Lady in the Water
Having just read The Man Who Heard Voices, written by definite M. Night Shyamalan supporter Michael Bamberger, I went into the film knowing what Shyamalan tried to do with the story. Hell of a bellyflop, though an ambitious bellyflop. And yendi was right (so was shadesong), that it's funny and often well-acted. But I wasn't really touched by it, and as I know Shyamalan can touch me, I was even more aware that the movie wasn't connecting with me arrrrgh.
In a "he didn't make the film I wanted to see" way, I wanted Lady in the Water to admit more that the characters are stuck in an often arbitrary story. I wanted to see them questioning all of these details and rules, wondering "How does this work? WHY does this work?" I get the feeling that Shyamalan filmed some of that, but cut out most of that. Hey, Moses questioned God; Paul Giamatti and his tenants are allowed to question the forces that have them caught up in trying to fulfill the fairy tale and save Bryce Dallas Howard's angelic Story. They're still allowed to have faith, which is another point the film makes; I just think it could've made the point stronger.
Something Shyamalan could've done to turn around expectations: there's an infamous scene in Lady in the Water where Farber, Bob Balaban's critic character, is confronted by the ravenous, wolf-like Scrunt. (It's infamous because it's almost universally regarded as Shyamalan getting back at critics, mainly for the often angry reaction to his film The Village.) It's actually kind of a clever scene, where Farber starts analyzing what's happening ("this is precisely the moment where the mutation or beast will attempt to kill an unlikeable side character..."), and he says what would happen if this were taking place in an R-rated horror story, and what would happen in a more family-friendly horror story. Farber convinces himself that he'll escape the Scrunt, he turns to leave...and the Scrunt eats him. What I wanted to see? Farber turning, the Scrunt jumping to attack, and Farber managing to sidestep and then punch the Scrunt just enough to knock it to the side. "And sometimes," he would say, "the character will surprise you," and then he'd just barely escape.
("Punch the Scrunt" sounds like code for something.)
Watched with a smile almost throughout. This is a good film, as a lot of you know; I definitely want to watch Rocky III finally, to see Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed become friends. And to see Mr. T dropping charisma bombs, to borrow a phrase from Mike Russell.
Ah, Rocky Balboa: he feels strongly, he's inarticulate about those feelings, he tries so hard to articulate those feelings. So he's a fast talker, being charming by talking talking talking, but when the chips are down, his feelings are obviously deep. Makes me glad for the poem scene. I forget how good a performance Stallone gives as Rocky, that he can give.
(Here are my brief thoughts about the first Rocky, which I first saw last year. And I still think Stallone and Robert Downey, Jr. should play the same character at different times in life. They've become similarly craggy.)