Ravings of an Unrepentant Cinephile

Caveat Lector

Caveat Lector - "Reader Beware"

This blog assumes readers love movies and will probably have already seen those discussed, or are looking for a reason to watch them. Therefore, assume spoilers in all posts. In other words, don't whine if I "ruin" the ending. You've been warned. *laughs maniacally*

Equilibrium and the Art of Dystopia

Recently, I had the opportunity to show my brother the dystopian Thought Police action film Equilibrium. We have just a bit more time these days. In the current climate, where a great deal of fear surrounds the way we interact in society, a movie about Thought Police, dystopias caused by cataclysmic events, and a focus on emotions, especially how fear destroys us as a society, seems particularly relevant. 

My brother and I watch movies and television series together. I have a list of must-see movies and television series I've wanted to show him, pieces of art that are my duty as his sister to pass on to the next generation (we have a significant age gap). He, in turn, has added to that list with some of his own favorites, things I might never have considered or known about otherwise. A fair exchange, in my opinion.

I realized partway through our viewing that it had been about a decade since I'd last watched this movie. This was not because it isn't good or worthy of repeat viewings. It is. No, it was more that this movie holds a special place in my heart as part of my list of consciousness-expanding movies, and, as such, I only really watch them when I'm in the right headspace, and the timing was right....

M. Night Shyamalan's Glass: The Mastermind's Epic

While it's not necessary to have read my previous posts ("The Eastrail 177 Trilogy Begins" and "Unleashing the Beast") on this trilogy, I do recommend them, as I refer to various themes from them throughout. 

If you still haven't seen Glass, you're missing out.

I get it. You've been hurt before, and you were suitably - understandably - upset over The Last Airbender. Who wouldn't be? And who wants to go back only to be abused over and over again? We save that kind of masochism for Game of Thrones, and Game of Thrones only.

Well, I've taken a break in my GoT binge up to the final season to finish something I started three months ago, something M. Night began two decades ago, and to show you why it's worth watching this film.

I present to you the final chapter of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy reviews.

M. Night Shyamalan's Split: Unleashing the Beast

Glass opened on January 18th, and I couldn't be more pleased with it. As such, I've been featuring a series on M. Night Shyamalan's catalog of work. Not every movie will be featured; only my favorites, and I've been sick lately delaying my schedule a bit...a lot. So welcome back, stay tuned, and enjoy part two of this peek into the mildly obsessed.

I didn't know that Split is a part of the Unbreakable franchise, now known as the "Eastrail 177 Trilogy," until Glass became a sure thing and the first trailer came out, so I'm still getting to know Kevin Crumb and his 23 alters.

I had trouble writing this post because this movie is not my favorite of the ones I'm profiling during this series. This is not to say that it isn't good. It's quite excellent, especially in the treatment of the titular disorder. I recognize now that my hesitation stemmed from a sense that I needed to highlight this representation and some of the backlash it's received. I debated, for days, whether to bother with this topic, especially as I began writing and it got long, as my rants often do. Did we need to rake this topic over the coals again? Did I need to be yet another person beating this topic with a stick? I was about to cut the whole section when I realized this is exactly the problem with the way we deal with social issues these days: it's either too much or not at all, and someone always feels like they're being told they can't talk. That's too bad. Like it or not, some things need to be said, and you might be surprised where I go with this.

M. Night Shymalan's Unbreakable: The Eastrail 177 Trilogy Begins

Glass opens on January 18th, and I couldn't be more excited. As such, I'm featuring a series on M. Night Shyamalan's catalog of work. Not every movie will be featured; only my favorites. Stay tuned and enjoy part two of this peek into the mildly obsessed. In this installment, I describe how Unbreakable made the year 2000 a great year for cinema, but most notably for comic book movies.

While many today hail 2008 as the beginning of the modern superhero/comic book renaissance, I believe it came nearly one decade earlier. It was in the year 2000 that  X-Men came out, showing that ensemble superhero blockbusters could work (sorry Avengers, you didn't get there first). This grittier adaptation of the spandex-clad had some kinks to work out, but it broke ground on a more profound and relevant world. The bar would be raised even higher, though, when Unbreakable hit the screens a few months later, showing that the mythos of superheroes and the art of comic books was worthy of serious study.

Unbreakable was the follow-up to M. Night Shyamalan's popular debut The Sixth Sense. It was billed to look like another horror/thriller (Incidentally, I believe that Shyamalan's movies are often marketed wrong, contributing to the poor reception. That needs to stop.), but it turned out to be a beautifully crafted character study on the superhero genre, centering around the dynamics between two characters: David Dunn and Elijah Price. The reverence with which the story treats the comic book medium is only the base for admiration, but it is nonetheless perfectly interwoven with the plot and action. 

What Shyamalan gives us in this movie is the blueprint for becoming a superhero. You know this because you are told every step of the way. This could have been an unwieldy mess, full of too much exposition and spoon-feeding in order to fit a lot of action into a too-tight time-frame. Instead, Shyamalan focuses on character development. He wastes no dialogue. The piece builds steadily, showing only what's needed in layers, leaving you wanting more as the final twist is revealed.

A twist that we really should have known all along. 

Director Profile: What Everyone Gets Wrong About M. Night Shyamalan

Glass opens on January 18th, and I couldn't be more excited. As such, I'm featuring a series on M. Night Shyamalan's catalog of work. Not every movie will be featured; only my favorites. Stay tuned and enjoy this peek into the mildly obsessed.

Despite some very notable exceptions, I've always been a fan of M. Night Shyamalan's work, and for many years, it's seemed as though I was the only one. His career has been one of controversy: once called the next Hitchcock or Spielberg, he has been alternately lauded and reviled. I've always felt that he and his work were deeply misunderstood. Still, with the opening of Glass (the final chapter in what has been dubbed the "Eastrail 177 Trilogy") and the recent success of Split and The Visit, the message is clear: liking M. Night is back in style.

How vindicating. 

A quick history lesson

As of January 18th, this unique filmmaker will have made more than 16 movies, on two-thirds of which he serves as writer, director, and producer. His breakout hit The Sixth Sense propelled him to fame overnight and set a high bar not only for his career but also for the horror genre. It remained the highest-grossing horror movie of all time for nearly two decades when it was finally knocked out of the spot in 2017 by the remake of It. Shyamalan had even greater financial success with Unbreakable, which turned the superhero origin story on its head. 

Though his next couple of movies, Signs and The Village, were also financially successful, there was a decline in positive critical reception, and fans began to turn their backs on the writer-director. Suddenly, people felt the movies were predictable, the twists were unsatisfactory, and Shyamalan's Vonnegut-esque predilection for writing himself into his movies was dubbed "douchey." The shine was off the penny, and no matter what Shyamalan did, it seemed he would never be forgiven for not turning out another The Sixth Sense.

At least that's how it looked to me.