Ep. 117 – Glass, Fyre

January 21, 2019 by  
Filed under Podcast

 

The CineSnob Podcast returns from another sabbatical to review M. Night Shyamalan’s “Glass” and the Netflix documentary “Fyre.”

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Ep. 93 – Split, The Founder, and a Lost in London recap

January 23, 2017 by  
Filed under Podcast

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This week on The CineSnob Podcast, Cody and Jerrod review M. Night Shyamalan’s “Split” and the so-called “The Social Network with hamburgers” biopic “The Founder” starring Michael Keaton. They also recap Woody Harrelson’s live film “Lost in London” which was presented live across the country by Fathom Events.

[00:00-22:12] Intro/”Lost in London” recap

[22:12-36:19] “Split” review

[36:19-49:13] “The Founder” review

[49:13-59:32] Wrap up/tease
Click here to download the episode!

Split

January 20, 2017 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “Unbreakable”)
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Visit,” “After Earth”)

Former Hollywood golden boy M. Night Shyamalan has been working on a comeback for longer than he was at the top of his game, and since the double-sided nadir of “The Last Airbender” and “After Earth,” Shyamalan has gone small, like a former world-class athlete rebuilding his game in the minors. 2015’s “The Visit” was a fun found-footage horror romp with zero big stars and a sly wink at the audience from time to time. With his latest, “Split,” Shyamalan starts to play a little hero ball like it’s 2001 again, shooting to spin an intimate psychological thriller into an epic tale of supernatural ability using showy performances and, yes, a twist–with mixed results.

At a birthday party for popular high school student Claire (Haely Lu Richardson), the quiet, introverted Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) remains an outcast, invited only so it wouldn’t be awkward in class. When it’s time to go, Casey hitches a reluctant ride with Claire, Claire’s dad, and Claire’s friend Marcia (Jessica Sula), only Claire’s dad is knocked out before he can get in the car and the three girls are taken by a stranger named Kevin (James McAvoy) and locked in an underground bunker. When the girls come to, they find that Kevin suffers from dissociative identity disorder, and they’re visited and/or tormented by several identities including manically methodical Dennis, taciturn Miss Patricia, and lisping 9-year-old Hedwig. These identities are revolting against the reasonable artist persona Barry, who keeps trying to break through and reach psychiatrist Dr. Karen Fletcher (Betty Buckley) — who likens Kevin’s disorder to superhuman abilities — before an unknown entity known as “The Beast” arrives to devour the captive girls.

While McAvoy’s go-for-broke performance as the multiple personalities is bold and grimly funny at times, the nearly two-hour run time leaves a few aspects teetering on the brink of annoyance (I’m looking at you, Hedwig). Also puzzling is the inclusion of a grossly depressing backstory for Taylor-Joy’s Claire that does essentially nothing for the plot accept to provide a head-scratching end to the climax and an icky aftertaste in the epilogue. Why her character was made to suffer that fate to have such a confusing payoff is a mystery.

So, let’s talk about the twist—which, really, has more in common with the Marvel school of post-credits stingers that open up the movie’s world instead of turning what we just watched on its ear. It’s a bold decision, for sure, and it’s hard to decide if it’s a brilliant move or a boneheaded one. Either way, it will make you leave the theater talking. Although it’s a little like watching Kobe Bryant back in the day score 60 points in a game—thrilling, to be sure, but maybe an indicator that Shyamalan hasn’t quite learned his lesson.

The Visit

September 14, 2015 by  
Filed under Jerrod, Reviews

Starring: Olivia DeJonge, Ed Oxenbould, Deanna Dunagan
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”)
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan (“Lady in the Water”)

Look, I’m not here to tell you that the M. Night Shyamalan from the days of “The Sixth Sense” is back after years of laughably terrible movies or anything, but with “The Visit” we finally get a Shyamalan movie that is both enjoyable and invites you to laugh along with the self-aware ridiculousness on the screen instead of at the tone deaf hack work the director has been turning out for a decade or more. And yeah, this is another in a long line of found footage horror/thriller movies with too-sharp teenagers, but all the dumb stuff is ultimately of little consequence as the movie ramps up the weirdness to near-sublime levels.

Years after leaving home under bad circumstances to start a family with an older man, a single mom (Kathryn Hahn) sends her teenage kids Becca (Olivia DeJonge) and Tyler (Ed Oxenbould) to meet the grandparents they’ve never known. Their mother hasn’t spoken to her parents in years, and after they contact her online and arrange a visit, Becca decides she’s going to give her mother the healing with her parents she will never mentions she needs. Conveniently for the found footage aesthetic, Becca decides to do this by way of a documentary. After a train ride to a snowy small town in Pennsylvania, Becca and Tyler are greeted by Nana (Deanna Dunagan) and Pop Pop (Peter McRobbie), who seem like nothing more than quiet old people—until the lights go out and things get creepy, with a naked Nana prowling the halls and a disoriented Pop Pop dressing in a tuxedo for a costume party that’s never happening. Is it just the onset of dementia, or is something more sinister going on?

Sure, the found footage angle is unnecessary at best and kind of dumb at worst (because they never stop filming, even when in mortal danger!), but “The Visit” is kooky enough to keep things from sliding into traps more routine horror movies often find themselves in, and even  throws in a nice creepy twist that manages to keep things grounded. This is a humbled Shyamalan doing his best work since before Mel Gibson lost his mind, and he’s finally in on the joke. I mean what other thriller can you think of that features something as funny a teenage girl being convinced twice to climb into an oven to clean it or a rapping white kid who falls victim to one of the most hilariously gross out gags in horror movie history?

After Earth

May 31, 2013 by  
Filed under Ashley, Reviews

Starring: Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Sophie Okonedo
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”)
Written by: Gary Whitta (“The Book of Eli”) and M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”)

How two-time Oscar-nominated filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan went from directing and writing one of the best horror-suspense films of all time with 1999’s “The Sixth Sense” to holding down the fort at the Golden Raspberry Awards should continue to boggle the mind of every moviegoer. One day, if we’re all lucky enough, he’ll get his head out of the clouds and return to form. “After Earth” isn’t the film to knock him back on track, however. Reprising his gut-wrenching trend of calamitously-made movies, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if Shyamalan hits Raspberry gold once again with “After Earth.” At least he won’t be alone. Will and Jaden Smith are almost guaranteed to have a seat right next to him.

After a crash landing leaves stern General Cypher (Will Smith) of the peacekeeping organization, Ranger Corps, and his rebellious and audacious son, Kitai (Jaden Smith), stranded on Earth, the father-son duo must work together to retrieve an emergency beacon located in the tail of a ship to stay alive. Badly injured, General Cypher is forced to sit idly by, guiding his son through the treacherous terrain, which is filled with evolved species and an alien creature that killed his only daughter.

“After Earth” kicks off with a disorienting introduction and the 100 minutes that follow don’t get much clearer. Had the audience not been forced to endure the film’s ill-executed sci-fi elements and Will and Jaden Smith’s laughable performances, it could’ve scraped by with a tolerable father-son storyline. Instead, Shyamalan damages the film beyond repair with trite dialogue and melodramatic one liners, which make for good albeit unintentional laughs.

With so much chaotic back story and information throughout the entire movie, it doesn’t take long for the audience to realize how paper-thin the narrative actually is. Scenes where Jaden Smith attempts to carry the film alone don’t work. As if that isn’t bad enough, the film tries to contribute some sort of substance through flashbacks, but never reveals anything but the same scene from different angles.

At times, “After Earth” feels like a sci-fi themed episode of “Lost” starring Will and Jaden with horrible accents. If you’re used to Shyamalan disasters like “The Last Airbender” and “The Happening,” this won’t come as a big disappointment. What is disappointing, however, is the fact that the film studio is already discussing a sequel. If the Smith men can’t wait to get back on the screen together, why not try “The Pursuit of Happyness 2” instead? It couldn’t be any worse than Shyamalan’s latest debacle.

The Last Airbender

July 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Noah Ringer, Jackson Rathbone, Nicola Peltz
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”)
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Happening”)
 
Just when you thought director M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense,” “The Village”) couldn’t get any more incoherent than he did with his last three films, he veers from his usual twisty cinematic offerings and lands somewhere below rock bottom with “The Last Airbender.”

What makes things even worse for the one-hit-wonder is that his new film carries with it a $150-million price tag that could end up professionally crushing the director if Paramount Pictures doesn’t at least break even by the end of the summer. With what “Airbender” delivers, it’s almost inevitable that it won’t.

“The Last Airbender,” which is adapted from the popular Nickelodeon anime cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” could have been exactly what Shyamalan needed to pull himself out of the rut he has been in for the last six years. Instead, the filmmaker who scored two Oscar nominations in 1999 for directing and writing “The Sixth Sense,” comes out of this latest fantasy project more lost than ever.

In “Airbender,” actors Jackson Rathbone (“The Twilight Saga”) and Nicola Peltz (“Deck the Halls”) stars as Sokka and Katara, sibling warriors of the Southern Water Tribe who unearth the legendary Avatar, the only person who can control all four elements – Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire.

In this case it’s 12-year-old Aang (Noah Ringer) who is called upon to bring peace to the world. Missing for over a century, Aang rises from his frozen state in an iceberg and is given the responsibility of uniting the Four Nations before Prince Zuko (Dev Patel in his first film since “Slumdog Millionaire”) and his uncle Iroh (Shaun Toub) of the Fire Nation wage war against their elemental enemies.

While there is enough mythology to create some interesting storylines here, Shyamalan somehow takes a promising narrative and drains it of all its enjoyment by tacking on longwinded narration and uninspired dialogue to a majority of the scenes. The disastrous screenplay is marred by everything from its sluggish pacing to its uninteresting romance.

Moreover, it’s shocking to see that 11 years after Shyamalan directed an extremely memorable Oscar-nominated performance by then-child actor Haley Joel Osment he has absolutely no insight into what young actors can offer anymore. Even worse than Mark Wahlberg’s laughable performance in “The Happening,” first-time actor Ringer (who voiced the character in the animated series) delivered his lines with such stiffness you’ll wonder why no one on the set stood up and pointed out the obvious lack of acting talent.

Besides the inexpressive performances across the board (with the exception of Toub), “Airbender” is a halfhearted and terribly dull adventure and the most disappointing movie of the year thus far. Shyamalan should probably take a step back from making feature films, reevaluate his place in the industry, and see where he should go from here. At this point, it might not even be his choice anymore.

The Happening

June 15, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mark Walhberg, Zooey Deschanel, John Leguizamo
Directed by: M. Night Shyamalan (“Lady in the Water”)
Written by: M. Night Shyamalan (“The Sixth Sense”)

Forget about hating Mel Gibson for his off-screen shenanigans. It’s now hip to ridicule director M. Night Shyamalan for his actual work in Hollywood. Since he shocked audiences with “The Sixth Sense” in 1999, which earned him two Academy Award nominations (one as director and one as screenwriter), Shyamalan has failed to reach that same level of success with his last four films (although the first two-thirds of “Signs” was suspenseful and smart before the final act).

Now, Shyamalan attempts to redeem himself for “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” and the overrated “Unbreakable” with “The Happening,” a film being marketed as his first R-rated film ever.

A little extra blood and disturbing images don’t help the director’s cause, however. “The Happening” is still a lankly-written film at best, although the first few scenes will have you wondering if Shyamalan might really be able to break out of his deep rut.

In “The Happening,” we are quickly tossed right in the middle of an unexplainable occurrence that is taking place all over the East Coast. For some unknown reason, people are committing suicide within seconds of each other. It’s chilling in the first few minutes to watch as construction workers heave themselves off buildings. Later in the film you see a group of tree trimmers who have hanged themselves with their own equipment, which is rather jolting.

The tone of the movie quickly plunges when we are introduced to Philadelphia high school science teacher Elliot Moore (Mark Wahlberg), his wife Alma (Zooey Deschanel) and Elliot’s best friend Julian (John Leguizamo) and his daughter Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez). The group decides the safest thing to do would be to take a train as far away as they can from the incidences.

But with the mysterious behavior spreading quickly from town to town and no ideas why it’s happening (some think it’s a biological terrorist attack, others believe the plants are emitting a toxic chemical), Elliot, Alma and others find themselves trapped in small town America trying to survive whatever it is that is making people kill themselves.

Shyamalan had a unique idea and desperately wants it to work. But once you get passed the eerie concept, there’s not much left in his screenplay to build on the paranoia. It’s not entirely Shyamalan’s fault, however. Wahlberg and Deschanel give some mediocre performances as a husband and wife going through some minor marriage problems. Their conflict a mild second storyline that is unimaginative, unnecessary, and completely annoying. There is also a lack of chemistry between Wahlberg and Deschanel. They would be worse off if this was a love story, but even in a thriller you would like your leading man and woman not to come off like oil and water or novice actors. Here, they’re a terrible mix.

It’s another strike for Shyamalan, who should think about trying to direct someone else’s work rather than write his own. If “The Sixth Sense” was his one-hit wonder, he should accept that and move on. Trying to relive those moments when his stock was so high seems more desperate than ambitious and it’s just not going to happen if he keeps doing it the same way he has been for the last nine years.