Guess who’s back? Back again? M. Night’s Back. Tell a Friend. After the absolutely raucous horror film that was “The Visit,” M. Night has returned once again to deliver another fine chiller. Rather than opting for simplicity again, “Split” is a much more abstract tale about childhood trauma, mental illness, and the power of belief that can power us in to manifesting elements within us we never knew existed. M. Night seems to have a great faith in the ability of the mind, and how it can overcome certain obstacles and evolve in to various forms greater than itself. Almost every movie from M. Night has been a study of the human mind in some form, and “Split” is no different.
After a considerable slump with “The Last Airbender,” and “After Earth,” Shyamalan gives us yet another humanistic, demented, mystery that is filled with his trademark themes about life and coming of age. In this case, it’s young Becca and Tyler, both of whom are still healing from a broken marriage that saw their father leave them years before we meet them. Cut like a mock documentary, Shyamalan tailors the film to give us more of a personal view in to the dilemma Becca and Tyler find themselves in, and what it ultimately means in their development as adults.
You have to give it to Will Smith. For a man prone to taking the spotlight and eating it up like a gluttonous child, he really is comfortable playing second fiddle in “After Earth.” Clearly just nothing but a vanity project for Smith and his son, he literally passes the torch on to his son Jaden to take up the role of the action hero. Smith meanwhile stays in a space ship for the duration of the film as the Maguffin leading his son to the film’s second Maguffin. It’s all for naught though since Jaden Smith has no screen presence, zero charisma, and can’t act to save his life.
In the year 2000, after M. Night Shyamalan premiered his innate storytelling ability with the surprise supernatural thriller “The Sixth Sense,” he pretty much dashed expectations with a follow-up film that no one was expecting. Initially considered a poor follow-up, M. Night Shyamalan really approached a film that could well within his storytelling parameters, and he did so with a subtlety and humility that’s finally being appreciated. “Unbreakable” is a rather underrated masterpiece, and one that really does pay homage to the comic book mythology that society generally looks down upon. By approaching the comic book mythos with a straight face and a somewhat surprising dramatic dignity, M. Night Shyamalan adds a realism to the superhero origin story that’s deliberately paced and absolutely compelling to witness.
“I tend to play characters that I can infuse with certain kinds of humour. Even the baddest guy can be funny in his own particular way. I want the audience to engage with the character on some deeper level so that they leave the cinema still thinking about him.” – Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson just has a presence that makes even his worst films slightly watchable. From shit like “xXx,” to “The Man,” right down to the entertaining “Red Violin,” and “”Die Hard with a Vengeance,” Jackson’s constant appearance in films is really no surprise. So I figured, what the hell, why not a list of my favorite appearances from the man? Be warned: Spoilers are extremely nigh.
Out of the my top ten of 2008, without a doubt one of my favorites of that year was M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Happening.” Why? Well, it’s been a point of contention for quite some time now that’s granted me unabashed scrutiny and question toward the state of sanity, but as I sit here thinking it over, “The Happening” is one of my favorite Shyamalan films. More so than “The Village,” even. Because unlike other people, I’m still firm in my belief that “The Happening” is one of the most underrated and misunderstood films of the past decade.
As big a fan as I am, and continue to be of M. Night Shyamalan, the one tragic fact of “The Last Airbender” is that there just isn’t a need for it. The original television series is about two or three years after its series finale, the series lasted about four or five seasons, it still plays in syndication, and there is a new story waiting in the wings. Fans of “Avatar” are in no short supply of their Airbender fix, so Shyamalan’s adaptation of the show isn’t all too necessary, nor was it wanted. So instantly the cards are stacked against him. Yours truly being a hardcore fan of the animated series (frankly, it’s one of the finest and most entertaining shows of the last decade), I was anxious to see what Shyamalan would do to “The Last Airbender,” and I wasn’t all too disappointed with what turned up on the screen.
The devil is fiction’s greatest anti-heroes. A being of pure brute calculated force, the devil has many names, and many appearances and is without a doubt the most interesting figure in all of history, an individual whose sole purpose is personal gain and pure unbridled joy in making humanity suffer. But in all of its incarnations, the devil is also someone who has something of a moral code, and a guideline, and always has something to say about the disgusting bile of the human sole. The devil is the very reflection of ourselves, and the character always has something to teach us. Even before destroying us from the inside out barely flinching at our cries for help and mercy.