I know it's not really commonplace to write reviews of reviews of movies, but in this case I feel compelled. The review in quesiton: "Windy", penned by one Ross Douthat, of National Review. I'm not sure if he writes regularly for NR, but I do know one thing about him. He needs a good head soaking. "Windy" was a childish and painfully comical review of M. Night Shyamalan's The Happening, which some of my more loyal readers may recall left me shaken and unhappy. That being said, I am still able to acknowledge the film's power and poignance, and put it up with all of M. Night's other films. I.e., pretty high. Of course, I saw where the review was going from the first sorry sentence: "For the world's dwindling band of M. Night Shyamalan admirers--a group in which I still count myself, thought increasingly reluctanctly--the best case scenario for his latest film, The Happening, was that it would represent a return to form after his disastrous previous effort, Lady in the Water." Depending on your natural disposition, this sentence could be either humorous or infuriating. For me it was a slight combination. Funny enough to make me think "Who is this guy, and why is he reviewing films?" and irritating enough to make me blog about it. Mr. Douthat (whoever he may be) went on to do exactly what I thought might follow: languish in fits of literary self righteous (and remarkably self confidant) agony at what he found to be a sub par horror film. Yes. The Happening was nothing more than a badly written, badly produced, badly made horror film. Which of course, wasn't that scary "the only thing that's scary about it is the fact that three talented actors--Mark Wahlberg, Zooey Deschanel, and John Leguizamo--actually thought appearing in this fiasco would be a good career move." For a guy who goes great lengths to criticize Shyamalan's big head, he seems to have ignored his own ego trip pretty blithely. I wonder if it ever crossed his mind that actors might have motives other than money and fame when it comes to the work they choose to do. I wonder if he ever gave a thought to the concept that some actors might choose to be in movies they feel are a step above the rest. Somehow, I doubt these thoughts ever made an appearance in the vortex of this man's cogitations. His review is that of a man who goes to the talkies to be entertained, and doesn't mind a brain teaser while you're at it--just make sure that it's all spelled out in black and white by the credits. Go to a film to think? Why? Isn't that an oxymoron? I don't know quite how to address people who went to Unbreakable because they were in the mood for a superhero movie, to Signs for an alien flick, or The Village for a period piece. These same people (and I suppose this specimen) would naturally view The Happening as a horror film and take only what was on the surface away with them. I realize the comparison is a bit extreme, but to me trying to draw some equivalent between The Happening and The Birds is akin to comparing Crime and Punishment to one of Jack Chick's comic book morality tracts. I can't say for sure how Mr. Douthat missed the significance of Zooey Deschanel's character's name, the stops Elliot and his family made on the way (what Douthat terms the "hilarious" run from the wind), or the circumstances under which The Event ended. I know that I don't always understand the great poetry of T.S. Eliot, or the classic literature of Flannery O'Connor. But at least I have the good grace to admit it before trying to turn it into a laughingstock instead of me. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt."


esther said...


"Father Barry" said...

I've always been a big fan of the Crime and Punishment/Jack Chick's comic book morality tract comparisons. What's the matter with them?


I jest.

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