less charming and more strange than your average blog

July 30, 2004

The Village / ***1/2 

M. Night Shyamalan's new film, The Village, is creepy as hell. It is also a great showcase for audience rudeness, as the bunch I was unfortunate enough to be in the vicinity of during the show did not quiet down even for a second as the commercials and previews gave way to the actual film. For two hours, I juggled the twin adrenaline rushes of bloodlust toward my fellow theater patrons, and my reaction to the film itself.

(Before I continue with this review, I would like to throw it out there that if you happen to be one of the obnoxious audience members I just mentioned [Redmond Town Center, 11:59 PM on Thursday night, July 29th], I hope you are devoured by an anaconda very, very soon. And then I hope the anaconda gets syphilis. I hate you.)

Shyamalan's films never take the obvious route, which is remarkable because he chooses subject matter that so invites it. The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, and now The Village all take seemingly simple and potentially schlocky concepts and elevate them with dense atmosphere and complex layers of emotion. Shyamalan has become famous for his "final twists," but these are not the only ways in which his films turn out to be about something completely different than you thought. A simple but immediate example of this: the title of his last film, and the multiple meanings you realize it has only after you have seen the whole movie.

One of the surefire marks of a good director is that you cannot imagine anyone else making their movies. Can you imagine someone other than Shyamalan creating a film about a small village surrounded by woods that are inhabited by monsters? I mean, making it so anyone would want to watch it. I sure can't.

He is aided in this outing, as usual, by a stellar cast. Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt are "elders" with buried feelings for each other; Joaquin Phoenix is the quietly brave Lucius drawn to the mystery of the woods; Adrien Brody is a mentally retarded man who cannot control his jealousy; Bryce Dallas Howard is luminous and riveting as the blind girl Ivy who must carry her terrible burden alone.

The citizens of the village have always had a truce with the creatures residing in the woods, but lately these beings appear to be entering the village more and more frequently, leaving mutilated livestock in the yards and large, blood-red slashes across the doors. And, well, to say anything else would be to say too much, except that on top of everything else the cinematography is breathtaking. And that, even knowing what I do, I am going to have me some nightmares tonight.

What I can tell you is that there is a pivotal plot development toward the middle of the film that you will either go with, or you won't. Most of the audience I was with did not go with it, and unfairly ridiculed the movie afterward with such off-the-mark taunts as, "WORST HORROR MOVIE EVER!" If you are willing to realize that The Village is NOT a horror movie, you may love this film as much as I did.

The Village does, of course, have its big plot twist. By now, this so-called "gimmick" is getting old to those who refuse to look beyond their expectations. The rest of us can see that Shyamalan has ALWAYS placed his plot twists' primary importance not in how it affects your understanding of the plot, but your understanding of the characters. It is because of this new world of implication and dimension lent the characters after these plot twists are revealed that you will want to see The Village again.

July 26, 2004


Someone got to my blog by searching for the phrase "the fantanas naked." Is this what our world has come to? Do we turn to soft drinks for sexual arousal now?

The longest hangover 

Follow-up to the last blog entry, in which things get much better, then worse. But not "much" worse, so it's all good.

July 24, 2004

All in the family 

Can you guess where I am right now? Can you? I'll give you a hint: it rhymes with "Atlanta, Georgia." (Which is actually not very surprising because Atlanta, Georgia is exactly where I am.)

My father's cousin's daughter is getting married here tomorrow. I guess that would make her my second cousin. Or cousin-once-removed. Or cousin to the second power. Or something. It's all very confusing. And rather futile, since the amount of family gathered here would make Nia Vardalos run in the opposite direction. Titles like "aunt," "uncle," and "cousin" are assigned less according genealogy and more on age proximity.

I had no idea I was part of anything like this.

Living in the Pacific Northwest has posed something of a barrier for keeping in touch with my father's side of the family tree. He grew up in Toledo, Ohio, and that's about as far west as most of his relatives will call home. Fortunately, Molly, my second-cousin-removed-at-least-once who is getting married, is moving to the Seattle area, so we can add her to our team.

Fun fact: Atlanta is HOT, yo. David and my dad and I landed here early in the morning, so I didn't realize this until later in the day, when we left the air-conditioned confines of the hotel and emerged into the relentless gaze of the sun, sweating out the 80% of our bodies that are made up of water almost immediately. The family, all staying at the same hotel, has been spending most of its time socializing in or beside the pool.

Like I said, there are a lot of us. For the most part, I am a stranger to these people. The number of times I have met most of them ranges from a whopping 1 to zero. They're partying their asses off three floors directly below me as I write this, and I really should be joining them, but even in a room filled to capacity with family I feel alone.

I guess it's appropriate that as I don't have a clue what to say to them, I don't have a clue what to say about them. I know these past few days really have been a lot of fun, though. I'm not sure I could have picked a finer bunch of people to be related to, I just wish I had spent more time around them before now. The running gag here is that we're never all together anymore unless there's a wedding or a funeral, so everyone is pointing fingers trying to figure out who's going to get married next. At least nobody's placing bets on whose funeral is coming up next.

The wedding is tomorrow, which is pretty exciting. Last night at dinner, Aunt Emily, who is really my dad's aunt, put her arms around me and David and hollered, "We put down the money for an open bar at the reception, so if you guys don't make it worth it, we're going to be pretty pissed!" There are times when it doesn't take knowing a lot about another person to feel like family.

July 20, 2004

The underneath 

Said my mom to the bastard moles destroying our backyard: It's go time, bitches.

July 12, 2004

I love you, Lindsay, but please don't make me hate you.

July 09, 2004

Eric: David, why does life have to be so hard?

David: I know...why do people have to hate?


Eric: I was talking more about, "Why can't I eat a second piece of this pie and not get fat"?

David: Oh.

Eric: Yours was good too, though.

July 08, 2004

David: Would you say someone "is a lesbian," or "is lesbian"?

Eric: Either one. It can be a noun or an adjective.

David: So it's bi-curious?

Eric: Have you been drinking?

July 05, 2004

Spider-Man 2 

You knew it was coming.

July 04, 2004


My number one preparation for my year studying abroad? Not getting bored on the flight over there.

July 02, 2004

Fahrenheit 9/11 

Well, since nobody else on the Moviepie staff was up for waiting in line for a gazillion hours to see it on opening weekend...

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