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WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan? 
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Post WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
After seeing discussions of him in the After Earth and Unpopular Opinions thread I thought it made sense to set up a separate thread for him.

Type "What happened to M Nigh Shyamalan" into google or any search engine and you get a ton of responses.

I've seen a few theories posited. One blames his downfall on arrogance and ambition run amok. One claims that there wasn''t much to him from teh beginning: that the Sixth Sense got elevated from being simply a cult movie to being a sort of cultural phenomenon on account of timing. ANother one is that the success of the aforementioned Sixth Sense backed him into a corner, forced him to make stuff that played to fan expectations with no concern for the work itself.

In some ways, it was a combination of all of the above.

Had The Sixth Sense not become a blockbuster, it's likely that Shyamalan would have remained a cult filmmaker. Had it not done so, it's likely he would have continued doing dark idiosyncratic films in the style of Wide Awake.

But when it became one, there was push for him to repeat it. And that push combined with hubris and ambition ultimately caused the work to suffer,

The result was the diownward spiral from the pretty good Unbreakable, Signs and The Village to the ambitious failure that was Lady In The Water. While many people seem to cite The Village as the beginning of the donward spiral, it actually began one film later.

Then came The Happening. Interesting premise. But not well executed. The two films he's done since The Happening come off as attempts to be all things to all people. Almost as if he realized that he used up whatever goodwill he had with Lady In The Water and The Happening and now he's trying to remain relevant by adapting a Nickelodeon show and working on a Will Smith passion project.

I don't know if Shyamalan is really a one-trick pony or if a combination of delusions and marketplace dmenads have trapped him.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:03 am
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Well it is hard to pinpoint the reason if we know little more than the effect and some people's opinion.
I think Shyamalan should have been aware very early on that he was painting himself into a corner by relying exclusively on movies with some sort of supernatural element and a big twist. It is perhaps very similar to Christopher Nolan who likes mind bending "puzzlebox" movies with little to no concern regarding actual character. Good that he got the Batman gigs even though now "Nolanizing" means going "dark" instead of "puzzlebox with cyphers".

Shyamalan should have thought of an alternative right beside deciding on making a second "supernatural twist" movie. Can't get a manstream gig? Go indie, broaden your range there and build a solid rep! Not skilled enough to come up with something convincing in that area? Team up with someone. That's where the hubris/vanity needs to be scrapped. Looks like most people with tons of success fail at exactly this point.

Shyamalan always seemed like he wants to be a "one man band". For chrissake he even has extended cameos in his flicks. Being a complete control freak is bad enough, trying to do almost everything yourself is film school mentality at best.
Perhaps I am wrong here and Shyamalan was having trouble being part of a certain kind of clique/lobby/group so he didn't have access to loyal and reliable collaborators. Here I go again talking music: well at least he got James Newton Howard, an excellent film composer IMHO, couldn't have been that bad then.

Anyway: I think Shyamalan failed to come up in time with different kinds of movies. Perhaps he wanted to break into mainstream Hollywood big time and fast - and didn't bother to fill his portfolio with smaller but highly respectable films?

I'm not sure, but everything points at the fact that Shyamalan was betting one last time on the wrong horse accepting to work with big names. IMHO he should have gone back to the drawing board trying something smaller and different, gather experience and then try again to make it big. Well I guess he shot his last round and missed again. Perhaps he had no choice because he was in way over his head right from the start?


Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:06 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Yeah, he depended way too much on the "shocking twist ending" and his twists just kept getting more and more asinine(aliens allergic to fucking water? come on! :roll: ) his height of arrogance came in Lady In The Water, where he played an author whose work would "change the world" (oh gag me! :lol: ) and of course he had to take a cheap shot at Roger Ebert by having a one-dimensional film critic who only exists to get killed.

I dunno if Shyamalan "missed" with this film though, while it may have gotten poor reviews it has done fairly well at the box-office.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 12:38 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Vexer wrote:
I dunno if Shyamalan "missed" with this film though, while it may have gotten poor reviews it has done fairly well at the box-office.


Well perhaps in this case he might have another chance as a "hired gun" director. Still: his name is not the center of the marketing campaign. So if this movie will make a healthy profit it will be mainly good news for Will Smith and his son.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:05 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Threeperf35 wrote:
Vexer wrote:
I dunno if Shyamalan "missed" with this film though, while it may have gotten poor reviews it has done fairly well at the box-office.


Well perhaps in this case he might have another chance as a "hired gun" director. Still: his name is not the center of the marketing campaign. So if this movie will make a healthy profit it will be mainly good news for Will Smith and his son.

True, when I first saw the trailer for After Earth, I had no idea who was directing it until I looked it up on IMDB, I guess studios are really trying to downplay his name after that video of audiences laughing out loud when his name popped up in the trailer for "Devil"(which was a bad film anyways).


Tue Jun 04, 2013 1:19 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Vexer wrote:
of course he had to take a cheap shot at Roger Ebert by having a one-dimensional film critic who only exists to get killed


Umm... what? What exactly made that a shot at Ebert? Shymalan and Ebert were big fans of each other.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:28 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Shade2 wrote:
Vexer wrote:
of course he had to take a cheap shot at Roger Ebert by having a one-dimensional film critic who only exists to get killed


Umm... what? What exactly made that a shot at Ebert? Shymalan and Ebert were big fans of each other.

They were? Did not know that.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 3:33 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
I've not seen a lot of his movies, but I doubt there's anything wrong with him now that hasn't been wrong with him always. It seems to me that there are strengths he sometimes doesn't utilize effectively (primarily his sense of visual storytelling and mood) and weaknesses that he leans on way too hard (the urge to reverse-engineer his mysteries into little intellectual puzzles that are too cute when they're not too stupid).

Get him with a good writer and a good producer. Put a leash on him. Use his powers for good.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:32 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Ken wrote:
Get him with a good writer and a good producer. Put a leash on him. Use his powers for good.


That's exactly (!) what I was trying to say. Well, I do tend to ramble at times.....


Tue Jun 04, 2013 4:43 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Ken wrote:
Get him with a good writer and a good producer. Put a leash on him. Use his powers for good.


He's got skill. Signs and The Village have major detractors, but still tell a coherent and visual story. With a solid script he could be right back in the thick of things. He's never made a great film, but he's made a few very good ones, which is probably about all he's capable of. He came into fame at a perfectly imperfect time for his style, and was of course over-hyped. I still think he's a better director than many relatively famous names working today, though.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 6:16 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
His deal with the devil ran out during "Signs." He tried to pay it back by doing "Devil," but, alas, it was too late.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:20 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
One of my favorite scenes by this guy is the bit near the beginning of Unbreakable, where Bruce Willis is in the hospital. He's situated in the background, framed in a doorway, while the extreme foreground has just the chest of one of the other accident victims taking up the bottom of the frame. Bruce is sitting there without a scratch on him while the person in the foreground slowly stops breathing. All one static shot.

This, to me, indicates that he's no dummy. He knows how to make movies. But he's not an auteur and he can't do his best work if he doesn't have another storyteller to bounce ideas around with--someone to encourage his best inclinations and to let him know when he's being a fucking crackhead.

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Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:30 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
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he can't do his best work if he doesn't have another storyteller to bounce ideas around with--someone to encourage his best inclinations and to let him know when he's being a fucking crackhead.


Anyone with enough talent and insight to fill that position would just want to direct their own movie, not hand off their ideas to Shyamalan. And at this point, most producers would instantly choose a young first-timer like Josh Trank to direct their own concept movie and not give Shyamalan a second glance. I think he's pretty much done.

On the other hand, directors like Megaton, Neveldine Taylor, John Moore, W.S. Anderson can make literally an infinite amount of poorly reviewed movies and it will never matter. So long as they handle action scenes competently, there will always be money behind their productions. When you make yourself a household name, like Shyamalan did, there's nowhere to hide when you lose your mojo. There's a lot to be said for keeping a low profile.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:05 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
MGamesCook wrote:
Anyone with enough talent and insight to fill that position would just want to direct their own movie, not hand off their ideas to Shyamalan.


Who says that anyone with enough talent will be given the opportunity to make their own movie? Life is not about willing yourself into something!

I would be glad to lend my talent to a "name", and I am not the only one. Trying to do your own thing all by yourself can lead to desaster.

Let's talk music (simply because I am a musician, no more, no less): I'd rather do the orchestration for a guy who has the ideas, the gig and the name, than trying - in vain - to do get my own gig. Some people with talent want to work to gain experience - Steven Spielberg directed tv-movies before his breakthrough, because he wanted to work. "Everything or nothing" is foolish.
If I was a young upcoming screenwriter or cinematographer, I'd be glad to land a gig with Shyamalan. If we strike gold, I will be set for life.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:21 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
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I would be glad to lend my talent to a "name", and I am not the only one. Trying to do your own thing all by yourself can lead to desaster.


You only live once, and making your own feature, even if it's just one, is a perfectly achievable life goal. Plenty of people have done it who are nevertheless much lower on the ladder than many cinematographers, screenwriters, editors, second unit directors, so it's not at all a question of aiming too high. Obviously the everything or nothing mentality isn't practical when you're first starting out, but the fact is that more movies are made with that mentality now than ever have been before. That's the current industry practice, and it's not going away. It's sometimes foolish, but not always.


Tue Jun 04, 2013 10:36 pm
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Vexer wrote:
I dunno if Shyamalan "missed" with this film though, while it may have gotten poor reviews it has done fairly well at the box-office.


After Earth? It's fairly disappointing actually. It opened at #3 behind the second weekend of F&F6 and Now You See Me. Considering the box office juggernaut that is Will Smith stars in it, that's not good. Furthermore its opening was on the level of John Carter and Jack the Giant Slayer, which is definitely not good company. It didn't even earn as much as any of the top 4 films the previous weekend. Maybe it wasn't a complete disaster but it's not looking good.

The funny thing is I wouldn't be surprised if Shyamalan takes most of the blame for this disappointment, even though his name wasn't in the marketing. Smith will get many more opportunities to have another big budget release, though I have my doubts about Shyamalan.


Thu Jun 06, 2013 6:40 am
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
I don't know what happened to him but it's been really sad to see him fall this far for me. I thought The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable were both near masterpieces. And Lady in the Water was very underrated. I actually liked that movie a lot. Signs was good until the ending. I really want to see him come back.

One thing is for sure though. If After Earth is as bad as they say it is, I think it's safe to say that Night needs to stay away from special effects laden projects.


Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:04 am
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Gwaihir wrote:
The funny thing is I wouldn't be surprised if Shyamalan takes most of the blame for this disappointment, even though his name wasn't in the marketing. Smith will get many more opportunities to have another big budget release, though I have my doubts about Shyamalan.


That's the interesting part about this, to me. By all indications this was a passion project for Big Willie Style, yet most reviews I've read seem to be blaming Shyamalan for the film's failures (which it has been here, Vex is plain wrong, we'll see about the foreign market). Surely, most of the blame has to be assigned to Smith, right? I mean, he came up with the conept for the story, hand picked the director, was a producer along with his wife, and was in the freaking movie. It sure sounds like he was the main decision maker on this project. I guess it's easier to blame Shyamalan since he's become kind of a joke and a whipping boy. I'm not saying he's without blame, movies being a community effort and him being the director, but to me it looks like Smith made the bigger mistake with this one.

As for what happened to M. Night, he was a flash in the pain gimmick that people got tired of. The fact that most of us have 1-2 of his movies we really like and a few we really hate speaks to that. As others have said, he's obviously got skill. There are parts of every one of his movies that I think are well done (seen everything up to Lady in the Water and nothing after). His biggest problems, to me, are that he's kind of a terrible writer and, when given control, goes to the "twist" well too often. Essentially, he branded himself with this gimmick, which turned his earnest efforts into unintentional parodies.


Thu Jun 06, 2013 8:51 am
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Having never seen any of his work prior to Unbreakable, I can only offer up the thought that he was grossly overrated for The Sixth Sense, (or at least that's the impression I get from reading reviews). Unbreakable was good enough not to ruin him and was a very interesting take on the superhero genre (with a twist that makes more sense than most people give it credit for), but his public decline probably started with The Village, which was reviled by a certain portion of the movie going public, even if it wasn't all that awful. Due to his inflated reputation, the public backlash simply became a matter of the "bigger they are, the harder they fall".

One could probably make the case that his public reputation follows a similar to George Lucas's, on a slightly smaller scale. He starts out by making a few smaller films (American Graffiti/Wide Awake), gets a huge hit early in his career (A New Hope/The Sixth Sense) has a few more successes using the same model, then has the public turn on him when he makes a few mistakes (The Prequels/Lady in the Water or The Village).

Whether or not he deserves to be reviled, is another matter. I personally just don't care that much one way or the other.

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Thu Jun 06, 2013 10:10 am
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Post Re: WTF Happened To M Night Shyamalan?
Back when M. Night Shyamalan was getting his start, I heard banter thrown around such as him being "the next Alfred Hitchcock" and the like. That's some heavy stuff. Anybody would buckle under that pressure.


Thu Jun 06, 2013 3:22 pm
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