M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is an underrated masterpiece

Todd VanDerWerff, on Vox, putting it out there that contrary to the knee-jerks out there, M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village is:

  1. a technical achievement
  2. a well-done commentary on the post-9/11 Iraq War
  3. a good human story

I don’t know if I’d go so far as to call it an “underrated masterpiece”, but I’ve always been the one guy I know who loves most of Shyamalan’s work because of how he tells great stories of personal human struggles. Starting with Signs, the twists were incidental to the story.

He tells the story he set out to tell. The Shyamalan problem is a marketing problem — the audiences are usually there to see a different story than what he’s actually telling.

I first noticed this with Signs. The hype and advertising around it were for a summer blockbuster (“ILM did the aliens, yo!”), but the movie was about a man’s struggle with faith during a time of personal turmoil.

He’s said as much about his work in an interview in The Independent:

A common misperception of me is That all my movies have twist endings, or that they’re all scary. All my movies are spiritual and all have an emotional perspective.

– M. Night Shyamalan

I don’t recall the advertising around The Village, but I assume it was making it out to be a horror-esque movie. I won’t explain the crux of that story here, since my wife hasn’t seen it yet (read the spoilers in the linked article if you want them), but it’s also exploring questions that we all deal with in modern society (as the Vox article articulates well).

Lady in the Water is another movie where you have to take him at his word as a filmmaker. The story is explicitly framed as a bedtime story, and I assume the movie is less enjoyable if you ignore that aspect of it. (It’s hard to ignore — there’s even a prologue that tonally sets it up this way).

The reason I’ve enjoyed his movies is I trust Shyamalan as a filmmaker more than I trust his marketing team. Even with that said, Lady in the Water is the last of his movies I’ve seen (with the unfortunate exception of The Last Airbender). The ads around The Happening pointed at a genre I don’t generally care about, but I should have known better by then not to trust the hype machine around his movies.

I think it’s time to re-watch his canon, and newly watch the ones I’ve missed. Maybe I’ll even find some redeeming factors in The Last Airbender if I go into it looking for his trademark stories of struggle and growth. The source material, Avatar, is chock full of that, but I didn’t go into the movie with that mindset — I was more worried about it ruining a show I loved, which is probably just a self-fulfilling prophecy when you’re looking for things it “does wrong”. (To be fair, I don’t think this movie is fully redeemable, but at least I might find some redeemable qualities in it. I like his movies, but that doesn’t mean everything he does is perfect.) At any rate, I’ll see where a re-watch of The Last Airbender leaves me.

Let the Shyamalan marathon begin!

On the inevitable cannibalization of tech by those who monetize a public good

But here’s object lesson number infinity on how handing over all the software to somebody else with a datacenter is the Law of Unintended Consequence’s best friend. 

— brennen, on MetaFilter

The whole thread is quite good (not surprising on MeFi – the corner of the internet where comments are good).

august long redux (found on roadside edition)

There was more to the August long weekend than I let on here.

Part of the 1,200km of driving was a 10-hour trip within the trip, to visit an aunt and uncle in Saskatchewan for a celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary. As my uncle mentioned in his speech, it’s not very often we see an anniversary of 50 years, but it’s even less often that a parent of one of the celebrants is alive to see it; his mother is still alive and kicking at 107 years old.

According to Statistics Canada she has already lived three-quarters longer than the life expectancy for a woman born in 1908. Statistically most of her peer group wouldn’t even have lived to see my uncle’s fifth wedding anniversary.

Along the way to the party we decided to selfie-document the trip:

Hour 0: Welcome to Saskatchewan. Watch out for fire-farting birds.

 

Grenfell
Hour 2: Grenfell. Land of…well, land.

 

Hour 10: Back in Manitoba. Someone was sleeping in the car…

.:.

Another roadside attraction encountered was the field of sunflowers in all their beauty, and while not as breathtaking, I also took a much more interesting photo of them.

This is with the same camera, #nofilter:

Sunflowers, 1970's style

I love it because it inexplicably feels like a grainy Polaroid from the 1970’s. Just as the other sunflower photo, this was taken with my iPhone, within a meter or two of the other location.

To get the same feel with my Pentax, I had to tweak some of the lighting in post-production, but here’s my attempt at retro bad photography:

sunflowers, aged
sunflowers, aged

I actually like it because it has similar (though more vibrant) colour, but it doesn’t have the grainy blur that the pixelation gave the other one.

And to prove I didn’t just travel back in time to get 70’s light everywhere, here’s the before and after of my modified photo:

sunflowers, before and after
sunflowers, before and after

.:.

The chickens are now safely in our freezer. Plenty of feet, liver, and meat to take us into winter.

We also got a handful of gizzards in the mix, which Kelly made up popcorn chicken style (along with popcorn olives and yams). Yum! It was the first time we’d had gizzard, and based on the prep necessary, probably the last. But if you’re looking for a good way to prepare chicken gizzard (or probably anything, really), try battering and deep frying.