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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’ve been pleasantly surprised by how many recappers, while clearly over their heads, are baseline sympathetic to finding themselves routinely unmoored, even if that means repeating over and over that this is closer to “avant-garde art” than  normal TV to meet the word count. My feed was busy connecting the dots to Peter Tscherkassky (gas station), Tony Conrad (the giant staring at feedback of what we’ve just seen), Pat O’Neill (bombs away) et al., and this is all apposite — visual and conceptual thinking along possibly inadvertent parallel lines. If recappers can’t find those exact reference points to latch onto, that speaks less to willful ignorance than to how unfortunately severed experimental film is from nearly all mainstream discussions of film because it’s generally hard to see outside of privileged contexts (fests, academia, the secret knowledge of a self-preserving circle working with a very finite set of resources and publicity access to the larger world); resources/capital/access/etc. So I won’t assign demerits for willful incuriosity, even if some recappers are reduced, in some unpleasantly condescending/bluffing cases, to dismissing this as a “student film” — because presumably experimentation is something the seasoned artist gets out of their system in maturity, following the George Lucas Model of graduating from Bruce Conner visuals to Lawrence Kasdan’s screenwriting.”
~ Vadim Rizov Goes For It, A Bit

“On the first ‘Twin Peaks,’ doing TV was like going from a mansion to a hut. But the arthouses are gone now, so cable television is a godsend — they’re the new art houses. You’ve got tons of freedom to do the work you want to do on TV, but there is a restriction in terms of picture and sound. The range of television is restricted. It’s hard for the power and the glory to come through. In other words, you can have things in a theater much louder and also much quieter. With TV, the quieter things have to be louder and the louder things have to be quieter, so you have less dynamics. The picture quality — it’s fine if you have a giant television with a good speaker system, but a lot of people will watch this on their laptops or whatever, so the picture and the sound are going to suffer big time. Optimally, people should be watching TV in a dark room with no disturbances and with as big and good a picture as possible and with as great sound as possible.”
~ David Lynch