August 2, 2004

M is for Masterful, Mysterious & Misunderstood

TheVillage-photo_02.jpgAs previously mentioned, Seattle Maggie loves M. Night Shyamalan, unabashedly and unreservedly. Having claimed the honor as the only person in America who will enthuse about Unbreakable in public (so good! so good!), we hope our readers will see beyond our blind affection for all things Shyamalan and heed us when we say that The Village really is a very good film.

One thing up front - this is not a horror picture. All of the critics currently bashing this film as "not scary enough" is like complaining that crème brûlée is "not chocolatey enough" - of course it isn't chocolatey, you nitwits, it's CRÈME BRÛLÉE, does this mean that the king of desserts is somehow less rich with custard goodness, less crisp with burnt-sugar deliciousness, because it does not hold up to your silly chocolate expectation? Of course not. We even think our dear squeamish Cinecultist would be able to make it through this one, that is how much of a non-horror picture this is.

All dessert allegories aside, The Village is suspenseful, thoughtful, and surprisingly touching. Its fairy tale styling takes many forms, from the striking use of color to the oddly-apt speech used in the dialogue - many phrases get the Capitalization Treatment, such as "Those We Do Not Speak Of" and "The Bad Color," which would be annoying if it didn't work so well in setting the tone of the piece. The love story between the blind Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard) and the taciturn Lucius (Joaquin Phoenix) caught us off-guard with its quiet beauty, showing us that the simple act of holding hands can be more emotionally moving than a embrace.

As for Ye Olde Giant Plot Twist, Seattle Maggie feels that Shyamalan's work has been hampered by the expectation of this lumbering beast. While The Village does have a pretty mighty twist revealed at the end, but trying to figure it out ahead of time left us restless and unhappy. Halfway through the film, we abandoned our junior sleuthing and just enjoyed the movie as it unfolded. If this meant jumping at things we felt a little silly about afterwards and being clueless about things we felt a little stupid about not seeing before, it was a small price to pay for a terrific film experience. Please give this movie a chance and try to ignore all the hype, and Mr. Shyamalan will tell you a story that will move you, intrigue you and make you think.

PS Last word on the Harold & Kumar front, we promise. We did catch a matinee this weekend and were suitably entertained and grossed out. However, perhaps even more disturbing was the fact that OUR PARENTS also saw it, enticed into the theater by the idea of seeing a nice Korean boy on the big screen. Erg. This reminds us of the time they saw American Wedding in the hopes that it was like My Big Fat Greek Wedding, at which we could only clutch our heads in disbelief. At any rate, things ended on happy note, with our straight-n-narrow Asian parents pronouncing it "good and funny," although they failed to recognize Neil Patrick Harris from our family sitcom days and thought he was "some famous rock star". Maybe they also thought the giant bag of pot was "special oregano". We can only hope.

Posted by seattle maggie at August 2, 2004 3:43 PM