Tuesday, July 25, 2006

My Future Guilty Pleasure?

I'm not sure what this says about me, but I still want to see M. Night Shyamalan's Lady in the Water. All of the reviews that I've read (both professional and amateur) have been not merely bad, but scathing. For some reason, this only makes me more intrigued. Perhaps I'm in the mood for bad movies after seeing some of the promos for Snakes on a Plane, or maybe I've been so bored with this year's set of summer movies that I don't know what I like anymore. Shyamalan's film couldn't possibly be as bad as V For Vendetta. Or could it? (Raises eyebrow suggestively) I still plan on giving the movie a chance, for the following reasons:

M. Night's Overall Track Record: Shyamalan (I've typed it 3 times now without misspelling it; I rule!) has made some amazing films over the years, with only one notable exception. The Village was a total ripoff and a waste of time, so much so that I will waste no more time discussing it. The Sixth Sense was the movie of its year, although I find it holds up poorly to multiple viewings. Signs was exciting and thought-provoking at times, although you had to get over the fact that the aliens looked lame. Then again, when haven't movie aliens been disappointing? I'd be willing to bet that real aliens don't even live up to the hype. At this point, how could they? Finally, Unbreakable (my clear favorite) was much darker and less of a popcorn flick. That movie proved that Samuel L. Jackson can successfully portray a non-badass character.

A New Theme: Shyamalan (that's 4 in a row, although I just misspelled the word "that") has never done a strictly fantasy film before. The script is based on a bedtime story that he created for his children. Shyamalan's use of this theme has been heavily criticized. Writers have shown contempt for the magical creatures presented in the movie, but I don't think this is much of a flaw. This is simply the first time the director has featured fictional creatures of his own invention, so it's unexpected. It's like if Jerry Bruckheimer hired an actress under the age of 25 to play a character other than someone's mother. People just wouldn't see it coming. I think M. Night deserves a break; he's trying something new, unlike many other directors who go with whatever genre keeps their Hummers' gas tanks full. He may not be Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, but I'm curious to see what Shyamalan does with the fantasy genre. I've had to sit through more than my share of hobbit scenes, so I think I can handle a scrunt or two.

The Cast: I'm impressed that Shyamalan was able to get such an amazing array of actors signed up for this movie after the colossal failure of The Village. He must have crazy powers of persuasion. Perhaps he neglected to tell them that he would be acting in the film as well. I love Paul Giamatti (Cleveland Heep), and haven't seen anything new of his since Sideways (I skipped out on Cinderella Man because of the Crowe-Zellweger factor). He, at least, has escaped the critics' scorn. Having recently seen Syriana and Broken Flowers, I am convinced that Jeffrey Wright (Mr. Dury) has an Oscar coming to him sometime in the future. The cast also includes Bob Balaban (as a movie critic, of all things) and Freddy Rodriguez (as Reggie) from Six Feet Under. That's a hard cast to ignore, especially since I haven't seen a movie with hard core actors all summer (Stephen Colbert in Strangers with Candy doesn't count, unfortunately). It's at least worth a look.

I'll be sure to review the movie whenever I see/rent it! If anyone else has seen it, let me know.