Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Lady in the Water -- In which Maureen disagrees with Molly and rants…

Let the cage match begin....

As I commented on Molly’s post, I too walked out of the theatre thinking… And since I normally love movies that make me think, I suppose that’s something positive. Problem is, I was thinking, “M. Night! Why have you forsaken me? Why have you let your ego get the better of you? Why have you presented your loyal fans with this self-indulgent drivel?”

Like Molly, I’m a huge fan of M. Night. I even loved THE VILLAGE, though many didn’t. I thought UNBREAKABLE was fabulous—not to mention his movies that most people loved—SIXTH SENSE and SIGNS.

What bothered me most about LADY IN THE WATER is how self-indulgent it seemed. He makes all these wink-wink-nod-nods about writing and storytelling, but then does all those things he’s making fun of (i.e. clunky foreshadowing). I think SCREAM was better as storytelling satire than this, and ADAPTATION much smarter. M. Night, it’s been done before and done better.

At first, I thought Bob Balaban's film critic character was a funny, clever idea. Have someone tell Paul Giamatti’s character how stories normally turn out. Even though I didn’t buy that Giamatti’s character would think of asking the critic for help—I was still giving him the benefit of the doubt at this point. Truth? I was actually really smiling through that part. “Oh, M. Night. You are so clever. You’re not going to let me down. All those critics who hated this movie were wrong. Disney was stupid to fire you over this movie. It's cool and smart. Everyone else was too dense to get it.”

But I soon changed my mind… Perhaps I was expecting more from the film critic device? Maybe some unexpected twists? Maybe some misdirection that worked? Maybe something that made me question reality and who was sane or not sane? Something….
While the critic’s predictions were wrong, it was so freakin’ obvious which character was the correct choice in each case. In fact, I’d picked the right one in each case from the start. Huh? It’s not the sisters? Huh? It’s not the kid? Huh? It’s not Giamatti? (He’d already healed her.) And why was that freaky character played by Freddy Rodriguez there if he wasn’t the Guardian? For me, the film critic device made the plot too predictable and took all the magic out of it. (SPOILER: Although I did laugh when he got killed.) If he chose to give two viable choices for each “helper” just to create another plot point (Oh, no, we chose the wrong people!) then shame on him. It was a weak climax for the movie because it was so predictible.

And why did M. Night cast himself in an important role???? He can’t act. He’s not very interesting to look at, and in the hands of a better actor, that role might have added some depth to the film. His character was given a huge burden (changing the world) and then found out about his own death, yet had the same deadpan expression on his face the entire film.
No reaction?
Seriously?
M. Night, cast an ACTOR next time! (And I mean, come on… casting yourself in the role of a writer whose words are going to change civilization for the better???? How self-indulgent and egomaniacal can you get!)

I think that’s where he lost me… After we found out who his character was, I just couldn’t stop rolling my eyes.

One more rant… I think the way Giamatti learned about the story was as contrived as you can get and I thought several characters were stereotypes beyond belief (particularly the Korean woman and her mother). I get that even the “real world” of the movie was supposed to be fairytale-esque, (i.e. freak-show-character who works out one side of his body) but, like I said… M. Night had already lost me.

Maybe his next film will win me back. (If someone lets him make one.) I hope so.

7 comments:

Molly O'Keefe said...

Okay -- first of all you're gonna win because that was really well written. Nice one! I agree it was all pretty transparent - particularly for M. Night - considering the kind of blow our minds climax we've come to expect. But I don't think I watch his movies for plot anymore. I watch more and more for that long slow reveal of character -- which in this one wasn't as great as others - but it was nice. The question is -- are you mad because it was a bad movie or mad because it wasn't as good as his others. I don't think it was a bad movie - I think it was pretty good. But it paled next to all his others - which still leaves it in the upper third of movies I liked.
Weak rebuttal-- I know. So damn hot!!!

Maureen McGowan said...

I think you have a strong point. I'm sure my expectations came into it. But even the character reveal stuff felt clunky to me in this movie. I can't think of one thing right now where a character trait came out in a show don't tell kind of way...
Looking back, seems there was a lot of telling... (but I agree I"m looking back through a negative filter) Another think I thought was clunky was how we found out he was a doctor. She reads his diary? It just seemed like he didn't give this stuff much thought. Maybe there was a lot of telling because it was supposed to be a childrens story? Or maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention? (very possible)

Molly O'Keefe said...

little known fact about mermaids...they can read.

Maureen McGowan said...

Ha!!!!! I laughed so loud my walls shook!

Hot enough for you, today? Toronto, today, is making Atlanta feel like Alaska.

Sinead M said...

So torn on whether I want to see the movie or not..

I'm sorry to say it, the Vice comes first. Unlike other posters here. I love Michael Mann's movies. The sparseness of them, the focus on action and plot over character, what can I say, if I weren't a girl, I'd be a guy...

Marcail said...

After reading about"Lady...," I'll wait until it's out on TMN.

I saw "You, Me and Dupree." A delightfully silly on-in-cheek movie about melding old and new relationships. Just looking at Owen Wilson makes me laugh. All the characters were well cast. Kate Hudson and Matt Dillon (the newlyweds), Owen Wilson (the always a fuck-up best friend), Michael Douglas (the father of the bride).

If you just want a hoot, see it.

Maureen McGowan said...

Marcail, don't let me discourage you on Lady if you're interested... It is a story about storytelling... something writers should be interested in. It just disappointed me. I think Molly's right, I went in with really high expectations that were dashed.

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