M. Night’s Shambles

No one's getting away clean on this one, Marky MarkHey, remember when I defended M. Night Shyamalan’s “Lady in the Water” for being a coherent and intriguing experience, even if it popped like a soap bubble the moment the house lights came up?

Well, I still stand behind that. It’s crazy, without question, but it doesn’t know it’s crazy — and watching Shyamalan move elegantly through his complicated tale of scrunts and narfs and Paul Giamatti’s redemption is rather like listening to a schizophrenic at the coffee shop explain why the government won’t let him use his downstairs bathroom. The internal logic is watertight; it’s just coming from a place where logic has no meaning.

“The Happening”, though … well, it’s just disastrously bad. Bad on a “Wicker Man” scale. One of the worst movies of the year. I abandoned all hope about halfway through — during a putative horror set-piece involving a lion-tamer — and let the film play as unintentional comedy. Didn’t really help.

Anyway, if people turn out for this, they get exactly what they deserve — a stunning failure from a filmmaker who used to be known for his formal control, mastery of tone and skill with actors. It’s as though the movie is having a stroke right in front of you: You want to put something between its teeth, except that it doesn’t have any.

Also opening today: “The Incredible Hulk“, which is rather less than incredible; “When Did You Last See Your Father?“, which is utterly insufferable, and “Young People Fucking“, which I’m happy to report holds up pretty well to a second viewing.

Oh, and “The Foot Fist Way” and “Irina Palm”, but I haven’t seen either of those.

7 thoughts on “M. Night’s Shambles”

  1. Crap. I was really hoping M. Night would pull it together for this one. What do you think this latest disaster will mean for his career? Will we see him directing Purina commercials with intriguing premises but no follow-through?

  2. Damn. Me too. I think he lost it after Unbreakable, but I keep hoping, ’cause even his bad movies have well done scenes in them. Why is he still writing his own stuff? Can’t he come up with the intriguing premise – a sentence or two on paper – and hand it to someone who can turn it into something. He may even be able to direct them.

    I know I’m going to end up watching this on DVD but Norm, I consider myself duly warned.

  3. I sort of hoped that ‘The Happening’ would have been 2hrs of shadows and dark portent that culminated with a character running onscreen and saying ‘Buttermilk’s delivered her kittens!’ in a delighted tone of voice. If Buttermilk had been previously introduced as a horse, it would have been even better.

  4. “Bad on a “Wicker Man” scale.” – you just mean the remake right?
    as for The Happening I was looking forward to it, the premise seemed just vague enough to get by without too much disappointment.

  5. Wow..that’s disappointing. I am a staunch defender myself. What kind of “twist” will his Purina Commercials have, I wonder….

  6. Wow..that’s disappointing. I am a staunch defender myself. What kind of “twist” will his Puppy Food Commercials have, I wonder….

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