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Noah Forrest

By Noah Forrest Forrest@moviecitynews.com

How the Mighty Have Fallen…

Two times in the past week, I’ve gone to the movie theater and seen the preview for Devil.  Both times,  I thought the trailer was well-cut, moody, and effective.  And both times, the audience started giggling as soon as they saw M. Night Shyamalan’s name on the screen.  By no means am I a fan of the man’s recent output – in fact, I’d go so far as to say that the films he’s made since Signs have all been somewhat embarrassing travesties – but I don’t root for anyone’s failure.  I think Shyamalan is clearly a talented individual who has made at least one excellent film (Unbreakable) and one very good one (The Sixth Sense), but I don’t think anything has really changed in him.  I don’t think he’s a different kind of storyteller now, I just think he hasn’t evolved as a filmmaker.  Some chalk it up to an out-sized ego – and certainly there’s proof of that – but I’m not going to play amateur psychologist and assume that’s the case.  I think he is very comfortable making films the way he makes them and doesn’t see that much of a need to listen to outside opinions.

Having said all that, Universal should be more aware of what has happened to the M. Night Shyamalan over the last few years.  I don’t think it’s right that people are laughing at Shyamalan’s producer credit on Devil, but I also don’t think it’s smart for the marketing folks to prominently display the name of a man who has tarnished his brand in the eyes of most moviegoers.  One could point to the $130 million that The Last Airbender grossed, but that film had a built-in audience and still couldn’t make its budget back.

Devil is a smaller film that needs word of mouth and positive buzz.  It seems to be set almost entirely in an elevator with an outlandish premise, but the trailer is cut so well that it intrigued me and I don’t know why the studio would risk putting Shyamalan’s name in lights.  Let’s all hope the film is good and that it is step one in Shyamalan getting back into our good graces.  Step two is letting someone else write his scripts.

One Response to “How the Mighty Have Fallen…”

  1. Jeremy says:

    I have seen this trailer in theatres 5 or 6 times and it is true, every time his name comes up, the audience laughs or boos. And I’m always the guy in the back row screaming “The twist is that he’s been a shitty director the whole time!” I liked Sixth Sense and Unbreakable too, and thought Signs was a guilty pleasure, but the rest have been junk. I saw The Happening opening night, and the audience treated it like it was The Room–no joke. They didn’t throw spoons, but they hurled insults at the screen whenever they could.

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“I don’t really believe in guilty pleasures. I like to subscribe to Susan Sontag’s thought of no highs and lows. I think dismissing popular culture and popular films can be really dangerous because they may seem innocuous, but some are works of art and even when they’re not they can say so much about the culture that they’re reflecting. This also gets into the idea of canon. What is good and isn’t good? Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about that. Specifically, who writes these canons? Mainly, straight white guys — which basically rigs the system. So, if you have a knowledge of female filmmakers, queer filmmakers, African or Asian filmmakers, some people won’t give them the same culture capital. They’ll say, “Oh, that’s nice niche knowledge.” No, it’s not. You’re just seeing it through the prism of something white and male. Like Shonda Rhimes’ ‘Scandal.’ I love that show, but is it a guilty pleasure because it’s a soap on TV? No. I think it has incredible writing, incredible thought and characters, so we should take it seriously. That’s a long-winded answer to say, “Yes, I love Titanic.” I was 10 years old when it came out and my mom took me to see it three times. I was so obsessed with it. A big thanks to my mom who’ll never get those nine hours of her life back.”
~ Toronto Int’l Programmer and Critic Kiva Reardon

“A lot of us felt blindsided,” Van Vliet told me. In the seventies, Van Vliet was drafted out of film school by Industrial Light & Magic, where he worked on The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Now 62 and semi-retired, he said, “Once you get into your fifties, you’re pretty disposable.” Van Vliet was in the middle of reviewing DVD screeners before casting his Oscar votes, a process he estimated would take a hundred and twenty hours. “The Academy is essentially asking us to give them three weeks of labor, and then they’re going to take our results, put them into a ceremony, and sell it,” he said, referring to the seventy-five million dollars that the organization earns from the television broadcast. “Then they’re turning around and kicking us in the teeth.”
~ “Shakeup At The Oscars”