Tuesday, February 15, 2011
I've recently seen two movies from two of my favorite directors, and it's given me a lot to think about. "My Soul to Take" is a movie by Wes Craven, who's been one of my favorite directors since I was a kid, and who's recently made movies that a lot of people don't like, which cause them to say he's "lost it" ("it" being whatever he had once that made his movies good to begin with). Since I like the movie, I don't agree with the,, but I can definitely see what people are talking about when they call the movie dumb, or incoherent or whatever they hate about it that makes them dislike it so much.
M. Night Shaymalan is another story. He burst onto the scene with "The Sixth Sense" (he directed "Wide Awake" previously, which is actually a good movie that deserves more attention than it gets, but "The Sixth Sense" is the movie everyone remembers Shaymalan for) and then made a name for himself as the director who always brings the "twist" ending. The problem with that, of course, is that when people come into your movies expecting a twist, they're wise to your game, and it makes it harder and harder to actually surprise them. The "twist" endings got more and more elaborate over time, and most people were pissed at the "twist" in the movie "The Village" (I liked it, of course). Then when he made a movie where he tried to do something different, drawing on folklore and fairy tales and exploring the nature of belief and doubt, everyone hated it (I of course loved "Lady in the Water"). Then he tried to return to the "twist" genre, giving us "The Happening" which remains the only movie of his that I've seen that I DON'T like. I haven't seen "The Last Airbender," but it's based on a beloved kids show with a cult following and so it pissed almost everyone off. Lately, people have been so annoyed with his ego and his overblown plot twists that they're all going back an complaining about movies that they all liked back when the movies first came out (I was around when "Signs" was in theaters, I remember how everyone raved about it, so they can't pretend they didn't like it now).
My biggest problem with M. Night Shaymalan isn't that his movies are BAD. I've actually enjoyed moist of his movies, even when they're pretentious and overwrought and sinking in their own melodrama (that's what finally killed "The Happening" for me in the end). I think he's got an ego the size of Rhode Island, but it would be hard not to, what with everyone going on about how brilliant he was for such a long time. When he's on his game, he can actually do a great job weaving complex plotlines together into a story that's fun to watch as it unravels. In "Devil," I think he's totally on his game. This movie was fun to watch from start to finish, and the twists add to the story instead of distracting from it or getting in the way. I think "Devil" is a true return to form and it reminds me why I liked Shaymalan so much, back before everyone got so sick of him. The man knows how to tell a story. Maybe he forgot that when he decided to spend all his time trying to pone-up himself, but when he sits down and tries to actually tell a story, he can do that better than a lot of other directors I know. That's what made me a fan in the first place. If he sticks to that, it will KEEP me a fan.