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The Village
Entered on: July 28, 2004 10:57 PM by Swerb
I deemed it prudent to start a new discussion group about movies, since the other ones are so long, they take forever to load. I feel sorry for those without broadband.  
Anyway, I saw The Village today, and it's pretty sweet. Yes, there are a few plot holes, but they're less significant than those in Signs. I urge everyone to go see it, not just because it's good, but also because it makes for good discussions. :)  
By the way, here's the early, unedited Official Swerb Review:  
The inhabitants of Covington Woods sure speak a lot about Those We Don?t Speak Of. In fact, they speak of them in a slightly stilted, affected tone, since they live in a 19th century village, happily confined to their humble hamlet, in a truce with the howling who-knows-whats that inhabit the surrounding woods.  
Such is the premise of ?The Village,? the latest strange, creepy thriller from M. Night Shyamalan, the young auteur behind ?The Sixth Sense,? ?Unbreakable? and ?Signs.? Staying in step with his previous work, it?s advantageous to the viewer to know as little about the film as possible ? which makes reviewing it an exercise in restraint.  
So I?ll tread lightly: Among the puritan-like villagers is Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), a quiet lad who doesn?t fear the creatures in the forest ? he believes those who are pure of heart should be able to traverse the woods unharmed. He presents his ideas to the town elders, which include Edward Walker (William Hurt), August Nicholson (Brendan Gleeson) and his mother, Alice (Sigourney Weaver), who wish to maintain the fragile treaty with the lurking whatever-they-may-bes at any cost.  
However, Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of actor/director Ron Howard), Edward?s blind daughter, exists at the movie?s heart. She takes a liking to Lucius, and they agree to marry, much to the chagrin of her friend Noah (Adrien Brody), who is not of sound mind. When tragedy strikes, Ivy is prompted to take a journey to ?the towns? ? the ?wicked places? on the other side of the woods. And here, I must muffle myself.  
The joy of a Shyamalan movie lies in his manipulation of the viewer. He purposely withholds information so later scenes are revelatory or shocking, and therefore have greater impact. Unlike many modern horror films, he doesn?t gross us out with blood and viscera, instead opting to build suspense by not showing us what we really want to see ? ironically, with one beautifully photographed shot after another.  
He engages the viewer, doling out a teeny nugget of information, or casting the slightest shadow of doubt so our imaginations wander. Call it trickery if you want; I call it great filmmaking. That being said, ?The Village? exists in the same realm as the rest of Shyamalan?s filmography ? brilliant but flawed. ?Signs? scared the bejeezus out of many in spite of its plot holes, and ?The Village? raises a few questions, yet still engages the viewer in its story of love and fear of the unknown.  
Shyamalan also excels at creating a convincing fictional world on the screen, one comprised of damp cottages, weathered characters and strange rules and rituals to keep Those We Don?t Speak Of at bay. Ivy is central to this world ? his protagonist being blind, the director places an emphasis on sounds: The howling, the crunch of twigs underfoot, the wind rustling the trees.  
Howard?s breakout performance here reminds one of Haley Joel Osment?s in ?The Sixth Sense.? It?s her first feature film, and she carries the weight of the story?s emotional load on her back, conveying confidence and fear with vacant eyes, balancing the dread of Those We Don?t Speak Of with her innocence, spunk and unfettered love. Her scene with Lucius in which they declare their affections is superb, one of a few standout, Howard-focused sequences that are stunningly written, acted and directed.  
Moviegoers have come to expect as much from Shyamalan; they?ve also come to expect the foggy curves of his screenplays. But that doesn?t make ?The Village? any less satisfying than his other films, even if it embraces more subtlety than Those That Came Before It. The guy is full of good ideas, and he knows how to successfully translate them to the big screen, keeping a languid pace, and rewarding filmgoers for their patience.  
It?s also worth noting that a summer tentpole release actually</I>has<I> ideas. Shyamalan is one of the rare directors who is enamored with the art of filmmaking, yet still captures public consciousness. His being labeled ?the new Hitchcock? is validated with every film. ?The Village? is literary and visceral, existing as both a metaphor ? is it better to be happily imprisoned or to know the evils of the outside world? ? and an excuse to take moviegoers on a ride.  
Not to mention Those We Don?t Speak Of. Are they creatures in the woods, or simply representative of Shyamalan?s trademark plot twists? Mum?s the word.  

NEWS 210 - 26 Comments
From: Jackzilla Entered on: July 29, 2004 12:39 AM
Ooh, I can't wait to see it! This is gonna be a sweet weekend of entertainment for the Zilla! Prince concert at the Joe Friday night, Detroit Zoo and Motown Museum Saturday, "The Village" Saturday night and then I cap it off with another Prince concert at Van Andel Sunday night! I better get me some peanut butter!
From: John Entered on: July 29, 2004 2:34 AM
I was kinda looking forward to this one. I'm glad you didn't give anything away, Swerb. It's rare to walk into a movie without half knowing what's going to happen. Previews these days tend to give away too much and by the time I see the movie I've seen more than half the action or laughs depending. I like a little intrigue, count me in.
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 8:12 AM
For some reason I have had a bad feeling about this movie for a long time... but based on your review, I'll give it a shot.
From: Swerb Entered on: July 29, 2004 8:46 AM
Bert, I think you'll like it better than Signs. The Village has its plot holes, but nothing near as bad - Sixth Sense and Unbreakable are tighter, better films, but it's definitely worth seeing.
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 8:56 AM
Alright, I'll try it - but what scares me is that Shyamalan's subdued style and pacing will get the better of me now that he's worn his welcome a bit thin. Meaning, I won't be able to tolerate waiting for a payoff as easily since I don't trust him as much. This movie may well make or break my opinion of him.
From: Creeko Entered on: July 29, 2004 9:48 AM
All this movie talk is really frustrting for me knowing that I usually don't get to see any of them until they come out on DVD in Spain so I can watch them in their original version (which is usally much later than when they come out in the US on video).  
I'm finally going to see Lost in Translation tonight if its available at the "CineBank" (Its like an ATM for movies). The concept is sweet because you can rent movies 24h/7 and you don't have to deal with people (which is nice if you feel like renting someting of the Swank Style). It's also cool because you get charged by the hour. Since I have right down stairs from me, new releases usually only cost me $1.00 - $1.50.  
These would be sweet in America as drive thru movie ATM's. Dose anyone know if this has been done yet?
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 9:55 AM
I've never heard of that. So it's completely automated? I would love to see the machine that doles those things out. Sounds like it would be very prone to error. Anyway, the closest thing I can think of here is Netflix, but that's all by mail and it definitely involves human interaction.  
But for truly trouble-free movie viewing, you can't beat downloading!
From: Creeko Entered on: July 29, 2004 10:16 AM
It works with a smart-card and touch screen. The movies are all classified by: New releases, title, genre, actors, directors, most viewed...  
It kinda like one of those data retrieval robotic arms. You pick your movie, it goes to the coordinates where that movie is and it spits it out. I've never had any problems.  
Unfortunately my downloading powers are limited. Besides, I got my home cinema for the 5.1 digital surround sound experience, which you can't get off the internet.  

From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 10:36 AM
You're mistaken, my friend, I get 5.1 all the time, both from downloaded DVDs and from MPEG-4 movies that use the AC3 codec. It's the 21st century, baby!
From: Creeko Entered on: July 29, 2004 10:48 AM
You must remember, I live in Spain. only 20% of the Pop. has internet.
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 10:52 AM
What does that have to do with anything? YOU have internet! The movies in 5.1 sound are on the internet. I fail to make any relevant connection.
From: Creeko Entered on: July 29, 2004 10:58 AM
Try downloading on a 33k dial-up modem to an out-dated computer that doesn't even have a CD burner.
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 11:06 AM
Okay, now you're talking sense. You didn't say you didn't have broadband - you said movies in 5.1 aren't available on the internet.  
So for those with broadband an a hacked xbox (or a computer hooked up to their TV), downloading quality movies is often easier than renting them, which is why I cancelled my Netflix subscription.
From: Creeko Entered on: July 29, 2004 11:36 AM
So these movies with 5.1 sound you speak of, they can't be played on a normal DVD player?
From: Ross Entered on: July 29, 2004 11:55 AM
If they're in DVD format, they can. Of course you'll need a DVD burner (I just picked one up for $70). But those are a pretty hefty download even for broadband users - 4+ GB still often takes on the order of days to download. However, movies 1/3 that size, of nearly the same quality can be had much quicker - but then they need to be played on your xbox or computer.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: August 2, 2004 9:12 AM
I saw The Village this weekend! I won't give anything away, but will say that I enjoyed it. Plus, one of the preview trailers was the new BATMAN one! Not a lot to it though -- like the online trailer -- mostly Bruce Wayne talking about traveling the world. It's definately going to be different from Batman & Robin.
From: Ross Entered on: August 2, 2004 9:13 AM
Sweet. I think this weekend is my first with nothing going on in a long time so I will try to take in a viewing, and try to not bring my prejudices with me for the ride.
From: Swerb Entered on: August 2, 2004 11:15 AM
I was surprised how divided critics are about The Village. Ebert hated it, and Roeper thought it's one of the best movies of the year so far. Response to it is almost as divisive as the upcoming presidential election...
From: John Entered on: August 2, 2004 11:35 AM
Saw the Village this weekend with my sister and I hate to say that for once I agree with Ebert. Both my sister and I came out disappointed. Maybe I wouldn't go as far as I hated it, but I'll never have the urge to watch it again. My time would have been better spent seeing Spidey 2 a sixth time in IMAX.  
The plot holes were there, maybe not as big as Signs but glaring none the less. Unlike Signs I felt almost no tension in the climax since it was already revealed before then what was going on. What's his face that played the retard sucked as far as I'm concerned. There's quite a bit more I didn't like about the plot but I don't want to give anything away for the people who have not seen it.  
On a positive note I thought Ron Howard's daughter turned in a great performance. At least I was impressed with it. That's about all the good I can think of. I give this movie my official thumbs.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: August 2, 2004 11:55 AM
I feel confident that Ross will shit on this movie.  
However. Angie & I liked it thoroughly. It's not Sixth Sense, but equal to Signs (which I also enjoyed). The story I admit is a little on the silly side -- and I predicted "the twist" minutes before it was revealed -- but a cool idea and we enjoyed the whole experience. Just because M. Night is hyped, doesn't mean he ain't got skillz!
From: Ross Entered on: August 2, 2004 11:58 AM
I think that's all Ebert and Roeper should say: "I give it the thumbs." "You're full of shit, Roger, and I couldn't disagree more. I also give this film the thumbs."  
It's funny that so many people are saying Adrien Brody couldn't pull off playing a retahd. In my book, that ought to be the easiest job there is - look how many people have won raves for doing it: Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Dustin Hoffman... the only person I knew of who really stunk it up was Sean Penn in I Am Sam.  
As for comparing it to Signs, I probably would have enjoyed Signs if not for those gaping holes. So if this movie (mostly) avoids them, it's possible I could land on the side of favoring it.
From: John Entered on: August 2, 2004 12:03 PM
Zilla, don't let Angie read Bert's comment, she loves I Am Sam. Anyway, I thought Adrien Brody sucked whereas Leonardo did a great job in What's Eating Gilbert Grape. Just one more huge opinion from the Roche.
From: Jackzilla Entered on: August 2, 2004 2:47 PM
I thought Leonardo WAS retarded when I saw that movie (this is before he was known). That was a great performance. I thought Brody did fair enough -- granted he's annoying, but some retards ARE! What about Jo Phoenix? I think he's compelling on the screen and I've thought he was sweet ever since Gladiator (his performace of which was MUCH better than Crowe's, IMO).  
Angie loves I AM SAM for Dakota Fanning mostly. I enjoyed it -- Despite feeling going into it that it would be too TV-Movie-ish for me. There's some touching moments and some real hilarious retard moments too. I thought Michelle Pfifer's part was the weakest. The soundtrack isn't too bad either (Beatles covers throughout).  
Let's hear it for MOVIE RETARDS!!!
From: Ross Entered on: August 2, 2004 2:59 PM
I mostly poop on I am Sam... as Swerb nicely put it, Dakota Fanning is better at playing adults than children, which makes her kind of creepy, albeit cute-creepy, if there can be such a thing. But yeah, Sean Penn was highly inferior to the real retards in the film, who I felt gave much better performances. I give it the thumbs.  
As for Joaquin Phoenix - I kind of liked him in Gladiator, but there was something lingering about his style that grated on me. Like if I met him in real life, there would be some kind of magnetic attraction between his ass and my foot. It only intensified when viewing both Quills and Signs. Now he's kind of in my Sean Penn camp - an actor who I can intellectually agree is respectable, but for some reason I just don't like. A Je ne sais crois factor...  
But Jack, you are right about real retards being annoying. My aunt Adele is actually retarded, and more than once I've wanted to pour a glass of shut-the-hell-up down her throat. The stories I could tell...
From: John Entered on: August 3, 2004 6:01 PM
I've heard some of the stories and they're hilarious. I've met your aunt before and can concur with the annoying part.  
Much like your dislike for Penn and Phoenix I have the same disdain for Brody. I hated the Pianist mostly because of him. It's irrational I know but it's similar to the McGregor hating Zilla. Zilla hates the greasy as he calls him McGregor and I hate the string bean, big nosed Brody. I didn't like Brody in the Village and I'll probably not like him in his next film.
From: Ross Entered on: August 4, 2004 9:25 AM
I guess we're all entitled to our hatreds. Brody I think was good in the piano but even from the small amount I've seen of him in previews for the Village, he does look like he's doing a pretty bad job.

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