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Non-Review Review: Signs

You know what? Even though history and experience has retroactively soured the movie, with M. Night Shyamalan’s career entering freefall and Mel Gibson’s personal problems clouding his career, I kinda like Signs. In fact, I’d go so far as to argue that the movie represents Shymalan’s last good film. That said, it’s a well-constructed and engaging little thriller that is, unfortunately, hugely flawed. Some of these flaws are so fundamental that they’re hard to ignore, but I think that this movie was the last time that Shyamalan demonstrated a real organic talent and skill for film making.

Shine a light on it...

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Straight Up, With A Twist…

In the run-up to Inception, I got thinking about Christopher Nolan’s extensive filmography, and how many movies of his involve massive twists in the last third (The Dark Knight is arguably the exception, unless you consider the addition of a second villain to be a ‘twist’). It got me thinking about the nature of plot twists and how they can essentially harm and help a movie.

Yes, this would be the best twist ending ever...

Note: This article is going to discuss twists on the ends of movies and – as such – might be fairly heavy on the old spoilers. Consider yourself warned.

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Non-Review Review: Unbreakable

When people hear the name M. Night Shyamalan, a lot of different films pop into their heads. Everyone knows The Sixth Sense – most know Signs. He’s ridiculed for The Village and The Happening. The Lady in the Water slips under the radar, but that might be a good thing. What tends to get forgotten in the midst of all this is Unbreakable, which is probably the best movie that Shyamalan has directed. He’s known as something of a one-trick pony, relying on twist endings that throw his audience for a loop and – though Unbreakable contains its own novel twist in the tale – this is the one film on his filmography that doesn’t depend on that reveal. It’s a movie that stands up to the scrutiny of a second viewing answering questions and actually seeming painstakingly obvious in retrospect. It’s so good that it barely missed my list of the top 50 movies of the decade.

Holding out for a hero...

Note: As alluded above, the ending of this movie is a key part of discussion about it. Rather than splitting this post in half, I’m going to discuss it below. Don’t worry, I’ll give you a head’s up. I would make one recommendation though: don’t spoil the movie for yourself. It works better whent he audience doesn’t know quite what they are expecting. You could make the case about most movies, but I think that this movie in particular deserves to be seen sight unseen with an open mind.

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What Constitutes a Spoiler?

What constitutes a spoiler? I mean, really? Is discussing anything about the ending of a film a spoiler? What about talking about a twist earlier on, or an underlying theme or premise that pays off at the end? Is that a spoiler? How long does a movie have to be out before you can talk about it without worrying that you’ll spoil the ending for some poor unsuspecting individual who deserves to see the movie and take it in without having their perception coloured? Some stuff got me thinking about this and I’m not really sure I know where the line falls.

I see a twist coming...

I see a twist coming...

Spoiler: This article contains spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers. But that was kind of obvious from the header, wasn’t it? I wonder if anyone ever actually heeds these warnings. Tell you what, cycle down to the end of the article and leave a comment if you do. Nah, I’m just kidding, but still… spoilers ahoy!

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