Okay. I know I've started this blog in the post-summer-blockbuster-afterglow, but feel the undeniable need to comment on a feature that—to this day—still sparks a rift in the carefully crafted sub culture at my not-so-humble place of work. Scattered sporadically around the studio, are small pieces of paper with a single phrase printed on them: "I hate the films of M. Night Shyamalan." They've been written on time and time again, "I love the films of..." or "I'm indifferent towards..." Apparently there have also been some songs written, rhyming M. Night's name with a number of unsavory items. So what might you ask has sparked all this heated behavior within an otherwise docile (ha) working environment. It was of course, M's latest summer flick, Lady in the Water.
I'll be the first one to admit it, I am a loyal M. Night fanatic. Few can debate, M. Night is without a doubt one of the tightest writers around. Every word uttered in his films has purpose, nothing is left to chance and we can all pretty much agree, this tactic has paid off time and time again. But what about Lady? Why has that flick turned even some fairly satisfied M. Night customers into song-writing Shyama-haters?
So here's the deal. I saw it, I loved it, and I'm here to tell you why. Monster, Zooropa, Dylan goin' electric... why do something different when you got a good thing goin' on? Was there a twisty payoff? No. Were we really, really required to suspend our disbelief? Yeah. Was it slow, and by slow, I mean way, way, way slow? Yes, yes and yes. So what was it that "did it" for me?
It's all about a commitment to quality storytelling. In this case specifically, bedtime storytelling. So this guy hits it out of the park time after time. Can ya blame him for telling a story, just because he felt it needed to be told? Can we sort of agree that he's earned that right? Think about it this way, M. Night's so committed to storytelling, he decided to tell a story that not even his studio was willing to tell, just in case there was someone, anyone out there who was supposed to hear it. Was half the audience asleep three quarters of the way through the flick? Sure. But let's face it, that's exactly what bedtime stories are supposed to do.
Hypothetical question... if you're telling a story that admittedly isn't for everyone, is a big-budget Hollywood film the best vehicle for your ambition?
Hypothetical sub question... if you're on a date and have the desperate need to pass gas, do you just let it out and hope she understands or do you hold it in and face potential intestinal complications?
A: No. You tell the story to your kids, then head off to your safe for a nightly swim through your millions.
B: Fart freely, my brother. You can always blame it on the fat guy sitting in front of you. Or the dog. Which ever you can find first.
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