M. Night Shyamalan

Close Encounters of the Third Kind gas masks

When there’s a new remake out in theaters, the most obvious instruction I can have for you is to watch the original. Unless it’s a remake of something bad, I guess, but even then I think it’s necessary to go back and see the previous effort, for historical sake. With Godzilla, there are tons of predecessors. There’s another list to be written — and I think a few sites already have done so — recommending which past movies starring the King of the Monsters are worth seeing. I’ve actually only seen the first one from 1954, so I couldn’t be the authority on that anyway. As far as I know, there might even be something worthwhile in the 1998 remake that everyone hates. I never saw it (though I did see a bit being filmed when I lived near one of the locations) so I can’t argue for or against it. Instead, this week’s recommendations consist of other movies that clearly influenced the newest version (and some, the original), as well as some necessary earlier films of talent involved in the remake, plus a few titles that I was reminded of while watching that I think are relevant. And to make it easy on you, to ensure that you catch up with all of these titles  I’ve chosen, I note the easiest way for you to check out these films right now, thanks to the website Can I Stream.it?. As always, this list contains spoilers for the movie in focus, so only read […]

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Matt Dillon and Terrence Howard in Wayward Pines

A government agent who appears without warning in a small, sleepy woodsy town in the middle of nowhere that’s hiding much more than it seems? A town that’s full of weirdos — both the harmless and the probably insane? And all of the action seems to take place around him hanging out in the local diner getting his next batch of information? It sounds familiar because it’s Twin Peaks. But Wayward Pines, a new show from executive producer M. Night Shyamalan, is certainly trying its damndest to convince us that it’s something completely different. Adapted from “Pines,” the novel by Blake Crouch, the series will arrive on Fox in 2015 to hopefully cleanse the taste of After Earth. And The Last Airbender. And The Happening. And Lady in the Water. And from our mouths as Shyamalan’s assurance that he can still produce something legitimately creepy and bizarre. Is this a comeback? Maybe, and rest assured that he knows that the premise of the series, which follows a Secret Service agent (Matt Dillon) waking up on the outskirts of a town in Idaho with no recollection of getting there  — just a head injury taking care of deleting those memories — and finding himself dealing with a host of strange characters like a wacky nurse played by Queen of the crazies Melissa Leo, a spaced-out diner waitress (Juliette Lewis), a cop that doesn’t really care (Terrence Howard) and a missing woman (Carla Gugino), mirrors David Lynch’s beloved series greatly. “It struck me as having a Twin Peaks-y vibe,” Shyamalan said, according to Indiewire. […]

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The Sixth Sense

“The Next Spielberg” was the kind of light M. Night Shyamalan was once seen in. His first big break, The Sixth Sense, was a global phenomenon, so you can see where that too-easy comparison came from. All of his films that followed were sold as “the next film from M. Night Shyamalan.” He quickly became a brand, and once he realized it, it killed his creativity. That’s the impression you get from reading Michael Bamberger’s “The Man Who Heard Voices: Or, How M. Night Shyamalan Risked His Career on a Fairy Tale” — the book which detailed the making of The Lady in the Water, Shyamalan’s first real stinker. I say it’s his first serious bust because The Village wasn’t an out-and-out failure. With William Hurt’s performance, Roger Deakins’ bold cinematography and James Newton Howard’s score, it had a lot going for it, including foreshadowing for Shyamalan’s fall. It’s the movie that made Disney question their golden goose’s talents. Disney President Nina Jacobson was not a fan of that gotchya ending, and even though The Village made over $250M worldwide, Jacobson felt it would’ve done even better with a less, shall we say, flat out ridiculous resolution. She thought it betrayed the audience, and she was right. It was also indicative of a larger creative problem. That twist showed Shyamalan saw himself as above genre. He couldn’t have simply made a monster movie. It’s as if that was just too simplistic for the man who would be the next Spielberg. He wanted that movie to mean something. The […]

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After Earth

Will Smith is one of the last of a dying breed. We used to have movie stars with a capital S, men who studios could count on to open a movie pretty much based on name alone. But the times they are a-changing. Even Tom Cruise isn’t guaranteed box office gold these days, just look at Oblivion and Jack Reacher. But Will Smith has consistently churned out $100+ million takes with very few exceptions. His latest project sees him acting alongside his son Jaden and the results are mixed. After Earth may be working on a few levels, but it is not a terribly complex film. Jaden Smith plays Kitai Raige (don’t worry, everyone has a stupid name in this film) a young cadet in a military training program. He’s held back from advancing to ranger class on the very day that his father returns home after a lengthy absence. His father just so happens to be Cypher Raige (told you) the badass superstar of the futuristic global military. Cypher decides to take Kitai with him on a routine training exercise, but when their spaceship hits an asteroid field and crash lands on Earth, Kitai has to grow up and face his fears and all those other cliches in order to save their lives.

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The Happening

Like any other type of art, the distinctions between good movies and bad movie are subjective. After all, one man’s nigh unwatchable stinkburger is one internet column’s entire reason for being; our two sugary scoops of raison d’être, if you will.  And then there are those bad movies which only become bad when people commit the heinous offense of…looking at them. Take for example M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening. No, seriously, take it. Take it far far away from us. Shyamalan is a filmmaker known for his tricky third-act twists, and The Happening is no exception. Of course, the twist in The Happening was that Shyamalan’s brain was slowly leaking out of his ear canals the entire time he was directing; the leak caused by a direct smack on the head with the proverbial coo coo stick. Since The Happening’s release, film pundits and those who don’t use words like pundit alike have been scratching their heads in a mixture of wonderment and disgust. Disgusterment. The prevailing question, for lack of a better writer hired to pen this column, was what happened with The Happening? During a recent conversation/bacon-ingestion with my good friend, and confirmed snarkplug, Will Goss of Film.com, the overly stilted nature of The Happening’s dialogue was dissected. We began to wonder if perhaps the biggest problem with The Happening was merely the medium in which it was exhibited. In other words, was the film suffering from the fact that it was a film?

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sorel_pi

When contemplating my favorite films of the year, I keep forgetting about Life of Pi. Yet very few narrative features wowed me as much as Ang Lee’s spectacular adaptation. Given how much I enjoyed it in the theater, the film should have stuck with me more than it has. I blame the ending, which traded the magnificent visuals and wondrous sea adventure for a talky bookend that too directly spelled out the point of the story within the story. I don’t know that I’d say the ending ruined the rest of the film for me. I could go back and re-watch the whole thing and still appreciate all the effects and thrills and drama that excited me the first time around. But if that’s the stuff I want to remember first and foremost, I’ll probably have to leave a few minutes early next time. Lee surely is familiar enough with the craft of storytelling to know that endings are extremely important, that they can make or break an audience’s satisfaction with a movie by being the part that it is left with. He would presumably disagree with me that Life of Pi has a weak ending. And at least the staff of Entertainment Weekly believes the film actually has one of the best endings of the year. And that is fine, because a lot of people hated the endings of Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy and Savages, and I think those movies have three of the best endings of 2012. The […]

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After Earth

There’s nothing like a trailer made up almost entirely of pretty, action-heavy shots and hammy, overheated voiceover to really get movie-going audiences pumped for what could very well be another disappointing outing from M. Night Shyamalan. At least the filmmaker has lined up two bankable stars – Will Smith and his own son, Jaden Smith – to lead his After Earth, a sci-fi epic that hinges entirely on our interest in the father/son relationship between a real-life father and son. Okay… Set a thousand years in the future where the Earth has been damaged to the point that it’s no longer inhabitable (paging Oblivion?), Smith the elder plays “Legendary General Cypher Raige” (what?), a decorated and lauded military hero who hasn’t done the best job when it comes to raising his own family. Determined to get things right with his son (Smith the younger), the two (somehow?) find themselves on a spacecraft that gets felled by asteroids and crash lands on Earth (a place that, weirdly, young Kitai doesn’t seem to recognize). Cypher is injured and it’s up to young Kitai to set out on quest to save his father, and then we thought about Wall-E and fell asleep. Go back to (oh, my god, is that? it can’t be! what?) Earth with the Smith men in the first trailer for After Earth, after the break.

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Will Smith is blessed with a natural charisma that can rescue even the most boring and hackneyed of cinematic material. Jaden Smith is his son, and well, it turns out that charisma isn’t genetic. While Smith the Younger kicked off his starring role work with a blunt force bash to Hollywood’s face (that would be thanks to his hit remake of The Karate Kid, which made nearly $360m in worldwide box office cash), his talent is still unproven (and, hey, the kid is still just thirteen-years-old, even I can recognize that), so the possibility of seeing Jaden acting alongside his dad in a big movie seemed like a good idea. Perhaps their natural chemistry would translate well to screen (after all, they were so cute together in The Pursuit of Happyness), and setting them up with a large scale sci-fi film seemed like a fine way to flex some talents and work on others. So it’s too damn bad that M. Night Shyamalan‘s After Earth is apparently going to be much more Jaden-centric than we might have originally suspected.

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I’ve seen reports calling M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming post-apocalyptic, sci-fi adventure by conflicting names. There are those referring to it as 1000 A.E. like the Heat Vision article I’ve sourced for this news, and there are those who have been referring to it simply as After Earth, which seems to come from a tweet the director made referring to the movie as such. Whatever it’s going to end up being officially called, the new Shyamalan joint will star Will and Jaden Smith as a futuristic father/son duo who live in a time when man is no longer inhabiting the Earth, probably because it’s been completely overtaken by massive electric car junkyards. Will’s character is seen as a great hero, but Jaden’s is viewed as a disappointment because he’s not a great warrior. This is an unfortunate set-up, because when the duo crash lands on Earth it suddenly becomes the job of the son to save the father. And then, you know, joke about what the twist is going to be…yadda yadda.

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M. Night Shyamalan

When M. Night Shyamalan join the world of Twitter, I immediately thought, “This guy’s going to get slaughtered.” So far, it hasn’t been a slaughter, but neither has it been the warmest of welcomes. Right when it became aware the divisive director – and a director I still like, The Last Airbender and The Happening notwithstanding – the twist jokes came. So. Many. Twist. Jokes.

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Criterion Files

Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula. Island of Lost Souls. The Most Dangerous Game. The Night of the Hunter. The Blob. For a company perhaps best known for releasing pristine editions of international arthouse classics, The Criterion Collection certainly has a healthy amount of cult films in its repertoire. Cult cinema is often a difficult beast to recognize, for such films avoid the roads best travelled in their journey towards recognition and renown. Unlike seminal films in the collection including The 400 Blows, 8 ½, or Rashomon, cult films aren’t typically met with immediate cultural or institutional recognition upon release, aren’t made by internationally-recognized talent, and don’t always have an immediately traceable history of influence. That is, however, what makes cult films so interesting and so valuable: they emerge without expectation or pretense and signal the most populist and anti-elite means by which a film can gain recognition, pointing to the fact that there are always valuable films potentially overlooked between the pages of history. Herk Harvey’s low-budget drive through horror masterpiece Carnival of Souls (1962), like many cult films, emerged into the top tier of film culture in some of the unlikeliest of ways. Harvey was an industrial and educational filmmaker; the $33,000 Carnival was his only feature work. The film had ten minutes lobbed off of it for its drivethru run to fit more screenings, and was largely a non-event when it first graced American screens. Carnival’s success is owed mostly to genre film festivals, late-night television […]

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s excited about James Bond! And Muppets! And Angry Birds! And a bunch of other things that could be classified as movie-related news and notes. Why? Because this is your nightly dose of all that is good and readable in the movie blogosphere. MGM and Sony have brokered a deal in which they will split the cost of the next James Bond film, the Sam Mendes directed 23rd film in the Bond franchise. But wait, there’s more! Included in the deal is a very juicy option for Bond 24, which would be in the works shortly after 23 is released, should all go as planned. The first milestone will come on November 9, 2012, when Bond 23 is due to be released. I say cheers to that.

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We’ve been playing “Smith, Smith, Shyamalan” around Reject HQ for years. Neil always wins for some reason. He’s a bigger dude, but he’s quick. Now, the world will get to join in, because Will Smith and son Jaden Smith will be teaming with M. Night Shyamalan for a new science fiction feature which sees Earth a thousand years after humanity has abandoned it. Smith and Smith will play a father and son who return to the planet to find what must be desolation, death threats, and the body of Wall-E. It’s too early to tell whether this will get off the ground before Smith’s other projects. In fact, it’s unlikely that it’ll be his return to the screen since his last appearance in Hancock three years ago. However, I’m excited for it. Why?

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a focused, coordinated strike upon the oppressive barrage of movie blogs who think you should really be reading 700 words on the latest third-tier casting rumors for the next Adam Shankman movie. We take all the interesting news and otherwise notable articles of the day and bring them together, in one place, where you can kick ass and gain knowledge quickly. It also includes some funny videos. Because everyone loves funny videos. With Jason Eisener’s Hobo with a Shotgun finally getting to theaters (and iTunes — go watch it!), Canuxploitation is on its way. To celebrate, Quiet Earth asked Canadian grindhouse cinema expert Paul Corupe to write of Canuxploitation’s weidest, wildest Canadian exploitation movies. Yes.

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The day that Hollywood waits for all year is here. Also, the day that people who write about Hollywood wait for all year is here. Hollywood is probably paying attention to the Oscar winners, but for the rest of us it’s time to see who won The Razzies. After all of the paychecks have been cashed and all of the artistic compromises have been made, the moment to find out who crapped out the worst schlock comes here: The Golden Raspberry Award Foundation has poured over all of the nominees and named their winners for the worst work of the year. Watching bad work earn Razzies isn’t quite payback enough for having to suffer through all of the crap that Hollywood churns out every year, but for people who watch everything in hopes of steering the public towards the good, it does serve as a little peace of mind. If the ceremonial blowjob of the Oscars has to exist, then I’m glad the Zen of the world is maintained by the Nelson Muntz “ha-ha” of The Razzies; the snarky yin to the gushing yang.

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You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers. It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at editors@filmschoolrejects.com. Hey, great column. What’s a movie obsession that your friends just don’t understand? I keep trying to explain how utterly awesome and magnificent Buckaroo Banzai is, but they don’t get it, and it makes me feel dumb for loving it so much. – Alex H.

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Boiling Point

If you’re a long time reader of this column (be honest, you can’t start your week without it) you may recall me blasting off against films that are “presented by (big name)” or those that otherwise try to capitalize on a big name that, in reality, has little to do with what you’re about to watch. Like “from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg” or “Quentin Tarantino presents.” Nothing against these gentlemen, but hell, more than 99% of the time they’ve had absolutely zero to do with what you’re watching. I think the last time I went down a similar road was when JJ Abrams was getting all the credit for Cloverfield and less than 10% (made up statistic!) of people knew who Matt Reeves was, despite the fact that he directed a smart and enjoyable film. The recently released Devil faced a similar situation, though one in a much more negative way. Virtually all critics and a relatively wide swath of audiences dismissed Devil once the name M. Night Shyamalan appeared on the screen. After all, the guy’s said some ridiculous stuff about his own career, has made a handful of junk movies, and recently stunk up screens with The Last Airbender. So maybe Devil does deserve a lukewarm reception. Except that M. Night didn’t write or direct it so it’s not really fair to judge the film on his name.

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Devil is the first of the “Night Chronicles,” a series of films in which M Night. Shyamalan comes up with the story and serves as producer but passes on the screenwriting and directing reins to others. So although Devil is “from the mind of M. Night Shyamalan,” it’s written by Brian Nelson (30 Days of Night, Hard Candy) and directed by John Erick Dowdle (Quarantine). Two names that shouldn’t elicit the same groans of disappointment.

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Daniel Stamm has hit audiences and the pockets of Lionsgate right where it counts with The Last Exorcism. He’s also pompously made it impossible for anyone else to do anymore exorcisms with his title alone. This success has led him down the path to M. Night Shyamalan and the movie Reincarnate. Stamm will direct the film, the second in a three-part series of movies that starts with Devil and ostensibly ends with something resembling an Unbreakable sequel. It’s about a jury for a murder trial being haunted by an other-worldly being that knows the truth in the case. It’s great to see Stamm continue his success after proving his skills at building tension and delivering some truly creepy atmosphere. It will also be great to see Shyamalan’s name back on screens during a trailer because we all could use more laughter in our lives. [Heat Vision]

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The name of M. Night Shyamalan may have been greatly tarnished by M. Night Shyamalan, but there’s no denying that this trailer for Devil makes the film that he produced (but didn’t direct, if that helps) look engaging and deadly. It begs the classic question of what you’d do if you were trapped inside an elevator and, instead of a porn star played by Carla Gugino, it’s the great Satan himself hiding amongst your crew. Answer the question yourself, and take a look at the trailer after the jump.

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published: 10.30.2014
B-
published: 10.29.2014
D+
published: 10.27.2014
C-
published: 10.24.2014
C-


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