Tag Archives: hitchcock
Shyamalan wants you to look at this image and see evil. That’s a beautiful thing.
The Happening (2008)
Written & Directed by M. Night Shyamalan
There exists a phenomenon in the arts where an artist, or a given work, is so bursting with subtle, glorious aspects that only fellow artists in the field or truly knowledgable critics can pick up on that when ‘civilians’ check it out, they see it as simply empty and stupid and boring. Their untrained eyes are so fixed on the surface elements that they miss the masterful sleights of hand underneath. This happened with The Happening. What’s unique here though is that filmmakers, for some reason, have yet to jump in and defend it and help civilians understand its wonderful aspects—probably because, for the most part, they themselves are just as clueless.
When I was in junior high school, Scarface was the most talked about movie in the hallways. It was 2000, and those hallways were a reflection of the culture at large. One time a kid asked me, “Who directed Scarface, Scorsese?” He had never heard of Brian De Palma.
There’s a popular book called Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. It’s a gossipy, oral history of 60s and 70s American movies. In the back of the book, they summarize the directors integral to the movement and give a filmography for each. Spielberg, Coppola, Scorsese, Lucas, and Malick are featured, but not Brian De Palma—despite being mentioned heavily in the book. You’d think the guy that gave Robert De Niro his first on-screen appearance (The Wedding Party, 1969) and gave him steady work way before Scorsese ever did, would be important enough to mention.
There’s a film writer I like named Marya Gates who once tackled the idea that “old movies” aren’t worthwhile. In a short video overview of film history from inception to the present day, she concluded that “if you don’t love all of it, I don’t understand how you can watch any of it.”
This, to me, is the only valid way of viewing movies. Dismissive negativity is the cheapest commodity in the world and the culture of holding yourself in smug superiority over what you’re viewing seems only to grow in the echo chamber of the internet, full as it is of teenagers and self-proclaimed cynics who cling to their assumptions and prejudices as an essential and valuable part of themselves, not recognizing that those qualities are our greatest failings. So, I’m baffled by your piece “The Idea of What a Movie Is.”
Security camera footage is not a movie, but screened at a film festival with a name like ‘Big Brother’s Kung Fu Grip’ (or some artsy crap) it is. Andy Warhol filming the Empire State Building for nine hours is a movie—the video the real estate agent showed you of the interior of the house on Maple is not. It’s all about context and intention.