Reading this made me happier than a pig in shit.
At a Q&A in Philly last month, Shyamalan revealed that he may finally get around to directing his unproduced script, Labor of Love. It was sold to Fox in the mid-90s and originally, it was supposed to star Dustin Hoffman. Now, according to Shyamalan, Denzel Washington might be attached. Aside from being a very moving script, it showcases a lot of Shyamalan's emerging style at the time. Here's a link to the script: http://www.imsdb.com/scripts/Labor-of-Love.html
"I love Shyamalan; Lady in the Water, The Village, The Happening..." [Apichatpong Weerasethakul, when asked by a writer from the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles about his favourite directors, 2010]
A roundtable on Shyamalan from The Vulgar Cinema: http://thevulgarcinema.blogspot.com/2013/06/roundtable-m-night-shyamalan.html
I see it as a brilliant mash-up of things. A brilliant (PURPOSEFUL) comedy ("Hot dogs get a bad rap!"). A great satire of post 9-11 America and media, especially how the media can be prone to showing violence in an overly dramatic, ridiculous way while at the same time desensitizing us ("Sure glad I don't live there" or "Glad it wasn't me" paralleled by horror film voyeurism and excitement/mockery of stupid deaths). But most importantly, I love how it stares into the void of the unknown and with touches of Carpenter (and as Jack Lehtonen says, Tourneur) comes back with some interesting shit.
"I think left to my own devices I would make like suspense versions of Woody Allen movies, like just really tiny things. I'm going to do that next, make really little movies for a while, and I'm excited because I feel like I learned a lot of things and how to work on really complex problems where there's so many moving parts. I think that will still help me when I'm making really tiny and kind of independent movies." One can hope.
“What hasn’t worked in my favour over the years are expectation and context. On the expectation problem – you hear my name as an adjective – it means ‘scary with twist ending’. I’m that guy. But I hardly ever make that movie. So that’s always going to be an expectation that’s not going to be met. My movies are cross-genre movies. They are dramas with a little X or Y. But sometimes they are sold as X or Y. So the context is ‘you’re going to see this’ when most of the time they are 60 or 70 percent this. I get it. If you thought you were going to see Iron Man 3 and you sat down to what was mostly a a drama there might be a reaction. And that reaction might not be happy or positive.”
I don't know if a filmmaker has ever had such a relentless, horrifying public assassination. Even when Heaven's Gate ruined Cimino, the general populace left the guy alone.
An appreciation I wrote: http://thefilmstage.com/features/trouble-in-belief-the-films-of-m-night-shyamalan/
“I want to make tonal movies where the plot is almost obscene,” continues Shyamalan as the lights go down. “In fact, I think I get in trouble because my movies are presented as plot driven vehicles, so I’m perceived more for that characteristic when in reality my tastes are more here, more like Kubrick and [Antonioni’s] Blow-Up.”
Shyamalan is one of the few directors who understands how to use a twist at the end of the film. Unlike a film such as Saw, where the whole film is constructed so the twist may exist and so that people will marvel at how clever the writers are, Shyamalan's twists mature with further viewings. They inform the rest of the film, and it therefore doesn't matter if you know the ending to The Sixth Sense (as everyone surely does). His films are more mature works when you watch them with the twist in mind.
I stand by my belief that The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs are all incredible films. Not just tolerable. I even thoroughly enjoy The Village (though I do recognize its weaknesses). I wonder if he had continued making films on par with those three if people would feel very differently about him. His recent work has made it hip to hate on him, even retrospectively and thats unfair. I consider three and half great films a pretty strong career so far.
Some updates on After Earth via Shyamalan's Twitter feed: @MNightShyamalan: "My goal was to make it work as a stage play about a broken family. The sic-fi and spectacle and action and horror should all be the canvass for the stage play . . . I want to be dark like Unbreakable. The dailies have that feel. I'm in a pretty edgy place taste wise."
"Well, right now, I'm starting to believe that the future for me, what I want to do -- and I know it sounds very hypocritical now, [since I'm] making this giant movie with Will Smith -- is to be the Coen brothers and make small movies where I can take great artistic risks and do stuff that I know 30% of the audience is not going to dig, because I'm making it for the appropriate budget. I believe the future will be in marketing those movies through social networking avenues, as opposed to just TV -- 95% of the way we sell movies is TV commercials. It will be more of an underground movement." - Yes! I've been saying this for years, but his sensibility is much better suited to the smaller, more personal and eccentric projects and not these big-budget 'event' movies.
Recently cited painter Andrew Wyeth as an influence. I can definitely see it. His films have an antique look to them. Almost like used, vintage paperbacks.
I was in Montreal one day when I went to see Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. I was sitting in the theater besides my sister when the trailers started rolling. One of those trailers was for Devil, which was produced by Shyamalan (although I think it said "From the mind of..." or something). When his name came up on the screen, everyone and I mean EVERYONE in that theater sighed in despair; no one could take that guy seriously anymore.
Despite his abominable post-Signs track record (The Last Airbender may or may not have given me ulcers in my brain of all places), I'm still rooting for this guy. He's got a keen visual sense and, when he's firing on all cylinders, can make some of the eeriest, most tense atmospheres in contemporary American cinema. Here's hoping he can re-capture that earlier spark.
Honestly, I feel Night gets a lot of bad press. Now I know he has made some terrible films, for which there is no debate whatsoever. But the fact that he continues doing what he wants to do, and doesn't let anyone stop him or even care about what people should say is something that I find admirable about him. I can never really hate the guy because of that one principle.
Lights in the Dusk, If you're referring to "One Thousand A.E.," I hope it's not a fantasy adventure. M. Night was at a 3D Theater Exhibitors Convention and talked about a sci fi flick he was developing and that "Alien" was an inspiration. I hope that means this isn't a kid oriented flick, even if it's starring Jaden Smith.