by John Holbo on July 15, 2006

I’m looking forward to the release of Lady in the Water. Like everyone else, I appreciate that The Village was ridiculous, but I loved Unbreakable. I even enjoyed Signs. This thing I’m about to link to is a little old. But, well – last call to lay your bets. I’m torn between:

“It turns out Paul Giamatti is trapped on a planet of sea nymphs, who’ve actually “discovered” him – who’s the sea nymph now?”


“The sea nymph’s mother was dead all along – just a wig and a rocking chair.”

Consider this your M. Night Shyamalan weekend open thread.



catfish 07.15.06 at 9:07 am

I thought the Village was quite good. For most of the picture, those-of-whom-we-do-not-speak were off screen or barely glimpsed. Pretty scary, I thought, and easily superior to Signs and maybe even Unbreakable.


Nathaniel Thomas 07.15.06 at 9:12 am

Paul Giamatti is revealed in the credits to have teeth that cannot be removed from his gums and can’t break. The nymphs, lacking teeth, have had enough of the pool water plankton and hunger for the flesh of the apartment complex they observe every day. They want him to help them with this. But the film actually goes against M. Night Shyamalan’s reputation (he fears being typecast) and is in fact a film-length examination of ennui when you wake up and discover you’re Paul Giamatti and work at an apartment complex. Most of the film is a wideshot of Paul Giamatti and his dinner guest and the simple joys of preparing food, choosing background music, and being able to look into the eyes of another human being.


DC 07.15.06 at 9:16 am

Haven’t seen Unbreakable but I second what catfish says.


Paul 07.15.06 at 10:03 am

I haven’t seen the Village although the twist has long since been given away to me.

Of his movies, though, I do like Unbreakable the best not because of its twist, but because at its bottom, its a superhero origin story, through and through and Shyamalan does as well as the modern Superhero movie crop in that regard.


Abigail 07.15.06 at 11:49 am

I think The Village had the potential to the be an excellent film, if only Shyamalan had dropped the notion of a twist ending and made the truth about the villagers’ situation obvious from the get-go. I was especially struck by Bryce Dallas Howard’s performance (it really was her film) and by the romance between her character and Pheonix’s.

But it really does seem that Shyamalan has only one story – worse, only one format – in him. There’s a rumor that he’s been approached to direct the next Harry Potter film, which strikes me as an excellent idea – it’s time for him to get away from his own scripts.


smokey 07.15.06 at 12:10 pm

I’m really glad to see the praise for Unbreakable. I think it’s a great, great movie. I would differ with Paul and say it’s an even better superhero origin story than its recent competitors, because it’s also a supervillian origin story at the same time.


Sebastian Holsclaw 07.15.06 at 12:46 pm

I actually really loved the Village,

I thought it had an excellent sign of a good director–even after we know that the monsters are fake, we get scared when the girl is surrounded by red berries toward the end.

My guess for the end of this next movie–she wakes up, it was all a dream and Bobby had never been shot….


jakeb 07.15.06 at 1:17 pm

Me too for Unbreakable. For me it harkens in a very appealing fashion all the way back to _Gladiator_*, in the true-average-joe-become-something-else sense.

* Philip Wylie’s as opposed to Russell Crowe’s.


a 07.15.06 at 3:13 pm

Has everyone gone bonkers? Haven’t seen the Village, but I would rank them as

Sixth Sense, Signs, Unbreakable,

with Unbreakable in the rear by a few yards.


Jim Henley 07.15.06 at 4:41 pm

I liked a lot about Signs, though my SOD suffered substantially from the idea that there would be a farmhouse in Pennsylvania that not only had no guns, but no one who even thought it might be a good idea to get one. That’s not the Keystone State that reared me and yet courses through my veins.


Wax Banks 07.15.06 at 4:43 pm

C’mon people!

Unbreakable is very, very good, yes. But.

Signs is scary, pleasant, interesting, a great mood piece – with two crucial problems. The car crash bit, in which Shyamalan himself appears as the other driver, is dumb and cliché. And the ending is preternaturally, unforgivably stupid. (The most supernatural element of the film is its sheer banality at end.) Not just because it turns the film into a ‘patterns are design’ piece of feel-good bullshit, but because it turns it into a ‘PAD’PoFGBS with a massive, laughable, impossible-to-ignore plot hole at its center (i.e. They come to a planet that’s 80% fatal to Them – because they are idiots). I have no idea how someone can like the film after its 3/4 mark. (Though I loved Mel Gibson in it.)

The Village was better than people initially claimed, though it’s ultimately a failure as a suspense film. The film’s stagey, convoluted, unnatural language (‘You can write this stuff, but you can’t say it’) is actually an impressive creation on MNS’s part, given its political motivation. And as a cheery little fable it does its job well enough. But MNS needs to develop a sense of humour (i.e. he needs to learn to be funny instead of clever, as his American Express ad shows). He’s no Spielberg, not least because Spielberg has a rampant inner child (cf. A.I.).

Rumour has it that Lady is ludicrous shit. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t have a twist ending at all – that Shyamalan tried to make a straight suspense-fantasy film, a fairy tale like the posters say, and that he ends up way out of his element (‘You’re like a child, who stumbles into a conversation…’) without the check-out-my-cleverness aspect working for him. I’m prepared to be wrong but don’t expect it.


foo 07.15.06 at 6:19 pm

I bet that the giant eagle’s name turns out to be “Eagleton.”

And that seeing a mermaid in your pool means something. Maybe it means that you’re destined to do a great thing — sort of a “Great Man Theory of Pool Ownership.”


Christopher M 07.15.06 at 7:17 pm

Two flaws in Signs that pushed it into “laughable” territory:

1) One of the obvious themes throughout is the value of faith, in the sense of belief without proof. Mel Gibson’s lost it because of his wife’s death. But how does he get it back? Well, aliens show up and obvious supernatural coincidences make his wife’s death into the instrument of his family’s salvation. Well, who wouldn’t have faith then? I mean hey, I’ll start believing in miracles when crazy shit like that starts happening. But that’s not some profound statement about “faith,” it’s just that you’d have to be dumb as rocks not to believe in magic and aliens & stuff by that point.

2) The structure of the “twist” was terrible. Compare it to Sixth Sense, in which a viewer is watching a perfectly coherent storyline — an eerie and mysterious one to be sure, but one in which everything more-or-less seems to fit — when suddenly there’s a revelation which forces the viewer to reinterpret a lot of what s/he previously thought. Signs has a superficially similar structure, but there’s a big difference: the elements that turn out to be significant after the twist — the wife’s dying words “swing away” and the daughter’s obsession with fresh water — were just utter anomalies, total non sequiturs, until then. They had no significance in the “pre-twist” storyline. And that made the whole thing dumb. I mean, I could write a screenplay where there are mysterious cucumber and cheese sandwiches lying around everywhere throughout the first hour and a half, and then it turns out that the magical creatures attacking at the end are allergic to cucumbers and cheese, but…so what?

So that’s that.


fyreflye 07.15.06 at 8:15 pm

I maintained a vow of silence while this forum of alleged intellectuals frothed over crime novels, rock stars and China Mielville. But seriously now, Shyamalan????? I wonder how long it will be before posts snatched from the archives of Crooked Timber begin appearing unedited in The Onion.


KCinDC 07.15.06 at 8:26 pm

I didn’t see The Village, because I assumed after Unbreakable and especially Signs that Shyalaman was a one-hit wonder. Does anyone actually believe that he will ever make anything as good as The Sixth Sense again?


A White Bear 07.15.06 at 8:28 pm

I heard Lady in the Water is one of those stories in which you find out the lady is the only thing that’s real and she’s come to intervene in the apartment complex which is itself in a story, which the residents must face the implications of. So meta, it’ll make you think you’re in a story.


Louis Proyect 07.15.06 at 8:30 pm

NY July 10, 2006
Books of the Times | ‘The Man Who Heard Voices’
Snubbed by Disney, What’s Shyamalan to Do? Walk (and Diss)

New work by important filmmakers is always hyped by early publicity, some of it flattering enough to have been written at gunpoint. Now M. Night Shyamalan has set a new high-water mark for this sort of sycophancy. He has deigned to allow Michael Bamberger, a senior writer for Sports Illustrated, to follow him adoringly through every stage of the filmmaking process. The upshot is not just a puff article but a full-length, unintentionally riotous puff book.

Who is M. Night Shyamalan? The point is that you’re supposed to know already. By some lights (namely his own and Mr. Bamberger’s) he is an A-list Hollywood legend whose work is ablaze with beauty and wisdom. By others, he’s the guy who made a mint with “The Sixth Sense,” starred in an American Express ad and has now directed “Lady in the Water.” The book makes landfall on July 20, a day before the movie does.

“The Man Who Heard Voices” isn’t really the filmmaker’s fault. His only serious misstep was allowing it to happen. It was Mr. Bamberger who met the auteur at a dinner party (“Night’s shirt was half open — Tom Jones in his prime”), became awestruck (“What kind of power could he have over me?”) and started taking deeply embarrassing notes.

How could Mr. Shyamalan have known that his Boswell would place him in a biblical light? The book finds some relevance for Night (as Mr. Bamberger calls him) in the fact that the word night, like the word day, shows up early in the Book of Genesis. It also describes an actress in Night’s presence as “like Moses before the burning bush.”



moriarty 07.15.06 at 9:12 pm

“And the ending is preternaturally, unforgivably stupid.”

It was worse than that. Dumbest redemption scene ever: Joaquin Phoenix swinging his baseball bat to avenge his past failure.

I can just imagine the script meetings on that one. “What if we make him a football player? He can sack the alien.” “No, no, baseball works better.”


previously pre 07.15.06 at 10:21 pm

I thought it had an excellent sign of a good director—even after we know that the monsters are fake, we get scared when the girl is surrounded by red berries toward the end.

Agreed. It was a strangely sympathetic moment, given she was unable to perceive the threat. It had exactly the same effect that every effective horror movie does when an on-screen character can’t perceive a danger that’s visible to the audience, but it proved the real punch to that mode of suspense is not just anticipating some catastrophic event, but generally just knowing you have some knowledge a character would desperately want and having no way to share that knowledge.

I figured The Village deserved a free pass on awkward phrasing. It could have been a nice, tense movie throughout if not for the “twist” that tried to impose some compatibility with 20th-century reality. No such relationship was necessary or useful or all that interesting. Carrying out the fable would have been far more effective (though I was secretly hoping the sick guy had actually come down with syphillis due to some taboo exploit, souring the romance when she learned from the mystic/apothecary/village official in disguise sent out to carry on another layer of masquerade).

I thought the idiot-savant-as-monster concept was a well-played hand throughout the film. It could have been enough of a twist to hold the movie together without any preservation-on-a-reservation nonsense. If I believe there is a monster and I am it, and you believe there is a monster and I am it, and I have the capability to enact monstrosity, there doesn’t need to be a monster, much less a ranger outpost with antibiotics. Heck, just include monster-appearances after the savant is clearly disabled — force the audience to contemplate who is donning the costume and why.


Dan Kervick 07.16.06 at 12:04 am

When Joaquin Pheonix was wacking the alien with his baseball bat, I was wondering, “What did the alien’s wife say to him before she died?” Duck? Did the alien not believe is signs, or does God just hate aliens?

Despite an ending that requires a willing suspension of rudimentary intelligence – the water thing – to be appreciated, I did like Signs overall. I thought it did a nice job with space, sound and perspective, and creating a sense of increasing isolation, denial and paranoia. I also thought the film succesfully maintained a strange, disoriented and detached feeling toward the central fact that the characters’ world was being invaded by aliens.

Throughout the film, the invasion – which would surely be a world-altering new reality by any objective standard, struggles to penetrate the private obsessions, shame and guilt of the protagonists, and is kept at a distance. I quite like the scene between Shyamalan and Gibson, when Shyamalan’s character is so distracted by remorse that he only manages to mention offhandedly as he is driving away that there is an alien in his pantry.

When I saw the film the first time, I was convinced that the invasion wasn’t really happening, even after the protagonists receive televised evidence, because the gradual encroachment of the aliens into the characters’ lives, and final pursuit into their basement, was so dreamlike and odd. So I give Shyamalan credit for maintaining that feeling. The viewer is pushed into a psychological state matching Gibson’s, one of of doubt or denial of external reality, and emotionally deadened responses to vital threats.

But I wish Shyamalan had put more thought into creating an interesting way of pulling all the “signs” together into Gibson’s big revelatory moment. The manner of disposing of the aliens seemed weak and half-baked, even by the standards of spiritualist melodrama with its easy providential conjunctions.

The Village I didn’t care for so much – but I didn’t thoroughly dislike it. It had its moments, but much of it seemed to pass beyond mimimalism into amateurism. It felt “home-made”. By the end, you feel like you are watching two of the director’s friends running around in the woods as he films them with his own camara.


Andrew Reeves 07.16.06 at 1:51 am

You know, one of my biggest problems with Signs and suspension of disbelief is that I found it silly that, thanks to the baby monitor, we learn that aliens who have overcome all of the engineering hurdles of interstellar travel communicate on single channel, unencrypted VHF.


agm 07.16.06 at 6:32 am

Regarding Signs, wasn’t the banality at the end the point? These are the ones who got left behind after all — the aliens had taken their slaves/raw materials/delicacies/whatever and left when they had what they wanted. At that point it’s time to start rebuilding life except, oh, there’s a bit of a problem there: potential colonizers? Refugees? What is to be done except to annihilate the ones left behind.


Paul 07.16.06 at 8:41 am

Andrew, that reminds me of a joke made in the first season of the Stargate TV Series, where a character says that it would be impossible and implausible to upload a virus into the approaching enemy alien ship.

(Which of course, is what happens in the movie Independence Day…)


Pete 07.16.06 at 9:07 am

I liked The Village very much. Sure, it’s kind of silly, but that was part of its charm, to me. Didn’t much like Signs, mostly because it just didn’t hang together for me; the characters just didn’t convince me (or maybe it was the actors; I don’t know).

But still, every Shyamalan movie is worth seeing; they’re fun!

I agree he needs to put more humor into his work — maybe he’ll direct a comedy someday!


Matt 07.16.06 at 10:03 am

THe reason why I stopped enjoying his movies is the same reason I stopped enjoying O. Henry stories- when _every_ story has a “twist ending” it’s no longer a twist ending but a gimmick, and pretty soon not a very interesting one.


John Holbo 07.16.06 at 10:50 am

Wow, I would be so flattered if old Crooked Timber posts could appear, unedited, in the Onion.


Matt_C 07.16.06 at 11:05 am

Signs is unforgivably stupid, but it also, for the first three quarters of its run-time, an incredibly adept, effective suspense film. The simulated Brazilian birthday part video was one of the most unnerving scenes in a movie I’ve ever seen. Just look at the way Shamayalan combines elements to make the initial introduction of the alien as upsetting as possible: verite filmmaking, jostling camera, the inherited authenticity of third-party video, and a gaggle of hysterical kids speaking a language at the audience (in the U.S. and U.K. at least) probably doesn’t understand. When the alien walked through the frame the first time I saw it, I literally got gooseflesh on my arms. That has never happened to me at a movie before. That alone was enough to make me forgive the retardedness and the glib Christian apolegetics.

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that the Village, in addition to being ridiculous, is also a reactionary piece of Straussian “Noble Lie” horseshit?

As for Unbreakable, for the life of me I really don’t understand the love it gets. I suspect it has something to do with comic book nerdery.


Andrew Reeves 07.16.06 at 3:01 pm

Why hasn’t anyone mentioned that the Village, in addition to being ridiculous, is also a reactionary piece of Straussian “Noble Lie” horseshit?

As far as I could tell, one point of The Village *is* that the “Noble Lie” is horseshit. I don’t think that the Village Elders control their utopia by means of terror is held up as a good thing.


anon4300 07.16.06 at 6:20 pm

Almost as wrongheaded as aliens not having prepared a defense against water (couldn’t they have worn bathing suits or something?) is the fact that the aliens are technologically advanced enough for space travel, while also being stupid enough to get stuck in a kitchen closet.


Matt_C 07.16.06 at 6:35 pm

Watch the very end of The Village, when all the elders are in Phoenix’s room together and they all stand, one after the other, to vow to continue their fake uptopia, what with Adrien Brody’s death helping to cement the legend of “Those we do not speak of” in the minds of the children. Everybody, including angsty William Hurt, is on board with continuing the lie. Tell me what about that ending suggests that Shamayalan is really criticizing their made-up Vicotrian paradise.


Andrew Reeves 07.16.06 at 7:15 pm

The beliefs and opinions of a character in a work of fiction do not necessarily reflect those of the creator. The creators of the utopia may be happy with what they’ve done, but how the community is maintained undercuts their stated good intentions.

The whole series of events that led to the blind girl having to go outside of the village to get help shows the failure of the utopian experiment. In the end, you can’t keep out things like violence and jealousy because you’re going to have them as long as you have people.

Perhaps I am giving S. more credit than he deserves, but my reading of The Village is one in which the events in the narrative problematize the consensus of the village elders. That the village elders figure that the events in the movie will only help “business as usual” doesn’t mean that the village elders are right.


Matt_C 07.16.06 at 10:31 pm

Then how come the very first scene after the big reveal that the whole community is a lie is the one in the ranger’s office, with a newspaper splashed with headlines about war and street crime and, for the illiterates in the audience, a radio broadcasting same. Shamayalan is justifying the elders decisions within moments of the audience finding out the truth. And it’s not just that the elders decide to continue with the community, its that the filmmaker does nothing at the end of the movie to undercut their faith in the venture.


Gary Farber 07.16.06 at 11:46 pm

I thought this was fairly funny, though when I said so at Unfogged, no one commented, so maybe not. (Although above someone quoted a bit of it, with no link, oddly.)

Being lazy, I’ll just repeat some of what I said here a few days ago: My problem with Shyamalan is that I have umpty years of experience editing and reading fiction, and I have a pretty good feel for where plots will go unless you’ve very good and original (Geoff Ryman, say).

“He’s made one good movie (6th Sense), one passable movie (Unbreakable), and at least one bad movie (Signs).”

So, I have a different ranking. I liked Unbreakable quite a lot; it’s one of the still relatively few good superhero films ever done.

I thought 6th Sense was well-executed, more or less, but found it unbelievably boring and tedious to sit through, because about ten minutes in I said, okay, so&so is dead, I get it. And sat through the rest of the film tapping my fingers, waiting for it to end. I did the equivalent with The Usual Suspects, which I found equally mind-numbingly boring, I’m afraid.

Trick-ending stories are one-trick ponies if they depend on the “twist ending” to work, and if you see the “twist” at the beginning of the movie, they’re agonizing.

On this basis, I read the reviews and saw the ads for The Village, and figured out what the plot obviously was, which I confirmed a while later via googling. Never even bothered to see it.

Signs I also skipped until I finally had it on in the background on tv while reading, a couple of months ago when it was broadcast by a network. Gibson was okay, as were the other actors, but otherwise: eh — so what? And the notion that the aliens would be driven off by water: jeebus, he wasn’t around to watch everyone in the sf community laugh themselves sick at how moronic it was when the aliens in V were invading Earth because we had, gasp, water! Like, y’know, they couldn’t just grab some of the most fucking common compound in the universe anywhere.


I certainly haven’t seen anything about Lady in the Water to rouse my interest.

But Unbreakable was fun. [….]


Matt_C 07.17.06 at 12:25 am

Seriously, what the fuck is it about Unbreakable? Are superhero orgin stories such catnip that even an absurdly ponderous one like Unbreakable is considered the bees knees? And “fun” is about the last word I would use to describe Unbreakable.


Russell Arben Fox 07.17.06 at 6:18 am

Matt C (and others):

No doubt comic nerdry has a fair amount to do with the love for Unbreakable here and many other places on the internet; us nerds is everywhere. Still, granting the (admittedly arguable) premise that superheroes and comic books are worth telling stories about, look at that film again. One, it’s about comic books. Two, it tells a comic book story. Three, it features a comic book hero. It weaves all of these together into an (I think) fairly compelling drama that catches up not just a couple of strange characters but an ordinary family working through their problems as well. So far so good, right. Then comes the final two minutes of the film. BAM! Suddenly, all us nerds realize that, this isn’t just a twist like in Sixth Sense, we haven’t misunderstood and/or been misdirected by something central to the plot of the movie: we have, in fact, made or been led to make a category mistake about the plot of the movie! Unbreakable isn’t using comic books to tell a story; it is a comic book story. For me, the final frame of the film, when we’re informed that Mr. Glass has been sent to an “institute for the criminally insane,” is what sealed the deal. (Because who ever gets sent to institutes for the criminally insane, anyway? Comic book supervillians do! And what do they do at those institutes? THEY ESCAPE! I hadn’t spent the previous two hours watching a movie that realistically played with all sorts of comic books elements; I had, in fact, been watching a filmed comic book. I was floored.)

But I guess if you don’t get it, you don’t get it.

I thought both Sixth Sense and Signs were fairly melodramatic and often forced in terms of plot, but both nonetheless worked as thrillers, at least up through their final twists. Sixth Sense‘s twist resulted in something mushy and supposedly romantic; I liked it well enough. Signs‘s final “twist,” on the other hand, was just too ham-fisted for my tastes. Overall, I like the movie and the characters very much (Gibson’s confrontation with Shyamalan’s character in the truck was fantastically done), but as a friend of mine put it, an alien invasion is just way too big a McGuffin to put into your film, plot-wise, if all you want to achieve by way of suspense and release is a little story about faith.

I haven’t seen The Village. I was hopeful that The Lady in the Water was going to be a G-rated, up-front fairy tale; that is, something genuinely different from Shyamalan at last. Not yet, I guess.


99 07.17.06 at 10:20 am

It doesn’t surprise me that nerds is everywhere, as are fanboys. Why I find odd is the perverse need to try and re-assert adolescent arguments of value. I read Stephen King growing up. Then I became an adult. I don’t disavow that interest, since it was part of an intellectual progression, and I really enjoyed the travels. Occassionally, I can pick up older King works and (re)read them, and like it. But it’s not some abstruse affectation that causes me to avoid them. They just aren’t that well-written, and most times I find them tedious and long-winded. I’d rather spend the afternoon rereading a three page story by Padgett Powell than racing through The Stand again.

Comic books are wooden characters, wooden art, and wooden stories. Superman is the dullest character in the history of fiction. Talking about them in the context of one’s personal history, fine. But as adults, can we just all agree that they are shit and move on (and look, I spent five years, as an adult, working in comics, so don’t tell me I just need to check out the latest Gaiman title for my ephiphany)?


Matt_C 07.17.06 at 10:47 am

Thanks, Russell, that actually sheds a lot of light on it for me. Mind you, I’m as nerdy as the next guy, but comic books have never been my particular nerd-sphere.

I stand by my “Village-as-approving-parable-of-Straussian-theory” conviction.


a different chris 07.17.06 at 3:49 pm

>And that seeing a mermaid in your pool means something.

If I was a middle-aged guy living alone and I saw a mermaid in my pool my first reaction would be:

1) Jesus I need to get laid.

Upon discovering that she isn’t just a figment of my ever-more-desperate libido my next reaction would be:

2) Hey, is getting laid a possibility here?

If the movie does not, and from the previews it apparently doesn’t, pursue this particular line of inquiry then I’m gonna have a hard time with that old suspension-of-disbelief.

I liked Sixth Sense, and no I never got it unlike the happily-full-of-himself Mr. Farber, as for me the whole point of sitting down and watching a movie is to give my brain a break. I’m not really looking to see if Bruce Willis produces vapor trails or not.


Keith 07.17.06 at 7:02 pm

The Village would have been great, had it been twenty five minutes long and in black and white, like all the best Twilight Zone episodes. I also like Unbreakable and willgo further and say it’s Bruce Willis’ best film since Pulp Fiction.

Signs had me until the God-did-it ending. The last fifteen minutes ruined the film.


sixfootsubwoofer 07.18.06 at 4:22 am

As you are sitting down in the theatre to give your brain a break, remember that hollywood is the GREATEST form of propaganda. Just as Forest Gump pounded into us that blindly following state ideology will reward us in the end, so did The Village numbly affirm the value of the Straussian “Noble Lie”. Signs effectively told us that we should keep our beliefs despite the evidence of our intellects or emotions. All of these films serve to help “give your brain a break” for most of your life.

Hollywood films serve to entertain, yes, and entertainment is simply a form of pacification.

And on the subject of comics… they may be “shit” but two recent films made from comics have been the most subversive and intelligent ever produced by hollywood. Both “V for Vendetta” and “Sin City” had disturbing plot scenarios and pseudo-revolutionary rhetoric that pushed notions of personal justice, individualism and redemption to us instead of simple pacifying pablum.

The question is: were those notions of revolutionary justice in those films to simply pacify us further? To make us say “It’s good that films like that are being made, it means we’re not all brain washed,” and then carry on being brain washed?

I’m new here, but I have to say that I’m a little disapointed that so many of you were so enthusiastic about MNS’s films when this blog is reportedly an “intellectual” one. His films are simple, “postmodern” tricks to keep you in the seat. He might be a bit deft with suspense, and with conceptual narratives filled with clever (if not at all new) devices, but overall his films leave a sour, egotistical taste in the mouth, I feel. It’s quite telling that he places himself in his films in roles whose characters serve as explanatory forces, as subjects to reveal the inner workings of the narrative. It’s almost as if he has to step into the frame of his films himself to tell you what’s going on, or how to interpret them.


a different chris 07.18.06 at 4:06 pm

>remember that hollywood is the GREATEST form of propaganda

Amen, brother. I have posted in numerous places that Hollywood is the American Right’s greatest friend, because for every buck Babs Streisand gives to a liberal cause there is a Hollywood blockbuster that gives everybody the impression that the Good Guys Always Win When Given A Gun.

I make sure my brain is too disengaged to even soak any of that crap up permanently. I wish our pundits, especially the ones blabbering about “Shane” and “High Noon” would have done the same.


Matt_C 07.18.06 at 7:11 pm

More support for my pro-Straussian Village posit! I rule!


sixfootsubwoofer 07.18.06 at 9:10 pm

Yeah, The Village actually made me quite furious, now that I remember. I was in disbelief at how it ended, much in the way I felt cheated with the ending of Signs. I went into Signs thinking it was a cool horror flick, but the twist turned out to be that the audience was actually sitting in sunday school, not the fact that the aliens were allergic to water (so, so lame).

This line made me skim over Strauss once again, and my newfound maturity made me aghast that his ideas were once taken as seriously as they were. They’re so simple and mean.

However, standing as we all are in the dark, lengthening shadow of Chomsky, perhaps we should fragment Strauss’ ideas about myths and the public good. It seems the backlash against “political correctness” and relativism was powerful enough to knock us all back down to more fundamental forms of discourse. Anyone here think that liberals should work more towards creating their own cohesive mythical narrative and move away from the relativism that has dominated their rhetoric for decades? Just a question…

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