Ten-minute film school

Film critic (and editor of RogerEbert.com) Jim Emerson posted a brief, neat analysis of four shots from M. Night Shyamalan’s “Unbreakable” (2000), starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. Most people remember Shyamalan best for “The Sixth Sense,” and a lot of people expected “Unbreakable” to be a carbon-copy of that surprise summer hit. Its pacing is much more subdued, though, and the so-called “twist ending” was largely regarded as a flop compared to the stunner that closed out “The Sixth Sense.” (Shyamalan then went on to make “Signs,” “The Village,” “Lady in the Water,” and “The Happening.” I’m somewhat surprised that he still has a career.)

I like “The Sixth Sense,” but I really enjoy “Unbreakable,” and it seems there’s now a small but growing contingent of admirers for this film. I’m glad to see that Emerson is one of them, especially after reading his series of pedantic rants against “The Dark Knight” and seeing how he really doesn’t “get” “Doubt,” one of the best films I’ve seen from last year. (The fact that all four of its lead actors nabbed Oscar nominations this year says quite a lot, I think. But that’s beside the point: he sees it as a comedy, and so is stuck interpreting it with that lens.)

Even better, he assembled a montage of four great moments from the film and provided a running subtitle commentary that pointed out some things about it that I hadn’t noticed before. Well worth the brief time investment if you’ve ever been intrigued by the movie, or are simply ready to read a piece of positive film criticism for a change.

4 Responses to “Ten-minute film school”

  1. .

    Hey: I liked it.

    (Is this a new blog? I only knew about your other, unupdated one.)

  2. Oh no, this is the first (and best) blog I started, way back in August 2006 if I’m not mistaken. We’re awfully irregular bloggers though, having done *only* 250 posts since inception.

    The other blog (“Movie of the Month”) was a courageous attempt that collapsed because of a lack of community involvement. I’m still just a teensy bit sore about it, but try not to think about it too much. :)

  3. Well said. Here’s the updated link to Emerson’s post: http://blogs.suntimes.com/scanners/2009/02/rescued_by_m_night_four_pieces.html
    I think the freeze frame ending of Unbreakable is so deeply unsatisfying because the rest of the film is such a feast. It’s like being served a freezer burned fudgecicle at the end of a five course meal. Even so, I want to watch the movie over and over again. One of my favorite scenes is when the estranged couple go out to dinner. The camera swings back and forth, perfectly playing into the awkward silence that has come to define their relationship. Beautiful.
    Also, I didn’t dislike Lady in the Water. It was a nice sort of fantasy piece; neither good nor bad, really. Unless compared to Unbreakble. It’s hard to believe they were made by the same hand.

  4. Thanks for that! I don’t know how or why the link became corrupted, but it continues to resist my efforts to correct it!

    I think I agree with you regarding the freeze-frame ending and text epilogue. If only as much thought had been put into that final shot as the rest of the film…

    I must admit that I haven’t seen any Shyamalan movies since “Unbreakable.” It doesn’t sound like I’m missing out on too much. Well, maybe not – I’m still a bit curious to check out “Signs.”

    UPDATE: It’s fixed now. :)

Leave a Reply