Wednesday, October 17, 2007

saw the movie Signs last night. saw it before but I think on commercial tv, not that much if anything would have been cut. we bought the thing because we knew we liked it. the store offered Saw II for 5 bucks with a regular-priced purchase but I politely said no thanks. the movie begins with plenty of tension, tho it isn't readily explicable. 1st, there's something slightly exalted about the colour of the movie, a trifle surreal. 2nd, a note of desperation rings out without clear explanation. Mel Gibson wakes suddenly and rushes from bed. Joachim Phoenix does likewise and they rush out to find the children, who are yelling, and the dogs are barking. they find Gibson's children in the cornfield and the reason for the ruckus: a crop circle. okay, so it's about an alien invasion, part Independence Day, part War of the Worlds and part Childhood's End. M Night Shyamalian wrote and directed. there's a terrific rapport amongst the 4 leads. the children (one's a Culkin, the other was in Little Miss Sunshine) were sparkling, the boy glum and dour, the girl cutely eccentric. Gibson bears the dramatic weight. he plays a former minister who gave up the cloth when his wife was killed in a car accident. that's a bit heavy-handed but it works in context. and tho Gibson has to pull out the stops at times, the role is still played with lightness. Phoenix is hilarious as the supportive, slightly goofy younger brother. in real life he must be more than 20 years younger than Gibson. ominous signs become a real invasion, which we hear about only thru news reports that the family hears. at one point, the man who hit Gibson's wife (fell asleep at the wheel) meets with Gibson to apologize. Shaymalian himself plays the role. Gibson gets to emote big time and Shyamalian rather clumsily slips a key plot point in. his character says that he's going to the lake because it appears the aliens don't like water. he took this assumption from the fact that the crop circles weren't near water. a leap. his last line to Gibson is, don't open the door to my cupboard, I caught one of the aliens and put it in there. then he drove off. nice surprise line. Gibson tries to get a peek at the creature by using a large knife to reflect under the door. the alien grabs at him so Gibson wields the knife and slices off fingers. then the big scene in which the 4 hole up in the farmhouse, windows boarded, and await the aliens. so there's a nod to of the Living Dead. the aliens don't quite get into the basement where the family made their final stand. the boy, however, has an asthmatic attack, and his meds are upstairs. in the morning the news, rather too precipitously for my taste, reveals that the aliens left because water was found to be anathema to them. that's a little like War of the Worlds, but it also smacked of a director who looked at his watch. anyway, they go upstairs looking for the meds and, yow, an alien gets hold of the boy. we've already learned that they have poisonous breath. and we see that the alien is missing some digits: a vindictive alien!!! the boy gets a whiff of the poison, the alien drops him when the girl screams. Phoenix wields the baseball bat that he used to hit a ball 507' in the minors to battle the alien while Gibson tries to resuscitate his son. water gets on the alien and we can think of the wicked witch of the west. and guess what, asthma closed the boy's lungs to the poison. and Gibson returns to the cloth. the humour and the tension of the movie pair nicely. I think it is the onloy Shyamalian movie that I've seen but I'd watch more willingly.
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