Saturday, September 18, 2004

More on M Night S

Since I’m on a Manoj Night Shyamalan-bashing trip, I might as well carry on with it. (Sidenote: in the interests of fairness, I WILL post a blog on his strong points sometime in the future, with special reference to Unbreakable, one of the most interesting and challenging films to have come from the Holywood mainstream in recent years.)

So here goes.

Some painful images/sound bytes from Shyamalan movies:

"Please, plleeezzze, let me shoot you JUST ONCE"

(Bleats a painfully annoying kid as he tries to prove that his dad is a superhero who can’t be hurt by bullets, in Unbreakable.

Boo hoo hoo around the family table; or, let’s all have a good cry together.

Prominent example of above is unintentionally hilarious scene in Signs, where Mel Gibson, Joachin Phoenix and two kids do an astonishingly bad impression of a family trying to exorcise its demons. Also seen in The Sixth Sense, where Toni Colette breaks down and tells her dead-people-seeing son about a scar from her childhood that has never healed.

Incidentally, I’m convinced now that when Shyamalan needs his actors to cry (as opposed to just look sulky as they generally do) he just tells them to screw their faces up and make choking sounds. He is a terrible, terrible director of actors, and has somehow managed time and again to elicit laughably bad performances from people who are capable of better things: Gibson in Signs and Adrien Brody in The Village being just two examples. And it irritates me immensely that Bruce Willis, a fine, underrated actor when he’s playing light roles, gets critical praise for his dead-serious, one-expressioned "performances" in Shyamalan’s films. So far, Samuel L Jackson -- in Unbreakable -- is the only one who’s really held his own, though I suspect that’s because he ignored the director’s directions.

Use of passive voice in The Village, and other ponderous lines that Shyamalan throws in because, gee, they sound like how 19th century folk might talk -- example: "What is your meaning?"

(One wonders how long those disillusioned urbanites who retired to the woods took to learn a completely new way of speaking -- and why do we see no copies of Wren and Martin’s Guide to Olde Speake?)

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