Paul Giamatti

Lady in the Water

Year: 2006
Directed By: M. Night Shyamalan
Written By: M. Night Shyamalan

RYAN’S REVIEW

Of all M. Night Shyamalan’s movies this one seems to be the most hated and that is totally understandable.  I think Shyamalan gets a bad rap because everybody goes in expecting something different and that isn’t his fault at all.  It’s the studios fault for how they market his movies, and a lot of it has to do with The Sixth Sense because everybody is looking for that same kind of shocker at the end.  This is the wrong way to enter his movies though.  His films are about human nature more than anything else, set on a strange platform that gives people the wrong impression.  This movie is about a fairy tale come to life, but it isn’t really about that fairy tale at all.  This movie is about loss and purpose.  It’s about a man lost in the world with nothing left but the next day and the jobs to keep him busy.  He is a man in secret pain and going forward only because he doesn’t know what else to do. The lady in the water is simply someone who makes him realize he still matters and gives him a place in the world again.

When I saw this movie for the first time I was in a difficult place in life.  I felt lost and without purpose myself and when I saw this movie it brought me to tears and understanding.  In the strangest way it gave me hope and the strength to keep going.  In some certain ways I am still here today because this movie gave me a reason to think that there was still purpose in life.  I don’t mean that anything about the Narf story or any of the fairy tale stuff in the movie moved me but this show of raw emotion did.  I felt this characters pain and related to it, seeing him find his own purpose in life was so motivating for me and did something to me that I can’t quite put into words.

This movie was nominated for multiple Razzie awards and actually won two.  Razzie Awards of course being the awards given to the worst movies of the year and again, I think it is understandable why it was nominated and even won.  Looking at this movie on the surface it does come across as really stupid.  You have to look past the surface in Shyamalan movies though, and nobody ever wants to do that.  Nobody wants to see the meaning within his movies they only want to “see dead people.” Shyamalan instantly became on of the biggest names in the business after he burst onto the scene with The Sixth Sense.  It was a great starting point for his career but it really just set the bar too high for his viewers.  There is an audience out there for this guys movies, I naturally include myself in it, but they aren’t the ones who he needs to impress to continue being successful.  The mass movie audience wants another shocker like the one they saw at the end of his first movie.  Those shockers haven’t been there because his movies aren’t there to shock, they are there to showcase the qualities that make us human.  Love and bravery(The Village), faith and forgiveness (Signs), good vs. evil (Unbreakable), or as we see in this movie loss and purpose in life.  If you would like to read our review of The Happening just click hereThe Happening seemed to be nearly as hated as this movie but not quite.  It was enough to make the studio crack down on Shyamalan though as his next film, Devil, was made by a different director.  I did not see The Last Airbender but refuse to take anybody else’s word for it.  I do not know any other Shyamalan fans and I cannot trust their opinions without seeing for myself.  This summer he has a new movie coming out that I am really looking forward to.  After Earth features Will Smith and his son Jaden as a father son duo trying to survive on our planet that is now uninhabited by human and very dangerous. Seems like a much bigger budget movie than he usually does and I am excited by those possibilities.  No doubt most of the people that watch it will probably hate it but I insist you will have to look deeper to get the real meaning of the film. M. Night Shyamalan, if you are out there, don’t listen to the haters man.  I get what you do and appreciate all the films you make. The Village is one of my favorites and I really feel like this movie had a significant impact on my life.

I think Paul Giamatti is an incredible actor who can display a wide range of emotions. His performance in this movie was one I have always related to.  He is a character in secret pain and no longer knows what his purpose in life is.  He does a great job at a job with no real significance.  It might be significant to the people he helps but as he says in the film anybody can do the job he is doing.  He may be exceptional at it but there is nothing exceptional about the job or the place he has found himself in life.  He needs something he just doesn’t know what.  He needs a purpose, he needs to do something to prove to himself that he still matters.  It’s why he is so invested in this silly story as it unfolds, it has given him purpose and made him special. Something about seeing this man find his purpose and let go of the pain that has plagued him did something to me the first time I saw it, and it has always given this hated movie so much significance to me personally.

I am a big fan of Bryce Dallas Howard and think she is a terrific actress. I don’t think this was her best role but I think she did really well with it.  There is this quality about her performance as Story that reminds me so much of Edward Scissorhands.  I think that is appropriate as there are certain similarities to the two characters.  They are both beings in the human world for the first time and experiencing for the first time all the little things we take for granted.  She has such an emotionless expression all throughout the film too that only adds to that quality.

Shyamalan inserts himself into all his films but in this film we see him take on the largest role to date.  I didn’t think it was that bad but as people love to hate this guy it only gave them an open ended opportunity to put him down.  He won the Razzie Award for worst supporting actor and I really don’t think it was appropriate.  Yeah I can see that he isn’t a professional actor in his performance but I didn’t think he was bad enough to warrant such an award.  I think the role he plays in the story is an interesting one.  He doesn’t write a book that will influence the world simply one that will influence one specific person who will grow to change the world.  I like that idea and admittedly the idea alone made me like his character more.

I consider all criticism of this film to be truthful and honest but I just happen to see it differently.  I have explained why and also understand I am in the minority when it comes to Shyamalan films.  I think this movie was worth my time but don’t really know that I can honestly say it is worth yours. I have never met another person who enjoyed this movie and I would never recommend it to anyone simply because I don’t expect them to like it as I did.  If anybody out there had a reaction to this film similar to mine I would be really interested to hear your opinion on it.  I loved the movie, and it would be nice to know I am not the only one that did.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I wonder if anyone will even read this considering we are the only ones left on I the planet that actually like Shyamalan. I don’t know what’s right about us (see what I did there?) but we think he is really intelligent in the stories that he tells. I feel like there are very little original stories out there anymore. I feel like he does that. I think that most of his movies have been incredibly original and I appreciate that. This one is very original. It’s about a Lady who lives in the water and she is trying to get back to her world. I think it is interesting and a break from reality.

ladyinthewater

This poster is beautiful. There are so many things going on in the background. In the textures you can see shapes and forms of other things from the story. I love the hidden imagery. On top of that and more importantly to me, the typography is truly terrific. The font choice has serifs that almost flow like water. The W fits in very snugly against the L and “in the” is lightly added. I really love the coloring as well. It makes it all the more fairy-tale like and intriguing.

NEXT MOVIE: The Ladykillers (2004)

Advertisements

Cinderella Man

Year: 2005
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Cliff Hollingsworth

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember having no interest in seeing this movie when it came out back in 05, but I saw it in the theater despite that.  I went to the movies with my brother and it was his suggestion. I only agreed on this one because Russell Crowe had recently got in trouble for beating someone up. I don’t remember what the circumstances of what he was in trouble for were but it was for beating someone up for something.  I remember liking the idea of a guy in the news for beating people up having a big budget movie where he was a boxer in theaters.  Thinking back to it now I find myself wondering if that was indeed a coincidence or an interesting plan for publicity.

There are more movies made about boxing than any other sport and not all of them were made by Sylvester Stallone.  Men who dedicate their lives to fighting often find themselves in interesting situations in life.  The lives they live can be so dramatic yet so inspiring, either way their lives are often story worthy.  It takes a special type of person to choose a life of fighting, of hurting and getting hurt. Those people are fascinating and we all love the opportunity to observe them from a distance, and to cheer for them when they are punching the shit out of the other guy. James J. Braddock was one of these interesting men and he lived not only an interesting life but through a very interesting time in our country’s history that we should all remember and learn from, The Great Depression.  Braddock was an inspiring fighter during a time when many people were in serious need of inspiration. This movie does a really good job of capturing the desperation of the Great Depression without going too far and becoming overly sappy.  Times were harder than most of us can imagine today and it took a hard person to survive it.

I always love a movie that surprises me and this one definitely did.  I am a fan of both Russell Crowe and Ron Howard but didn’t really like their earlier collaboration with A Beautiful Mind so my expectations for this one were low.  This movie proved to me that they both still had a lot to offer in their careers.  I think this is just one of many fantastic movies from Russell Crowe, he seems to get better with age too. He apparently took quite the beating during the making of this film and sustained several injuries on set.  I was raised in North Carolina not all that far from Mt. Airy, in fact I have to go there for work often and pass right through old Mayberry.  I grew up watching Opie Talyor, then Richie Cunningham, and then the fantastic movies made by Ron Howard.  Howard is an interesting person because he has spent his whole life in the business.  There is a lot of talk about what stardom can do to children with the problems of so many celebrities but Ron Howard has only gotten more successful as time went on.  Ron Howard did a great job with this movie by really capturing the struggles on all levels of society during the Depression, and the boxing matches were wicked.

The rest of the cast to this film was great as well.  Renee Zellweger is such a fantastic actress, and she brings a lot to the film as Braddock’s wife.  The film industry chooses beauty over talent far too often and we don’t have enough actresses like Zellweger because of it.  I think Paul Giamatti falls into the same category oddly enough, he has had to work really hard to get where he is, and it is his talent that got him there. He brings a lot of emotion to this film in a seemingly effortless fashion and it is his performance that helps captivate us with the Braddock character.

As in all boxing movies you need a loud mouth opponent to hate.  Hating the other guy makes us fall in love with our hero even more.  In this film that opponent is a former real life heavyweight champion Max Baer and the film may have taken some liberties with the character to fit him in the mold of the bad guy.  Max Baer is actually the father of Max Baer Jr. who played Jethro on the original The Beverly Hillbillies, and needless to say he and the Baer family weren’t thrilled with the portrayal of their patriarch. He was portrayed as a brutal man who wanted to hurt men more than beat them, a rude and despicable man.  Craig Bierko played the part well whether it was an accurate portrayal or not.  This movie may be “based on a true story” but that doesn’t make everything in it true, and we as viewers must always understand that.

I think I have rambled on about this movie enough now but I hope you give it a shot if you haven’t seen it.  It’s got a great and inspiring story, great performances, and was made by a grade A professional in Ron Howard.  Historical accuracy not withstanding there is still plenty to learn about our own nation’s history with this film.  The poverty on all social levels was true, the homeless taking up residence in a shanty towns they named Hooverville, after President Hoover, was true, and James J. Braddock really was a nobody who managed to beat the world heavyweight champion and inspire the masses during tough times. All that makes for something worth seeing, this movie is definitely worth your time.

One final note about Ron Howard.  I mentioned his early work on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days, but failed to mention some of his more recent work in television, Arrested Development. It is probably one of my all-time favorite comedies and it did not last long enough.  It was an intelligent comedy that people weren’t ready for and it didn’t get the ratings it deserved. With the lack of ratings it only made it three seasons before being shut down by FOX. If you have never seen it then you should go out of your way to buy it and watch every episode multiple times.  If you have seen it then I have fantastic news for you.  The show is reuniting for six episodes that will be aired on the internet via Netflix.  It’s awesome because we get more of the hilarious Bluth family, and interesting because it is being offered the show via internet only.  This signals big changes in the industry that will also eventually affect how we receive all viewing media.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Wow, Ryan wrote a book. First of all let me just say that I can’t stand Russell Crowe. I am the only person that I know that doesn’t like him. I also hate movies about boxing and wrestling. I never want to watch them and I dread it when a new one comes out because I just know Ryan is going to make me watch it. However, this movie is more than worth your time. It is the classic cliché boxing movie, but it is so worth you time for the uplifting power that it has. It will take the problems in your life and make them seem like little details in your life.  I also love the fact that it is set during the Great Depression. Sometimes, in America, especially right now, we think we have it so hard, but in reality we just have no idea. Nothing really compares to being that poor. This movie is heart-felt and well worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Clash of the Titans (1981)