had a lot on its shoulders, as evidenced by the ubiquitous banner headline every trailer, poster and DVD box still sport. “From the Visionary Director of The Sixth Sense,” it said, before adding “M. Night Shyamalan” almost as an afterthought, since no one really knew how to pronounce his name correctly in the Year 2000.
Fewer still knew that Sixth Sense was Shyamalan’s third film, the penultimate flick in his autobiographical period. All artists go through one, especially since its propagandists managed to make the dictum, “Write what you know,” synonymous with common sense. They forgot to add the necessary corollary: “The more you learn, the more you’ll be able to write about.”
Night’s first film, Praying With Anger, was about coming to terms with his heritage as an Indian kid raised in Philadelphia, watching baseball and eating hotdogs. Wake the Dead was about growing up Catholic, and going to school with the penguins in true Blues Brother’s style (though not nearly as awesome). The Sixth Sense was about Night’s childhood as a great big scaredy-pants wimp, afraid of Stephen King’s old bogey, The Thing Behind The Closed Door. Shyamalan just painted the doorknob red. Continue reading Unbreakable (2000)→
Michael Bay has survived every epithet in the Movie Critic’s Mean Word Handbook. We’ve called him a “hack” and a “bullshit artist.” We’ve called him “the Devil,” “the Antichrist,” and even honored him with the title “American Uwe Boll.” All of these characterizations are false, missing the quintessence of Bay. In their rush to (rightly) condemn the man’s aesthetic failings, critics have miss the essential and obvious point: Like a great many evil things, Bay is first and foremost a creature of the late 1990s, an artistic distillation of that time, with all the glory and the horror that implies. Continue reading Armageddon (1998)→
As I said in my Predators review, Robert Rodriquez earned the deserved love of millions for his quite bad ass, pseudo-mythic Mariachi films…though I only developed my man-crush on him after From Dusk Til Dawn, which is stillthe best vampire film of the last twenty years. (Yeah, that’s right. Eat it and like it,Twihards.) As a comic book fan, I’m supposed to have a similar man-crush on Frank Miller, but honestly I’ve hated everything with his name on it since about the mid-90s…round about the time he began publishing Sin City under the banner of Dark Horse Comics.
Even my love for Miller’s early superhero work is purely intellectual. I certainly appreciate its influence. Without The Dark Knight Returns, Batman as we know him would not exist…and neither would the rest of modern superhero film. Some might say that’s as good a reason as any to deploy a time-traveling cyborg with orders to kill Miller in infancy…but “some” might just be cynically stalling for time rather than actually talking about Sin City. Continue reading Sin City (2005)→