Signs

   28 July 2004, late at night

I watched Signs again today with Ahilan and Steph. I think it is M. Night Shyamalan’s best movie. Signs opens with Mel Gibson finding a huge crop circle in the middle of his corn field. There are apparently others all around the world. Is it a hoax or not? You find out during the course of the movie, though the film is much less a sci-fi film, and much more a film about faith. Mel Gibson’s character has had his faith shaken, and the film examines this. I thought Signs was very well put together. The script, the direction and the acting are all superb. Shyamalan’s camera work is impressive, I think he shoots scenes really well. Mel Gibson and Joaquin Phoenix do great jobs in the movie. I would say I enjoyed the movie much more watching it a second time.

Shyamalan strikes me as a modern day Hitchcock. His movies are interesting and creepy in a refreshing way. I’m looking forward to his next film, the Village.

You can read reviews of Signs at Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Comments

  1. Sorry, Ramanan. I know I always chime in on the movies you watch, but I HAVE to comment on “Signs.”

    I just watched it for the 3rd time last week. Wow. That movie is awesome! There are so many parts that I loved about it. And not to blow anything for folks who haven’t seen it… but, the part with the breathing (and the flashlights) was horrific for me.

    Shyamalan is one of the best storytellers in the business currently. The story and suspense depends just as much as what ISN’T in there as what IS.

    The only criticism I have (and it’s a small one) is that I think he should stay behind the camera.

    There’s so much bad stuff on the big screen these days (anything by Michael Bay post-Rock, all the teen-angst films, bad sequels, etc.), that it’s so refreshing to have someone like Shyamalan remind us how well movies can be made.

    Anyway, there’s my $.47. :)

  2. Keep posting. Your comments are usually far more insightful then my ‘reviews’. I don’t mind seeing Shyamalan in his movies. I don’t think he’s done a bad job with any of his cameo’s yet. His scene in The Sixth Sense was quite funny. I like a lot of the dialogue in the movie. “It just felt wrong not to swing” is a great line.

  3. The dialogue WAS great. The “breathing and flashlights” part had great dialogue, too. Hearing Mel’s deep voice in that situation was both relaxing and intense.

    By the way, your comment about Hitchcock made me think of something Ebert had said in his review of “Signs” a couple of years ago about what Shyamalan has accomplished (I had to go to his site to find it). Here it is…

    “In Signs, he [Shyamalan] does what Hitchcock said he liked to do, and plays the audience like a piano.”

    That’s a great way to sum the movie up.

    Here’s something strange… when I watched “Signs” last week, I watched it with my friend, Lisa. She has three dogs. There were a few parts in the movie when all three pooches were noticeably uncomfortable or on edge.

    Weird.

  4. Yes, I agree that ‘Signs’ was an exceptional movie. It prolly was the first horror movie, that put me at an edge. Its a credit to Shyamalan that he accomplishes the suspense, the terror, fear or what have you without even showing the “aliens” until the climax! Just amazing. One aspect that probably doesn’t get any media exposure is that Shyamalan is not just the Director but also responsible for the story and screenplay. That by itself puts him above many other “successfull”, “big name” directors.

    I have to say that Joaquin Phoenix’s face when he sees the alien on tv (at some birthday party) was a great scene. And his cameos are quite enjoyable too. He looked every bit the drugs peddler in “Unbreakable”.

    I have to add that his previous two efforts were also quite exceptional. “The Sixth Sense” emerged as a sleeper-turned-classic while “Unbreakable” didn’t fare as well commercially (but one I enjoyed immensely). Hopefully his next venture exceeds our expectations!

  5. Signs rocked (as did his other films). How many weeks until The Village comes out? That looks good too.

  6. “The Village” splashes onscreen this Friday.

    From the trailer…

    ”... we have always had, since the day we settled here, a gentle understanding with… the creatures… who live beyond our borders. We do not stray into their woods. They do not come into our village. It is… a… truce…

    “From the markings on our doors this morning, I feel they were warning us…. Our days of peace… are over.”

    Brrr… :-)

  7. Signs is a GREAT movie.

    One of my favorite movies of all time.

    The Village looks killer, too.

  8. Was I the only one who thought the narrator was truly channeling Shatner when I saw the trailer?

    “Why does… God… need crop circles? If the… village… has a truce… with the creatures from deforest… whywouldtheysuddenlyattack?

    SHYAMALAAAAAAAAN!”

    The problem I have with his movies is that they seem to hinge upon the Twilight Zone style sudden twist ending, and if you go in knowing what it is, it doesn’t seem to be as enjoyable. When I saw the Sixth Sense, I had read a review that didn’t give away the twist but said that it was something you’d never see in a million years and I wondered aloud if that meant Willis’ character was a ghost, too. Watching with that little seed of doubt took away any sense of enjoyment for me, more so than if I had watched it and was rewatching it, deconstructing his clues.

    Unbreakable wasn’t as bad because, as any student of comic books could tell you, there was only one way for it to end. Even Elijah himself explains this at the end. Though Unbreakable’s problem is more that it’s what should be the first third of an origin story stretched out into a movie than just the surprise hook.

    Signs I can’t remember if there was a twist ending other than Mel suddenly regaining his faith with the help of a baseball bat, but it was my least favorite of the three.

    Hopefully with the Village the “twist” won’t be something like there are no monsters in the forest, just an angry mayor or blacksmith who hates the loud music and automocars and loose teenagers. The monsters in the forest, you see, are the ones we carry around in our heart.

  9. Dave, you are correct when you say, “if you go in knowing what it is, it doesn’t seem to be as enjoyable.” Very true.

    For me, that’s part of the fun. Not knowing… and then having it revealed. The other part (again, for me) is experiencing how Shyamalan (or any director with his storytelling skill) develops the strings that subtly pull the audience into the story.

    I quoted Ebert above as he mentioned Shyamalan following Hitchcock’s lead. Ebert goes on to say (in the same review), “There is as little plot as possible, and as much time and depth for the characters as he can create, all surrounded by ominous dread.”

    I love that. It’s “the ride.”

    For me, the essence of enjoying a film like this is being along for the ride no matter where it ends up. That’s what made so many of the Twilight Zones so memorable for me, personally. Once I knew the ending, the episodes lost a bit of luster (“oh, this one.”). The delight was in being pulled along for the coup de grace at the end.

    :-)

  10. I agree his movies may lean to heavily on their twilight zone like endings. I would say of all the films however, Signs does this in the least noticeable manner. Signs is good in an of itself. Ii think this is why I found it to be much more enjoyable then his previous two efforts.

  11. I think “The Village” is more on the conflict of love vs fear or as in how love can conquer fear. But living in Australia, I will have to wait much longer (and hence stay away from reviews) to see the movie. Its disappointing. I miss LA now.

    Dave, its good to see that you give “Unbreakable” more credit than others. I still believe that its one of the better superhero movies. Sure bits junk like “Daredevil”, or “Catwoman”. Shyamalan captured the humanity of a superhero in that movie, something that folks are raving abt “Spiderman 2”.

    Enjoy the movie! I am jealous.

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