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Monday, August 02, 2004

We took what's becoming our tri-weekly trip to L.A. this weekend to see Beth's parents (wife, inlaws, respectively). This gives us the chance to go to a movie; Lucas (5 month old son) gets to spend some quality time with the grandparents. We always approach these trips (no, we don't have a babysitter that we can leave the kid with and yes, I am willing to make a 2+ hour drive to see a movie and no, I don't particularly enjoy spending every third weekend with the inlaws but therein lies the genius - I don't see a lot of them, they don't come down to visit us, Beth is happy that Lucas sees the grandparents - everybody wins) with serious contemplation - when you have a baby, movies are a luxury and a bad choice stays with you. So it was with high hopes that we went to see "The Village".

Earlier today I posted the following response on Slate; one of the Fraysters argues that Shyamalan and David Lynch are very similar, both being the most "subtle" filmmakers working today:

"How subtle can a director of suspense films be if he chooses to go by his eerie middle name? Of his films, "Unbreakable" is the closest to showing Night's full potential - more than any other, it shows Night at the top of his game, combining deft, atomspheric visuals with an intelligent script ("The Sixth Sense" falls apart when one considers that the movie is not played out in real time - at some point, wouldn't the good doctor realize that EVERYONE is completely ignoring him?). Shyamalan has painted himself into a corner - we demand his patented trick endings and misdirections, and one wonders how much more money he'd make if he just released his movies straight to DVD, so that viewers could pause each scene to look for clues. In some ways, "The Village" is his most subtle work (the villagers seem to struggle with the language as if the formal speech is not quite natural, and the village itself is, as my wife put it, straight out of Pottery Barn), but the clumsy way that the plot's secrets are revealed is anything but (William Hurt's character opening up the box of secrets to reveal the Elders' pasts, not to mention revealing the storage shed to Ivy). In fact, why reveal anything at all? A satisfying conclusion would have been for Shyamalan to do what he does best - keep us in Ivy's point of view, and leave us to wonder about what exactly lies in the Towns outside the woods. And thus, to debate about the central question he raises in the movie - would we live in ignorance if it kept us from harm?"


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