Posts Tagged ‘M. Night Shyamalan’

MIDG Podcast #2: The Good And The Bad

Posted 20 Apr 2014 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Film Industry News, Film Reviews, Hollywood Beat, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill & Ezra Stead

 

Jason and Ezra discuss the basic elements of good and bad film. From dramas to comedies, action to science fiction, good and bad movies come in many forms and take on many critics. Here are just a few examples as we ponder the idea of what makes a good film good and a bad film bad.

 

 

 

 

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Gorgeous Camp, Campy Gore – Three Films By Dario Argento

Posted 14 Oct 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Phantom of the Opera is a film Dario Argento was born to make. The Phantom of the Opera, Italy, 1998

Jenifer, USA, 2005

Pelts, Canada / USA, 2006

Directed by Dario Argento

Italian filmmaker Dario Argento is widely known among horror fans as a distinctive, sadistic auteur, a director who has found beauty in terror and mutilation with films such as Suspiria (1977), Inferno (1980) and Opera (1987). It is often forgotten that he also helped write one of the greatest Westerns of all time, Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), but that makes sense, as he has devoted his career as a director to the creepily atmospheric and macabre, delighting in tales of the supernatural and visions of brutal but creative murder. Suspiria is generally considered to be his masterpiece (and it is certainly one of the prettiest horror films I’ve ever seen) and I actually like Opera even more in many ways, but this entry in my ongoing Halloween Movie Month (HMM … yeah, I like that acronym better) series will focus on three newer films with which I recently caught up, including his two contributions to Mick Garris’s always intriguing Masters of Horror series. Read More

The Prestige – Not That Exciting When You Know How It’s Done

Posted 09 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Prestige, USA / UK, 2006

Directed by Christopher Nolan

The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn't what the prestige is supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out. The prestige is only the third act. At least that’s what we’re told by Cutter (Michael Caine) in his opening monologue. It’s more a set of instructions for the film, we’ll discover, but that’s a later point. Every magic trick comes in three parts: one – the pledge, in which you give the audience something real to hold onto; two – the turn, in which you take that something and turn into something impossible, the part where the magic lies; three – the prestige, in which everything comes back to normal, and the audience (hopefully) cheers. Usually, magic is all about sleight of hand and misdirection. Christopher Nolan is great at that; recall the difficult but astonishing Memento (2000). There’s a pledge, a turn, and a prestige in that, but here, in The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn’t what it’s supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out.

Still, though, the pledge and the turn make the film exciting and the thriller it should be. Don’t be fooled – this film isn’t strictly about magicians. It’s a cat-and-mouse game about two men obsessed with one-upping each other, and who both end up destroying themselves in the process. Read More

Spoiler Alert! Some Thoughts On Twist Endings

By Ezra Stead

The Sixth Sense ruined twist endings for quite sometime after its 1999 release. Since M. Night Shyamalan’s much-ballyhooed 1999 feature The Sixth Sense, twist endings have gotten something of a bad rap, and usually with good reason. After all, in many cases they are a cheap way to add excitement to the climax of an otherwise dull story; sometimes they are a cop-out, negating all emotional involvement that may have been invested in a film up until that point; others seem to be the sole reason for a story’s existence, without which the whole thing crumbles. On the other hand, when they work, twist endings can make a good film great, and they occasionally even reward repeat viewings by revealing previously unseen layers that can only be recognized once the conclusion of the story is known.

As rightly reviled as are many recent examples of the technique, especially many of Shyamalan’s subsequent efforts, there are also many laudable examples to be found among some of history’s greatest cinematic achievements, old and new. Widely respected filmmakers from Alfred Hitchcock to David Fincher and Christopher Nolan have successfully employed the well-placed twist to wonderful effect, and even Orson Welles’s immortal classic Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, concludes with what can only be deemed an elegant, emotionally rich twist ending. Read More

The Sixth Sense – He Saw Dead People; Let’s Move On

Posted 07 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Sixth Sense, USA, 1999

Written and Directed by M. Night Shyamalan

The Sixth Sense is a 1999 American psychological thriller written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.What seems to be indicative of M. Night Shyamalan’s work, especially over the last few years, is his extreme attention to detail. Whether or not you appreciate his films is a moot point; it’s hard for one to argue that he doesn’t have a handle on what he does, and in The Sixth Sense, the ghost story that became a template for far too many films to follow, his detail-oriented direction certainly doesn’t go to waste.

Films like this only succeed, no matter how great the direction or cast may be, if their screenplays do; written by Shyamalan as well, this screenplay may be bold but is weighted by a slight amateur’s touch in the first half. Some of the dialogue is brow-raisingly awkward and (for those who have seen the film, which I’m pretty sure is the entirety of the human race) full of holes, holes so gapingly big that even simple assumption of what the characters may have done off-screen doesn’t help as it usually would. Some scenes are far too short to make the emotional impact intended and others are drastically overlong, but, once that scene hits, once Cole tells his doctor his secret, it’s a near flawless work for the next hour. Read More

Birdemic: Shock And Terror

Posted 13 Apr 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Birdemic: Shock and Terror, USA, 2008

Written and Directed by James Nguyen

Birdemic: Shock and Terror is probably the worst film ever made.

After years – hell, nearly two decades – of searching, I think I just may have found the absolute worst movie ever made. Though Michael Bay’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009), my previous choice, is indeed the most mind-numbing and impossible to enjoy film I can remember seeing, at the very least it has some stellar craftsmanship in the technical departments. James Nguyen’s Birdemic: Shock and Terror was clearly made without the benefit of anyone who knew absolutely anything about filmmaking within a hundred yards of the set. Witness production values and acting that make Tommy Wiseau’s notorious 2003 classic The Room look like a legitimate masterpiece. Witness sound editing and mixing apparently done by a pair of deaf children. Witness the worst special effects ever seen in a feature film. Witness the musical number “Just Hangin’ Out,” sung onscreen in its hilarious entirety by Damien Carter. Witness the flaming wreckage of a film that is Birdemic: Shock and Terror.

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Dogtooth

Posted 10 Mar 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Most Confusing Films of All time, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

Dogtooth, 2009, Greece

Directed by Giorgos Lanthimos

Dogtooth is the best film of the year.

This film is mind-blowingly great, the best I’ve seen in quite some time. The best way to see Dogtooth is the way in which I was lucky enough to: without knowing anything about its storyline. If you have not yet seen this film, I strongly encourage you to stop reading this review and watch it, right now, on Netflix or any other method you might be able to find.

Anyone still with me? I am now going to assume you have seen the film and that it has either blown your mind and made you extremely inspired and reinvigorated about the possibilities of the cinematic art form, as it did for me on both viewings (within two weeks), or it has outraged and disgusted you with its “mean-spiritedness,” as it did for some others with whom I have discussed it. Maybe it has done a little of both. In any event, you have seen the film and I will no longer have to warn you about upcoming spoilers.

Greek filmmaker Giorgos Lanthimos has created a film of startling power and striking originality. The closest comparison I can make, both in style and content, is the work of Austrian provocateur Michael Haneke – the brilliant filmmaker behind The Seventh Continent (1989), Cache (2005) and The White Ribbon (2009), to name just a few – but Dogtooth is more perversely humorous than even Haneke’s Funny Games (1997, remade by Haneke himself in 2007), which is admittedly the only one of his films to really utilize humor. As dark, disturbing and sometimes brutal as Dogtooth ultimately is, it is hard not to laugh at some of it, and this is clearly the desired effect. Read More