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Thread: Reviews: 'The Village'

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    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Reviews: 'The Village'

    (Thought I'd start a new thread. I think a few folks will get out to see this one.)

    Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet
    By David Germain
    The Associated Press



    (AP) -- Where to begin in terms of the revelations in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village"?

    Let's start with Bryce Dallas Howard, daughter of director Ron Howard. With only stage roles and bit parts in her dad's movies beforehand, Howard delivers a radiant leading-lady debut that dominates the film and its excellent ensemble, which includes Joaquin Phoenix, William Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Adrien Brody.

    There are the usual Shyamalan twists, certainly not as jaw-dropping as the ending of "The Sixth Sense," but still intriguing. Some will see the big surprise coming, and some may find it flimsy, even laughable, the way many greeted the conclusion of Shyamalan's "Unbreakable."

    Yet unlike writer-director Shyamalan's previous films, including 2002's "Signs," the twists and gothic creepiness are not the payoff of "The Village." The rewards run much deeper in this simple story laced with a rich subtext and, like classic fairy tales, suffused with twilight terror and repressed carnality.

    The real revelation is Shyamalan's growth as a storyteller, advancing from a modern Rod Serling specializing in "Twilight Zone" zingers to a mythmaker invoking the restrained passion of the Bronte sisters and the puritanical inhibitions of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

    "The Village" is Shyamalan's best film yet, demanding repeated viewings and endless discussion about the morality and implications of the characters' choices.

    A date on a tombstone in the opening funeral sequence establishes the year as 1897, yet "The Village" exists in a timeless void, formal speech patterns and rigid lifestyles that hark to colonial times mixing with a more progressive looseness of expression and behavior.

    A child is buried, a father grieves, a tightknit community gathers for a mournful meal, prefaced by a heartfelt mantra from village elder Edward Walker (Hurt): "We are grateful for the time we have been given."

    Compelling questions
    With painstaking detail on the 40-acre set built in his home turf of rural Pennsylvania, Shyamalan introduces the villagers' idyllic lives of work, family and communal fealty.

    But their isolated village has its boogeymen, carnivorous creatures that live in the surrounding woods, with whom the townsfolk share an uneasy coexistence. The villagers do not venture into the woods, and the beasts stay away from town.

    The balance is disrupted when sturdy, taciturn youth Lucius Hunt ("Signs" co-star Phoenix) proposes journeying to the towns beyond the woods for medicines to prevent more young people from dying. After Lucius makes a test incursion into the forest, the creatures respond with a frightening foray into the village. The elders, including Lucius' mother (Weaver), take it as a warning.

    Calamitous circumstance involving Lucius, his spitfire sweetheart Ivy (Howard), the blind daughter of Edward Walker, and village idiot Noah (Brody) forces an expedition to the outside world, which the elders forsook as an unwholesome and violent place.

    "The Village" raises compelling questions about the lengths parents might go to shield their children from harm, and whether isolating the young ones from the phantoms in the closet might simply unleash the monsters under the bed.

    Shyamalan's austere, almost childlike dialogue conceals hidden depths of anxiety, melancholy and yearning. When Phoenix's Lucius, cut from stoic Pilgrim cloth, finally lets his hair down, his quaintly tender expression of love toward Ivy somehow is both joyous and heartbreaking.

    Phoenix, Hurt and Brody offer deeply textured performances, while Brendan Gleeson and Cherry Jones provide fine support as village elders. Weaver sadly is underused, and the film leaves the impression that a subplot involving hers and Hurt's characters ended up largely excised so Shyamalan could showcase Howard's Ivy.

    Howard usurps the film with a willful performance as Ivy progresses from gentle, playful soul to bullheaded trailblazer resolved to overcome the hobgoblins that have pervaded her nightmares since childhood.

    Discovered by Shyamalan in an off-Broadway Shakespeare play, Howard next stars in "Manderlay," taking on the role Nicole Kidman originated in "Dogville" for the second part of Lars von Trier's trilogy.

    No matter how "The Village" eventually ranks in Shyamalan's filmography, the film may wind up best remembered for the emergence of Howard as a major Hollywood talent.
    Last edited by TeamCasey; 07-30-2004 at 10:49 AM.
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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    And here's the other perspective. Note, this guy gave four stars to "Signs."

    http://www.suntimes.com/output/ebert...illage30f.html


    THE VILLAGE / * (PG-13)

    July 30, 2004







    Lucius Hunt: Joaquin Phoenix
    Ivy Walker: Bryce Dallas Howard
    Edward Walker: William Hurt
    Alice Hunt: Sigourney Weaver
    Noah Percy: Adrien Brody
    Kitty Walker: Judy Greer
    Victor: Frank Collison
    Jamison: Jesse Eisenberg

    Touchstone Pictures presents a film written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Running time: 120 minutes. Rated PG-13 (for a scene of violence and frightening situations).



    BY ROGER EBERT





    "The Village" is a colossal miscalculation, a movie based on a premise that cannot support it, a premise so transparent it would be laughable were the movie not so deadly solemn. It's a flimsy excuse for a plot, with characters who move below the one-dimensional and enter Flatland. M. Night Shyamalan, the writer-director, has been successful in evoking horror from minimalist stories, as in "Signs," which if you think about it rationally is absurd -- but you get too involved to think rationally. He is a director of considerable skill who evokes stories out of moods, but this time, alas, he took the day off.



    Critics were enjoined after the screening to avoid revealing the plot secrets. That is not because we would spoil the movie for you. It's because if you knew them, you wouldn't want to go. The whole enterprise is a shaggy dog story, and in a way, it is all secrets. I can hardly discuss it at all without being maddingly vague.

    Let us say that it takes place in an unspecified time and place, surrounded by a forest the characters never enter. The clothing of the characters and the absence of cars and telephones and suchlike suggest either the 1890s, or an Amish community. Everyone speaks as if they had studied "Friendly Persuasion." The chief civic virtues are probity and circumspection. Here is a village that desperately needs an East Village.

    The story opens with a funeral attended by all the villagers, followed by a big outdoor meal at long tables groaning with corn on the cob and all the other fixin's. Everyone in the village does everything together, apparently, although it is never very clear what most of their jobs are. Some farming and baking goes on.

    The movie is so somber, it's afraid to raise its voice in its own presence. That makes it dreary even during scenes of shameless melodrama. We meet the patriarch Edward Walker (William Hurt), who is so judicious in all things he sounds like a minister addressing the Rotary Club. His daughter Ivy (Bryce Dallas Howard), is blind but spunky. The stalwart young man, Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), petitions the elders to let him take a look into the forest. His widowed mother Alice (Sigourney Weaver), has feelings for Edward Walker. The village idiot (Adrien Brody), gambols about, and gamboling is not a word that I use lightly. There is a good and true man (Brendan Gleeson). And a bridegroom who is afraid his shirt will get wrinkled.

    Surrounding the village is the forest. In the forest live vile, hostile creatures who dress in red and have claws of twigs. They are known as Those We Do Not Speak Of (except when we want to end a designation with a preposition). We see Those We Do Not Speak, etc., only in brief glimpses, like the water-fixated aliens in "Signs." They look better than the "Signs" aliens, who looked like large extras in long underwear, while Those We Do Not, etc., look like their costumes were designed at summer camp.

    Watchtowers guard the periphery of the village, and flares burn through the night. But not to fear: Those We Do, etc., have arrived at a truce. They stay in the forest and the villagers stay in the village. Lucius wants to go into the forest and petitions the elders, who frown at this desire. Ivy would like to marry Lucius, and tells him so, but he is so reflective and funereal, it will take him another movie to get worked up enough to deal with her. Still, they love each other. The village idiot also has a thing for Ivy, and sometimes they gambol together.

    Something terrible happens to somebody. I dare not reveal what, and to which, and by whom. Edward Walker decides reluctantly to send someone to "the towns" to bring back medicine for whoever was injured. And off goes his daughter Ivy, a blind girl walking through the forest inhabited by Those Who, etc. She wears her yellow riding hood, and it takes us a superhuman effort to keep from thinking about Grandmother's House.

    Solemn violin dirges permeate the sound track. It is autumn, overcast and chilly. Girls find a red flower and bury it. Everyone speaks in the passive voice. The vitality has been drained from the characters; these are the Stepford Pilgrims. The elders have meetings from which the young are excluded. Someone finds something under the floorboards. Wouldn't you just know it would be there, exactly where it was needed, in order for someone to do something he couldn't do without it.

    Eventually the secret of Those, etc., is revealed. To call it an anticlimax would be an insult not only to climaxes but to prefixes. It's a crummy secret, about one step up the ladder of narrative originality from It Was All a Dream. It's so witless, in fact, that when we do discover the secret, we want to rewind the film so we don't know the secret anymore.

    And then keep on rewinding, and rewinding, until we're back at the beginning, and can get up from our seats and walk backward out of the theater and go down the up escalator and watch the money spring from the cash register into our pockets.





    Copyright © Chicago Sun-Times Inc.
    How, then, are those people of the future—who are taking steroids every day—going to look back on baseball players who used steroids? They're going to look back on them as pioneers. They're going to look back at it and say "So what?" - Bill James, Cooperstown and the 'Roids

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    Quote Originally Posted by TeamCasey
    (Thought I'd start a new threat. I think a few folks will get out to see this one.)
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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    Wow! It's too bad Roger Ebert didn't tell us how he really felt. I tend to agree with him more often than not though. I am interested in seeing Ron Howard's daughter.

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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    The Enquirer didn't have much good to say about it either.

    http://www.cincinnati.com/freetime/m...hevillage.html

    Skip the trip
    to 'The Village'

    By Margaret A. McGurk
    The Cincinnati Enquirer

    The Village
    Score: 2 (out of 10)
    Rating:
    (PG-13 A scene of violence, frightening situations)
    Cast:
    Joaquin Phoenix, Bryce Dallas Howard.
    Director:
    Directed by M. Night Shyamalan.
    Time:
    118 minutes.


    Don't go into the woods. No, really. Don't bother.

    If you do venture into the forested thickets of The Village, you risk getting bogged down in a silly stunt of a movie from a guy who should know better.

    Fright-maven M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense, Signs) shoves his talented cast into contrivances so tortured they squeal, in service of a plot that amounts to little more than a prank. Not to mention the fact that despite elaborate publicity stunts and stern warnings to avoid giving away the movie's "secrets," very little happens on screen that can't be predicted by any reasonably attentive viewer.

    The setting is what looks like some kind of 19th-century cult outpost where everyone speaks in the starchy patois of a Colonial Williamsburg tour guide. The village is surrounded by thick woods guarded by torch lights and yellow banners meant to keep away unseen creatures who are so scary that sentries spend the night in towers to warn of any incursions. (How the villagers got into the village valley in the first place is never explained.)

    The fearsome critters, we're told, have some kind of unspoken detente with the villagers: Leave us alone, and we'll do the same. Yet there are always young folks eager to tempt fate.

    For the movie's purposes, it is Lucius Hunt (Joaquin Phoenix), a moody, tightly wound young man who wants to cross the woods to "the towns," which, though wicked, contain medicines that might prevent children from dying. Passing comments reveal that all the village elders (including Sigourney Weaver and William Hurt) lost loved ones to violent crime in "the towns," and apparently fear bandits more than lethal diseases, so they discourage Lucius.

    The other key character is Ivy Walker (Bryce Dallas Howard), a blind girl with preternatural navigational abilities who falls in love with Lucius and marries him just as the creatures seem to be on a rampage - skinning livestock, painting red slashes on buildings, stomping around town, growling, what have you.

    Shyamalan throws in a tragedy involving a simpleton (Adrien Brody), then sends Ivy off to "the towns" on her own.

    The Big Twist near the end is such a bore it's not worth revealing. Suffice it to say it's less than a shattering shock, and The Village is less than even middling quality entertainment.

    E-mail mmcgurk@enquirer.com
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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    I read one mediocre review and one great review.

    I find that the best review is the one you make yourself.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Rally Onion! Chip R's Avatar
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    Re: Review: 'The Village' Shyamalan's best film yet

    Quote Originally Posted by GAC
    I read one mediocre review and one great review.

    I find that the best review is the one you make yourself.
    Actually it was one great one and two bad ones. But, you're right. The best review is your own.
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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    Debating whether to see this or the Manchurian Candidate
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    The Manchurian Candidate looks awesome! Easy choice! You can't go wrong with Denzel!
    Pots and Kettles

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan
    Debating whether to see this or the Manchurian Candidate
    The review that I read this morning that it is one of the best political thrillers to come around in awhile. Very intense.
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

  12. #11
    MarsArmyGirl RosieRed's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    I just watched the original of "The Manchurian Candidate" a few weeks ago. Really liked it, but I'll probably wait for video to see the new one.

    Regardless of reviews, I'll still see "The Village."

  13. #12
    Ripsnort wheels's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    I think SHAMalan is the most over-hyped director of the new milennium.

    "I know, I know! We can get kids to whisper creepy things! People will eat it up. We'll make millions on everything we release after that!"

    I think I'm finally gonna get around to seeing Coffee and Cigarettes instead.
    "We know we're better than this, but we can't prove it." - Tony Gwynn

  14. #13
    Member TeamCasey's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    I have to say that except for Signs, I'm not a biggest Shyamalan fan ..... and I LOVE creepy things that go bump in the night. I also like movies that make you think a bit. I believe he tries to do both, but he really doesn't know what he wants to be.
    Pots and Kettles

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    RaisorZone Raisor's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    Just got home from seeing it. It was "ok". Ron Howard's daughter was the best thing about the film, she was very good.
    "But I do know Joey's sister indirectly (or foster sister) and I have heard stories of Joey being into shopping, designer wear, fancy coffees, and pedicures."

  16. #15
    Member Eric_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Reviews: 'The Village'

    Ahh, a review from a layman. Thanks Raisor. Always like to hear the non-critics' opinions.
    Rob Neyer: "Any writer who says he'd be a better manager than the worst manager is either 1) lying (i.e. 'using poetic license') or 2) patently delusional. Which isn't to say managers don't do stupid things that you or I wouldn't."


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