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5 items from 2000

Shyamalan Bans His Wife From Seeing Incomplete Movies

21 November 2000 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Oscar-nominated director, M. Night Shyamalan, bans his wife from seeing his films ahead of their release - because he wants her to be in awe of his completed work. Shyamalan's wife, Bhavna, has never seen one of her husband's films before the premiere, and he refuses to let her visit his film sets or read scripts. He says, "You want your wife looking at you with the same look that people on the street have - movie magic. I would never let her come to the editing room or the set when everyone is flubbing lines. I wouldn't want to know how they made E.T.'s arm move - that would really suck." »

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Film Review: 'Unbreakable'

20 November 2000 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

M. Night Shyamalan's fascination with pop culture and the supernatural continues in "Unbreakable", a deconstruction of comic book superheroism. Where his previous film, boxoffice sensation "The Sixth Sense", reconsidered the basic elements of a ghost story, "Unbreakable" tackles the theme of personal destiny and purpose in a story about an ordinary man who comes to question his role in life and whether his fate might lie in protecting people.

Buena Vista is understandably marketing "Unbreakable" as the new film "from the writer-director of 'The Sixth Sense.' " The drawback to this strategy is that fans of the previous film, expecting more of the same, might be disappointed.

To his credit, Shyamalan does not exploit the wild success of "Sixth Sense" by producing a film similar in theme and scope. But the ad campaign and his reteaming with "Sixth Sense" star Bruce Willis will nevertheless raise expectations, and when these are dashed, those nifty Thanksgiving weekend grosses might drop precipitously.

Critics, too, might be uncomfortable with a film that is slower, darker, more brooding and more portentous than Shyamalan's previous effort. But those prepared for a much different experience that clearly derives from the same artistic sensibility will be rewarded with an intriguing story executed with visual panache and fine acting performances.

As a filmmaker, Shyamalan sticks pretty close to the surface. While the characters in his films "Wide Awake", "Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable" do struggle to figure out the meaning of life, Shyamalan is content to answer those questions with imaginative twists on pop culture cliches. When the meaning of life is that you might be a superhero, such a movie is clearly aiming for the multiplex and not the art house.

Willis plays a man aimlessly drifting through life. He is on the verge of leaving his wife Robin Wright Penn) and young son Spencer Treat Clark) in Philadelphia for a better-paying job in New York. But he will do so with a singular lack of enthusiasm.

Boarding a return train from his job interview, he tries unsuccessfully to pick up an attractive young woman (Leslie Stefanson) and then settles in for the ride home. But the train derails, killing all on board except him. He doesn't even have a scratch.

He is then approached by Samuel L. Jackson, who asks him one startling question: Has he ever been sick? Neither Willis nor his wife can recall a single sick day in his life.

Jackson, who runs a store specializing in comic books for serious collectors, is a man who has never known a well day in his life. Born with a debilitating disease that leaves bones so brittle they break with ease, he is called Mr. Glass by some.

Jackson raises the possibility that Willis might be one of those people in the world "put here to protect us, and he doesn't know it." The person Jackson truly convinces, though, is not Willis but his admiring son.

Shyamalan constructs his film like a comic book in which the key for its artist is how much visual information can be squeezed into each panel. Shyamalan eschews traditional movie editing of master shot, closer shots and reverse shots, choosing instead to cut as much as possible in the camera.

The camera moves from shot to shot in lengthy takes. Likewise, actors move in and out of the camera frame. Doors, windows and mirrors narrow or widen the focus. Overhead shots dramatically situate actors in their environment. This gives a feeling not unlike a comic book in which the action flows from one static but visually arresting panel to the next.

The colors in the production design are muted and dark, favoring grays and blues, creating a moodiness that the brooding music further emphasizes.

This is an intimate story with a handful of characters who operate on a broad canvas of crowded streets, stadiums and train stations. Willis and Jackson deliver quietly intense performances, playing characters at opposite ends of the physical and spiritual spectrums. Penn and Clark match those intensity levels with considerable grace.

But the surprise twist, unlike the genuine shocker in "Sixth Sense", telegraphs itself too early to arrive with much impact. Thus, the film suffers something of a letdown in the third act.

While this twist might satisfy the comic book convention of good vs. evil archetypes, there's something a little flat in the ending. Audiences might find themselves echoing the refrain from that old Peggy Lee song, "Is that all there is?"


Buena Vista Pictures

Touchstone Pictures presents

a Blinding Edge Pictures/Barry Mendel production

Producers: Barry Mandel, Sam Mercer, M. Night Shyamalan

Screenwriter-director: M. Night Shyamalan

Executive producers: Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum

Director of photography: Eduardo Serra

Production designer: Larry Fulton

Music: James Newton Howard

Costume designer: Joanna Johnston

Editor: Dylan Tichenor



David Dunn: Bruce Willis

Elijah Price: Samuel L. Jackson

Audrey Dunn: Robin Wright Penn

Joseph Dunn: Spencer Treat Clark

Elijah's mother: Charlayne Woodard

Dr. Mathison: Eamonn Walker

Kelly: Leslie Stefanson

Running time - 107 minutes

MPAA rating: PG-13


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Bruce Willis Keeps Watch Over Haley Joel Osment

26 September 2000 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Bruce Willis is dishing out career advice to his young co-star Haley Joel Osment. Bruce struck up a close friendship with the 12- year-old Oscar nominee during filming of their blockbuster thriller - and he's kept a fatherly watch over Osment ever since. Osment says, "We keep in touch on the internet and he calls me. He called me up when the awards season came around and we talked about that - we've kept in touch." And Osment, who would spend his free time on the film playing golf with Willis and director M. Night Shyamalan, says, despite the age difference - Willis is 45 - the actor became one of his best friends during the shoot. He says, "I was pretty nervous at meeting him as he's such a big star, but as soon as I met him all the nervousness was taken away. It's impossible to be nervous when you meet him, as it's like saying 'Hi' to your best friend." He adds, "We used to play golf in the basement. We had our own driving range rigged up underneath the studio and sometimes Bruce and Night and I would go down and swing the golf clubs." »

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Bruce Willis The Donut Man

21 June 2000 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Bruce Willis ordered 500 donuts to the set of his new movie Unbreakable (2000) - but didn't get to eat any of them. The Hollywood heavyweight is shooting the M. Night Shyamalan flick in Philadelphia at the moment - and decided to treat the cast and crew to a sweet break. But after one of the film's grips started bragging about how many donuts he could eat, it gave Willis the idea to set up a donut eating contest - to see who could eat the most in the shortest amount of time. The queasy winner managed to chomp on eight donuts in five minutes - and Willis rewarded the hungry fellow with $500 for his efforts. »

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Bruce's Bonus

15 June 2000 | WENN | See recent WENN news »

Bruce Willis had a quick game of cards during a night out - and scooped a bumper $500, 000 payout. The Die Hard (1988) star won the cash playing baccarat at the exclusive Trump Plaza in Atlantic City New Jersey. Bruce popped into the hotel and casino to help judge a beauty contest, The Trump Style Model Search, for his billionaire pal Donald Trump. A fellow gambler says, "Bruce just couldn't stop winning. He was on a real lucky streak." The Hollywood actor was taking a break from filming his latest big screen thriller, Unbreakable (2000), directed by Sixth Sense, The (1999) director, M. Night Shyamalan. »

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5 items from 2000

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