Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong (shadesong) wrote,
Magical Truthsaying Bastard Shadesong

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Lady in the Water

Just got back from a preview screening of the new M. Night Shymalan movie, Lady in the Water.

The female lead's name is Story.

Which is Spooky's nickname for me.


First, what didn't:
* This was an awkward script. The movie is far better than the script, if that makes sense - extremely talented actors (Paul Giametti, Jeffrey Wright, etc.) managed to massage the awkward lines into something almost natural. But the movie's backstory is relayed using far too much exposition. The first rule is show, don't tell; this is a movie that far preferred to tell.
* Night's role. He has one in every movie, but it's usually a cameo; in this, he's one of the secondary characters. I'm not saying he didn't do a good job. He did. But with every gesture and every line, you're aware that that's the director up there; he doesn't disappear into the story the way the other actors do. It's a distraction. It pulls you out of the movie. Disney didn't want him in that role; Disney was right.
* This would have been better working with an existing fairy tale. Making one up just for the movie and populating it with "narfs" and "scrunts"...

What worked:
* As Adam pointed out, the comedy. There's more here that in everything else he's done put together, and it really works. Intensity requires levity.
* The actors.
* Not going for the obvious, so far as Paul Giamatti's character was concerned.
* Everything about the critic. (Disney didn't want that, either; in this case, Disney was wrong.)

And I love, love, love the device of people being aware that they are characters in a story, being aware of their places in myth. This isn't how I'd've told that story. But I am not a famous director. So.

I liked Sixth Sense, but it was spoiled for me before I saw it. Unbreakable, I thought was a work of freakin' genius. No one gets that movie. I'm one of the few who enjoyed Signs - but, then, I'm also one of those who sees signs in everything. I thought The Village was crap. I have a complicated relationship with Night's movies. I think he's capable of incredible things. I think he forgets that sometimes, and doesn't pare the diamond in the rough down enough. I think this movie feels like that... slightly unfinished. I also think it's quite a good movie.
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