Old (M. Night Shyamalan, 2021)

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thirtyframesasecond
Joined: Mon Apr 02, 2007 1:48 pm

Re: New Films in Production, v.2

#2 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Thu Feb 18, 2021 9:48 am

Trailer has 'dropped' as they say - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYiSRYZx5pQ

Has anyone read the graphic novel it's based on ('Sandcastle')? Interesting premise, good cast.

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#3 Post by therewillbeblus » Thu Feb 18, 2021 11:41 am

I'm pretty sure that's the same teaser from the Superbowl, though I'm happy to have even less information than it shows so keeping to a 30-second trailer for a Shyamalan movie is cool by me

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#4 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 26, 2021 1:50 am

So I haven't seen every Shyamalan film but I have seen most, and I'm struggling to imagine anything being worse than Old. It's a promising concept, to attempt to meditate on the enlightenment born from acceptance over powerlessness, and the relativist humility found in focusing on what’s important in the scheme of things; to find gratitude for the gifts of the present, once sober to the privilege of time. Unfortunately, absolutely none of the grating sincerity Shyamalan approaches his ideas with is executed with thematic prowess. Shyamalan does imbue some neat visual tricks here, and since technique has always been his greatest strength, one would hope this could carry the film. But the script is so awfully trite, and the performances so painfully wooden, it's difficult to even engage with the film on that formal level.

For those who have seen The Happening, you have some idea of how poorly written and acted this movie is, but the key difference is that while that film had cringing dialogue populated within a story that had at least some peripherally developing characters and dynamics, Old remains as stagnant in this terrain as its characters are on this beach, reducing all of this development into brief, single phrases. Characters are defined by the unidimensional stereotypes of their jobs, and each line of dialogue they deliver aims to propel the narrative forward without any substance (Bernal’s pragmatist, Leung's nurse, and Amuka-Bird's psychologist are all egregiously one-note, but Krieps’ analogies don’t even make sense with her title!) The momentum is pulled forth at the lazy rhythm of immediately accepting and, simultaneously, deducing specific solutions from the internal logic of their predicament (and even more stupidly, with supreme confidence in each instance). This would be bad enough as 'student-filmmaker first-draft' deus ex machina, but when your gimmick is literally that time operates differently under the conditions of the beach, shouldn’t the treatment of time within the film be distinct between the beach bubble and ostensible normalcy of shore?
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Maybe the cop at the end -who accepts the “evidence,” apparently believes the fantastical story enough to take time from his vacation to make phone calls to The Cops Who Know All, has enough pull to get in touch with the right people, puts everything together, and becomes determined enough to confront the hotel scientists so quickly- well, maybe this impossible amount of action shouldn't be implicitly occurring in real time. Maybe that absurd amount of rope requested is even more nonsensical in a film where we are now supposed to notice an alteration in silly time manipulations once back to expected conditions..
Once we hit night, there are hopeful jarring setpieces and even some emotional gravitas that seems like it might work, but the oversaturated epiphanies embedded into each cursory regurgitated thought undermine their attempts at either pathos or existential affirmation. As for the twist,
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Shyamalan's goal seems to be to make The Exterminating Angel but warped into compassion for these trapped people as 'actually' oppressed, targeting the dark consequences of utilitarian philosophy by didactically disemboweling capitalist antisocial groups through exposing their routine, unnoticed sociopathy. However, it too comes off as hackneyed and overstated. It's far worse than many other possibilities I was hoping for!
I will give the film one thing though- the name of the famous rapped within the world of the movie is absolutely hysterical. Although just like The Happening, this film is questionably sincere about these hilarious inclusions... and for a director who is capable of getting great perfs from his cast, it's so strange how stiff and agonizing these works are unpredictably spliced in with the rest.

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Pavel
Joined: Fri Aug 07, 2020 2:41 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#5 Post by Pavel » Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:02 am

therewillbeblus wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 1:50 am
I will give the film one thing though- the name of the famous rapped within the world of the movie is absolutely hysterical. Although just like The Happening, this film is questionably sincere about these hilarious inclusions...
I thought this was abysmal, but my rating is pretty high because I went with a group of friends and had the time of my life laughing my ass off at almost every scene, so I'd be lying to myself if I didn't acknowledge how positive an experience this film was for me

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#6 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 26, 2021 10:05 am

Whoops I meant “rapper” - and yeah, when I finally watched The Happening about five years ago, it was in a group setting a la The Room and we had a good time. I saw Old alone though, and sadly nobody in the theatre was laughing at the movie to elevate that kind of experience (despite a large portion of the audience at my screening being an inconsiderate group of immature kids who yelled offensive shit at the screen from time to time).

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senseabove
Joined: Wed Dec 02, 2015 3:07 am

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#7 Post by senseabove » Mon Jul 26, 2021 1:56 pm

I thought this was the worst thing I've seen in a very long time. The trailer had me afraid it would be a bloated Twilight Zone episode, and that's exactly what it is. Most of the time, TZ at least has the wit and wisdom to present a conundrum and walk away, letting us bring what we will to it and take what we will from it, even if sometimes there's not much there there; this, in contrast, has a steaming heaping helping of banalities slathered on top and stuffed into every possible crevice. I was mostly interested in seeing what Krieps, Bernal, and McKenzie would do here, but I'm honestly baffled by the performances. Those three have all shown they have ample skill in rounding out characters in stunningly subtle ways, and here, it felt like Shyamalan was actively working against them, demanding that they bring absolutely nothing to the roles that wasn't plainly written. The way Bernal hurls "You work in a MUSEUM!" at Krieps in that first fight is living in my head rent-free for just how awful a line and delivery it is, how it's presented as some Resolute Fact of Character, but there's just no way to deliver that line with any meaning because it's so unmoored from anything before or after. Like everything in the movie, there is no integration—it isn't character development for either Krieps or Bernal, it's just a Fact, with a little piece of string tying it to a Theme in Shyamalan's conspiracy wall diagram of the movie, that eventually ties to another Fact: it's there to shore up the simplistic, hasty dichotomy of past-focused vs future-focused and apparently justify Krieps' decomposition estimate later.

I've seen a few people try to defend this by saying folks piling on the awful script are ignoring what Shyamalan's doing with the camera, and I just don't think he's doing anything interesting there either. It's all as thematically gimmicky as the script, framing people out of focus or half out of frame to emphasize for the nth time a now more-aged facial feature or obscure a fact about one character that the audience knows and is waiting for another character to realize—that awful, tedious, interminable shot of the backs of the kids framing Krieps after their first sudden ageing—the frequent lateral panning and then panning back to "reveal" something that has changed very quickly or juxtapose someone who has realized something and someone who hasn't. It's all just technique as schema, the worst of the worst of the ponderous YouTube-style formal explication in reverse, devoid of any emotional complexity in front of her behind the camera.

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therewillbeblus
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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#8 Post by therewillbeblus » Mon Jul 26, 2021 2:30 pm

senseabove wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 1:56 pm
I was mostly interested in seeing what Krieps, Bernal, and McKenzie would do here, but I'm honestly baffled by the performances. Those three have all shown they have ample skill in rounding out characters in stunningly subtle ways, and here, it felt like Shyamalan was actively working against them, demanding that they bring absolutely nothing to the roles that wasn't plainly written.
It's very similar to The Happening but even more bewildering because of the talent involved. Krieps' awful perf is a crying shame, considering her absence from the more exposed cinema world since she gave one of the greatest perfs ever four years ago, but it was Bernal whose deliveries really felt like Shyamalan was intentionally directing him to forget everything instinctual and turn into an automated machine. Every line of dialogue from him is similarly a "fact" based in his logical mind of statistics, and everyone becoming their occupations destroys the emotional undercurrent that is not only necessary, but that Shyamalan clearly believes is the source of the 'thriller' tone he's establishing. It isn't just bad, but it doesn't make any sense from the standpoint of what he's trying to accomplish with the movie.

The part that irritated me most was
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the pregnancy/birth, where in the background of the action, we hear Bernal dryly explain to Wolff (and to us) that they had sex (oh really?) before walking him through a sex-ed 101 class. It's such a stupid overexplanation, and while conversation/sound design that accelerates emotional dysregulation from Wolff would pair well with the visual intensity of the unexpected birth-going-awry, the mechanical fact-based informational chatter just wrecks the impact of what is trying to be achieved.

Similarly, it was a cool idea to have the rust from the knife infect the doctor's body, but even a shitty child writer could plant that information earlier in the film when he was wielding the knife so that we could have our own 'a-ha!' moment of catharsis there, and yet Shyamalan has to ruin what would be a cool manipulation of his context's internal logic with yet another monotonous rationale stated during a high-stakes emotional/physiological moment...
But that's the whole movie. We witness crazy things happening that should scare people and they gather 'round and immediately accept the situation and lay down observations and problem-solve with confidence against the grain of unpredictable stimuli. It's not only stupid and ironically operates as a socially-alien outlook at social insight, but the film doesn't trust its audience at all. Shyamalan spoonfeeds what doesn't need to be supported with direct clarification, and in the process insults the audience and robs them of opportunities to put things together. This strategy takes the fun out of the film, even for thrill-seeking audiences who might give him rope on the rest. I know I was ready to.

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
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Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#9 Post by colinr0380 » Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:03 am

Without having seen Old as yet, in my mind it sounds like a mix of Vinyan (partly because Rufus Sewell is in both films) and The Ruins, which is a high bar for any film to attempt to clear!

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therewillbeblus
Joined: Tue Dec 22, 2015 3:40 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#10 Post by therewillbeblus » Tue Jul 27, 2021 10:46 am

Rufus Sewell is one of only a few actors (along with Aaron Pierre; and, arguably, Abbey Lee) who bring real performances to the film. I am beginning to actually consider the possibility that Shyamalan is intentionally directing awful performances from an awful script, given recent interviews where he discussed enjoying messy films, the improbability that some of these thespians are capable of naturally exerting this monotonous energy, and the fitting theme within the film about people being defined by occupations (bluntly declared by the kids’ game of asking everyone their name and job). Still, if this is the case it doesn’t make sense why Sewell would stand out as the only actual good performance, unless
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it’s an inside joke because he’s going insane, and thus not part of the internal logic of the film’s world- which actually works because he transforms from an initially wooden behavioral front to looser natural acting as his psyche disintegrates!

wattsup32
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2007 12:00 pm

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#11 Post by wattsup32 » Sat Aug 07, 2021 8:30 pm

I am in full agreement about the performances, except Abbey Lee. If I had to guess, I'd say Shyamalan chose actors whose first language isn't English for the two leads so that he would have an easy out for their poor performances. From his perspective, it beats blaming the crummy dialogue. I assumed that the daughter character was written to be developmentally disabled or the actors playing her were developmentally disabled. It wasn't until the adult actor playing the daughter came on the scene that I realized she wasn't supposed to be developmentally disabled. That's how poor both the writing and the performances were.

I will say this for Shyamalan: whether intentional or not, he nailed his entire filmmaking career with the character he played in the film. His character thought he was much smarter than he really was. And, because he overestimated his own intelligence, he put no effort into doing his job well thinking his brain power was enough to carry the day. As a result, everything got entirely fucked up. And, that's been the problem with nearly every film he has made for the entirety of his career.

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Bumstead
Joined: Sat Sep 24, 2016 12:25 pm
Location: Dubai

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#12 Post by Bumstead » Mon Sep 13, 2021 12:15 am

wattsup32 wrote:
Sat Aug 07, 2021 8:30 pm
I will say this for Shyamalan: whether intentional or not, he nailed his entire filmmaking career with the character he played in the film. His character thought he was much smarter than he really was. And, because he overestimated his own intelligence, he put no effort into doing his job well thinking his brain power was enough to carry the day. As a result, everything got entirely fucked up. And, that's been the problem with nearly every film he has made for the entirety of his career.
I'm late to the party. Reading this now and cracking up, haha! Nicely done, sir.

P.S. I've been a Shyamalan apologist for years. But OLD finally broke me. It drove me mad...just like Rufus Sewell.

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The Curious Sofa
Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2019 6:18 am

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#13 Post by The Curious Sofa » Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:31 am

With The Visit and Split it looked like Shymalan had finally discovered a sense of humour. These two scaled down films revived his career after a number of flops which were let down by their dour, ponderous approach to increasingly ridiculous subject matter. Glass was a failed attempt at franchise universe-building and with Old he's back to Lady in the Water/The Happening levels of awful. The writing is dismal, with not a single character acting like a recognisable human being even when accounting for the unusual circumstances. It made me feel sorry for the first rate cast, who were obviously struggling. All of which would be excusable if like James Wan's uneven but energetic and demented Malignant, the film would be fun but Old is a drag. When the twist comes, it's underwhelming and
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while I'm aware that Old was shot before the pandemic, its hostile stance towards science and the development of new cures and medications, is
unfortunately timed.

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TraverseTown
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 4:38 am

Re: M. Night Shyamalan

#14 Post by TraverseTown » Sat Sep 25, 2021 11:40 pm

The Curious Sofa wrote:
Sat Sep 25, 2021 4:31 am
With The Visit and Split it looked like Shymalan had finally discovered a sense of humour. These two scaled down films revived his career after a number of flops which were let down by their dour, ponderous approach to increasingly ridiculous subject matter. Glass was a failed attempt at franchise universe-building and with Old he's back to Lady in the Water/The Happening levels of awful. The writing is dismal, with not a single character acting like a recognisable human being even when accounting for the unusual circumstances. It made me feel sorry for the first rate cast, who were obviously struggling. All of which would be excusable if like James Wan's uneven but energetic and demented Malignant, the film would be fun but Old is a drag. When the twist comes, it's underwhelming and
SpoilerShow
while I'm aware that Old was shot before the pandemic, its hostile stance towards science and the development of new cures and medications, is
unfortunately timed.
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I agree, especially considering a major talking point of anti-vaccination propaganda is that they are "unproven science" and that "they are using us as lab rats", which seem to be reasonable points to take away from this film's world and the twist ending.

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