Friday, July 21, 2006


Looks like reception to Lady in the Water has been less-than-thrilled. At, the overall number of good reviews are among the lowest of any movie I've seen this year. This isn't exactly surprising, considering the movie has a lot on its mind and it doesn't steep itself in its mythology in the best way (as I refer to in my own review, the way the mythology is laid out is the most annoying aspect of the movie). As someone who doesn't read any reviews before taking on the task himself, I'm not surprised when there is disagreement--but this is an overwhelming, almost did-I-see-the-same-movie kind of response.

And then I wonder--is a movie like Lady in the Water, all dreamlike and dense, a movie better suited to watching in a room full of people during the daytime, or by yourself in the early morning hours? Or some other combination? There is no doubt that different factors of time, place, and particular audience vary a degree of enjoyment in a film. I usually see movies by myself, and I've found that some of the movies I've seen have a different feel when I watch them under different circumstances. How a movie hits you is a unique experience, to be sure, one that makes film criticism a truly inexact "science."

It reminds me of my love of Contact, the Zemeckis film based on the Carl Sagan novel. There are scenes in that movie that seem so perfect to me and I loved it. But then, you have an everyday moviegoer, I feel typified by Mr. Garrison in one "South Park" episode, who vomits in the mentioning of it and says, "I watched that whole movie to see the alien and it turned out to be her goddamn father."

Who knows what time will do to this picture. Right now, I think it's something that will be enjoyed years down the road. Of course, it could be one of those that will be forever panned as a prime example of ego run amok. There's no doubt Shyamalan has one of those--I sometimes wonder if that's what hurts his films the most, especially with critics who, before the movie even starts are saying, "OK, Mr. Mastermind. Show me something." I've seen that kind of sentiment laced through many of the reviews I've read today. There's no doubt it's within the collective critic consciousness.

By the way, despite my rather warm reception to the movie, I do think John Q Average will hate this movie passionately. It all goes back to the Garrison quote. People want strictly entertainment, escape, not ponderance. Nothing wrong with that, for sure.


At 7/22/2006 05:57:00 AM, Blogger Reel Fanatic said...

I hope the critics are wrong on this one, but I'm starting to doubt it .. in my mind, M Night hasn't made a great movie since Unbreakable, and it looks like this one won't break his losing streak

At 7/22/2006 10:46:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

What's funny is that I disagree with them but the overwhelming negative response made me wonder if I was "wrong" to like it. That, of course, is ridiculous thinking because it's all matter of opinion--but maybe one day down the road I'll watch it again and go, "Man, I must have been in a dreamlike state to like that movie."

At 7/22/2006 03:00:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

My Saint Bernard just had some puppies, and that's a 24/7 job for the next couple of weeks, so I'm not real sure when I'll get to go see this, but I'm dying to. Of course, I don't consider myself John Q moviegoer, so hopefully I'll have the same reaction as Chris. And remember "Unbreakable" never got great reviews, and to this day there are plenty of people who hate it. Then there are a lot of us, like myself, who can't get enough of it. "Lady in the Water" hopefully is the same kind of deal. But Shylaman's ego is certainly a turn off to alot of people, but a good movie is still a good movie. It's not like he's the only pompous director or writer out there; he's just one of the few who comes out and admits it.

At 7/23/2006 02:57:00 AM, Blogger Chris said...

I would like to mention that this movie is certainly no Unbreakable. You will definitely hate the movie if you're looking for that kind of quality.


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