Friday, June 22, 2012

M. Night Shyamalan vs Hollywood

Reviewing M. Night Shyamalan’s past projects it seems he peaked at ‘Sixth Sense’ and hasn’t had a film that good since ‘Signs’. Okay c’mon, the poor guy, SOMEONE has to defend his work! Despite the evidence that each film has lost more money than the one before. I believe it’s our doing of putting M. Night in a corner. And like Patrick Swayze said “NOBODY puts Night in the corner!”. Okay so, I took some liberties, and no Swayze didn’t say that exactly.

M. Night is a story teller. And the film-world keeps trying to put a label on his films as Horror or Drama. But his stories are so much more than that.  A majority of people I've talked to that hate  'The Village' said it was because they weren't scared. Thats because it was advertised as a horror film BUT it wasn't supposed to be scary! At least not enough to be classified as a horror film! It was about how far people would go to preserve innocence.  The same goes for 'Lady in the Water', critics said it was too scary for children, but not scary enough for adults.  Again, this wasn't a horror film! This was a modern day fairy tale about magical creatures influencing turning points in human history and the people it changed.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this film! It makes me cry every time I watch it! I want to scream at those critics that they don't know what they're talking about, but then again, their just doing their job: being critics.

The Happening’ was brilliantly filmed BUT the story was TOO heavy for an audience to enjoy. Watching person after person kill themselves is not entertainment. The subject was too disturbing and maybe it would have been more widely accepted, had there been more comic relief. Like ‘Zombieland’ it doesn’t matter how bad things got, it was still funny. ‘The Happening’ was different, but not a good different. Not even I care to watch it again.

The Last Airbender’ was the first film I had seen of M. Night’s that 1)wasn’t an original story and 2)had the most terrible acting I have ever seen conglomerated into the same movie. Actor’s rule #1: even if the writing is bad, a good actor can counter it and make it good. Unfortunately for Night, the only good actor in that film was the Slumdog Millionaire, and he wasn’t even in the film that much. In Night’s defense 1) it is difficult to find actors who can act on top of have an obvious talent for the martial arts (and let’s face it, the little boy who played the Avatar, had an obvious talent for the martial arts, but not for dialogue) and 2) Night was focused on his other original project Devil which, although disturbing; it had the usual M. Night signature, fans like me, look for. Which is amazing since he only wrote the film but didn’t direct it.

Hollywood classifies great movies by 1) how many A-list actors it can get 2) how much money it makes 3)having controversial topic. By these three things alone, not even I care for those great movies. Sure an occasional film will come along that will blow my mind, but usually not from a film that appeals to these three categories. I’m a huge fan of Lee Pace, most people know him as the pie maker from Pushing Daisies. He’s a great actor but hasn’t been classified as an A-lister yet.  I love his films and the same goes for David Tennant, but has everyone heard of these guys? Not so much. The films they're in are still fantastic in my book. And guys like Joss Whedon who can pull off incredible films like The Avenger’s and who constantly come up with new TV shows that CONSTANTLY blow my mind. Joss is underrated, and should be deemed a GENIUS when it comes to telling stories. Most of the time, while watching his work, I want to shout “Joss! You did it to me AGAIN!” He’s a freak’n GENIUS! I could go on rambling this sentence on and on in different ways but I will plug back into my original topic of Shyamalan.

Reviewing the release dates for each of M. Night’s films, there’s about a 2 year gap between each release, and Night himself has said his projects take him two years to do. Not a bad turnaround, this means HE NEVER RESTS!

2010 The Last Airbender
2008 The Happening
2006 Lady in the Water
2004 The Village
2002 Signs
2000 Unbreakable
1999 The Sixth Sense

I give props to this guy for keeping the films coming. I’m never let down by his films and you shouldn’t be either. I look forward to each film because Night’s a rule breaker, he wants to surprise me. He wants to tell stories and by-golly their ORIGINAL! When you take a screenwriting class they will tell you that there are only seven stories in the world, it just depends on how their told that makes them different. I see film after film regurgitated out of Hollywood with the different A-listers and flashy special effects, but I can’t help but feel disappointed when the story is the thing that’s lagging. I understand that filmmaking is a business and a business has strategy, but I think America and the rest of the world gets bored with the same old thing being produced so fast the story suffers. And I know Hollywood knows this, that’s why they’ve been investing in Independent Production Companies. Notice how Independent films are now making it to the Oscars, and new categories are being created specifically for these films! Independent films are the only original stories we get in bundles. Kudos to those story tellers!

In short original stories don’t always sell, but it’s not always the sale that makes the story great. I’m confident that M. Night will soon knock my socks off again. And I look forward to his new film After Earth  coming out in 2013. I’m still cheering you on Night! Bravo!