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Shyamalan: A Ding-Dong—11:06 AM

Andy's ripping into acclaimed director and self-proclaimed über-genius M. Night Shyamalan over at Words Are Fun. Night's gone goony with his own self-satisfaction and now he's got a book coming out about how he's a visionary genius and everyone else eats poop.

I tossed in my two cents, which are reprinted here (by my own permission) in order to convince you to read his enjoyable rant and add your own thoughts.

See, I've always liked him more than you do, but I still agree with everything you've said here.

Wide Awake - really enjoyed it, before I even knew who Shyamalan was
The Sixth Sense - excellent
Unbreakable - enjoyable, but not entirely my kind of film
Signs - utterly terrifying, very effective
The Village - interesting, but very very gay twist ending
That Fucking American Express Ad - now he's dead to me

Definitely believes his own hype too much, which is a shame. We all saw where he came from: right outta nowhere with a handful of homemade Super 8 stories. He's a self-made artist with a knack for storytelling. Could've been the next Spielberg. But instead of letting great movies be the goal, and fame and critical praise be the means that helped him achieve it, he's let the fame be the goal and cultivated a myth of himself ever since. Maybe some people could do that full-time and still have enough creative energy to make great movies, but he's showing that he's not among them.

When I saw the trailer for "Lady in the Water," I thought: this looks weird, and oddly fable-y, but Giamatti rarely disappoints, and then the title faded up at the end: "M. Night Shyamalan's The Lady in the Water." And I thought: awwww, HELL no! It's a shame he didn't try making a normal movie. (Narf? Tartutic?) People would've enjoyed that. But instead he's determined to keep proving how outre he can be.

And the stupid thing is, someone as bright as Shyamalan undeniably is should understand that artists such as himself are going to be sensitive to criticism and are going to feel attacked. So he should know to cool down rather than impulsively ripping a preproduction out by its roots, hauling it down the street to Warners, and then writing a scathing book about it. He's going to want to work with some of these people again, and now he's poisoned the water over a tantrum that he now admits was unjustified. What a fool.

But, remember, please... Don't fuck the sea nymph.

None of you are allowed to be surprised in 12 years when girls are flitting around the beach with names like Narf and Tartutic. Those make even Channing sound good.

12 Comments (Add your comments)

ACSun, 6/25/06 1:58pm

I hadn't read the Fametracker article. Thankfully, I wasn't drinking a Coke when I finally did. It brought back fond memories of the site and how brilliant those guys are. I can't remember why I stopped reading, but I'm definitely going to get back on the wagon now!

Bee BoySun, 6/25/06 2:39pm

Thank Arksie for that one. I also wandered astray from FT a few years back, but thank God we've got him to keep us on track.

ACSun, 6/25/06 6:35pm

Ah, Fametracker. I just did a search for Shy on their site and found a pile of oldies but still goodies. One stood out because a) I was going to writing something like this on my blog, only in my case it would be about "The Lake House," and b) it speaks to what we've been discussing here because this could very well be Shy's actual pitch meeting: Link.

I love it. Hoot owls and Huckleberries!

BrandonWed, 7/19/06 3:25pm

Saw Bryce Dallas Howard on Letterman from last night, and she mentioned that her character, the sea nymph, is the one named Narf. Now I'm no Shyamalan apologist - haven't seen The Village, was disappointed by Signs, saw The Sixth Sense twist coming halfway through... Unbreakable I liked, actually - but attacking him for those character names seems unfair. She's a sea nymph - what are you going to call her, Joanne? And I'm assuming Tartutic is also a fairy tale-esque character, though I couldn't confirm that in about two minutes of searching (that's about all the energy I could muster). If it's not, then by all means, have at him. But otherwise, I think he's on solid, defensible ground in this one, tiny area.

Bee BoyWed, 7/19/06 4:05pm

That's funny, because IMDb just calls her "the Lady," and the featurette on TiVo called her "Story" (since the fairly obvious twist ending is that Giamatti finds out he's actually in a bedtime story and BDH is the physical manifestation of the story, and from that point on it's kind of like Crichton's book Sphere which was much better than the movie adaptation would have you believe).

I think Joanne would be a fine name for her. Don't accept the premise that fairy tale characters have to have dipshit names just because Night says so. Remember Peter and the Wolf? Calling her Narf makes no more nor less sense than calling the Giamatti character Badjelzräg. (Or calling him Cleveland Heep, for that matter – does this make anyone else think of Family Guy?)

And the funny thing is, I probably would have identified myself as a Shyamalan apologist, up until this.

ACWed, 7/19/06 6:16pm

Just read the EW review (one of Schwartsbaum's highlights; bad reviews often make mediocre reviewers into great wordsmiths) and I can say that BDH is "Story," who is of the species "Narf," which is pursued and presumably eaten by "Scrunts."

I actually somewhat enjoy Giamatti's character's name, Cleveland Heep. But in a movie with too many other stupid monikers, it loses its cuteness really fast.

ACWed, 7/19/06 6:17pm

Ugh. I should have previewed. Schwarzbaum. My bad.

BrandonWed, 7/19/06 9:09pm

Story? Really?? Wow. Suddenly Narf looks like a restrained moment of whimsy by comparison.

Lots of bad reviews collected already on metacritic.com. My favorite highlighted quote comes from the Village Voice (who apparently hated it the most):

"It's as if on some semiconscious level, Shyamalan, who I do not doubt is a serious and self-serious pop-creative original, is calling his own success into question and daring his audience to gulp down larger and spikier clusters of manure, just to see if they will. Or he's lost his mind."

BrandonWed, 7/19/06 9:11pm

Plus, look at the callback to Jameson's first paragraph mention of eating poop. We've come full circle, baby!

ACThu, 7/20/06 5:40pm

OMG– When I read the VV review and saw this passage, I laughed so fucking hard I nearly wet myself:

Every fresh detail, rule, or exception is cause for exasperation, and the willful ignorance of real mythology, outpacing that of most high-schoolers, is significant. What "scrunt" musters up when Googled is proof as well that Shyamalan don't surf.

I had never heard the term "scrunt" used, but now I'll never forget it!

Bee BoyFri, 7/21/06 11:27pm

He he! Also, I just saw an ad for the new Animaniacs DVD, and it featured a quick Pinky & the Brain clip, where Pinky blurts out his trademark line...


So, it's not that Night doesn't surf. He surfs too much! He's out there grabbing dirty names and mouse catchphrases. I just can't wait for the next movie, featuring some mythical beast named Santorum.

"M. Night Shyamalan"Sun, 7/23/06 11:42am

I am the best writer/director/producer on this planet earth. The american express ad was my GREATEST work. You are all weakminded FOOLS!

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