The Village

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Touchstone Pictures presents a film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Running time: 120 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for a scene of violence and frightening situations).

 

The Sixth Sense (1999) – $293,501,675 (USA)

 

Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun Times observes: “This isn’t a role for a cute kid who can stand there and look solemn in reaction shots. There are fairly involved dialogue passages between Willis and Osment that require good timing, reactions and the ability to listen. Osment is more than equal to them.” Comments Carrie Rickey in The Philadelphia Inquirer: “He carries the movie, a lyrical and eerie meditation upon loss and hurt and healing, like Atlas swatting away ghosts with his free hand. So transparent is Osment as an actor, and so rare, that the pain on his face stabs you in the heart.”

 

Unbreakable (2000) – $94,999,143 (USA)

 

M. Night Shyamalan‘s Unbreakable, for example, receives shattering reviews from the Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan (“starts out implausible and gets increasingly more difficult to take seriously as it unfolds”), the Boston Globe’s Jay Carr (‘begins with a train wreck and then, figuratively speaking, becomes one”) On the other hand, Lou Lumenick writes in the New York Post: “The Sixth Sense was no fluke. Unbreakable, writer-director M. Night Shyamalan‘s dazzling reunion with Bruce Willis confirms he’s one of the most brilliant filmmakers working today.” Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times writes of Shyamalan’s trademarked surprise ending that, even if it doesn’t entirely succeed, “it comes at the end of an uncommonly absorbing movie.”

 

Signs (2002) – $227,965,690 (USA)

 

Ty Burr in the Boston Globe calls it “interesting, entertaining, and good.” He then adds: “Where the average fright flick shoves its scares down our throats, Shyamalan is becoming more and more obsessed with showing us what fear looks like on the faces of his characters. In every sense, he’s the most reflective thriller director now working.” And Steven Rosen in the Denver Post comments, “Reaching for profundity about the meaning of faith, he finds merely portentousness instead.”

Charlie Baker of Penyork.com has this to say about The Village…

 

M. Night Shamalamadingdong, I have said many times, is the filmmaker of our time. He makes films that are funny, frightening, engaging and real. His new film The Village has been received with mixed feelings. Not by me, just the rest of the stupid world out there, that just can’t wait for The Bourne Supremacy to be available on DVD.

 

M. Night, like Tarantino, Spielberg and Mr. Lucas, is one of those directors I sit around waiting for to make his next film. One, his films are always entertaining. Two, watching his films is like attending film school. Lucas wowed us with special effects. Tarantino did it with great dialogue and brilliantly skewed narratives. M Night, like Spielberg, has mastered the difficult art of conventional story telling. I say difficult, not because it’s remarkably hard. What he does is difficult because he puts a much needed freshness in average, every day genre films. Sixth Sense was a ghost story, but what it was really about was a boy coming to terms with a talent and it was acted and written and directed so well it became the most popular film of 1999. Unbreakable was about a comic book hero. The film was so layered with substance and subtext it transcends out of the confines of good vs. evil in its own category. The M. Night category. At first glance Signs is a film about aliens. Upon reflection the film is about a man regaining his faith. His extra human touch in each film makes these films great where lesser films fail. Why do other films fail? Other genre films do include a personal story, don’t they? The answer is in the details. M Night’s attention to even the slightest details are what make his films memorable and incredibly watchable. He engages the audience through visual elements that are key in each of his films and he does so often and never without a payoff. I know I’m being a little skimpy on the details, but that’s because I choose to take from these films what I take from these films. Often what I choose to take from a film most people just aren’t interested in and if you’re not willing to invest any thought in a film you are not deserving of someone to do it for you. People go to movies for a lot of reasons. I go because I want to be wowed and moved and entertained and also to learn. M. Night’s films are a supreme lesson on structure, payoff, originality, character, dialogue, crisis, climax and so on. He knows exactly where to put the camera, the funny line, the moments of tension and what actors to put in his films. Bruce Willis, who starred in Sixth Sense and Unbreakable, is two completely different characters in each film. He’s a meek and studious doctor in one and a beefy bad ass security man in the other. And he’s perfectly cast in each one. This new film calls for a certain kind of acting due to it’s period dialogue (which, by the way, is written that way for a good reason) and William Hurt and Joaquim Phoenix are pitch perfect in every scene and syllable. M. Night will continue to wow people and disappoint people because that is the nature of his genius. Due to his own brilliance he plants a level of expectation in his audience so overbearing no other filmmaker could live up to it. For this reason I believe even more strongly in his talents. Going into his films I’ve expected greatness every time except with The Sixth Sense and each time I’ve been blown out of my mind, by each film and his filmmaking abilities and instincts . People will love him first and then be disappointed in the next because it wasn’t the film they walked in expecting, but then he’ll make another film and people will go “oh yeah, this guy is fucking brilliant.” This cycle will repeat for the rest of his career. Which means, by my math, that his next film will be as popular as the Lord of the Rings. For me there are no peaks ands valleys, only peaks. He’s made four perfect films that will be remembered by me and film students forever.

 

For those of you out there that didn’t like this film, I understand. Being blind, dumb, deaf and stupid is a terrible affliction and you have all the right to dislike this film. You didn’t see or hear or comprehend any of it. How can anyone be expected to enjoy a film under those awful circumstances? As tribute I am beginning a foundation for the blind, dumb, deaf and stupid (The BDDS). I will be accepting donations in order to cure this horrible ailment. Please send checks payable to Charles Baker or just send cash. We must all lend a hand in curing these stupid fucks, who we now know includes the famous film critic Roger Ebert. Please, be the first on your block to make a donation to the BDDS and put a stop to just being a dumb bastard.

 

P.S.

 

A word on titles. My dear friend Him, who we don’t speak of, is a real stickler on titles. You can’t have a title more than three words without sending him into a foaming frenzy. Yet I hear he’s partial to a film called Dr. Strangelove, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. Twelve words in all, you’re not supposed to count articles, i.e. “the”.

M. Night’s titles, The Sixth Sense (2), Unbreakable (1, not even an article), Signs (1, still no need for an article), The Village (1, had to use the article this time). Not bad by most standards. Not even bad by the stickler’s standards. Way to go M. Night!!! I just hope your next film isn’t titled The Green-Eyed Monster’s Operation (4, not counting the article and 3 if the hyphen is really bonding the “Green” and the “Eyed”). Come on, stickler. I mean really, come on.

~ by fumikaelson on August 2, 2004.

2 Responses to “The Village”

  1. Over the years I have had problems with long titles. I have been seeing someone who has helped me to understand my problem. There are many movies, including Dr Strange Love, that have long names and are fantastic films. My foam and rage in this department will I am sure diminish as the years press on, but come on “Green Eyed Monsters like to go to Vegas and Hookup” Kind of a long title.

    The One we don’t Speak of…

  2. I went to go see The Village yesterday. I loved everything about this movie and was having such a wonderful time watching it that I hoped it would not end. The scene where Lucius grabbed Ivy’s hand when she refused to close the door until he entered was perfect. I got a chill. That was a subtle yet profound way to show his love for her.

    I would also like to take this time to announce my love for Joaquin Phoenix. He is the most georgous man I’ve ever seen.

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