M. Night Shyamalan

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Jeff
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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#76 Post by Jeff » Wed Nov 12, 2014 11:15 pm

domino harvey wrote:Shyamalan self-funded and shot a film in secret
I am totally supportive of the idea of Shyamalan spending his own money to make his movies and not telling anyone about them.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#77 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Nov 13, 2014 5:13 am

Ah, the Vincent Gallo method!

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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#78 Post by Jeff » Thu Apr 23, 2015 6:42 pm

M. Night Shyamalan's There's Something Wrong with Nana and Pop Pop... er, The Visit.

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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#79 Post by mfunk9786 » Thu Apr 23, 2015 7:56 pm

An M. Night Shyamalan movie looks really good? What year is this?

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Re: Trailers for Upcoming Films

#80 Post by How rude! » Fri Apr 24, 2015 2:01 am

mfunk9786 wrote:An M. Night Shyamalan movie looks really good? What year is this?
what? Lazy, 'what the kids' dig' hand-held cam?

You mean the latest, 'desperate attempt a a comback hit' unpolished turd from a one trick pony.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#81 Post by D50 » Fri Apr 24, 2015 9:11 am

They're just old.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#82 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 24, 2015 12:44 pm

mfunk9786 wrote:An M. Night Shyamalan movie looks really good? What year is this?
There was one shot in that that was genuinely unsettling.

Had a mixed reaction to the rest. Could be either terrifying or silly.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#83 Post by mfunk9786 » Fri Apr 24, 2015 6:57 pm

If it's a little bit of both, it'll be more original than most of the found footage stuff being released at this point. I'm cautiously optimistic, and I've hated everything he's done post-Signs.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#84 Post by chatterjees » Fri Apr 24, 2015 7:34 pm

The concept is very unique. I surely hope that the film turns out well. I kind of forgot about the existence of Shyamalan after he broke my heart in the last 15 minutes of The Village. I am excited.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#85 Post by Mr Sausage » Fri Apr 24, 2015 8:52 pm

Seems obvious he's going for a modern fairy tale thing again, only one that's more displaced than, say, Lady in the Water, and uses the tropes of realism. I mean, he has a crone lure a kid into an oven, for christ's sake. Not that one ought to expect subtlety from him.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#86 Post by colinr0380 » Sat Apr 25, 2015 5:43 am

The trailer with all of its characters darting about corridors and jump scares reminds me a little of that great Twilight Zone episode, Gramma.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#87 Post by domino harvey » Sat May 16, 2015 10:22 am

Do you think there will ever be a time when Shyamalan's name comes up in a trailer and there won't be some guy in the theatre audience who thinks it's funny to yell out some variation of "Oh no" in response? We're approaching "Freebird" levels at this juncture

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#88 Post by jbeall » Mon May 18, 2015 10:59 pm

The Epic Losing Streak of M. Night Shyamalan, Explained (Not a great piece, though the bit about the sycophant sportswriter following him around during Lady in the Water explains a lot, indeed.)

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#89 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jan 08, 2016 8:34 pm

So, the Visit doesn't quite work, but it's a noble failure. The child actors are quite good and Shyamalan uses the found footage format to his benefit in justifying his hatred of coverage, but there are some fundamental problems with the picture that aren't able to be overcome by any of its pluses.
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It probably took less than ten minutes to figure out that the grandparents were impostors because Shyamalan can't resist laying on the little details which add up far too quickly and so he blows any chance of mystery fairly early on. But the bigger problem here is that nothing is less interesting than characters whose primary attribute is their literal insanity, and so we are stuck for far too long with two doddering old folks who are obviously nutso and the film thinks it's playing with the idea that people demonize and compartmentalize and explain away these quirks as being symptomatic of old age, but since it's obvious that they're insane frauds from the get-go, none of that lands.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#90 Post by Bumstead » Tue Sep 27, 2016 2:34 pm

For all the ignominy that Shyamalan suffered (brought on, rightfully, by his own megalomania), recent efforts show that he is finally embracing his limitations. I was one of his last remaining apologists...until THE HAPPENING. But awful disaster and his painfully embarrassing book "The Man Who Heard Voices" finally tipped me over the edge. Reading it, however, was useful. It gave me an insight into how his mind works: for example, Night likened himself to a sportsman (Michael Jordan was mentioned at least dozen times) who must always stay in the game, no matter how hard the game got. The key word being 'hustle'. Although Shyamalan will never make another UNBREAKABLE (or THE VILLAGE, hugely underrated IMHO), looks like he's back. And honestly, good for him.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#91 Post by Harry Caul » Tue Feb 07, 2017 10:13 am

I've liked many of M. Night's films, but not all of them. Some are great, and some have been terrible. However, obviously he's making money off of his films - since, he's been coming out with movies on a regular basis for years.

The Sixth Sense was a true masterpiece, in every sense of the word. The first time I saw this years ago, I truly didn't know that the BW character was dead - until the "reveal" at the end. And, I liked how this was set up - so that on a second viewing, you can completely "get" what was going on here. Extremely disturbing & sad film; the theme of coming to terms with the death/loss of a loved one was very poignant.

I wasn't a big fan of Unbreakable when I saw this in the theater back in Fall 2000; however, on subsequent viewings I've learned to appreciate what Shyamalan was trying to do here. He made a "super-hero" film without a lot of flashy effects - it was more of a psychological character study & wasn't meant to be a film with a lot of action, etc.

Lady in the Water was decent, and not nearly as bad as everyone made this out to be. The storyline kept my interest throughout, and I thought the "effects" of the creatures in the grass were decent. As with other Shyamalan films, I appreciated the film more the 2nd/3rd time I saw this.

The Happening was a big, steaming P.O.S. The less said about that film, the better.

I was not impressed with The Visit; interesting concept, but I didn't like the "twist" at the end.
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I was halfway expecting the elderly imposter grandparents to be aliens, but having them just be escapees from an old age home/mental institution was a boring "reveal".
I am really looking forward to seeing Split - based on all of the positive buzz/trailer & the concept, I have a strong feeling this is an incredible film.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#92 Post by misterjunior » Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:26 pm

I've been watching and re-watching Shyamalan's films over the past couple of weeks, and I think he's due for a reevaluation, honestly. I actually think that The Sixth Sense is one of his lesser films, though, as while it does seem to work (very) well on initial viewing, it sort of unravels the second time through (or even in perhaps in hindsight of the first viewing, as you replay scenes in your head). However, a handful of his other films are good to excellent, IMO.

Unbreakable, particularly in light of what has happened with the explosion of comic book/superhero films in the years since its release, seems to me to be a very prescient piece of work and does a much better job than any of the subsequent superhero films whose has had a stated goal of placing a superhero "in the real world" at doing that. Though we see very little of what the superhero's existence would be like once he had come to grips with being a hero, we do see an extraordinarily gifted man trying to forego and downplay his gifts/"powers" so that he can try to live an ordinary life with a family in relative anonymity, but he finds this to be a life that gnaws at him and leaves him with a feeling of sadness and emptiness-- he could have been a star football player or athlete of some other kind with fame and fortune and glory, but he chose love (his wife hated football and its violence, so he saw an auto accident as a convenient way to claim a head injury that would let him stop playing football, at which he was a star quarterback in school, without having to explain his decision to anyone), marriage and a child. Instead of living "happily ever after," of course, he and his wife drifted apart and he unconsciously kept his wife and son at a distance because he found his life as a security guard (a position he was drawn to because of his instinct to use his abilities to help people) unrewarding. Like a lot of Shyamalan's subsequent work, Unbreakable explores themes of finding one's purpose in life, and I think it's really quite poignant in the way that it does that. The cast is also uniformly excellent; Willis is not really anyone's idea of a great actor, I wouldn't think, but he is very good at this sort of quiet sadness and earnestness, and I also think he has a look (in terms of his facial structure and features) that suits a (super)hero well-- it's no surprise to me he was cast in this role or in a prominent role for the Sin City film, where the comic's art style was influenced by Film Noir as well as the pulp crime novels of the 30s and 40s... he has the look of a man from that era, I think, with chiseled chin and square jaw and that unique nose and those penetrating eyes. Robin Wright is good in the kind of role she has played a number of times as the caring wife in a marriage that has seen better days.

The two real standouts, though, are young Spencer Treat Clark as Willis' and Wright's son Joseph and Samuel L. Jackson in a less "imposing" role than is typical for him as Willis's character's opposite-- a man of superior intellect who was born with a body that doesn't generate a certain protein, which leaves him extremely susceptible to fractures, of which he has had dozens. Clark doesn't have to carry nearly the amount of weight that Haley Joel Osment did in The Sixth Sense, but he is equally good in a smaller but arguably more demanding role, as he has to play a child who has a couple of fairly severe emotional outbursts without the audience turning on him and viewing him as an annoying little bastard; I think he succeeds admirably and there is a particular scene at the breakfast table where
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Willis silently slides a newspaper bearing a story about a "hero vigilante" across the table to Joseph while Wright's back is turned; Joseph had an outburst a few scenes before and was angry at his father for denying that he was, in fact, a super-man, and as he arrives in the kitchen for breakfast he is still quietly upset and goes about silently pouring orange juice and looking sad, but when he sees the newspaper slide into his field of vision, he scans it with his eyes and his face lights up and he gives Willis/the camera this look with his eyes tearing up and hopeful in a way that is just brutally real, then Willis mouths "you were right," his own face riddled with emotion, and Joseph begins to tear up more but they are each able to convey the love and happiness of the moment in a way that exudes a power and authenticity that is rare in movies, let alone mainstream Hollywood movies.
Jackson doesn't get any of his signature yelling mf-er type scenes in and spends a lot of the film in a wheelchair, speaking softly, but he really taps into his character's obsession. His performance is helped by an excellent introductory scene of his character being born, as his mother cradles the wailing newborn baby in what appears to be a department store dressing room as store employees look on and a doctor (played by Eamonn Walker, aka Kareem Said from "Oz") arrives, his good-natured professional demeanor quickly turning to concern as he asks if the delivery was a difficult one, then when he's told no he becomes quietly angry (Oz fans will know how well this actor plays that particular flavor of that emotion) and asks if the baby was dropped. The scene is filmed with a handheld camera and it takes on an unsettling sort of immediacy and intimacy as we feel like we are one of the (white) onlookers perhaps standing accused of some wrongdoing in birthing the baby but at the very least disquieted by being right there in the room with a baby whose bones were somehow crushed during delivery either way.

Jackson has a quiet intensity in the role, doing a lot of acting with those expressive eyes and managing to be commanding despite usually keeping his voice calm and his speech patterns measured. Since we've seen him explode into anger and violence in so many roles before, there is a certain "coiled spring" quality to it that puts us a bit on edge, and he gives us a taste of a more restrained, lacerating venom-- as opposed to the burning, booming fury of a Jules Winfield doing his Ezekiel 25:17 bit-- in a fantastic scene where his character, who runs an art gallery specializing in vintage comic book drawings, is describing a piece for a mesmerized buyer, who following SLJ's detailed description of the expensive piece and its significance within the medium, says he'll take it. "A wise choice," Jackson says, heading over to the register to ring up the sale. The buyer then says "My son is going to love this," at which point Jackson asks him to repeat that, then asks how old his son is and, upon learning that his son is 4 years old, storms over (hobbling briskly with the help of his cane) and dresses the man down for wanting to give art to "a baby." "One of us is wasting the other's time," he says, his voice dripping with contempt. Even portraying a man whose bones can be broken by not much more than a stiff breeze, Jackson's posture and demeanor and the intensity in his face convey menace and power, and we cut to the storefront exterior with the man walking hurriedly away from the gallery as Willis and his son approach the front door.

The subsequent entries in what turned out to be a trilogy-- 2016's split and this year's Glass-- further explore some of the same themes from Unbreakable (as well as subsequent Shyamalan movies), especially the one of finding one's calling/purpose/"real identity" in life, which Shyamalan's movies suggest is the only means of feeling fulfilled. He also delves-- I think rather poignantly-- into overcoming early life traumas as well as the damage that such traumas continue to inflict later in life and the vicious cycle of abuse and violence that they perpetuate, but he also suggests in Split and Glass that if one can channel that trauma into something positive, one can overcome the abuse and break the cycle of abuse and in so doing become something special.

Sorry for the long-winded ramble... perhaps I should better organize my thoughts on the trilogy and write a review elsewhere, but I was really taken aback by Unbreakable (which I've always enjoyed) and its follow-ups. I'd seen Split previously but not paid it too much mind (one of those situations where I was doing other things and not really watching closely) but really enjoyed it this time around, and this first viewing of Glass really impressed me; I've not seen a great many new films this year (I did see Toy Story 4 and a couple of others) but it was definitely the best/my favorite thus far.

Very quickly, I also really enjoyed The Village on my initial viewing all those years ago and have continued to like it since. I think as a metaphor/allegory for how those in power use fear to control communities (or families or whathaveyou) as well as how we allow ourselves to be controlled by it, it works quite brilliantly; I didn't think the "twist" spoiled anything at all. In fact, I think if the monsters were real it would make for a sillier work. Instead what we have is a fine tale of a community bound by a bogeyman but also ultimately unraveled by the older generation's use of fear/ignorance as a means of control. It doesn't hurt, I don't think, that it was a beautiful film from a technical/aesthetic perspective (as is Shyamalan's work in general, IMO; he nearly always puts color to good use and comes up with interesting ideas for the camera that enhance his films).

Ultimately he's a filmmaker I know isn't for everyone and not all of his films have impressed me, but several have (I will have to post my defense of Lady in the Water some other time, depending on how this post goes over ;)), and at the very least I think he is an ambitious filmmaker with a unique style.

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#93 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jul 12, 2019 10:17 pm

Nice appreciation, hope you'll follow through on your threat to defend the Lady in the Water-- I was ready for it to be an unsung masterpiece but I think it earns its reputation. But the Village and Signs are terrific films, and one of the things you see consistently through his first cycle of films (most notably in Signs and the Lady in the Water) is a reliance on a mise en scene derived from unusual shots and framings with no significant second unit work-- I would bet money that like Hitchcock under Selznick, Shyamalan never even shot coverage so as to allow himself maximum control of the image in editing, even on major studio projects. Though I didn't like it as much as most, this made the direct diagetic filming of the Visit such a natural fit to his existent style

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#94 Post by misterjunior » Sun Jul 14, 2019 11:07 am

Thanks for the kind words, domino, and thanks for your thoughts on his work as well. I suspect you're right regarding his not shooting coverage, and I think that sort of confidence (audacity? arrogance?) and taste for odd setups et al is really the thing he shares most with Hitchcock. The film writers of the time were hung up on his "twist endings" and cameos-- the superficialities that invited Hitchcock comparisons-- but those were of course inconsequential gimmicks, really or in the case of the twists, detriments after a fashion, because I think when you condition your audience that there is always a twist coming, they get into the habit of just waiting on the twist and speculating (whether out loud or just internally to themselves) on what the twist will be rather than absorbing the atmosphere, moods and textures of the films, which I think features like Unbreakable, Signs and The Village have in spades, and are what draw me to those films. Even with The Sixth Sense I think the twist is a double-edged sword; it was brilliant in a way and it was a big part of why the moviegoing public responded the way they did to the film, but it also gives the picture something of a novelty quality, I think, where it overshadows the other elements.

Re: Lady in the Water, it's not a perfect film of course, but I think much of the thematic material I mentioned as being in the Unbreakable/Split/Glass trilogy is present in Lady in the Water; the Paul Giamatti character has suffered a terrible tragedy with the murder of his family years earlier, which led him to abandon his career (or, in Shyamalan's cinema, his calling/purpose) as a doctor because he feels since he could not save his family he can't save anyone and instead takes up a job as an apartment complex superintendent, where he is very much on autopilot until he nearly drowns in the building's swimming pool and is saved by the titular character. Throughout the course of the film, he is on a journey of forgiveness (particularly of himself) and healing, with the implication being, I think, that only after we have forgiven ourselves and experienced the healing that accompanies such forgiveness can we really connect with and love others; earlier in the film, Giamatti is well liked-- even loved-- by his tenants, but he is in such a fog due to focusing on the baggage he is always carrying with him that he lacks the ability to see the happiness (this isn't really the best word to describe it, but I couldn't think of a better one... "joy" would be overstating it, but there is a sense that he brightens the lives of the people in his building with his calm, patient, pleasant nature) he brings to his tenants and to feel the love they have for him. Once he has forgiven himself and accepted that whether he is a doctor or an apartment building caretaker, he is functionally a healer, he is able to feel the love that was there all along, and better able to reciprocate it more consciously.

I think perhaps the biggest weakness of the film is that too often it tells rather than shows-- Shyamalan wrote some clunky dialogue that explains things rather than trusting his ability to convey some of the information with images/action. I don't really have a defense for that aspect of the movie-- there is definitely some dialogue that is groan worthy. But I find the emotion and "message" of the film to be so sweet and life-affirming that I can overlook it. And I think some/much/most/all of the simplicity of the writing and characterizations outside the Giamatti character is by design, as the main thrust of the film is Giamatti's recovering his faith in humanity and himself, opening his heart to love and accepting and embracing his place in the universe. The scene in which Giamatti and his friends are standing over a wounded Bryce Dallas Howard and realize that Giamatti is "The Healer" of the story they are attempting to act out, leading to Giamatti taking her in his arms and pouring out his heart about how sorry he is for failing to protect his family and so forth is the type of scene that reminds me of the power film has to convey emotion and beauty.

Perhaps I'll re-watch the film in the next couple of days and post about it, since you've encouraged me and since writing a bit about it has got me thinking about it yet again. :-)

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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#95 Post by mfunk9786 » Tue Jul 16, 2019 7:34 pm

Shyamalan is screening The Sixth Sense for its 20th anniversary at the Philadelphia Film Center on Tuesday, July 30th, with a reception and Q&A before and after (respectively). Will benefit the Philadelphia Film Society and M. Night Shyamalan Foundation. Now to the bad news - tickets are between $100 and $250. Still thought I should let folks know in case disposable income isn't an issue for you and you want to support a good cause - looks like 90% of it is tax deductible, too!

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