Letters to Holly

Monday, August 7

Lady in the Water

... is horribly marketed. The commercials paint it as a horror film (the use of virtually all the scary scenes, the whispering child voiceover) when it is wholly something else: a fable. This is a story about bedtime stories, and as such feels like a Neil Gaiman tale; the people within the story are aware of the rules of such stories. I liked it a bunch once it got rolling, but it does have three big flaws:

1) The first half is clunky as we see Shyamalan obviously set up his story character by character. After the table is set and the momentum picks up, then you got movie.

2) Shyamalan casts himself in a pretty meaty role, and he doesn't have the chops for it. He's a handsome man but not a strong enough actor to pull off the character. Because he wrote and directed it, he surely knows what he needs the character to do in each scene. But understanding and conveying are distinct, and he doesn't manage the latter. This role makes the film feel like a vanity project, as if he's saying a muse will inspire him to change to world with his work. One simple casting change may have shifted the entire movie to a favorable reception.

3) The bedtime story that anchors the movie requires the audience pay attention to its rules, and the initial explanation (in the movie, not the opening credits) is so awkward as to glaze your eyes. That speedbump hurts the film.

The actors are good, and the mood is consistent, but this feels least like an M. Night film, like he's deliberately trying to muddle that suspense style. It leaves a void, however. A good film with a nice emotional ending, but the lack of a polished script hobbles it.

On Friday we attended Kathy and Travis's baby shower. We were asked to write down parental advice, and I went for the jokes. ("Play hide and seek with it. Don't look for a few months. ... Play the baby rap and rock early on, and when it's a teenager, it'll listen to baby music to rebel.") I had no idea the cards would be read aloud, and my stuff went over like gangbusters. People were tearing from laughing.

I helped Your Sis buy clothes and school supplies on Sunday. But we have the honeymoon before school starts.

Picture of the Day
A cloud formation over Orlando.

In the News
We head out to Virginia Wednesday for a Shakespeare honeymoon. The last time we planned a honeymoon, Katrina stopped oil production and spiked prices. Now, an Alaskan production shutdown looks to do the same before we drive north.

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NPR had a weird newsbyte this morning about Iraq. As proof of how crazed the sectarian violence is, an NPR contributor said that shepherds are being killed because they don't diaper the goats, and Muslims may be lead astray by their sensual nudity. I am not kidding.

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