I don’t know where to start with this one. I’ve been a M. Night Shyamalan fan from the very beginning, even when the role was better described as apologist. Even to a fan, nearly every film comes with a "yeah, but…" disclaimer: The Sixth Sense is an excellent piece of slight-of-hand with some genuine emotion, but let down by an extended montage at the end recapping events recontextualized by the already-clear Big Plot Reveal. Unbreakable, my personal favorite, is a remarkably mature character piece on a real-world Superman, but whose comic-book origins probably alienated a mainstream audience that wants its comic book movies clearly signposted by garish costumes and action set pieces. Signs is a perfectly crafted sci-fi thriller that doubles as a wildly funny comedy (an intentional one, I should be clear… more on that later), but the delicious suspense is nearly ruined in the end by the filmmakers’ overconfidence in their shoddy CGI alien.
The Shyamalan backlash started as soon as The Sixth Sense, perhaps in direct correlation with its box office take, with people falling over themselves claiming to have detected the Big Plot Reveal well ahead of time. But with The Village, the time for fans’ dithering began: if not nearly as bad as its critical reception, it was a disappointment. A promising scernario satirizing the contemporary situation in Bush’s color-coded police state is stifled by a lack of humor uncharacteristic for the director, not to mention an underwhelming twist ending without the emotional punch of The Sixth Sense.
The classic Shyamalan film is a schematicly constructed jigsaw, which in itself is a great pleasure. But in The Lady in the Water, the tail wags the dog to an even greater degree than The Village. Humorless, pretentious, and forehead-slappingly… well, sorry for the cheap shot… stupid.
50 Lost Movie Classics. Seen: Petulia, Top Secret, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, Safe, The Parallax View, Save the Last Dance, Beautiful Girls, Millions. Heard of: The Swimmer, Bamboozled, 3 Women, Breathless. (guest submission from Andrea)
U2 announces Zoo2Live, a new live album available exclusively to fan club members. Although it doesn’t say so explicitly, it would seem the audio is taken directly from the same show as the commercially available DVD.
Nine Horses, the latest project from David Sylvian, Steven Jensen and Burnt Friedman, releases their new EP Money for All on Samadhisound in January.
The Criterion Collection uses its new blog, On Five, to announce a new line of DVDs: “Eclipse presents a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed films in simple, affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.”
Free Pinky! (passed around work)
What iTunes needs: tagging.
MacHeist‘s bargain-basement pricing on their bundle ($356.74 worth of shareware for $49) has ignited something of a blogwar. A particular sticking point is that aside from the aforementioned bundle, MacHeist gave away several "unlocked" software downloads (free, fully-functional apps, but not registered and thus disallowing upgrades) during an extended build-up to the bundle launch. Even the most cogent analysis of the affair on Daring Fireball fails to take into account one simple fact: what about upgrades? I used my unlocked copy of Voice Candy the other day to record some podcast voiceover audio, and I was prompted to download a new update. If I had done so, I would have kissed goodbye to my freebie and had been forced to pay the registration fee to continue using the program. I suspect most of these unlocked apps have similar built-in upgrade notices and users will be seeing them every time they open them up, basically amounting to free advertising for the developers, reminding users who already have the product sitting on their hard drive that they are not full owners in what they are using, and that they are missing out by not becoming full owners.
All the bastiches wot done ripped off Panic. Not just their graphics, but even a photo of their office.
Cleaning up my bookmarks… Here’s one I saved a while ago but can’t remember if I posted: a working Lego Harpsicord
The indispensible guide to Bad Movies. Everything from MST3K classic Manos The Hands of Fate (which translates as, of course, Hands The Hands of Fate) to Peter Jackson’s early classic Meet the Feebles. And remember, don’t Hassle the Hoff… in space!
Oh no! Movie Place has passed on! I wouldn’t go as far as Hodg-man: "IT WAS ARGUABLY the reason I moved into my first apartment on 105th Street. OK: I WILL CEASE TO ARGUE–it was THE reason" but I would say that it was a strong motivation to stay in Morningside Heights for several years after finishing school. And it’s also partly true to say that one reason I was more willing to eventually move out was the advent of Netflix. (spotted on 43Folders)
A Doctor Who Magazine poll picks David Tennant as the best Doctor, above no less than legend Tom Baker! Spotted on Behind the Sofa, with whose own list I also cannot agree. Who are these people? For my (US) money, here are the best Doctors:
- Tom Baker
- Christopher Eccleston
- David Tennant
- Sylvester McCoy
- Peter Davidson
- Paul McGann
- Patrick Troughton
- William Hartnell
- Jon Pertwee
- Colin Baker
Somehow I don’t see Les himself plugging his axe into a MacBook and fiddling around with Logic, but you never know: the new Gibson digital guitar. (guest submission from Dave)
Marginal Revolution Poorly designed objects. My contibution was scooped by "bhauth" about halfway down in the comments: not so much the standard cd jewel box packaging, but the cellophane wrapping. (spotted on Design Observer)
What if George Lucas were to take a crack at retroactively realizing the visions of other filmmakers? Here’s G-Lu’s Singin’ in the Rain. (guest submission from Andrea)
Continuing the wind-up to the new album, UNKLE’s online presence expands: UNKLE and James Lavelle on MySpace, Richard File‘s official site, and new official UNKLE online shops for the US and everywhere else.
Joseph Arthur is in the studio with his (newly-christened) band The Lonely Astronauts, and has posted Let’s Just Be, an entire album for free download (but donations appreciated!).
All the kewl kids are talking about Tom Waits’ new Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers, and Bastards. Especially check out the Pitchfork interview. (guest submission from Andrea) (shameless Amazon.com affiliate link)