Assessing M. Night Shyamalan's career.

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July 21 2006 10:47 PM

Shy of Expectations

Assessing M. Night Shyamalan's career.

Ross Douthat's appraisal of M. Night Shyamalan's directing career to date stirred up passions both for and against in Culturebox.

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Sledgeh101 thinks Douthat, "in trying to defend M. Night's post-6th Sense movies, is trying a little too hard to see the silver lining in the blackening clouds." Read additional commentary here.

For amble, Shymalan's self-directed American Express commercial is demonstrative enough of his overly inflated ego:

Shymalan's self-mythologizing, and achingly pretentious American Express commercial was, quite literally, queeze-inducing, and is reason alone to dislike him.
As a counterpoint, it was such a relief--and a hilarious one--to see that Wes Anderson chose the exact opposite route and made a commercial making fun of pretentious directors. Just to re-iterate for those who didn't see it: in Shymalan's commercial he can't even eat at a super-fancy restaurant without being recognized and bothered--ha ha ha--by the staff, who all looooove his movies. And meanwhile, he is fanatasing about ideas essentailly ripped off from Rod Sterling because, as we mortals should know, his mind works differently than ours does.

Whatever we might think of his movies, Jaque notes how successfully the director has cultivated his own name as a brand:

Whether we like M. Night Shyamalan or not, he his already a phenom. Just look at all the posts on Slate. Just about everyone is able to not only recall all the movies made my him, but is also able to critique them in great depth! How many modern Directors have this effect?

Look at the this Summer's biggest block buster - Pirates. How do most people indentify this movie? Johny Depp. Or may be Disney.

Now contrast this with North By North West. Most people will identify this as a Hitcock movie inspite of the big name presence of Cary Grant!

The same is true for Sixth Sense and Unbreakable. Both with big name presence of Bruce Willis. But by and large we don't lable it as "Bruce Willis movie." That is what M. Night has achieved. A mark on the movie industry.

Cinematic history will be kind to Shyamalan, predictsS_MargaretPrima:

I believe that as much as Shyamalan is getting a critical flogging now, he's due to be re-evaluated in a decade or two. Don't get me wrong, I don't uniformly admire all of his movies and I can see why critical opinion has turned on him. He may have stretched the collective credulity by flogging the 'twist ending' too much, all the while allowing the marketing of his movies to turn him into a one-gimmick director. But at least for Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and yes, even Signs (I have not seen the Village nor Lady in the Water) I have never seen better character development or a more masterful setting of tone. His films are somber, suspenseful and yet profoundly sad, eliciting performances from his actors that you wouldn't expect.

Memo from hcd to Shyamalan, cc: studio executives:

The criticism M. Night is garnering is because he wants to be feted as a real live Homer, but there obviously isn't a conspiracy to deprive him of the money necessary to make his mostly enjoyable, always overreaching, possibly overly well regarded films. He's gotten a phenomenal amount of support already. If anything, his apparent inability to take the gentlest of hints is what will prevent him from closing that gap between his ambition and execution. But it seems foolish to fault the film industry in all this, as though they're preventing his dream movie that can only be done with just a little more fawning and a few more millions.

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