2002-08-07 - 10:33 a.m.
Not much really going on in the life of j$. I went out with RockGirl last night. Things were actually pretty good. We'd been in this nasty, antagonistic zone. Last night we weren't. I can't explain it. It comes down to I'll never understand her mood changes, and ... um ... I'm just generally a moron.
Anyway, we went to see Signs. I won't give anything away (unlike someone else -- I had rented Memento but hadn't watched it yet the day you did your spoiler. Grrrr. Okay, really it wasn't a big deal, cause I would have guessed that about five minutes into the movie, but still. Grrrr.). But here's what I want to talk about today.
M. Knight needs to either start directing other people's scripts, or get a co-writer. He's a great director. I mean that. I love the way he sets up a mood. And he's got a patience to his pacing that is sadly lacking in today's films. He sets up these beautiful shots and lets you savor them, and doesn't rush things. Of course, he's a touch too overt with the camera. He does interesting things with it, and achieves great effects, but I'm always aware of that fact. I'm thinking to myself "That's a cool angle" or "Nice pan" and the fact that I'm aware of it pulls me out of the scene. He also does this great scene where all the lighting is from flashlights. Very cool, but very obviously a cool director's trick. He needs to work on his subtlety a bit, to really be great at it. He's also really good at getting performances out of children. Which is not easy to do. So, really, a great director.
As a writer? Well. His dialogue is good. It's generally pretty natural, and doesn't sound stilted. So that's why I say he could be a co-writer. It's the plots really. He's clever. He's good at foreshadowing (as good as anyone can be for American audiences. ie no more blatant than he has to be, which is sadly still too blatant for my tastes.). Ah, but the plot. My buddy M. Knight had one good idea. That was the Sixth Sense (and for those of you who haven't seen it yet, Samuel L. Jackson is a robot, or something like that). Unbreakable, as we all know, was a steaming pile of turd. Signs is pretty good because for most of it, it's a straight-ahead suspense movie, and as established, he's great at mood. But really, it's a pretty dumb story. I liked the characters for the most part, but the characters don't get to drive the story the whole time. And at the end, it just felt kind of hollow.
You know what it reminded me of? A Prayer for Owen Meaney. I had the exact same feeling at the end of that book as coming out of Signs. Both people I had come to expect more from (John Irving of World According to Garp fame in the other case). Both a let down. Both felt contrived and heavy-handed in the final analysis.
If you like suspense movies, or are not preternaturally critical as I am, go see Signs. Otherwise, give it a miss.
I promise sometime I'll do a worthwhile entry. I'm avoiding things right now. But at least I recognize that.