's a word!) of The Happening and others. Maybe he needs a better producer who will hold him to a higher standard.
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 6:31 AM on June 18, 2008


The twist comes when we figure out (through gradual clues in the dialogue and mannerisms) that it's really one person meeting and interacting with people in all different echelons of society, and then trading bodies with them. The old body has to die (taking the mind/soul of the other person with it) to keep this guy's secret.

Sounds like The Skeleton Key.
posted by Summer at 6:42 AM on June 18, 2008


ZachsMind: "Zooey Deschanel should have her SAG card revoked."

Blasphemy!
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 6:48 AM on June 18, 2008


My version of the movie would take place on a cruise ship in the open ocean

I have a vision of the enormous liner drifting slowly, hugely, silently out of a sunrise; grounding in Seatle harbour, (or similar). A bunch of fishermen and stevedores watching it drift past them culminating in a shuddering, howling groan as it scrapes along the harbour floor.

(Seriously, robocop. Write this bitch.)
posted by Jofus at 6:48 AM on June 18, 2008


I think I've seen three of his films now, and will happily never see another one. I thought they were unbearably bad, and Unbreakable was excruciatingly bad. The poor guy needs to be sent back to directors' reeducation camp, or maybe a new career in something where he can be a controlling ego freak without being quite so visible about it.
posted by Forktine at 6:51 AM on June 18, 2008


In Biskinds' Down and Dirty Pictures there's an aside about when Night was being kicked around by the Weinsteins on his second picture he was like "I'm Spielburg! My next picture is going to make a 100 mil!". And that next picture was the Sixth Sense. The Night train has managed to coast a hell of a long way on ego and expectation.

I watched the Village on television (Signs burned me on paying money for his films ever again) fairly recently... As ever in his films it's got one or two moments - like the reveal of the monster towards the end. But the screenplay is just so weak in places... it really just seemed like a first draft.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:53 AM on June 18, 2008


The only thing I like about M. Night Shyamalan is that whenever his name is mentioned I get to say, "M. Night Shamalamadingong" - which provides me (and anyone within earshot) with more entertainment value than Shyamalan's last handful of films put together.

I got here late. But holy cow! I do that too!
posted by Dr-Baa at 6:54 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Has anyone missed that it's supposed to be a re-take of a B movie? Mark Wahlberg's acting was bad to a point that it's intentional.
This is exactly what I thought about Rock Star. I mean, c'mon. It's like Mars Attacks, right? A parody/tribute, so over-the-top it's gotta be intentional, right?
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:55 AM on June 18, 2008


I saw this as part of a friendly group movie-going experience. I kinda liked The Village. I mean, it wasn't great, but it was entertaining. I figured this would be similar.

The best parts of the movie were making fun of it. Usually I am a very good movie patron. I don't make much noise, I scrunch down so I don't block the view of the person behind me, my cell is off, etc. But this movie I couldn't help myself with the laughs and the running commentary.

The premise was really interesting. It could have done well if the premise was plotted well. But this movie didn't. That's okay, sometimes dull plots can be saved by good dialogue. The dialogue in this movie stunk. But I can handle dumb dialogue if the acting is good. But the acting was painfully bad. I've watched plays done by 6 year olds that had more convincing acting.

I guess it wasn't all bad. Some of the characters were interesting. Oh, not the main characters. I hated them and halfway through the movie started hoping they would kill themselves. No, I liked the Hot Dog Man and the Crazy Lady. But they felt like they came from other movies and were in The Happening by accident.

Ah well. Its always nice to have a baseline "HORRIBLE MOVIE" to compare others to.
posted by sandraregina at 7:03 AM on June 18, 2008


There is unrest in the forest,
There is trouble with the trees,
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas.

The trouble with the maples,
(And they're quite convinced they're right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light.
But the oaks can't help their feelings
If they like the way they're made.
And they wonder why the maples
Can't be happy in their shade.

There is trouble in the forest,
And the creatures all have fled,
As the maples scream "Oppression!"
And the oaks just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights.
"The oaks are just too greedy;
We will make them give us light."
Now there's no more oak oppression,
For they passed a noble law,
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet, axe, and saw.
posted by COBRA! at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2008


I saw it. It went from being enjoyable to being a movie that pissed me off when Old Gothic Lady announced that there was an old slave house out back with a sound tube. Gee, do you think the characters are going to get separated and have to use the sound tube to declare their devotion for one another?

Douche ex Machina
posted by pardonyou? at 7:17 AM on June 18, 2008 [7 favorites]


Say what you will, but MNS movies have great trailers. They let you imagine all kinds of awesomeness that you know in advance the movie will not possess, but that doesn't matter because you won't see it anyway.

I saw a Happening trailer before Iron Man last weekend, and I was all like "Awesome trailer!" It satisfied completely.
posted by rusty at 7:26 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The Crappening.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:29 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


the zoo lion keeper who invites his charges to bite off his arms so he can stand around, Black Knight-like, spraying blood from the stumps.
posted by Burhanistan at 7:31 AM on June 18, 2008


After reading most of this thread I had to wander over to Wikipedia to read the Plot Summary for Lady in the Water. And what a summary it is!

This leaves Story completely vulnerable to the Scrunt, who strikes when everyone is momentarily distracted by a popping balloon.

...there are laws in this world upheld by three bloodthirsty, monkey-like creatures called "Tartutic", which are the only things that a scrunt fears.

Story only knows that her vessel is a writer and that once she finds her vessel, she can be returned home by a large eagle called "The Great Eatlon".

Okay, I'll stop now.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 7:33 AM on June 18, 2008


Moonpie, I didn't realize that Zakk Wylde was in Rock Star ! I really enjoyed that movie–hilarious! Especially when he becomes [SPOILER ALERT}
















Kurt Cobain at the end of the film.
posted by Mister_A at 7:41 AM on June 18, 2008


ZachsMind: "Zooey Deschanel should have her SAG card revoked."

UrbanWhaleShark: "Blasphemy!"


When I say Zooey should have her SAG card revoked, it is not flippantly. I adored the actress in that blatant Wizard of Oz ripoff called The TinMan. I feel she has potential, but after watching "The Happening" and how she dealt with the lame subplot of her character cheating on her husband (which she didn't really - they had COFFEE for crying out loud!) I just wanted to slap her. That was the lamest bullshit acting I've ever seen.

Near the beginning of the film her character gets upset with her husband for telling his best friend her feelings. Later, her character explains to little Jess that she too has trouble expressing her feelings to people. How does she let the audience know this? BY SAYING "I HAVE TROUBLE EXPRESSING MY FEELINGS TO PEOPLE." This is not acting. This is telling the audience what they should be seeing.

Truthfully she shoulda looked at this dialogue, turned to Night and said, "you gotta be kidding me right? Where's the real script? This is a joke, right?" But she went with what was given her and gave a piss poor performance cuz you can't make grape jelly with rutabagas. So I fault her for not fighting for her character to be treated with more realism and respect by the writer and director (sic). It's like Night ordered her to cook a multi-course Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings but the only thing she allowed her to have was the turkey. She shoulda fought for her character.

That's why she should lose her SAG card.

What Night needs to do is stop telling his own stories. Really he's still just that snot-nosed kid with his dad's equipment from Best Buy and Radio Shack. Deep down he's still making boogie boogie shots using stuff he found in the attic and some fishing rod to make it float across the screen. If he wants to prove he's a good director, he needs to take a story that someone else wrote and make it sing. Until then he's just a snot-nosed kid that got lucky a couple times.
posted by ZachsMind at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


If you consider the characters to be an extension of the screenwriter himself, then this movie is merely a catalogue of ways that M. Night Shyamalan might kill himself.

You would think it's his most crowd pleasing movie yet.
posted by mazola at 7:58 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


SPOILER ALERT:


So you go into it thinking that there's this guy who makes an expensive movie well into his career, and it gets promoted as serious and it has an Important Message and it's gonna be good, but see, this is where he gets you in the end - He goes and makes the movie bad on purpose, because it was really a B-Movie all along!
What a tweest!
posted by dosterm at 8:22 AM on June 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Okay, I'll stop now.

Oh, you didn’t get to the bit where the movie critic turns out to be a terrible, weak person, who dies horribly because he’s such a know-it-all.
posted by Artw at 8:23 AM on June 18, 2008


I see bad Film Directors. Walking around like good Film Directors!
posted by CynicalKnight at 8:26 AM on June 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Because of my fascination with Lady in the Water's wretchedness, I couldn't stop myself from picking up The Man Who Heard Voices after spotting it in the bargain bin at Borders. It's an unbelievably fawning, sycophantic account of the turbulent making of that piece of shit movie. The book is as unintentionally hilarious as the movie.
posted by ghastlyfop at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2008


Sold!
posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on June 18, 2008


The Village showed great filmmaking skill in parts, and some scenes are vivdly memorable.

As I've said forever, Shyamalan seems to be a terrific director. I love his shots and his cinematography, and unlike some posters above I appreciate the languid pace he employs, generally. There's a little too much fast-cut MTV in today's directorial soup.

That's as a director. As a writer, though, ouch. He really needs to stop writing, or at least to stop writing the same damn script over and over and over and over again.
posted by rokusan at 8:47 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


(the review link works now and is hilarious)

I've never seen a single M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie. I didn't see Sixth Sense because it looked kind of gory, which isn't my thing. Then I heard about the twist, which kind of made it pointless. And since then, he's That Twist Guy and when you know to look for it, movie twists are generally pretty simple to spot. So....yeah. A fad that passed me by.
posted by DU at 8:48 AM on June 18, 2008


I think people are missing why signs is so bad.

He's trying to say that God must exist because otherwise things wouldn't fall together JUST SO.

But the reason that everything fell together in a way that made the characters think that There Must Be A God is because the movie was written by a hack screenwriter.

So unless the point of the movie is that GOD IS A HACK SCREENWRITER, it completely failed at it's purpose.
posted by empath at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


As a writer, though, ouch. He really needs to stop writing, or at least to stop writing the same damn script over and over and over and over again.

I don't think he needs to stop writing, what I think he needs is a collaborator who can take his good ideas and turn them into good scripts.
posted by empath at 9:03 AM on June 18, 2008


Does this apply to his other work, too?

Much as I hate him (Wahlberg) I have to admit he wasn't at all bad in The Departed. I'm just not 100% sure how I feel about that movie yet...
I could go into details, but they'd be spoilerfilled so, I won't. It wasn't all bad for sure. I even might have really liked it. But I'd have to watch it again to tell and I'm not sure I want to.
posted by opsin at 9:10 AM on June 18, 2008


On Science Friday last week, Shyamalan tried to slip one by Joe Palca, asserting that Einstein had become conventionally religious later in life. I sometimes spend the Palca episodes wishing Ira Flatow were back, but to his credit, Joe was taking none of M. Night's shit (program link).
posted by gurple at 9:15 AM on June 18, 2008


Remembering him as Marky-Mark, I wanted to hate Wahlberg. But in the only thing I've seen him in, I Heart Huckabees, he was really great. He's still pretty generic-looking but he's at least worked back up to a neutral assessment in my mind, rather than "MARKY-MARK, ARE YOU KIDDING?!"
posted by DU at 9:17 AM on June 18, 2008


Like that dude cares what you twerps think about him.
posted by Burhanistan at 9:20 AM on June 18, 2008


I don't see how it can be THAT bad if it has a lion ripping off a guy's arms. C'mon.
posted by stinkycheese at 9:26 AM on June 18, 2008


Holy crap, robocop, that's got The Happening's premise beat all to hell and back! This movie must be made.
posted by chimaera at 9:28 AM on June 18, 2008


Marky Mark was also great in Three Kings and Invincible. And I would totally do him except that we are both in relationships with other people and also we are not acquainted.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 9:32 AM on June 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


Oh, anything ripping the arms off of anything else is worth the price of admission, no doubt.
posted by Mister_A at 9:33 AM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Effigy2000,
Double Team was awesome. Jean Claude Van Damme in a super-secret think tank! Dennis Rodman trying to be inconspicuous! A climactic scene in which the principals and an infant are saved from an explosion involving Mickey Rourke and a tiger by hiding behind a product placement!

(glove slap baby)
posted by Cookiebastard at 9:37 AM on June 18, 2008


Just curious, where is he getting the money from at this point?

The studio, of course. This movie is going to net Fox money. The budget was about $55 million, which is actually pretty small compared to the summer blockbusters that it's neighboring on the calendar. Worldwide it grossed over $60 million at the box office. The movie is crap, but so was Norbit. They keep making the movies because the movies keep making money.

I adored the actress in that blatant Wizard of Oz ripoff called The TinMan.

It was a shitty miniseries, no doubt, but I'm confused by the tone of this statement- "blatant rip-off?" Umm, they specifically promoted it as a "new take on L. Frank Baum's classic." You make it sound like were surreptitiously stealing Baum's ideas or something.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:43 AM on June 18, 2008


Eideteker, before you write that story, don't read Harlan Ellison's "Mephisto in Onyx."
posted by infinitewindow at 9:46 AM on June 18, 2008


The exact moment that I decided I really didn't need to see any more work from Mr. Shyamalan was a shot in Unbreakable. The camera is looking down at the young Elijah Price reading a comic book. It moves down. It spins around a full 780 degrees. Why, I wonder, should I care about the movie when Shyamalan obviously wants me to focus on his clever little, stupidly obvious, here-i-am way of showing it? Then someone made me see Signs, which I didn't enjoy, but it at least left me feeling totally vindicated.
posted by xchmp at 9:51 AM on June 18, 2008


Now these are some scary sentient trees.
posted by Evangeline at 10:08 AM on June 18, 2008


it's really one person meeting and interacting with people in all different echelons of society, and then trading bodies with them

It was already made into a cult B-movie during the 80s.
posted by Smart Dalek at 10:20 AM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


You think Roger Corman ever complained that people didn't "get" his work?

The difference is that Corman had no pretensions about being an "auteur."
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 10:23 AM on June 18, 2008


There's something going on with Shyamalan and Day of the Triffids.
posted by weston at 10:29 AM on June 18, 2008


I gotta theory...I was liking Unbreakable until MNS pussed out at the end. He's a superhero, maybe the first one. Exploit it...go for it...give us what we want damn it! A costume, flying stopping a train...something, anything. MNS thinks he'a an artiste and forgets what a good story is. Plus, he has no sense of humor.
posted by xjudson at 10:47 AM on June 18, 2008


He's just a Rod Serling tribute band, you know?

KFB, that is brilliant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:00 AM on June 18, 2008


What, you don't appreciate the excitement of the rests of the story being told to you in on-screen captions?
posted by Artw at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2008


There's a moment in Lady in the Water where I really can't tell if it's supposed to be funny or not - it's in the beginning, when he's carrying the girl inside, and she sees the stupid grass-dog and starts screaming, and then Paul Giamatti starts screaming and he runs inside with her. It's a moment that is handled with such obscene awkwardness, and it's so goofy/dorky/funny that I can't tell if M. Night is actually being serious. Anyone know what I'm talking about?
By the way, this is a highly entertaining thread. I don't think he's a director without skill or talent - I think he just needs to figure out how to use his assets properly. After this, I feel kind of sorry for him.
Then again, I am reminded of Lady in the Water, and the pity evaporates.
posted by ghastlyfop at 11:04 AM on June 18, 2008


Mark Wahlberg's had some pretty decent turns as an actor, accompanied by some really hilariously bad ones.

On the other hand, this:
When I say Zooey should have her SAG card revoked, it is not flippantly. I adored the actress in that blatant Wizard of Oz ripoff called The TinMan.
..really makes me wonder if we saw the same miniseries. While the acting was below the standards of several of the people involved (Alan Cumming's certainly done better), Zooey Deschanel was horrible in it. Three quarters of her lines are delivered in a monotone and the rest are in the same sing-songey questioning tone! My girlfriend and I spent most of the time wondering if there was any direction given at all.
posted by mikeh at 11:14 AM on June 18, 2008


After reading most of this thread I had to wander over to Wikipedia to read the Plot Summary for Lady in the Water. And what a summary it is!

This leaves Story completely vulnerable to the Scrunt...


Wasn't that movie based on a bedtime story he told to his kids?

"Hey! Great idea! I'll make a movie out of a story I put my kids to sleep with!"
posted by Fuzzy Skinner at 11:15 AM on June 18, 2008


Hey life look at me, I can see the reality
Cause when you shook me, took me out of my world
I woke up, suddenly I just woke up to The Happening.


It happened to me, and it can happen to you! Ooooh!
posted by Opposite George at 11:22 AM on June 18, 2008


I saw the village and thought to myself... God that was terrible. Since that movie I have avoided MNS movies like the plague. Not that he a horrible person or anything..... I just can't stand all the fawking twists.... They get really old after a while. He should direct a western next to break the mold.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 11:26 AM on June 18, 2008


I thought the scene where

*spoilers*

the two kids were yelling at the people in the house, beating on the door, etc, did an awesome job going from high-larious to WTF?! in about half a second when the guys in the house decided to just blast them. The theatre I was in was crowded, and the crowd went from laughing at the kids to a large gasp and silence. Obviously, repeated viewings would dull the effect, but if you don't know it's coming then that scene is a shocker.

Also, I would like to know more of the old lady's story. Why is she crazy? Why does she live all alone in the middle of nowhere? What's with the adult-sized doll? Shamalama's next movie should be all about her.

*end spoilers*

All said and done, I'm not disappointed with the movie. That may not be so much a credit to Shamalama's film as to the ability of the group of people I was with to use the movie as a jumping-off point for a discussion that lasted 3 hours, and would have gone longer if my wife wasn't too sleepy to sit up straight at that point.
posted by owtytrof at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2008


Guy_Inamonkeysuit writes "The difference is that Corman had no pretensions about being an 'auteur.'"

Yes, that was my point in bringing it up. If you're going to be a hack, at least have fun with it and don't try to be pretentious.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:35 AM on June 18, 2008


Wait -- so has anyone who saw/liked The Village read the children's book Running Out of Time? I've read the latter but not seen the former but it sounds like they've got the same plot, only I bet Running Out of Time does it better.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 11:38 AM on June 18, 2008


Sorry for the double, but I forgot this:

*sigh, spoilers*

Why the fuck wasn't Marky Mark in school during the next-to-last scene of the movie? He's a teacher, and they explicitly said it was the reopening day for Philadelphia schools. He should have been in the classroom waiting for his students, not seeing the little girl off to the bus. I wish they would have explained that, and left all the stuff about "the plants are getting their revenge" out. I can live with a mysterious rash of spontaneous suicide(after all, I own Suicide Club), but a teacher not showing up for the first day of class with nary a word of explanation is totally inconsistent. That's my only real bitch with the movie.

*end spoilers, and post*
posted by owtytrof at 11:42 AM on June 18, 2008


robocop is bleeding: My version of the movie would take place on a cruise ship in the open ocean. Green algae produces most of our oxygen anyways, so if Mama Nature wanted to introduce a person-killing poison, that'd be as good a place as any to start. ... [excellence ensues]
OMG! The big twist of this thread is... robocop is bleeding is a far, far, FAR better writer than M. Night Shamalamadingdong!!!!1
posted by hincandenza at 11:47 AM on June 18, 2008


I've enjoyed every one of his movies, to some extent. A lot of movies encourage you to think about them, but I think his are the opposite. The more you think about them, the more you realize how ludicrous the situations and characters are.

I enjoyed The Village a lot (although the mutant twist suggested above would've been MUCH better), but the idea that they would choose to raise their children in constant fear seems...odd.

The Happening had fantastically bad acting, and a fantastically bad premise. But he still does wonderful suspense, and before you learn the truth, the movie is genuinely creepy.
posted by graventy at 11:54 AM on June 18, 2008


The best part about the review here is the term [spoiler] "boring arboreal genocide".

High in awesome.
posted by Mister_A at 11:55 AM on June 18, 2008


If this film isn't based on the plotline of this 'Happening' I don't wanna hear about it. Or see it.
posted by Minus215Cee at 11:55 AM on June 18, 2008


Also, I would like to know more of the old lady's story. Why is she crazy? Why does she live all alone in the middle of nowhere? What's with the adult-sized doll? Shamalama's next movie should be all about her.

See, this is one of the things I think he does really, really well: he drops enough clues to make you curious about plot points and try to fill in the blanks yourself. For a brief moment, we see an old yellowed photo on the mantle of a young woman (most likely her) standing next to a man in uniform. Put that together with (a) lives alone, (b) distrusts the outside world, (c) quick to anger and (d) keeps a life-like doll of a child in a bed, and a picture starts to emerge of a woman who lost her husband in a war, before they could have any children.
posted by jbickers at 12:07 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Also, I would like to know more of the old lady's story. Why is she crazy? Why does she live all alone in the middle of nowhere? What's with the adult-sized doll? Shamalama's next movie should be all about her.

This is part of what is awful about that movie, because it is transparently obvious that there is no backstory; it's just random plot nonsense. And then they meet this crazy old lady!

It's much like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer pitches an idea to Ron Howard about a robot driving instructor that goes back in time "for some reason" and whose friend is a talking pie.

Why is she crazy? The old lady is crazy for some reason.
Why does she live alone? She lives alone for some reason.
What's with the doll? She has a big doll for some reason.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:22 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Yeah, ok, that was depressingly bad. He spent months, maybe years crafting that movie, spent 57 million making it and i'm like "Really? That's it? You gotta be joking. 'Cause if you're not joking you wasted 57 million dollars and that's fucking unreal."
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on June 18, 2008


I fucking LOVED The Village. Screw you guys.
posted by greytape at 12:26 PM on June 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


SISTER: You've never seen The Sixth Sense? Wow! It's really good, very atmospheric, and you never see the twist at the end coming!
ME: Why, is Bruce Willis really a ghost? [Eye roll]
SISTER: ...
ME: Hunh.

I've never been interested in seeing a MNS movie since.

Still, it couldn't be as awful as this The Happening. If I wasn't already biased, the shared title would be enough to keep me from watching.

Did anyone else notice that they went out of their way in the previews to make sure you had no idea John Leguizamo was in the movie?
>Not really - they showed his suicide scene in the R-rated version of the trailer.


Well, if there's one thing better than not having Leguizamo in a movie...
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 12:34 PM on June 18, 2008


Truthfully she shoulda looked at this dialogue, turned to Night and said, "you gotta be kidding me right? Where's the real script? This is a joke, right?"

Sir Alec Guiness (reading): " . . . until he turned to evil . . . turned to EVIL . . . turned -- to evil . . uh . . . it surrounds us and penetrates us . . . surrounds us and penetrates us? Penetrates . . . well . . . and binds the galaxy together. It binds the galaxy . . . Come on, you gotta be kidding me right? Did you even SEE Lawrence of Arabia? Where's the real script?"
posted by The Bellman at 12:39 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Argh! Guinness, of course. Appollogies to all offended.
posted by The Bellman at 12:40 PM on June 18, 2008


And let's pretend I spelled "apologies" that way because it's funny in context because I forgot the extra "n" in Guinness, not because I can't type. Or spell. Or whatever.
posted by The Bellman at 12:42 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ah, The Day Of The Triffids film... I always remember a review in an old book on science fiction films I used to have ending with: "A film about vegetables, by vegetables, for vegetables."

Now I'd steal that for a review of The Happening... but I don't think I could really beat comedian Natalie Haynes on Newsnight Review: "I was laughing so hard the proper critic next to me told me to shush!". They should put that on the poser.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:05 PM on June 18, 2008


krinklyfig writes "Yes, that was my point in bringing it up. If you're going to be a hack, at least have fun with it and don't try to be pretentious."

Oh, and by the way, for a hack, Corman was great at what he did, which is mostly b-movies. I love his films for what they are, most of them anyway. Can't say the same about MNS. He's a hack with a big budget and ego to match who shouldn't try to write screenplays.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:22 PM on June 18, 2008



Sir Alec Guiness (reading): " . . . until he turned to evil . . . turned to EVIL . . . turned -- to evil . . uh . . . it surrounds us and penetrates us . . . surrounds us and penetrates us? Penetrates . . . well . . . and binds the galaxy together. It binds the galaxy . . . Come on, you gotta be kidding me right? Did you even SEE Lawrence of Arabia? Where's the real script?"

Bellman, it's actually a not-so-unknown fact that Guinness was well aware the script was crap. But he was smart enough to know the movie would probably be a hit, and as such he was able to demand a percentage of the gross in his contract. I suppose it's a more tasteful way of saying Guinness was clearly doing this for the money, but it wasn't really a covert act.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:27 PM on June 18, 2008


I think I've derived more enjoyment out of Robot Chicken's lampooning of him ("What a twist!") than anything he's actually done. Oh well.
posted by Talanvor at 1:32 PM on June 18, 2008


He should direct a western nothing next to break the mold.

That's better.
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 1:51 PM on June 18, 2008


If someone is going to make a scary plant movie, I wish they'd do Thomas Disch's The Genocides. At the very least, he could use the money.
posted by drezdn at 2:09 PM on June 18, 2008


Stupid fucking Web people.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:12 PM on June 18, 2008


Solon and thanks: I read that book, and I couldn't believe that the author or the publisher never sued MNS for ripping off the ideas. I'm not sure the author would have had a slam-dunk case, but still, the similarities were striking.
posted by nushustu at 2:13 PM on June 18, 2008


Oh, and by the way, for a hack, Corman was great at what he did, which is mostly b-movies. I love his films for what they are, most of them anyway. Can't say the same about MNS. He's a hack with a big budget and ego to match who shouldn't try to write screenplays.

I'd be more comfortable calling Corman a hack were it not for something like Masque of the Red Death. If M. Night has ever made a film that good, I know for damn sure I haven't seen it (I drew the line after The Village, so I probably won't see it, either).
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:13 PM on June 18, 2008


The first delete scenes are already out! Sorry.
posted by Flex1970 at 3:20 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Just an FYI:

Saying you figured out the twist of the Village from the trailer = acceptable.

Saying that you figured out the twist of the Sixth Sense before the ending = Insufferably Smug.
posted by empath at 3:23 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Exploit it...go for it...give us what we want damn it! A costume, flying stopping a train...something, anything.

I'm sorry you didn't get what you wanted / thought you deserved. Maybe write him a letter with what you would like to see in his next movie?
Perhaps send him a check list with the minimum requirements to what makes a good movie?

Sex
Boobs
Explosions!
Rock music
Boobs
Minorities challenging stereotypes
Obviousness
Long-winded death speaches
Will Smith

Maybe we should just vote on what movies are made next. It's democratic, appeases the masses, and the terrorists don't win.

Who cares what the director wants to make anyway right?
posted by Upal at 3:40 PM on June 18, 2008


I would totally have seen a movie where cannabis rises up and begins smoking people, though. Especially if it had Jack Black in it.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 4:05 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


M. Night Shyamalan's career falls a theater and there is no one in the seats to watch it, does it make a sound?
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 4:18 PM on June 18, 2008


Haven't seen The Happening, but I cannot let such a slight against Double Team stand. Maybe you were not aware, but it stars Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dennis Rodman. Even if they had just both been standing there, it would have been a piece of cinematic history.

So Effigy2000, I accept your challenge to a duel.

My terms are landmines and tigers at midnight in the coliseum.
posted by Durhey at 4:49 PM on June 18, 2008


My terms are landmines and tigers at midnight in the coliseum.

Now this would be a movie!
posted by DU at 4:52 PM on June 18, 2008


I sincerely wish I knew someone who knew MNS, just so that I could get that person to email him this thread. The dude needs to be humbled a little.
posted by misha at 5:13 PM on June 18, 2008


The interesting thing about this thread is that I don't think it's the usual 'i hate him because he's popular'.

It's more then "He frustrates me because he's pissing away such obvious talent."
posted by empath at 5:18 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I would like to know more of the old lady's story. Why is she crazy? Why does she live all alone in the middle of nowhere? What's with the adult-sized doll? Shamalama's next movie should be all about her.

Response 1: See, this is one of the things I think he does really, really well: he drops enough clues to make you curious about plot points and try to fill in the blanks yourself.

Response 2: This is part of what is awful about that movie, because it is transparently obvious that there is no backstory; it's just random plot nonsense. And then they meet this crazy old lady!

It's much like the episode of the Simpsons where Homer pitches an idea to Ron Howard about a robot driving instructor that goes back in time "for some reason" and whose friend is a talking pie.


Gotta agree with #2 here. It's a standard trope in his films (or the ones that I've seen): main plot randomly intersects with some other plot that could potentially be interesting but isn't and then is dropped just like that.

Exhibit A, from The Sixth Sense: Oh, what's that, little dead girl? You're having your funeral over there? OK, let me go... hey, here's this video. Here, dead girl's dad, watch this. Oh my god, your wife was poisoning your daughter for some reason! How fucking crazy, why did she do that? Was it because [CUT] OK, hey Bruce Willis, you are dead. The end.

Exhibit B, from Unbreakable: Hmm, wonder anyone in this crowd is a criminal... OMG THAT JANITOR IS A PSYCHO apparently WHO HAS KIDNAPPED AND IS TORTURING PEOPLE for some reason I guess! Let me rescue them and fall into a pool and which I guess is my weakness that I find it difficult to swim when tangled up in a pool cover, ok that seems like it would be tough for anyone and not exactly Kryptonite, but whatever. Look son, I killed this dude. I'm a hero, I sure hope that family gets some counselli-- [CUT] Oh no, Sam Jackson is Mr. Glass! The end.

And even if you like this guy's movies, any of them, what the FUCK is up with Sixth Sense now being #44 on AFI's top 100 movies? That is fucking insane. I have seen commercials that I'd rank on that top 100 list ahead of that.
posted by Saxon Kane at 5:26 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Dancer in the Dark is a great movie.
posted by mrgrimm at 5:38 PM on June 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


The little dead girl in The Sixth Sense was central to the main plot - the fact that Bruce Willis (before he realized he was dead) convinced the kid to listen to the dead people he was seeing and help them out (starting with her) was what enabled Willis to "cure" the kid. And then realize he was dead.

That one was a legitimately good movie, and probably deserves its high standing in AFI's list; that said, I haven't seen any others of his, and I won't be seeing this new one either.
posted by yhbc at 5:47 PM on June 18, 2008


by the way, the "night" thing isnt totally out of left field/pretentious. Shyam (as in Shyamalan) means 'dark' in hindi. like dark as krishna. or dark as night. from sanskrit 'syama'.
posted by joeblough at 5:55 PM on June 18, 2008


This all reminds me of a Jack Handy quote:

"Somebody told me it was frightening how much topsoil we are losing each year, but I told that story around the campfire and nobody got scared."
posted by inconsequentialist at 5:59 PM on June 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, I really liked The Sixth Sense - and is probably still why I hate MNS pissing away his obvious talent. I just find it rewatchable and not because of already knowing the twist, but because it doesn't seem like there's much more to it than the surface. And it's a beautiful, well shot surface - but beyond the twist (which I like), it doesn't seem to have much depth. So, yeah, it probably shouldn't be so high on any Top 100 lists - but it's better than the rest of his movies. (Although Unbreakable is a close second, for me. Everything else is bottom of the barrel suck.)
posted by crossoverman at 6:02 PM on June 18, 2008


Weston: "There's something going on with Shyamalan and Day of the Triffids."

Man, if that's true, that'll be the first Night film I refuse to go see. I liked the original. Actually, I saw the original when I was like four years old or something. I don't remember much about it, cuz I think I had my eyes closed half the time.

Still, I don't want my memory of Day of the Triffids to go from "really cool scary movie omg" to "the twist was that they weren't really triffids? wtf?"
posted by ZachsMind at 6:09 PM on June 18, 2008


I would totally have seen a movie where cannabis rises up and begins smoking people, though.

This has been done, in one of the interchangeable Not Another Epic Teen Scary Movie 'spoofs'.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:35 PM on June 18, 2008


Errata: I mistyped -- Sixth Sense was #44 on top 100 movie quotes for "I see dead people."

It made #89 in the top 100 American films of all time. But still, yhbc, it deserves that? It is one of the best 100 movies of all time? I'm sorry, but what? I don't know if it is even worth being #89 of 1999, let alone in the history of American cinema.

Just to give you a sense of things, it beat out Sophie's Choice (#91), Goodfellas (#92), Do the Right Thing (#96), and Blade Runner (#97) -- among others. Uh, what? Granted, there are many way-overated boners on the list, and trying to measure the "best" 100 films is a mug's game anyway, but how the fuck does this movie even deserve to be on the same list as Sophie's Choice, let alone ranked higher?

And my point wasn't that the dead girl wasn't functional in the plot. It's not like it was just a random scene spliced in for no reason. My point is that it was yet another SHOCKING TWIST!!!1!OMG that comes out of nowhere, is treated as WHOA CRAZY THE MOM IS A KILLER WHAT IS GOING ON, and then dropped like a turd. It was shoved in there, treated as a cheap plot device, and then goes no where fast. The characters don't care about it beyond the brief time it appears on screen, the director/writer doesn't care about, why should I?
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:52 PM on June 18, 2008


When the husband and I watched Signs we had a different view of the ending then most. Maybe it's because we're both asthmatics, but we thought the alien was about to CURE that kid of his asthma, but then his big dopey bro had to just beat the life out him. We thought the aliens were good, enlightened and stumbled upon a culture that was dumb, brutal and fearful. That family put all their trust into a faith that always let them down. Poor aliens. They were just trying to help with something they solved eons ago. Now we all still have to suffer the pain in the ass that is asthma.
posted by dog food sugar at 7:57 PM on June 18, 2008 [6 favorites]


I never saw The Village, but I loved Roger Ebert's smackdown of the twist at the end:

"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."
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:35 PM on June 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


Writing a good suspense screenplay is hard: film at, erm....
posted by chuckdarwin at 12:32 AM on June 19, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's awesome, The Card Cheat. Right up there with Ebert's review of Pearl Harbor.
posted by brundlefly at 12:36 AM on June 19, 2008


Saying that you figured out the twist of the Sixth Sense before the ending = Insufferably Smug.

Why so?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:09 AM on June 19, 2008


I want to point out that last night Stephan Colbert stole my "What's Happening" joke.
posted by tkchrist at 1:42 PM on June 19, 2008


The characters don't care about it beyond the brief time it appears on screen, the director/writer doesn't care about, why should I?

I cared. I started a Munchhausen's Syndrome By-Proxy Support group. Come to a meeting. don't forget to have some of the home made soup.
posted by tkchrist at 1:44 PM on June 19, 2008


Saying that you figured out the twist of the Sixth Sense before the ending

Because I can guarantee you, that if you figured it out, it's only because you saw the movie some time after the initial release and you heard so much about it that you spent the whole movie trying to figure out what the twist was. It doesn't mean the movie was bad or that you're oh so much smarter than MNS or all the people that were surprised by it.

Trust me, the movie was vastly better if you didn't go into it trying to outsmart the director and everyone else watching the movie with you.
posted by empath at 6:43 PM on June 19, 2008


You can guarantee me that can you?

The secret to SIXTH SENSE was obvious to me not because I outsmarted the director but because the dialog was so clumsily written. It was staringly obvious. Sorry if that makes you feel dumb.
posted by unSane at 7:11 PM on June 19, 2008


It's pretty well flagged. I mean, you see the guy shot and apparently killed at the beginning, and then he gets better. That's kind of a tip off if you're expecting some kind of twist.

I still enjoyed it though.
posted by Artw at 7:15 PM on June 19, 2008


That's kind of a tip off if you're expecting some kind of twist.

Which is the problem - IF you are expecting the twist, it's an easy twist to find. I wish I hadn't known there would be a twist, then I wouldn't have been looking for it.

But knowing there is a twist, it's basically the only twist there can be.
posted by crossoverman at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2008


I can guarantee you, that if you figured it out, it's only because you saw the movie some time after the initial release and you heard so much about it that you spent the whole movie trying to figure out what the twist was. It doesn't mean the movie was bad or that you're oh so much smarter than MNS or all the people that were surprised by it. Trust me, the movie was vastly better if you didn't go into it trying to outsmart the director and everyone else...

I still haven't seen the movie. Spoilers aren't a make or break proposition or competition for me, it's just that the Guy Who Helps Ghost-Ridden Child Turns Out To Be A Ghost Himself is something Joe Orlando could churn out on his worst day or Stan Lee on his best. Considering the acclaim that bit received, I didn't think it boded well for the rest of the movie, however technically well-made and atmospheric it was.

I guarantee you empath, you spend way too much time worrying about people trying to be smart. And probably still curse the guy who blabbed that Vader was Luke's father.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:15 PM on June 19, 2008


The twist could have been that he's gay.

I went into Unbreakable not expecting a twist. As soon as the little kid with the breakable bones started reading comic books (what, 3 minutes into the movie?) I knew what the twist was. That's just bad filmmaking.
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:16 PM on June 19, 2008


Well, I'm not going to defend any of his other movies, I've said elsewhere in the thread what I think of them. But if you walked into the Sixth Sense blind (ie, not knowing there's a twist ending), there's no way you'd figure out he was dead very much before the end of the movie. Knowing that there's a twist and then making the whole point of watching the movie 'how do i figure out the twist', i think kind of ruins a rather worthwhile movie experience.
posted by empath at 10:42 PM on June 19, 2008


Here's the reason why I still think The Sixth Sense is a great film.

The second time I watched it, after knowing the 'twist' ending, there's a moment where Bruce Willis sees through a window that his ex-wife is with another man. He pounds on the glass and we see it crack. We get a shot of the ex-wife looking through the cracked glass, looking almost straight at us.

Then in the next shot, we get a very quick almost blurry shot of Bruce Willis walking down the street away from the window. His face is in pain, and the first time that's what I was looking at. His face in pain.

The second time, I noticed he's holding his gut. His hand is at the place where he got shot.

I got more of an "omigod" moment when I saw that the second time, then when I realized the first time that he's been dead. I honestly gasped when I saw that the second time.

That's just good filmmaking.
posted by ZachsMind at 10:48 PM on June 19, 2008


And here is, btw, why the Sixth Sense worked and why the twist took so many people by surprise. The movie has two buys that the movie asks you to accept-- one that the kid can see ghosts, and two that Bruce Willis IS a ghost. Once you've bought the first one, you're not expecting a second. It works from moment to moment as a character piece, and it's so well acted and so involving on an emotional level that you miss or ignore all the clues that are left. So really you get to see the movie twice, once on the screen as it happens, and then a second time in a flash at the end of the movie in memory, as you suddenly re-interpret all the scenes you just saw in your head, sometimes radically -- the scenes with his wife in the restaurant, for example go from being merely fraught to being achingly sad, the motivations of all the characters change without a single line of dialogue or a single bit of delivery altered.

The reason why the twist in the Village (and the twists in the rest of his movies, for that matter) is pointless is because there's absolutely no emotional resonance to it. The twist in the Sixth Sense totally changes your interpretation of everything you just watched, and most particularly the relationships between the characters. The twist of the Village changes nothing. It didn't matter if they were in the modern world or another planet, it hadn't an iota of impact on any of the emotional beats of the movie.
posted by empath at 10:59 PM on June 19, 2008 [4 favorites]


To add a bit to that, Sixth Sense works as a film even without the twist. The twist just adds a second film running parallel to the first, that you don't even know is there until the second time you watch it.
posted by empath at 11:05 PM on June 19, 2008


But if you walked into the Sixth Sense blind (ie, not knowing there's a twist ending), there's no way you'd figure out he was dead very much before the end of the movie.

Eh, wrong.

I'll admit that I didn't see the twist ending coming, but I know many people who did who went in without any knowledge that it had a surprise ending. It is fairly obvious.

The movie has two buys that the movie asks you to accept-- one that the kid can see ghosts, and two that Bruce Willis IS a ghost. Once you've bought the first one, you're not expecting a second.

But the first one, which was played up for the first 45 minutes of the movie as a big deal (is this kid crazy? are ghosts real? And then... DUN DUN DUUUUN! he can see them, they are real!) was ALREADY REVEALED IN EVERY FUCKING TRAILER FOR THE MOVIE. If you'd seen any advertisement for the movie -- hell, even the poster outside the theater -- you already knew that the kid really could see dead people, so all the "suspense" built around it in the film was pointless and, to me, dull. I was watching the film, going, "Oh, that's a nice shot.... that looks nice... yeah, but we know he can see ghosts, what the hell? Get to something interesting that moves this plot forward... Oh, Bruce Willis is dead, huh? That's... interesting I guess. OK."
posted by Saxon Kane at 7:09 AM on June 20, 2008


Alvy Ampersand - Don't be dissin' Stan Lee mate, you'll get a punch.

So anyway, why Sixth Sense works is that there’s actually a lot of clues pointing to what the twist is going to be, and once you get to that twist you can say “Ah! That;s why he dropped the ring when such and such”. It may be unexpected, but it’s not out fo the blue, it’s logically consistent, and it’s actually perfectly enjoyable even if you more or less figured it out before you got to that point.

(Oh, and I don't think it's really a second "buy", ridiculous film-school speak fans)

Nothing else he’s done has really worked as well as that. I’d argue that the Village comes close but there are too many oddities for it to completely work and it drags like hell in parts.
posted by Artw at 8:48 AM on June 20, 2008


"I see a dead director"
posted by petersn1 at 3:32 PM on June 20, 2008


Looks like The Love Guru is going to give it some serious competition.
posted by Artw at 8:53 AM on June 23, 2008


Looks like The Love Guru is going to give it some serious competition.

Yup

posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:24 AM on June 23, 2008


Ben Kingsley is in it? That's... weird.
posted by Artw at 9:26 AM on June 23, 2008


Looks like The Love Guru is going to give it some serious competition.

Yup


Holy crap. I think anyone here could make a movie that would score at least 15%. That is just sad.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2008


On behalf of Canada: we are very, very sorry, and we are very, very disappointed in Mike Myers.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:23 PM on June 23, 2008 [1 favorite]


*grunt and grumble meant to convey that while we accept your apology, the wound is still fresh and painful*
posted by the littlest brussels sprout at 10:00 AM on June 24, 2008


If anything this looks even worse than The Love Guru... I'm never going to actually watch this (or the countless other examples) but it offends me to the very core that they even exist. Hopefully there's a very special hell waiting for all those involved.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 9:11 AM on June 25, 2008


Myers really is the new Robin Williams. Does anyone know if he’s recently kicked a drug habit?
posted by Artw at 9:27 AM on June 25, 2008


« Older Pig lost! Boss say that it Grunk fault. Say Grunk...  |  These "track boards," or "fix ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments