Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lady in the Water -- 2006

Lady in the Water

Rated PG-13 for frightening sequences
My Rating: 4 Stars

M. Night Shyamalan

Paul Giamatti
Bryce Dallas Howard 
Sarita Choudhury
M. Night Shyamalan
Cindy Cheung
June Kyoto Lu
Bob Balaban
Freddy Rodriguez

Of all fantasy movies, I would have to say this one is my favorite. I love how graceful and whimsical it is... and yet, so frightening and repulsive. When I watched it I felt I was looking at myself, my life. The story opened my eyes to some realities that I had not come to terms with. 

In Philadelphia, there was an apartment complex. In this complex there lived some anonymous people. All of them were hiding from the world, their reality, in one way or another. There was a man who worked cross word puzzles incessantly, a large Hispanic family with five hysterical daughters, Reggie the body builder who only works out half of his body, an animal lover who is reaching the end of her middle years, an Asian mother and daughter who constantly fight, a group of five nameless smokers, the man who never speaks, etc, etc, and of course, Cleveland Heep, the apartment's maintenance man. 

When it comes to keeping the place from falling around his ears, Cleveland Heep is competent and seemingly content. He has a speech impediment that keeps him 'safe' from conversation and even safer from friendships. The first time we see him, he is showing the latest tenant to said tenant's newly taken apartment and shielding him, rather unsuccessfully I might add, against some of the more obnoxious tenants. My first impression of Cleveland Heep's character was how comfortable he was with his life... the man seemed to ooze with pained satisfaction as he toiled on and on. As if he was endlessly, thankfully busy and alone.

But there was something happening with the complex pool and it bothered him. The water kept getting slimy, as if kids were swimming in it at night. After having the filter cleaned a couple times because of it, he was getting downright upset and decided to wait the night up to catch the culprits.

Sure enough, that night there was a disturbance in the pool and he went out to investigate. He could see nothing at first but catches a glimpse of someone trying to grab something off a lawn chair sitting beside the pool. Very frustrated at the intrusion of his normality, he let go of reason and entered the pool in hopes of catching whoever it was. No such luck. Further problems awaited him outside the pool when his feet slipped out from under him and he hit his head on the concrete surround. Unconscious, his body slips into the pool.

When he woke up, he found himself in his apartment, soaking wet, with a huge goose egg taking possession of his head. Groggily, he looks around and tries to sit up. Then he sees her.

She tells him her name is Story.

What I Liked:
1: I loved the fairytale. Fairytales are called fairytales because they aren't (usually!) realistic. This one was beautiful unrealistic and full of symbolism.
2: How clean the film was... but there was enough innuendo to help the story flow better. Sorry, you'll have to watch it. ;-)
3: The humor. It's so wacky and laughable.
4: I love the diversity of the characters and...
5: ...the psychology of them, the story, M. Night Shyamalan, etc.
6: M. Night's movies all have a different feel to them, I think. I love the uniqueness and the freshness. It gives me a different look at movies.
7: The message of everyone, even the smallest and the one hurt most, have a purpose. But we just can't sit and wait for it.
8: I love how everything is backwards. I love how M. Night defied many story 'rules' of our western society.
9: This movie is very frightening. Not so much the 'jump' scenes but the entire story. The evil you only hear about but never see... etc, etc. And I don't think it was only because of Story's possible death but what you knew it would do to the people she was with.
10: After Story brings it, hope is never lost. No matter how awful the circumstances were, it was always there... waiting for us to grasp.

Things to Know:
1: The only clothes Story is seen in is a shirt from Cleveland's closet. There is a scene where she is implied naked and Cleveland walks in on her. It is the only scene where you feel he slapped out of his pain and made aware of her femininity. He tells her to put on her clothes. We see her knees down, nothing else.
2: Some very frightening scenes and suspense moments.
3: I appreciate the morality and message of this film. It is good. Keep in mind that truth is truth, regardless of where it comes from. But also keep in mind that there is no greater lie than one that is mostly true. Be discerning. Be prayerful. As with all things in this life, seek God in it and discard the rest. :-)
4: There are scenes that involve smoking, a party, drinking and someone vomiting. Just sayin'. ;-)

My Thoughts:
This movie is interesting in the controversy surrounding it. From what I read, it seems you will either love this movie or you will hate it. Some people find it way over the top. Others, find the hope and joy and purpose that M. Night Shyamalan made this story sparkle with. I would say that if you've been known to be sane and normal, you probably won't like it. ;-) Hehe. j/k

I did some research of this film. If you want to read some scathing movie reviews, check this baby out! They're rampant! They criticize the story. They criticize the methods. They almost criticize the actors he picked (then they catch themselves and admit Paul Giamatti was wonderful). They criticize the fairytale aspect. They criticize how unbelievable the story is. They criticize the fact that M. Night Shyamalan played a leading, very messianic role in the movie. They criticize... M. Night Shyamalan.

For your information, I do not group all of film critics together. But for the majority of the negative reviewers, it comes out that the most unforgivable part of the movie was M. Night's retaliation to all the critical reviews "The Village" (his previous film) received. So blatant was he that all those who spoke against "The Village" could not help but see themselves in "Lady of the Water".

You may like a film or not like a film. If you live in a country where this is permitted, you can express your opinions and tear it to pieces. But your character is shown in the way you do so. Many of the reviewers who bitterly express their disgust for M. Night Shyamalan and his work do not appreciate the same being done to them. Bitterness clouds the mountaintops of greatness.

I will not tell you what to think of this movie. If you like it, jolly good. If not, that's fine too. But be careful not to be blinded to the messages M. Night Shyamalan may have for us... in spite of his genius faulted ideals.

"Shyamalan is far from a hack; the evidence of his genuine talent is still evident in this, easily his most spectacularly misconceived film. What he is, I suspect, is creatively paralyzed, twisted in knots by his own legacy and the legendary status to which he aspires. With every film, the knots grow tighter, and he slips further and further into impotence and irrelevance."

"The key to deciphering M. Night Shyamalan's fractured fairy tale, "Lady in the Water," is to remember that it is rooted in the mythology of Stephen Colbert and "The Colbert Report." It is a warning to Mankind about the dire threat posed by ferocious topiary bears in America today, and a salute to the gigantic, soaring eagle who swoops in to rescue Wet Ladies from pitiless ursine jaws and claws. Colbert oughtta sue. "

"Farber [character depicting negative film critics] is a ghastly specimen of loathsome appearance and abysmal pettiness. His mean-minded and destructive cynicism, together with an obvious inability to open his mind or his heart, are in terrible contrast to those around him, who are coming to appreciate the childlike wonder of Story and her story. Unforgivably, he actually endangers Story's chances of getting home.
As the film continued, I personally began to bow my head in humility and self-knowledge. My pen slipped from my nerveless fingers and hot teardrops fell on my notepad, like a pure and cleansing rain, blurring the vindictive remarks I had scribbled. I was ashamed ... ashamed ... that I had ever given this incredible idiot M Night Shyamalan anything approaching a good review." 

"Shyamalan doesn't really make character movies. He makes stories..."

"I don’t think his movie’s have diminished in quality or effectiveness, and most importantly spiritual and emotional impact. He will never make another “Sixth Sense”, and he shouldn't...But the greatest thing about His films to me is the way it sparks hope, faith, and a sense of purpose in everything that happens on this earth—whether you are a believer or not. And personally, this movie communicates more effectively about our purpose in life than most overtly evangelical films. I realize that most critics (Christian and not) will not agree with my assessment, and many movie-goers won’t either. It’s not a matter though of agreeing with my opinion, but appreciating a work of art that lifts up what is good, pure, and idealistic, instead of what is shallow, titillating, and degrading." -- David Momberg

"I left the theatre in a contemplative mood, something rare when it comes to most movies. It was inspirational in the sense that it caused me to wonder what purpose God has for me, in my seemingly insignificant life. One of the characters (ironically played by the director) is given a glimpse of his future, both the horrors and the wonderful things that will come of his work, living proof that mankind cannot see beyond this moment, but our legacy as individuals and as Christians stretch into the centuries to come." -- Charity Bishop

"Lady in the Water isn’t a great film, but it certainly is a good one, a mixed bag of myth and hope and love and a commitment to acts of faith in the face of a world that folds its arms and refuses to believe. If it’s true that more and more we’ve come to expect less and less from the movies we see and value as a community, then Shyamalan is doing his part to craft original, honest stories that reflect the skills and ideas of a truly gifted filmmaker. The biggest complaints lobbied against him aren’t that he makes bad movies but that the movies themselves didn’t measure up to some arbitrary ideal that’s been planted in the viewer’s mind before they even enter the theater. And to watch movies that way is to live wearing blinders. Shyamalan’s films are striving for greatness, even — especially — if it’s on his own terms." -- Daniel Carlson

If you want to read a good critical review, the last mentioned is probably it. He spoke with wisdom. I do not agree with him 100% but I do respect him. :-) 

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