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M. Night Shyamalan's The Village is terrific; I like all his movies. There's a deconstructive element at work in them (I know, that word)--an emphasis on social subtexts and relationships to other films that takes them out of the simple O. Henry/Twilight Zone realm. Unbreakable focuses on the warped power fantasies of the invisible comic book fan who ultimately drives the superhero script; Signs presents another kind of script, the near-impossible chain of coincidences required for a lapsed believer to regain faith.

The Shyamster (as one smartass critic called him) is a master of the subjective POV, showing you only what he wants to show you and keeping you in a state of nervous tunnel vision throughout. Inexplicable imagery or behavior is explained eventually, sometimes immediately. This is highly manipulative but so what? I like the way gradually-introduced information from outside the frame changes the meaning of what's perceived, all within the filmic atom of "the shot."

Rather than give away The Village's plot, let's just say there's a constellation of supernatural or "artificial" works about America's small town past into which the movie could be inserted: The Crucible, The Lottery, Dogtown, A Boy and His Dog, Our Town, Signs. (And of course, Children of the Corn--just kidding.) There's a love story, and a larger enveloping story that is quite creepy and melancholy and gives you something to think about after the movie's over. Oh, and the lead actress is good--I found out afterward she's Ron Howard's daughter. Another surreal, small town connection: Mayberry RFD.

- tom moody 8-11-2004 7:55 pm [link]