I had one of my favorite movie dates one Friday night in the Fall of 1999. My wife and I, having secured a sitter for our young child, were eager to hit the streets for the first time in what seemed like months. (Those of you with young children will understand what I mean by eager to get out of the house. It was a necessity!) After talking Mrs. Film Geek out of hittin' the clubs (I tell you, that chick loves to dance) we agreed to spend the night at the movies.
One this particular Friday night, I compromised with my wife: in exchange for no dancing, we would watch horror flicks, her favorite type of movie. While I don't like horror at all, I like the bright lights even less. So, horror it was. We hit the early showing of The Blair Witch Project, which we really liked (for all the now-obvious reasons), and then we saw The Sixth Sense.
We talked about this movie for days afterwards. It was, for us at least, an instant classic. And the director, this newcomer whose name I couldn't pronounce, was a genius. The next Spielberg. A prodigy who would become a master among otherwise common story-tellers.
M. Night Shyamalan followed up The Sixth Sense with Unbreakable, Signs and The Village. All cashed in well a the box office, and most were reviewed well by critics. His next flick, Lady In The Water opens this weekend, and is getting tons of press.
Mostly though, there seems to be an uneasiness--sort of a nagging feeling, really--that people have with Shyamalan's ongoing body of work: despite the artistic integrity of his flicks and the more-than-acceptable box office, people want The Sixth Sense all over again. They want the hook, the plot they can't figure out. They want the grand slam home run. And they want it now.
Shyamalan writes and directs movies that are true works of art. The pace of his movies remind me of old Hitchcock masterpieces. He creates incredible suspense with interesting camera angles and color. He lets the story unfold, pulling the audience in slowly, but intimately. He has such patience.
I wish the movie audiences had more patience with Shyamalan.