March 31, 2011

Geek Weekly: Special review - Shyamalanathon

Since I do reviews on all the first and third Thursdays of the month, I thought it would be fun to do a Super Special Review on the rare fifth Thursdays. For the forseeable future, I'll be focusing them on a series of themed marathons, complete with reviews and blow-by-blow reactions. Since M. Night Shyamalan is one of my favorite directors (I can see a bunch of you running for the hills already, GET BACK HERE), I thought a Shyamalanathon would be the way to start it off.

A few notes: a while back I made a half-assed attempt at a blog, and the Shyamalanathon was one of my first posts. Unfortunately I failed at committing to a blog at the time (as opposed to now YAY), so this post got thrown out. This was originally written before Avatar: The Last Airbender came out, and I have to admit I haven't seen that one yet. It was also originally multiple posts, so it's going to be a bit long. You have been warned.

Shyamalanathon 1/3: The Bruce Willis era

The Sixth Sense
I almost forgot how much I love this movie. Although I am of the MTV generation, I really like when a scary movie takes its time building the tension before making me jump. Of course I've seen this one enough times not to be too affected by the scares anymore. Remember when Haley Joel Osment was so cute with the stiff-legged run? Remember when Bruce Willis still had some hair? Did you realize that the barfing girl ghost was played by Mischa Barton? And then there's Night's very first twist, the revelation that Bruce Willis is one of the ghosts haunting Cole. It's fun watching the movie knowing that, and enjoying his character's non-interactions with the rest of the cast. Scariest ghost = the crawlspace guy; you only hear his voice. CREEPY. Night sighting: the doctor who accuses Cole's mom (played by the excellent Toni Collette) of abuse. Hi, Night!

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • Bullshit! hee
  • the “magic” trick... hee again
  • scariest ghost = crawlspace dude *shudder*
  • night sighting! the doctor
  • I see dead people
  • ACK barfing ghost
  • Bruce Willis is dead!!!

When I first saw this movie, my friend and I dubbed it “That Security Guy vs. Mr. Glass.” It was made to be a sort of prequel to a superhero flick asking the question, “What if superheroes and supervillans existed in the real world?” It does a fantastic job of mixing the fantastic and the mundane, which I think is a trademark of sorts in M. Night's movies. This one wasn't very well-received, probably because most people were expecting “The Sixth Sense 2.” Comparatively this movie is much less scary, but it has plenty of awesomesauce to go around. Ever since I saw it I've been hoping for a sequel, and according to IMDb I just might get it. Night sighting: potential drug dealer at the stadium where Bruce Willis works as a security guard. Hi Night! Surprise twist: Mr. Glass (played gorgeously by Samuel L. Jackson) is TOTALLY EVIL!

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • aw, poor baby Samuel L.
  • Samuel L. deploys The Rage!
  • Robin Wright's “I want to get back together but I'm totally ok if you don't want that *sob*” speech was particularly effective when I first saw it 'cause I had recently gone through a massive break-up and was totally in that desperate place at the time. Ouch, and also? WOW.
  • *crunch crunch crunch wince* the breaking of Samuel L. *wince*
  • Night sighting! potential drug dealer
  • 6:39pm tweet: On movie 2 of the Shyamalanathon (Unbreakable). Supplies still holding out, haven't needed bathroom break yet. Soldiering on. #shyamalan
  • GAH psycho janitor's entry is so creepy “I like your house, can I come in?” *shudder*
  • David becomes a superhero. LOVE.
  • best moment: David whispering to son across breakfast table “You were right.” *sniff*
  • surprise twist: MR. GLASS IS TOTALLY EVIL!! duh.
  • according to IMDb, Unbreakable 2 is in development. Yes, please!

Shyamalanaton 2/3: The Joaquin Phonix era

This one is very sentimental. It's also a study in faith, which is not something I normally enjoy (being essentially atheist). Nonetheless, it's a great, creepy, and often funny movie. Cuteness abounds, helped along by tiny Abigail Breslin in one of her first movie rolls (love the bump-da-bump dance, particularly knowing “Little Miss Sunshine” is in her future). Mel Gibson brings the funny more than once, apparently having not yet been driven insane by Jesus. Then the alien invasion starts, and it is SCARY. One plot hole that occurred to me... if the aliens know that water is deadly to them, why do they choose to attack EARTH?? Twist ending: it all has a purpose. Swing away, Merrill! Night sighting: the dude who killed Mel's wife. Oops. Hi Night!

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • tiny Abigail Breslin!
  • ”I'm insane with anger!” LOLZ
  • night sighting – unexplained guy who makes everyone uncomfortable
  • cornfields are always scary o_0
  • Joaquin & Mel sitting on couch with hands on knees = hee!
  • night sighting 2: awkwardness explained
  • god, Mel Gibson used to be so funny. until Jesus drove him insane.
  • oh HEE Joaquin in a tin hat too
  • ”it's happening” *shudder*
  • they left the dog outside to die DO NOT APPROVE
  • Joaquin protecting the kids... I have no maternal instinct whatsoever, yet seeing a not-yet-dad-age dude protecting kids makes me drop eggs like they're hot

The Village
Aw, it's an M. Night Shyamalan love story. Along with being a world-is-evil story. There are so many amazing actors and performances in this that you couldn't even find enough sticks to shake at them in the scary woods. Also, James Newton Howard's music is particularly great in this one. I think this one might actually be my favorite, although the next one will be high up on the scale as well. Night seemed rather determined to make up for the rather weak twist in the last movie by adding a total of FOUR twists. And, in my opinion, pulling off each one quite gracefully, and saving the best and biggest for last. I can honestly say that I did not see that coming, like, at all. Night sighting: at the end, he plays a ranger who delivers a load of awkward exposition. Nice of him to take that job on himself. Hi Night!

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • Adrien Brody is adorable and creepy at the same time. How does he do that??
  • Bryce Dallas Howard has the awesomest laugh ever
  • this movie is chock full of 70's sci-fi awesomesauce in the form of William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver
  • violin music – James Newton Howard
  • aww!!! Joaquin + Bryce = teh cuteness
  • AAACCCKKKK with the stabbing
  • twist #1: Those We Do Not Speak Of are the elders!
  • twist #2: no wait Those We Do Not Speak Of are ACTUALLY REAL!!
  • twist #3: oh wait nevermind that's just Adrian Brody
  • twist #4: we are in present day, folks.
  • night sighting: mostly just the voice as one of the rangers who kindly delivers giant chunk of clunky exposition

Shyamalanathon 3/3: Parable Time

Lady in the Water
Yeah, this one's my favorite. It's tough to knock The Village off that pedestal, with all the stellar acting going on; but even with the general drop in thespian skillz, there's still some shining exceptions. Most notably Paul Giamatti, who successfully pulls off comedic adorableness and heartbreaking pathos in equal measure. Another highlight is M. Night himself in his biggest role. A little messianic, yes, but well performed. Plus, love the silly interaction with the sister character. In fact, there is not a character in the movie I don't love for one reason or another. The only thing that I would change is that when Reggie is revealed to be The Protector in what is probably considered to be the movie's big twist, I would have like to see him bring some Hellboy-esque smackdown on the Scrunt. It would have paid off his one-side-only workout regimen, for one thing. For another, it would have been awesometastic. As I said, there really wasn't a big twist, more like a series of little twists throughout the movie. And, hi Night!

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • the slaying of the bug LOLZ!
  • eek! grassy dogs!
  • Micah! playing a child prodigy. what a departure.
  • i want to live in that apartment complex, for reals
  • yep, this one's my favorite
  • appx 12:30 tweet: Movie 5 of the Shyamalanathon. Have already put up installments 1 & 2 on The Blog: Supplies still holding, for now
  • night sighting: a major character! and he's hilarious to boot. love his brother/sister stuff. adorable!
  • have I mentioned I developed a crush on night during this movie? so pretty
  • Paul Giamatti is a comedic genius
  • one regret: Reggie should have brought the pain
  • love that eagle

The Happening
After the happy that was the last film, this one takes us darker than any of the others. It's a really cringe-worthy concept, watching people off themselves in increasingly horrifying ways because the plants told them to. As a fan of the horror genre, I loved it! Ok, granted, the ending was a little weak, and not because of the lack of any real twist. Personally I don't have any problem with a straight-forward, twist-free story; if he tried to use that every time, it would get boring. The ending just felt kind of lame. I was also a little disappointed that Night didn't make an appearance in this one... I think he might have gotten panned for his work in the last film and probably decided to forgo an appearance here. What I did love was the Parisian coda. Look out, France, you're next! Can't decide what the most disturbing part was; there were so many. The lawnmower certainly sticks out in my mind. Kudos to Night for crawling right under my skin and setting up camp there for two hours. Guh.

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • just before watching this movie, went upstairs for potty/smoke break and got completely freaked out. movies getting to me. eek.
  • this one jumps right in with the eep
  • wahlberg redux: donnie was superior
  • cameron!
  • zooey. zoooooooooey. zooeydeschanel. that's fun to say in a bad french accent
  • aw john leguizamo as a daddy = cuteness
  • is it wrong that I love the part where three people use a gun one after the other to kill themselves?
  • omg these suicides are bonkers
  • cheese and crackers! hee
  • oh yeah, breslin redux as well: both performed admirably
  • oh ACK the lawnmower ACK
  • are you my mummy? old ladies in gas masks, hee
  • o hai crazy lady EEEKKK
  • no twist, no night, and an awesome coda

Shyamalanathon: Redux and Wrap-Up

The Buried Secrets of M. Night Shyamalan
Surprise! Bet you didn't see this coming... Come now, no proper Shyamalanathon would be complete without this one. It would have been part of the original Shyamalanathon posts, but I kind of forgot to put in on my NetFlix queue in time and didn't get it until yesterday. Oops.

When I first watched this, I thought it was real. I mean, on one level I didn't because, c'mon. It was only a few days later that I saw the retraction/apology, and that didn't surprise me either. When I watched it at night, alone in my apartment, I was, frankly, totally convinced. To the extent that I slept on the couch with the TV on that night. In the light of day it was a bit different. Seriously, there was Deepak Chopra! And Johnny Depp! And all sorts of crazy drama! How could it not be real? Ok, the creepy hoodie kids were a little out there. And the acting was sometimes a bit... well, awkward. Still!

I know a lot of people think the movie is ridiculous (assuming they even know about it). Most people are pretty scornful of the fact that it was an admitted hoax. Personally, I think it was brilliant. Not only from a publicity standpoint, but also as just a bit of really good storytelling. I mean, how often do you get to see a movie about the life of a real person, a famous person at that, which is really creepy and interesting? And that person is actually INVOLVED in the movie? I just thought it was cool as hell both in its attempt to make the viewer believe it was real, and after knowing it's fake, the story itself.

A story that I started writing a long time ago revolved around the idea that horror movies and books aren't fiction at all, just windows into worlds most people ignore or don't want to see. One of the characters in my story is Clive Barker, who turns out to be this haunted guy who sees into those places and whose stories and characters are based on what he sees there. This movie follows that same tradition wonderfully, and the involvement of Night in the process just makes it all the more awesome.

C'mon, they pulled the wool over your eyes for a minute too, just admit it. This movie is well worth watching if you can stop bitching and enjoy it. It would only have been better if everyone involved had managed to keep up with the ruse and left us all wondering if maybe, just maybe, it was real.

Blow-by-blow notes:
  • first time... kinda bought it, kinda not
  • lovely cinematography
  • should have noticed the awkward “acting” from some of the crew types
  • creepy hoodie kids!
  • Deepak Chopra was an interesting random celeb
  • ditch the hate and enjoy the ride, people – this thing is worth it
  • JOHNNY DEPP I almost forgot about that!
  • Adrian Brody = awesome
  • GAH the house part is so creepy
  • it's too bad they had to admit it was fake

Wrap Up
Things purchased in preparation for the Shyamalanathon:
  • smokes
  • milk for cereal
  • lunchmeat and bagels for sandwiches
  • crab dib and pita bread
  • white cheddar Cheeze-Its
  • Papa John's large bacon-green-pepper-onion pizza with extra sauce
  • Crystal Light wild strawberry flavor with CAFFEINE
  • Diet Code Red Mountain Dew 12-pack
  • Friskie's Indoor cat food

So this was a really fun experience, even more so because I got to spew my thoughts about it all over the interwebs. Hope the three or four of you that read it enjoyed it as much as I did, and I definitely suggest giving the Shyamalanathon a try if you have the chance.

I have a few other -thons I'm mulling over for the fifth Thursday reviews, including an American-Remakes-of-Asian-Horror-thon, a Stephen-King-adaptation-thon, a the-UK-is-scary-thon, and the grandaddy of -thons, an Extended-Director's-Cut-Lord-of-the-Rings-including-all-DVD-special-features-thon. Check back in June for the next fifth Thursday to see which one I picked! (Actually, come back before then, because I need validation. Thanks.)


  1. NotoriouslyuniqueApril 1, 2011 at 2:57 AM

    Would you hate me if I say I've only seen The Village (and about 10 minutes of Signs)??

  2. @Notoriouslyunique OF COURSE NOT. I'd only hate you if you hadn't seen any of his movies. ;)