A day in film.


Had the day off (in fact, am off work until next Tuesday), and so B. and I ended up, among other things, watching a couple recent (and future) flicks. Correspondingly, here we go with another movie-centric entry.

First, at an early afternoon matinee with kakumei, M. Night Shyamalan’s Signs. Good, not really reaching the heights of The Sixth Sense but better than Unbreakable (which, by the way, I did like quite a bit). Very tightly constructed and effective, a couple of weak moments notwithstanding. Shyamalan is shaping up to be a master storyteller with a knack for suspense. Perhaps in time he will come to be the next-generation Spielberg.

Added 2005/05/14: Wow, this film did not wear well. I can barely stand to watch it anymore, mostly because of the lamer-by-the-minute ending (but the Spielberg comparison still seems apt).

I’ll tell you one thing that may seem a bit random: Shyamalan has a real knack for using music and sound in his films, and his composer of choice, James Newton Howard, is cultivating a real Bernard Herrmann-esque sensibility about his stuff. I sat there, listening to his excellent main title theme, enjoying its strange modalities and aggressive energy while watching the spare, “retro” title cards, and suddenly I thought I was watching a newly discovered 50s Hitchcock film. And amazingly enough, the title music was the same music that had been in the trailer all along. There’s a rare phenomenon!

Later we went with lish and Ida to a free preview screening of Disney’s new adaptation of Tuck Everlasting. I haven’t actually read the book it’s based on, but the result is pretty standard fare for Disney or television afterschool specials. Pretty, recognizable faces, blatant sentiment and broadly drawn characters. The main theme kept nagging at me until I realized it sounds almost exactly like a certain Suzanne Vega song. I’d probably have made more of a connection to the flick if I’d actually read the novel.

Speaking of which (and damn you, enigma), has anyone made a film of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler? Hmm, an imdb search seems to indicate a retitled 1973 film (The Hideaways — blech!) with Ingrid Bergman (ooooh!), as well as a 1995 TV version starring Lauren Bacall. Perhaps it’s time to go visit a Hollywood Video or something.

Finally found a Star Trek II DVD, at Borders in Redmond Town Center. It’s got so many special features! I’ll probably be several days getting through it all.

One last note, spurred by Collateral Damage last night. One of the things I remember vividly about the morning of September 12 last year, as I was catching the one functioning subway train into lower Manhattan (the J, to Essex/Delancey) was walls plastered with the poster for this film. It had been scheduled to start that Friday, an opening that was obviously postponed. As B. and I rode back into the heart of that wounded city, I thought long and hard about what was and wasn’t really important in life. At the time, I don’t think I could have stomached the film at all. Now, with the benefit of distance, I think that the gift of this new perspective is the ability to see these [naive, simplistic] fairy tales in a more honest light. Or, at the very least, an object lesson in how blind we were to the danger we faced, even when envisioning worst-case scenarios.

Enough introspection! Time to watch some more Star Trek. Because, while I’m trying to cultivate a veneer of elegance, I’m still a geek at heart.

Tomorrow: the quest for a nice backyard grill. Assuming that the result is successful, I’ll pass the story along. Otherwise, I’m sure I’ll find something else to babble about.

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