I've been working on Part IX of Blundering Through Israel when I've been able, but sometimes intervening events require an immediate response. Sometimes people need to be warned of dangers that are lurking.
And so, to sound such an alarm (and distract you from noticing my blogging failures), I offer you this review of the new M. Night Shyamalan movie:
Let me start by stating that I am a fan of Shyamalan's work. I've seen every one of his movies and, even when I've found them predictable, I've enjoyed them.
That streak ended with Lady in Crapper.*
To say that this movie was terrible would be to give it too much credit. The story was muddled, self-involved, and, ultimately, downright dull. Shyamalan gives us a fairy tale/bedtime story, but reveals the parts of that story as he needs more to establish something resembling a plot. Indeed, the "understory," which is presumably supposed to captivate the audience, is less interesting than the actual story of the movie (which is saying a lot). The end result is a confused and resoundingly boring mess.
I also think it's incredibly trite to have the writer/director cast himself as an author whose work will influence the world. Plleeaassee! As Shyamalan recognized in the DVD features of the Sixth Sense, he is not a very good actor. While I appreciate the "director cameo" made famous by Hitchcock, anything more than three lines should be left to those with some semblence of acting talent. He ultimately comes off as self-involved and vain.
And speaking of self-involved, having a movie critic who hates everything wrongly predict his own future based on his knowledge of movies is incredibly trite. I expect more than Scream-type (no offense to Scream, which did a wonderful job of being what it was) entertainment when I lay down $8 for a Shyamalan picture. This character appeared as nothing more than an extended middle finger to movie critics. Critics, by the way, who are quite rightfully lambasting this mass-produced monstrosity.
Furthermore, the directing talent that I have come to expect with Shyamalan's work was entirely vacant. While Shyamalan use of unique camera angles is often used to develop characters and perpetuate the story, here it was as if he was simply searching for opportunities to use these "camera tricks." At times, I felt myself saying, "Just fucking stop and put the camera where it's supposed to be!"
The only redemption for this otherwise disasterous piece of garbage was good (although I would certainly not label them exceptional) performances by two actors, the main character, Cleveland Heep, played by Paul Giamantti, and the water sprite, Story, played by Bryce Dallas Howard. Although the dialogue was sometimes stilted (why can't water sprite's use conjunctions? Don't they have conjunctions in the Blue World or is that something else we're not allowed to know?), those two actors were the only reason to stay in the theatre at all. Because it certainly wasn't the trite, dull, and, ultimately, predictable story.
So if Shyamalan is reading this, feel free to use that link to the left and drop me an email so you can send me my $8 back. My only regret (besides seeing this movie to begin with) is that I can't get back the hour and fifty minutes of my time that you completely wasted.
* Sorry, I can't bring myself to create a link. You'll just have to google it.