The Village, Trust No Movie

by Mike Shea on 30 July 2004

I used to be "the movie guy" around the office. I kept up my little DVD review website. I came up with all sorts of wacky movie rules. I used to watch about four movies a week. Now I seem to have passed that on and switched to books and writing and Everquest. I miss it, though. I miss being the movie guy. People who don't know of my change still come over and ask whats hot and I sort of shrug and tell them "Kill Bill 2 came out this week".

Reading Ebert's review of The Village makes me want to dig back into movies. I have an important new rule I want to spread far and wide, a rule we would all do well to carry with us.

Trust nothing about the movie other than the movie itself.

Nothing can tell you whether or not a movie is good other than the movie itself. Actors, directors, stories, special effects, movie posters, marketing, scripts, dialog; these offer no insight into the movie's worth. Movies stand alone.

Most people consider the actors of a movie before watching it. "I don't like that George Clooney" they say, wrinkling their nose as if their dog just made a boom boom. Smarter folks look at the director or writer. But if Ang Lee's "The Hulk" taught us anything, Hollywood crushes directors under the weight of cash and bullshit. Copela had his Godfather 3. Scorsesi had his "Bringing Out the Dead". Good directors still make shitty movies.

I was surprised and dismayed to see that The Village, a movie by M. Night Shamalan, received a score of 38 by Metacritic. Like everyone else, I loved Sixth Sense. Like a few others I loved Signs and Unbreakable. M. Night shows that he can take a simple and cliche story and turn it into something deep and powerful. I hoped for the same with The Villiage, but it is hard to beat past a 38. Like Rodregez's "Once Upon a Time in Mexico", it appears a great director and writer made a shitty movie.

Only one thing can determine whether or not a movie is good: The movie itself. Like a strange combination that forms a whole greater than the sum of its parts, movies are a magic spell weaved from strange chaotic elements. Sometimes they turn into something wonderful, other times they turn into pools of festering vomit.

It appears I will see The Bourne Supremacy this weekend or curl up with a few old Hitchcock movies. Perhaps I shall watch the only version of The Manchurian Candidate that is worth considering, the 1962 Frank Sinatra one.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced. There would be no abortion worse than a movie based on Stephen King's Dark Tower books. I hope I do not live to see it.