Friday, June 13, 2008

"What kind of movie is this?"

The title of this post is a direct quote from a fellow innocent bystander who happened to be sitting behind us during The Happening. I don't even know what to say at this point...that quote sort of sums it up.

I find it ironic on a day when I wrote a post discussing The Incredible Hulk that K and I went to see The Happening instead. I find it triply ironic that on the day when I wrote in that Hulk post that Edward Norton was "Hollywood's Biggest Ego," that I was jarred back into reality...I TOTALLY FORGOT ABOUT M. NIGHT SHYAMALAN! My apologies to Mr. Norton.

"Ego," however, doesn't even begin to describe Shyamalan. I'm not sure what the man is thinking...and I really have no clue what the hell he's smoking. 

I could have renamed the film The Catastrophe, though that would be putting it kindly. Ever since Signs was released in 2002, people have been buzzing about the arrogance and insanity of M. Night Shyamalan, and the buzz has been getting louder and louder, especially after 2004's The Village and 2006's Lady in the Water. But The Happening is something else altogether. We are witnessing the sudden, jarring, awe-inspiring suicide of Shyamalan's career. If anyone at any studio comfortably pays him money to make another film ever again, that person should be fired and that studio should be considered desperate beyond all reason. On the basis of this film, I'm not even sure M. Night even wants to work in the film business ever again. This is like his big, final "fuck you"to the industry, to critics, to audiences, and to the once commonly understood conception that he was a talented filmmaker.

I wasn't even intending to write this much, and yet I haven't even mentioned how this film turns talented, charismatic, sometimes brilliant actors like Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel into B-movie muggers who look like they've never been directed in their lives. There is just too much shit to discuss in a single, off-the-cuff post. But I just wanted to get the word out...there is a plague killing audiences all across the won't stop until your tolerance level has been forcibly lowered and your brain cells have been fried by the sheer, pointless idiocy of its plot, the total ineptitude of its writing, directing, and editing, the shrill, nauseating drone of its vile music score, and the arrogant--nay, mentally deranged--notion that all of it is somehow tense, or funny, or powerful, or campy, or shocking, or enlightening...or any combination thereof.

Make no mistake: we are witnessing history. The Happening is one of the worst films ever made.


the WIZARD, fkap said...

I'm really, really sorry to read eulogy for The Happening and the death of M. Night Shyamalan's career.

Your views are echoed by virtually all other ciritics.

I was one of the few real fans of Lady in the Water and thought it to be a remarkable and unusual modern myth. While the reveiws were nearly as bad for that movie and the box office (and even DVD sales) were poor, I thought it was just one of those horribly misunderstood movies that occasionally confound critics and audiences.

I will go to see The Happening in spite of all the "Caution: Bridge Washed Out" warning signs in the road. I'll just have to drive off the cliff......

Until then, like the midwest's blue collar voters, I'll cling to my guns and bible and my one treasured review of The Happening by Roger Ebert......

"Shyamalan's approach is more effective than smash-and-grab plot-mongering. His use of the landscape is disturbingly effective. The performances by Wahlberg and Deschanel bring a quiet dignity to their characters."

J McKiernan said...

Here's why I appreciate your comments, Wizard: you remind me of me. I wanted to see "The Happening" no matter what any of the critics did K. Same with pretty much every other movie. I have to see it for myself. I totally understand and look forward to hearing what you have to say.

I liked "Lady in the Water," too. Not as much as you did, but I thought there was some real interesting stuff in there. I did not like "The Village" at all, but at least there was some good suspense before the rug was pulled out, and Bryce Dallas Howard's performance was amazing. I really liked "Signs," except, in retrospect, I feel like it started Shyamalan down the road to ultimate destruction. "Signs" started this "weird coincidences" theme that gradually became unbearable in subsequent films. "Village" started the "town hall meeting" theme where all the characters get together to discuss the weird phenomenon at the film's center. Now, "The Happening" is like the worst of both of Shyamalan's nagging screenplay crutches.

I need to write on Ebert. I've written that Scorsese is my greatest inspiration as a filmmaker...Ebert fills that role as a critic. More on that later.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

O.K., I'm back.

I watched The Happening tonight and I liked it. (By the way, I did think The Village was one of the worst movies I ever saw. It's a friggin' miracle I even gave Lady in the Water a chance).

I'm really not going to disagree with your review, because your points are reasonably accurate. But I simply love Zooey Deschanel and she could star in the New York Telephone DIrectory and I'd probably give it five stars.

Still, that's no excuse for liking the movie. Particularly since I don't happen to like Mark Wahlberg. His really terrible scene in the movie where he stops in the middle of the field as the other group commits suicide and repeats, "Wait, I'm thinking" six or seven times was really, really terrible. The only thing he convinced me of in that scene was that he needed to take a dump.

But the movie worked for me in total. It was compelling and held my attention completely. I thought the ending was terrific (unlike all other Shyamalan's movies since The Sixth Sense). I didn't feel betrayed.

Did I mention Zooey was terrific and therefore my review cannot be trusted.

P.S. I saw the movie in a really large state of the art all digital theater in Birmingham, Alabama.

What a treat a large all Digital Cinema theater is!

The extremely large theater (probably the largest in the 14 screen complex) was filled to near capacity. The audience seemed to like the movie. All laughter (and there are some funny sequences) came in exactly the right places.

Except for the incredibly stupid and needless lawnmower scene, I thought the horror touches were right on cue.

the WIZARD, fkap said...

By the way...... something about The Happening makes me want to rewatch Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds.

It's the same movie, except Hitchcock's is a masterpiece and he felt absolutely no need to explain the plot.

I'm amazed more reviewers haven't noted the parallel.

J McKiernan said...

I started writing a response, but then it exploded beyond my expectations. So, Dear Wiz, I have expanded the comment into a full-on post. Check that one out.

I hope we keep this discussion going and maybe bring a few others into the fold...