*** Official THE VILLAGE Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Mikel_Cooperman, Jul 28, 2004.

  1. Mikel_Cooperman

    Mikel_Cooperman Producer

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    Entertainment Weekly chimes in. No spoilers.

    What an irony -- and a shame -- it would be if ''The Sixth Sense'' turns out to be the movie that first made and then ruined the career of M. Night Shyamalan. A filmmaker of superb technical facility and emotional control, Shyamalan floored audiences with the ending of his 1999 thriller, the rare film twist that was genuinely unexpected without being in the least dishonest. It's not his fault that the public has approached each of his subsequent movies as narrative piñatas that will spill forth their secrets if only they can be cracked.

    But audience expectations alone can't be blamed for the fact that Shyamalan's movies seem increasingly to be mapped from their endings backward. Watching The Village, which follows ''Unbreakable'' and ''Signs'' in what may come to be known as the ''Gotcha!'' quartet, you may find yourself poking and prodding the narrative for its first half hour, mentally combing each scene in search of what's not being expressed. That's not a great way to approach a film, but in fairness, the surface of ''The Village'' does not, initially, offer many rewards. Set in a 19th-century Northeastern rural community, it's written in a style somewhere between faux Crucible and an elementary-school tour of Amish country. Benign town elders led by Edward Walker (William Hurt) preside over the village's business while the young ones frolic and go a-courtin', and a romantic quadrangle begins to emerge: Walker's impetuous daughter Kitty (Judy Greer) is in love with stoic, awkward Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix), who in turn is smitten with Kitty's blind sister Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), who's adored by mentally handicapped Noah (Adrien Brody, in his first role of any heft since winning the Oscar for ''The Pianist''). The tone is so chokingly wholesome, and the world Shyamalan creates is so quaintly ''simple'' in a way that urbanites often ascribe to the rural, that one longs for the other shoe to drop, if one exists. Since this is an M. Night Shyamalan film, prayers are answered in the form of an unseen presence -- terrifying creatures who are said to live in the surrounding woods, in an uneasy truce with the villagers that depends on neither species breaching the other's borders.

    If by now you're thinking that surely something else must be going on here, well, who could blame you, since the writer-director himself has conditioned you to tweeze every line and frame forensically? What really lurks within those woods is (fear not: no spoilers here) a very mixed bag. It gives nothing of the plot away to say that there's a fine line between an ''Aha!'' and an ''Oh, brother!'' Whether you feel ''The Village'' crosses that line may hinge on whether you think Shyamalan's screenwriting ability is beginning to lag behind his skill as a director. ''The Village'' offers genuine surprises and a few haunting images, thanks primarily to his exquisitely precise sense of pace, mood, and framing (the brilliant cinematographer Roger Deakins proves invaluable here) and his evident fondness for actors. As a director, Shyamalan gets fine work from Phoenix, whose ability to convey emotion with limited language serves the film effectively, from newcomer Howard, who brings steely resolve and dynamism to what turns out to be a pivotal role, and from stage veterans like Cherry Jones and Jayne Atkinson in small parts. Less successfully used is Hurt, whose abiding taste for inserting...random...pauses...into his lines feeds Shyamalan's biggest weakness as a director, namely, a tendency to treat his own dialogue as holy writ. With each moment directed and played to maximize a sense of portent, ''The Village'' feels airless (and sometimes eye-rollingly solemn) in ways that can't be pinned entirely on its isolated-and-surrounded plot; it has the hermetic quality of a talented filmmaker bouncing ideas off the inside of his own skull. When those ideas are great, the result is ''The Sixth Sense.'' When those ideas are ''Hey, maybe the alien invader could be allergic to water!'' the result is ''Signs.'' In the case of ''The Village,'' it's not fair to talk about the plot yet, but it is reasonable to suggest that, with the road into these woods threatening to turn into a creative dead end, Shyamalan may want to think about making his next movie with a twist beginning -- a new writer.

    Note ''The Village'' was reviewed by editor-at-large Mark Harris from a print without final color correction after Buena Vista declined to schedule a screening for critics that would permit EW to run a timely review.
     
  2. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    I read the "Ebert Review" over at DVD Talk and IMO it is not written in Ebert's style. When asked where he found the review all the poster said was "I have my sources"...I have doubts as to it's validity.
     
  3. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    That's a rather bizarre statement- what was the source of EW's review? A test screening, illegally obtained bootleg, or what? If the studio declines to screen the film for a publication what legitimate source does the publication have before the film's release?
     
  4. Joshua_W

    Joshua_W Second Unit

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    Comparing this to The Twilight Zone, I believe

    that the ending we've been reading about would work as thrity-minute episode of the TZ, but NOT as a part of a two-hour, big budget movie.

    In a lot of ways, it's a cheat. It's like that knock-knock joke that has the punchline "Orange you glad I didn't say banana?" It's dragging too much storyline along for too little payoff. The audience is investing too much time, emotion, and intellect into something that's essentially a clever gimmick. It's fine as a short story, but not as full-lenght novel.
     
  5. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    I agree with Quentin and Joshua. 100%.

    Kevin_M wrote:

    "I read the "Ebert Review" over at DVD Talk and IMO it is not written in Ebert's style."

    Oh, I disagree -- Mr. Ebert frequently turns to sarcastic and biting humour in the face of a bad movie. That sure read like his work to me.
     
  6. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    "But audience expectations alone can't be blamed for the fact that Shyamalan's movies seem increasingly to be mapped from their endings backward."

    Many films are structured like that, in fact, a famous book on story structure - Hamlet Backwards and Forwards - teaches young writing students how to recognize and appreciate solid story structure by watching a movie and then analyzing it scene-by-scene starting at the end of the film.
     
  7. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Cinematographer

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    I'll take quality filmmaking over boxoffice results every day of the week.
     
  8. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    Not to mention that if he remains stuck in this formula, he won't be drawing that large audience for much longer. He'll become a joke. "That movie was good until it pulled a Shyamalan at the end. That was just stupid." Maybe that will be Night's great contribution to film language, and "pulling a Shyamalan" will go down with all the other crazy obscure pieces of verbage in the film industry.
     
  9. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    I work for a newspaper and the review posted at DVD Talk is the same one that was moved to us this morning by Universal Press Syndicate, Ebert's syndicator.
     
  10. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

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    Good 3-star review at Rolling Stone:



    Full review here.
     
  11. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    I can't stand Peter Travers, and I also can't stand film critics who make thinly-veiled hack political statements in their reviews.
     
  12. FredK

    FredK Second Unit

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    Just chek out his last [​IMG] review for Catwoman, it's loaded with sarcasm. I read all of his reviews just for his writing style (and pre-internet he was one of the few reviewers I had access to), and that quote is most definitely Ebert.
     
  13. MichaelD

    MichaelD Stunt Coordinator

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  14. Ken Seeber

    Ken Seeber Supporting Actor

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    The Ebert review thread at DVD Talk has been pulled by the moderators, to be returned on Friday. The only reason I can imagine why they'd do this is because papers served by Universal Press were pissed they had to withhold a review that had already leaked to the Internet.
     
  15. BridgetJZ

    BridgetJZ Second Unit

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    This is great news -- I've never been a big fan of Ebert -- so regardless of whether or not he thinks The Village was good, I'm going to see it anyway.

    The CNN review is great though -- I'm glad to hear that the critic liked it.

    Such being said -- I'm really looking forward to seeing Shyamalan's take on the classic love story. I think that the marketing for this rely downplayed the aspect. I wonder why???

    Going to a sneak peak tonight (woo hoo), so I'll be sure to post a (spoiler free) review then.

    Can't wait.

    Anyone else going to see this too?
     
  16. Ernest Rister

    Ernest Rister Producer

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    I couldn't possibly take any of it seriously, knowing what I know. This one won't even get a rental from me -- I'll check it out on HBO in the Spring.
     
  17. Kevin M

    Kevin M Producer

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    Well ok, maybe it is Ebert, I wasn't doubting the dripping sarcasm, I was doubting the writing style.
     
  18. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    **** WARNING - Sixth Sense spoiler contained here *****
    **** Signs discussed a bit, but then that really isn't a twist ending thing ****


    BTW, I haven't seen the film yet, but just from his rep and the trailers I suspect one of two possible endings...

    1) It turns out that the country bumpkins are isolated from modern society by some misunderstanding and that the "monsters" are just people.

    2) More likely, in order to preserve "purity" one (or more) of the town elders created this idea of "creatures" so that no one would leave the town and interact with the rest of the world.

    It would be possible for 1 and 2 to sort of be combined even.

    One thing about the EW review above that I did even with 6th Sense was to view the films with that sense of "what isn't he telling me". Because of this I pegged the main twist of 6th Sense the minute the film went to black after Willis was shot...after all the film was about a kid who sees dead people. The rest of the film for me was a progression of scenes in which real contact was painfully missing, such as a single word or direct acknowledgement of Willis by anyone other than the kid.

    I really like MNS visual and directorial style, and even though the films play like Twilight Zone episodes that doesn't mean that they aren't at least interesting stories. I enjoyed (though wasn't blown away by) the 6th Sense despite seeing the end so early, partially because of how he did work at hiding it and just the general journey.

    Because of this I think MNS will be just fine, although he probably will want to work in a few "non-twist" films in his portfolio.

    Of course Signs wasn't really a twist. The aliens were the real deal. It still had MNS style of imply over show, but in the era of CGI overload I welcome that method.
     
  19. Kevin Grey

    Kevin Grey Cinematographer

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    Did you know there was a twist ending at all when you went in? I was lucky enough with Sixth Sense to not really know anything more than what had been in the previews so, not expecting a twist I didn't look for one.

    I agree that Signs doesn't have a twist ending. It may have a revelation but calling it a twist is unfair.
     
  20. Pete-D

    Pete-D Screenwriter

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    The Hollywood Reporter and CNN have given it glowing reviews though, some reviewers are saying it's Night's worst movie, while others are saying its even better than the "Sixth Sense".

    Looks like the critics are divided right down the center on this one.

    It seems like those who picked up on the Grimm's Brother fairy tale influeces might have been right though.

    I'm definitely gonna be in line tomorrow.
     

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