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Recommendation: Lady in the Water

August 18, 2009

Those of you who have stopped by this blog more than once (and I’m hoping there are at least several of you), might notice that the design of the blog has changed. This thanks to my dear, sweet sister who is a whiz with Photoshop and just all-around awesome. So, hats off to her. (If you’ve subscribed to my blog and are reading this on a feedreader, bop on over to the URL and check it out. It’s really nifty.)

Without further ado, my recommendation of M. Night Shyamalan‘s Lady in the Water.

What’s that you say? You’re startled that someone is actually recommending one of his movies? You read that right. And I actually would recommend all of his movies that I’ve seen. Yes, even The Village, for all the negative press it got. Because I think M. Night Shyamalan’s movies are incredibly interesting, insightful, and thought-provoking, but you have to go into them realizing that the last thing you’re going to get from an M. Night Shyamalan production is horror. Or even good, edge-of-the seat suspense. And yet that’s how they’re always billed. Just check out the previews for his earlier movies:

The Sixth Sense (which actually was pretty suspenseful, except the trailer ruined half of the surprise.)
Signs – Trailer 1, Trailer 2
The Village
Lady in the Water

Based solely on that information, I would never see any of his movies, because I’m not a fan of horror films (more on that in a later post), and I would think that M. Night Shyamalan is a horror director, much like Peter Jackson or Sam Raimi. And the movies have almost nothing to do with horror or suspense.

No wonder no one likes them.

Anyway, (so maybe there was a little further ado…), I give you my recommendation:

Title: Lady in the Water

Summary: This movie is about Cleveland Heep (Paul Giamatti — One of my favorite actors), a lonely, anti-social maintenance man for a run-down apartment complex. It’s about Cleveland Heep and the unusual young woman (Story, played by the enchanting Bryce Dallas Howard) he finds swimming in his pool one otherwise uneventful evening, and the strange series of events that transpire in the process of trying to get the young woman home.

Genre: Fantasy; Urban Fairy Tale; Philosophical

Audience: Anyone who likes fantasy and is willing to suspend disbelief. The preview claims it’s a “bedtime story” but I think it’s a little scary for younger children. Along the lines of Pan’s Labyrinth, if I were thinking to show it to younger children, I would watch it and judge for myself whether I want to show it to my kids.

Occasion: Hanging out with a small group of friends; alone on a night when you just want an entertaining movie that’ll make you think and challenge your preconceptions.

Watch every minute? I feel like you’ll get more out of the movie if you watch every minute, without interruption, but I originally saw it in theatres, so my opinion may be colored by that fact.

Big Screen vs. Small Screen: Either. With the advent of wide screen TVs and their recent drop in price, there’s very little difference between the theater and the home, expect in the case of action movies. I still prefer Big Screen for many things, but there are very few movies that I would adamantly oppose waiting for it on video.

Why I liked it: I already sort of explored this in the intro, but I enjoy M. Night Shyamalan‘s movies because they are rarely what they seem to be, and they challenge my preconceptions in a way that I really enjoy. I like this movie because it doesn’t hide from the darkness of life (like the terrors that are chasing Story, or Cleveland Heep’s sad backstory), but it also doesn’t smother the light (the way the main characters work together to overcome the challenges they face).

It maintains a fine balance between comedy and tragedy, and there are several twists that left me pleasantly surprised in terms of the storyline, and changed my views on some aspects of storytelling. In a lot of ways, the movie reminds of a story that Neil Gaiman would write, and he just happens to be one of my favorite authors.

“Own it” vs. “Once is enough”: Once is probably enough for most people.

If you liked…: Pan’s Labyrinth, Coraline, Stardust


Coming Soon… My thoughts on Big Screen vs. Small Screen. Stay tuned.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. pgnbri permalink
    December 2, 2009 10:11 am

    I just wanted to say that you explained *exactly* what I think is the problem with M. Night’s movies. They’re great but they are always advertised as being something they’re not! So people who want to see that sort of film are disappointed and those who would actually LIKE his films often never see them!

  2. December 2, 2009 9:31 pm

    I’m glad you appreciated my thoughts. Do you have a favorite M. Night movie that you constantly have to defend? I think my favorite is The Sixth Sense, but Signs is pretty good, and Lady in the Water is right up there.

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