By: Eugene Novikov (original publish date: June 9, 2008)
(With the Cine-staff off on a late-July mini-vacation, we thought it'd be fun to bring you some of our favorite pieces from months past. Enjoy!)
When it comes to seeing M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening early, the best that Fox publicists can offer me (and other non-daily-newspaper press in Philadelphia) is a 9 pm screening at an inconvenient theater the night before release. I'm going to politely decline, and it's probably just as well. It's become so hip to hate and sneer at Shyamalan and his films that I'm not sure I could handle the pre- and post-screening small talk. I'll see the film on Friday afternoon, alone, or with a friend who's not privy to the buzz and the gossip.
Those who've read my stuff, here and elsewhere, know that I'm one of the more persistent Shyamalan apologists on the intertubes. I won't launch into a defense of specific films here; that's too formidable a task for a Fan Rant. Instead, I want to briefly discuss why I think it's wrong to make the filmmaker into either a laughingstock or public enemy #1, even if you're not enamored of his recent efforts.
I'll make a couple of concessions at the beginning, to show I'm reasonable. Concession the first: I admit that Lady in the Water was a failure. An interesting failure, and one I was able to enjoy on second viewing when I was no longer blinded by disappointment, but a failure nonetheless. Concession the second: when Shyamalan's worldview wrests center stage away from his storytelling chops, the results can be cringe-worthy (e.g. the ending of the otherwise-excellent Signs; most of Lady). Certain things in the advertising for The Happening make me nervous about this.